James Pinsky: Earth: The original
It’s hard to imagine anything being a big deal before the internet, but in 1977, the new space movie was a pretty big deal. I was just a bit north of 3 years old then, and I remember my parents taking me to see it at Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, N.C.
The movie left such an impression on me then that to this day I daydream about gallivanting throughout outer space in my Y-Wing fighter – yes, I know most folks like the X-Wing fighter but, I’m a weird fellow if you haven’t noticed. My childhood was filled with backyard wars between G. I. Joe and Star Wars. I used Tonka trucks, the metal ones, not the crappy plastic ones nowadays, to build complete command installations, runways, defensive positions, moats, bunkers and roads which connected the two worlds. I used model rockets as interstellar missiles to attack, defend and deter Star Wars and G. I. Joe aggression without any fear of U.N sanctions. Of course, one of the great things about being a child is I had no need for scientific fact either, so I could park a star destroyer next to my tank, next to my helicopter, and next to my gorgeous blue Cobra Rattler aircraft. My backyard was as fantastic an adventure as any boy could ever want. That’s the beauty of fantasy.
Nowadays debate rages as to which of the eight “Star Wars” movies is the best, and the worst. I think … most fans agree “The Empire Strikes Back” is the best. I agree just for the snow scene and epic battle on Hoth. Every time it snows I have always pretended my car or truck was a snow speeder and every dog I have ever had was some form of tauntuan. Yes, I’m 44 years old, and I still do it. Do you know how hard it is to try to put a saddle on a proud miniature pinscher?
As fantastic as the “Star Wars” series was, is, and will be, it pales in comparison to the authentic adventures I’ve had as a mere mortal on the terrestrial turf we call Earth. Minus a few astronauts, I’m willing to bet the same could be said for the rest of you as well. What’s important to note however is this: if you’re not a fan of Earth, you’re in big trouble because there’s no sequel coming out in theaters near you.
That truth is just as meaningful if you’re a fan of Earth as well but the good news is we all have the magical ability to do what even Hollywood can’t, and that’s to make a movie which never ends and holds as many plot twists as we can imagine. That movie is called “Life” and all of us are stars then, now and in the future. The only thing we must do is make sure we take care of the one and only movie set this one-hit wonder of a planet films us on.
Over the past few decades what started out as a mega blockbuster of a movie has slowly degraded itself to a “B” movie and some say worse. Our props are dirty. Our fantastic on-location sets are polluted, eroded, diseased or simply overcrowded. Some of our stage hands are abusing the props and across the globe far too many extras are starving because the magic of Hollywood and computer animation can only repopulate forests, place eroded soils, and clean polluted streams as a fantasy.
The problem with fantasy is it’s simply not real. There’s no rebel force dashing through the galaxy to come save us from ourselves. We won’t find Ewoks, Jedis, or X-Wing fighters anywhere but on the silver screen (and store shelves), yet we hold the key to ensuring our generation and countless more after us can enjoy a world far more adventurous, daring and passionate than anything George Lucas ever dreamed of because we don’t have to pretend about the dreams Earth offers us every day, unless we let the movie end.
Just remember though, there’s no sequel.
James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or firstname.lastname@example.org.