Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Of #Blackstormtroopers or How Right was My Mom

When I was a kid, my parents took me to see Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In the case of the last two, they let my sister and I ditch school. How cool are my parents?
My parents were largely silent on Star Wars. We knew they liked it, but in retrospect, they obviously enjoyed our love of the series more than their own pleasure. They stepped over countless Star Wars toys, sat through endless monologues, and fielded wacky questions about Tie Fighters and X-Wings. Now that I have children, I totally understand this.
However, during our first viewing of Return of the Jedi, my mother offered a singular and powerful opinion. I have to count it as one of the most important formative moments of my life.
Picture it:
Luke is standing over a crippled Darth Vader and Vader's voice is distorted, failing. He requests that Luke remove his mask, ending his life, so that he may look upon his son with his own eyes.
With great sorrow, Luke complies and we see that Sebastian Shaw is the actor playing Luke's father.
My mother was mortified. She spluttered "Where is hell is James Earl Jones!?!"
I hissed: "Mom! James Earl Jones is...."
Then I got it. She knew that James Earl Jones was Mark Hamill's dad. She just knew that was the right thing, and somehow I knew it too. That piece of accidental advice has stayed with me all my life. Skin color doesn't matter.
There is a corollary to this story. My wife purchased a set of Star Wars DVD's for me. One day, the kids and I watched all three movies. This was one of the special edition sets with all of the modifications George Lucas had time to throw in.
I was stunned when Hayden Christensen was cut into Shaw's role as Anakin.
I howled: "What the hell? That should be James Earl Jones!"