VERTIGO'S ON THE LEDGE:
MARCH COVER/JANUARY SHIP with DEVIN
Dammit! It WAS Star
For years, I have been denying that Star Wars had any significant impact
on my life. I was seven when it came out, saw and enjoyed it,
but it didn’t capture my imagination the way that Frances Hodgson Burnett,
or Harriet the Spy, or even Battle of the Planets did. Yet in thinking
about how I got from Sarah Crew and Harriet and Princess to USER’s Guilliame
de la Couer, I realize that I’m completely wrong about Star Wars. Star
Wars changed everything.
1977: I’m playing outside
with two friends, Zachary and Jacob. We’re at Zach’s house, so Zach
is Luke - that’s understood. I have ideas about the rest of it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had no sincere interest in being myself.
“Self” always seemed like a pretty dodgy concept anyway - was that who
I was at Mom’s, at Dad’s, at school, with friends…?
What made sense to me - what delighted me - was make believe. Later called
“theater,” and “drama club.” Later still called “gaming.” As a self-professed
realist and aspiring Buddhist, I try to stay rooted in the here and now.
But I have to admit that I’ve always understood Truth best as conveyed
“But I don’t WANT to be Princess Leah!”
I brandish a small, plastic sheriff’s pistol
and gleefully mimic a Harrison Ford-like sneer. “Well, I sure as
hell ain’t gonna do it, sweetheart.”
Jacob turns to Zach, desperate to impute
my femininity. “But SHE’S the GIRL!”
Zach stands behind us, arms folded, nodding
thoughtfully. “She’s kinda more Han though,” he admits, and from that moment
on I know. I know that there’s no point in huffing around with a bad attitude
and buns on either side of your head when you can drink heartily, pilot
badass spaceships, and get away with calling starry-eyed do-gooders
“kid.” I know that for every beauty locked up in a cell, there’s
a sweaty, dashing swashbuckler running around cracking jokes between
kills. And I know that although boys will frequently mistake me for
a princess, in my heart of hearts, I will always be pure rouge.
I share this now because I have long had the impression that this is a
theme relevant to much of my generation. The issue asserts itself
over and over again in anxious Gen X relationships, in exploratory
but also indolent abandonment of everything from organized religion to
work ethic, and even in pop culture (Meredith Brookes’ “B*tch,” Fight Club,
Being John Malkovich, “ “Nowhere Man,”). We don’t know who
we are. We’re ambiguous.
USER is about that ambiguity. It’s the story of a young woman who
has to abandon her understanding of who she is in order to move forward.
It is a story, I like to say, about the power of stories.
There’s a school of psychology that suggest that when analyzing your own
dreams, you should assume that every character is actually you. Fiction
is our dreams. It’s a map of the human psyche; an opportunity
to encounter our inner princess, our inner demon, our inner
You are the hero of your own narrative. And also the villain, and
the one in need of saving. You are the USER.
May the force be with you.