May 25, 2007

OPINION: A New Hope

A long time ago, in a living room far, far away ...
a nine-year-old kid watched an episode of “The Midnight Special.”


By Miguel M. Morales

I wasn’t a fan of "The Special" because it usually featured artists like Alice Cooper but every once in a while they’d show Ike and Tina or Captain and Tennille.


On this particular Friday, my friend Jeremy Aleman asked me to spend the night. And since he liked guys like Alice Cooper and David Bowie, we watched. Usually, I’d get bored and fall asleep. However, this particular episode changed my life.

I remember distinctly when Wolfman Jack introduced his special guest -- Darth Vader.
Now, I didn’t know anything about this Darth Vader. I mean it was the 1970s for gosh sakes and there was a lot of stuff going on that a kid couldn’t understand. But I knew one thing, whatever this “Star Wars” movie was about, I had to see it.

I’d seen science fiction before and didn’t like it. 1970s movies sci-fi like “A Clockwork Orange,” “Soylent Green,” and “Stepford Wives” simply weren’t geared for children. Television is where most kids my age watched sci-fi but shows like “Lost in Space” “Star Trek,” and “Space 1999” came across as scary, boring, or just too fake.

When my parents dropped me off for the first Saturday matinee of “Star Wars” at the Granada Theater, which was the only theater in town that had two screens, I stayed until the last showing that evening. I must have seen “Star Wars” 8 times that day -- not just because of the amazing special effects, but because I was Luke Skywalker.

Plainview, Texas, was a dirty backwater town where my family and I spent our summers working as migrant farmworkers. And like Luke’s home planet of Tatooine, it was about as far, far away as one can get from civilization and adventure.

When Luke discovered the secret transmission from Princess Leia and his destiny, I discovered mine.

“Star Wars” opened my eyes to the grandness of world and made me realize that I lived in a small one.

For so many of my generation “Star Wars” gave us permission for self-discovery. It helped us understand that sometimes it really is as simple as good vs. evil. It helped us understand ethics and integrity, the value of friendships, the gift of loyalty and even spirituality.

Now after 30 years, I’m just now beginning to understand how profoundly this film affected my life.

Perhaps the real appeal of “Star Wars” comes in what it reveals and amplifies inside us -- hope, a new hope.

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