The Second Coming of Star Wars

The Second Coming of Star Wars

Thanks to the Sequel Trilogy, Star Wars is in a renaissance, unlike the times of the Prequel Trilogy.

It's no surprise that I'm a big fan of Star Wars. Have been since I was a little kid, the movies inspired me to write and be interested in filmmaking, and there's the annual pilgrimage to the theater to go see the next one (getting there far too early too). This was not always the case though, and just five years ago, we weren't even sure if there would be another Star Wars, let alone a movie a year like the MCU. Since the buildup to the release of The Force Awakens, there has been a massive resurgence in the popularity of the series, not unlike the impact the Original Trilogy had on the public in the 1970s and 1980s. We are in a Star Wars renaissance, and if they keep it up, this could go on for long enough that there will be major generational overlap between this era and the next of the saga.

When the first film, A New Hope was released in 1977, it was an immediate success, becoming the highest grossing movie of the year, was one of the biggest Oscars upsets when it lost Best Picture, and firmly made its place in the popular culture of the next few years. Toys, comics, shirts, even a disco album and a television movie – the infamous Holiday Special – were everywhere following the movie. Even by the time The Empire Strikes Back hit the big screen in 1980, the brand had not faded away like so many do. Rather, each sequel brought on more to the series, new worlds and creatures and stories. However, once Return of the Jedi had been on the top of the world, it quickly went back down, and by 1987, Star Wars was barely in the mindset. Children had moved on to other things like G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers, whereas adults had grown tired of the science fiction genre that re-emerged after Star Wars. The excitement returned with the announcement of the prequel trilogy in the 1990s, which promised to show us how Darth Vader became the man in the mask. And then The Phantom Menace came out, and the love of the series became targeted to the Original Trilogy, considering these new films were definitely more focused on the ability to sell toys and show off what digital effects can do (while there were countless models, many of them were given CGI overlays). After Revenge of the Sith in 2005, the brand became more focused on the Clone Wars cartoon series, which became successful in its own right, but never as big as the first three movies were.

In 2012, after the announcement of the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and the production of a seventh film, slowly, people began to revisit the series. As more news about it came out, trailers and clips and marketing, and the title – The Force Awakens, it was back to being a major phenomenon. Tickets for the movie sold out almost as quickly as they went online. People watched the previous six films just so they could go see this one with their friends. Almost overnight, Star Wars was back to being the most anticipated movie of the year. Even hose “too cool for this” crowds were getting back to the series they grew up with. This is likely due to nerdy/geeky things being considered “cool” now, thanks in part to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the rise of Internet culture (looking at you, Reddit). You don't get weird looks anymore wearing a t-shirt with Chewbacca on it, rather, there's probably somebody else wearing one too. Upon release, The Force Awakens made over two billion dollars in a matter of months. The Star Wars Story movies are just as big, with Rogue One crossing the billion dollar mark and more films being commissioned, including an entire spin-off trilogy. The upcoming The Last Jedi has also already made several million dollars, and that's simply off of pre-release ticket sales.

Of course, maybe it could just be that the current era of Star Wars is just a little jump in popularity, and it will go right back down just as fast. But until then, this is a time where once again, Star Wars rules over the world's culture. Audiences around the world gather together to see the films, and continue to express their fandom via cosplay, collecting, online groups, anything you can imagine. This is the second coming of Star Wars, after the Dark Ages of the prequels – though I'll admit, I do like that trilogy. We are in for years of new movies, and with that, new fans. This is a rare series that continues to produce content that is accessible to all, and every release becomes a major event. Star Wars isn't going anywhere, and even if it does fade, it will return for a new generation.

Cover Image Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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