SC Exhibitions Magazine 2016 45 Three important things happened in the middle of 1977 each separated by a little more than a month Star Wars was released I celebrated my 11th birthday and Elvis Presley died One of those things is not like the others I know and strictly speaking there wasn t then and isn t now anything beyond calendar coincidence that links them together But those random events nonetheless go a long way toward explaining my relationship to popular culture And not only mine of course Modern life is a series of generational milestones We calibrate our collective identities according to the shared experience of public events including hit movies and popular songs Whether we like them or not those become part of the architecture of our private selves and also a kind of currency we trade with our peers Elvis in his mid 40s at the time of his death was for kids like me immutably the property of the old a reminder of the moment in our par ents youth when everything had changed The Beatles represented a similar slightly more recent earthquake They too belonged to the past We had sung their songs in nursery school and heard them on Sesame Street Nostalgia had claimed them Star Wars was different It was ours our own special tectonic shift after which the landscape was forever altered Or so the story goes in both its heroic and tragic versions The wild success of the film now known as Episode IV A New Hope has been held responsible for much of what followed the good along with the bad Star Wars supposedly helped put an end to the risk taking and artistic ambition of 1970s New Hollywood and ushered in an era of blockbuster domination that continues to this day Continues on page 48 Star Wars Elvis and Me Anything could have defined my generation but it happened to be Luke lightsabers and the Force By A O SCOTT A fan holding a Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars at the Great Wall of China Jason Lee Reuters

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