One of my very first memories in life is going to the movies to see Star Wars. Sure, I was only four years old and the plot was beyond my comprehension, but the experience left my young mind awestruck. Like millions of other kids, I spent countless hours of my youth enacting stellar battles and intrigues with my action figures and vehicles. So 20 years later, when George Lucas announced his three prequels, there was an entire generation (now adults with disposable income, many with kids of their own) who were suddenly inspired to rekindle their childhood passion—gobbling up memorabilia, dressing in costume and sleeping outside theaters for opening-night tickets. Thus, “fanboy” culture was born—a phenomenon that’s celebrated in all its geeky glory each February at the New York Comic Con. This year, I decided to join that celebration.
After a quick puff outside the convention center, I hightailed it to my first session: a panel about the evolution of the Star Wars “community” entitled “Star Wars Decade: Where Were You in ’99?” We were treated to outtakes and a short documentary from the Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network, as well as a scene from Fanboys—a comedy set in 1998 about a group of teens on a cross-country quest to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace from Skywalker Ranch before its release. In the clip, the protagonists are tricked into eating some guacamole spiked with peyote and hallucinate about being molested by Ewoks. Talk about plushophilia!
Of course, Fanboys is only the latest in a number of fanboy homages to the Star Wars saga. Director Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back included cameos by both Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and ended in an epic bong-saber duel. In addition to making Star Wars references in numerous episodes, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane actually remade Episode IV using his characters in a special entitled Blue Harvest (the secret working title of Return of the Jedi). And then there’s McFarlane’s buddy, actor Seth Green.
Seth is a stoner-fanboy extraordinaire. Best known for his roles as Dr. Evil’s son Scott in the Austin Powers films and the bong-hitting zombie in the horror comedy Idle Hands, Seth is also the co-creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award–winning stop-motion animation show Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Like Family Guy (which stars Seth as the voice of son Chris Griffin), Robot Chicken spoofed Star Wars with two specials using those old action figures and a childlike imagination—albeit with a decidedly adult sense of humor. Green’s Robot Chicken panel was next on my agenda, but unfortunately it was so packed that I was turned away. So instead, I located the room for the post-panel signing and was one of the first ones in line. Twenty minutes later, I was face to face with the red-haired Renaissance man himself.
“Hey, Seth … my name’s Bobby Black. I’m an editor at High Times, and I just want to say we’re all huge fans of your work.”
“High Times, huh?” he snickered. “Clare, come here,” he called to his girlfriend. “This guy works for High Times.”
By the way her eyes lit up as she shook my hand, it was obvious that she was a burner. To my disappointment, though, Seth seemed far less enthusiastic, politely blowing off my request for an interview. But despite his apprehension, I knew he was one of us and wanted to extend a token of goodwill. So, on my way out, I slipped his girlfriend a joint.
“This is for you and Seth, for later,” I whispered. “Enjoy.”
Having performed my good weed deed for the day, I had but one last stop before hyperspacing my ass home—the Battlestage, to see the elaborately choreographed Sabers Unleashed! lightsaber show performed by the New York Jedi Collective. Confronted with such fanatical depths of dorkdom, my love for Star Wars paled in comparison. But while I may never speak Wookie or list “Sith” as my religion on a census form, I’ll always be a fanboy at heart. So to all my fellow red-eye Jedis out there, a word of advice: Beware the dork side, and may the farce be with you.