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Pint-sized Star Wars fan Liam Porter was dealt a physical setback that was most grievous. (Get it? Because…) Just when things were looking mighty bleak for the youngster, along came a rescue from the most unlikely of sources: The dreaded Galactic Empire... and some dude from Georgia with a 3D printer.
In a ceremony made possible by a volunteer group called E-Nable and the Georgia garrison of the 501st Legion, little Liam has been equipped (cybernetically upgraded, if you will) with a new type of artificial limb technology developed by inventor John Peterson. Playing to Liam’s request, the arm was constructed with a 3D printer, designed specifically to resemble a Clone Trooper arm. The look is so accurate, it would easily be mistaken as something that was smuggled off Kamino and sold on the black markets in the seedy Outer Rim territory.
It’s moments like these that make you feel good about what humanity can and has done for one another. If anything, it also drives home the enormity of the impact that Star Wars has had on popular culture around the world and how it continues to reach across generations. Specifically to this case, Liam’s clear preferential enthusiasm for Star Wars PREQUEL trilogy material is enough to make even the most zealous of Original Trilogy purists (which I tend to be) at least try to be a little bit more muted about any distaste for the trio of films that gave us Jar Jar Binks, dramatic performances drier than the dunes of Tatooine, eye-gouging CGI headaches and more plot holes than a block of Swiss cheese. (Aaand there I go again.)
Getting back to the point, it’s actually humbling to see how much Star Wars means to this little boy and inspiring to see how people were able to utilize his love for it to create something that will actually improve his quality of life. Liam probably couldn't give a rat’s ass about Greedo shooting first, digital Dewbacks, or Hayden Christensen Jedi Spirits. HIS formative Star Wars experience is much different than the one experienced by us Original Trilogy folks. (AKA, the old folks.) And that’s perfectly fine.
Perhaps another generation will look upon the upcoming Star Wars Sequel Trilogy with a similar reverence years upon years after those films have dropped. Yet, throughout it all, one single canonical thread holds it all together with what will soon be 9 primary films, an unknown number of spinoff films and loads of animated series like Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. (Which may or may not be canon. Who knows anymore?)
While there are certainly other franchises with legions of fans who have experienced life-altering meetings, get-togethers, etc. due to their shared interest, nothing (besides maybe Star Trek) has created something that has permeated the zeitgeist as successfully across multiple generations as Star Wars.