Monday, April 25, 2016

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Lucas... Just Double Checking My Midi-Chlorian Count

In preparation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I made sure that in the week leading up to its release that I watched the first six movies as well as Tartakovsky's oft-overlooked Star Wars: Clone Wars show. For as long as I can remember, Star Wars has been a central part of my cultural vocabulary and an essential pillar of my own personal artistic cannon. Growing up on the margins of most social groups, the sci-fi genre was appealing because one of its core messages was always one of hope. Star Wars offered a different sense of hope than, say, the vision of the future that Gene Roddenberry gave us with Star Trek. The hope that Star Wars offered was the hope that for each of us there was the potential of completing our own version of the Hero's Journey: emerging from obscurity to stand against an unfathomably evil force and fighting back for the good of innocent people, your own survival, or to win a moral victory. It also offered the hope that no matter how badly you fuck up, like, say, making out with your own sister, you could still become a badass dressed in black walking the path of the righteous man.

In a lot of ways, Star Wars has become, both for myself and a substantial and increasing subset of the general population more than a series of movies--and video games and books and comic books and memorabilia of every variety that humankind can conceive of. It has become an icon, a cultural phenomenon that binds us and inspires us every bit as surely as the Force. Culture is a funny thing. Seemingly insubstantial artefacts are imbued with extreme significance, but as we validate that significance, we internalize it. Star Wars, like any other cultural text, is both completely irrelevant in the Grand Scheme of Things but intensely important on a very personal level and even on a macro societal level because it is integrated into both who we are and how we interact with each other. Being a fan of something isn't just some silly thing people do to pass the time and lower their chances of getting laid (by someone who isn't their sister); it's a part of their identity.