Updated: Apr 13, 2020
By Philip Petersen
(The following is a real-life account of my experience watching Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters, opening day)
I stumbled out of the auditorium that night in a daze. Excited moviegoers emptied around me on all sides, conversing excitedly, elated and overjoyed. Numb, I dragged my lifeless body, heavier now than before, through a maze of twisting hallways and smiling patrons, feeling nothing. It was dark outside, now, and cold; buzzing fluorescent lights the only sound. I walked to my car alone, climbed inside, and closed the door. I texted Luke first.
People cheered when the credits rolled. They stood from their cheap, worn theater seats and clapped maniacally like trained seals. Brainless fools. The unwashed, drooling masses, mesmerized by flashy lights and cheap tricks. Shine a laser pointer into their eyes and they’d call it a masterpiece, too, so long as it featured Star Wars branding. Maybe it was my fault. Did I watch it wrong? Surely this sacred intellectual property, this latest and alleged final entry into a globally recognized and beloved franchise would have been crafted with the utmost care? The utmost consideration?
I bought my ticket months in advance. I requested the evening off work and the time was nigh. My boss didn’t fully understand, of course. He was a man’s man. An old-world type. Worked hard his entire life and never complained. He pitied me, I’m sure. The hunchbacked, twisted thing that I was. Star Wars obsessed, four-eyed and emasculated; the product of an increasingly soft and sensitive society. Like an inbred dog, I was hideous and deformed. A man-child. While battle-hardened men of ages past dreamt of coming home from war, I dreamt of Hayden Christensen cameoing as a force ghost. All the same, he wished me the best and let me go. “Have a good time.” I was light-footed and giddy, then, practically skipping to my car. For two years I’d lived with the bitter taste of Star Wars’ previous entry, the Last Jedi, in my mouth. Tonight would be different. Tonight, things would be set right. My liberation and long-delayed satisfaction were finally at hand.
I couldn’t honestly tell you what happened after that. I walked into the theater a wide-eyed, beaming youngster and came out a broken man. Could it have been the trailers and advertisements that ran 30 minutes past the movie’s advertised start time? No, no. Maybe it was the sauce I’d spilled on myself, on my favorite jacket? No, that wasn’t it. Perhaps, then, it was the $275 million dollar piece of hog-shit fanfiction that assaulted my eyes and ears for two-and-a-half demoralizing hours? Ah, yes.
With every moment that passed, every breakneck, overstuffed, inexplicable scene, my excitement faded. “I heard the beginning was a little choppy,” I assured myself. “It’ll get better.” I fidgeted nervously in my seat and tried to pretend. At what point, though, does hope become naïveté? At what point must we succumb to the truth? As soon as he said it, I knew.
“You’re a Palpatine.”
It was over. There wasn't going to be any movie this time. I wasn't going to leave the theater that night with happy tears welled in my eyes. There was never going to be a satisfying conclusion to a story 42 years in the making. I sunk back in my chair and mourned. The film's potential, once towering high and mountainous, was an avalanche, now, crashing violently down. There was nothing left to lose. I stood from my seat, removed my clothing, and spread my buttocks. “You win,” I told the movie. The Rise of Skywalker stirred and opened it’s slitted eyes. It's great serpentine body unwound slowly and rose high into the air. “You win!” I shouted again. “FUCK me!” It didn't move. It watched me from where it was with a cold, voracious gaze. “Didn’t you hear me, you son of a bitch? FUCK ME!!!!” And so, it did. The movie’s behemoth, reptilian form slithered to me with frightening speed. It grabbed my hips in it's sharpened claws and forced it’s scaly girth inside of me. Every pointless appearance by the Knights of Ren after that was another painful thrust into my bleeding hole. Palpatine shot lightning into the sky and the movie gripped me tighter, it's eyes rolled back in unbridled ecstasy. “I am all the Sith!” Palpatine boomed. “And I am all the JEDI!!!!” The movie seized and roared, it’s bloated body thrashing wildly. It spewed it’s curdled, rotten load inside of me and threw my limp corpse to the rats. "Directed by J.J. Abrams".
By the time it was over, I was unrecognizable. The coroner would go on to say that if it weren’t for my dental records, they wouldn’t have known it was me. It’s been said that we see our lives flash before our eyes when we die. That night, on all fours, I saw mine. I saw tubs overflowing with Star Wars action figures in a pale green room. I saw Star Wars LEGO littering the floor and an Attack of the Clones poster taped haphazardly to the wall. Lightsaber fights with my neighborhood best friend and an 8th grade book report on Revenge of the Sith. John Williams’ timeless score played on a yellow Sony Walkman and I watched the sun beam down the day I took off school to see Episode III, opening day. It’s a story told over and over and over again, by so many, but it’s my story, too. Star Wars has been a quintessential part of countless childhoods, and mine was no different. Star Wars was an undeniable part of me.
On December 15th, 2017, I watched Princess Leia fly through space. I watched Luke Skywalker spear-fish and pump green sludge from an alien’s breasts. On December 19th, 2019, I saw something worse. In a red, polyester chair, I sat helplessly as Star Wars was molested before my eyes. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I was force-fed hog shit, piled high on a crystal platter. Steam fogged my glasses and I begged for more. “Please, Mr. Abrams,” my mouth full. He grinned devilishly, tusks protruding sharply from either side of his mouth; he was all too happy to oblige.
J.J. soared high above us that night, on the deck of his 675-foot flying mega-yacht. It flew on gilded wings, silently piercing the clouds. He set aside his plate of caviar and endangered bird eggs and kicked up his hooves, leaning back in his chair. He laced his gem-adorned fingers and rested them atop his fat, swollen belly. A gentle breeze blew, cool and soft, lightly tousling his hair; he didn’t have a care in the world.
On December 19th, 2019, in seat J10, Auditorium 16 of the Cinemark 22 in Lancaster, California, a part of me died. It rests there, still; lifeless, shriveled, and grey.
As I started my car to leave, an old woman approached my window. She signaled for me to roll it down, and, hesitantly, I obliged.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
I didn’t respond right away. I looked back at the theater, at the big block letters affixed to the marquee. I smiled and turned again.
“Phil Star Wars.”
Phil crawled out of a hole in the ground and was enlisted to join Faded Morgana's writing team. Nobody knows where he came from, and nobody particularly cares - they don't even like him, really.