Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Was The Force Ever Asleep?


Photo courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
On May 25th, 1977, fans of science fiction caught their first glimpse of the Star Wars Universe.  The newest chapter of this saga has been entitled "The Force Awakens," yet I have to wonder if it's ever really been asleep.

The tale of laser wielding knights, bounty hunters, royalty, monsters, and villains has, so far, spawned six more movies, weekly cartoons, novels, comic books, toys, games, t-shirts, posters, buttons, and other bobbles.  The franchise's fictional Jedi Order even inspired the formation of The Temple Of The Jedi Order: Church Of Jediism in Texas.

 While most fans haven't adopted the saga as a replacement for their personal God concept, the franchise has made an indelible mark on pop culture and, arguably, society in general.  Besides being entrenched within "nerd culture," the franchise has wormed its way into unexpected parts of civilization.
  • On March 8th, 1983 President Reagan referred to the USSR as "The Evil Empire."
  • The same president named his ill-conceived missile defense system "Star Wars."
  • On 4 May 1995 during a defense debate, UK MP Harry Cohen referred to a the date as "Star Wars Day: May the forth be with you."
  • Star Wars also made its mark in the 2001 census, when over 390,000 UK respondents entered their religion as Jedi
  •  On March 1, 2013, President Barack Obama spoke, saying that some people expected him to do a "Jedi mind meld*" on the Republicans who refused to make a deal.
  • To wish someone good luck, many of us say, "May The Force Be With You."
There are other examples, of course, but my point is that the past 38 years have been influenced, to some degree, by this fictional realm.

Two months from now, fans will be treated to the next cinematic chapter.  Stores have been selling the action figures since August, and Fandango is already selling tickets for the December 18th opening.

The current mania reminds me of the 1999 craze.  There had been no big screen offering of Star Wars during most of the 80s & 90s, so when Episode I was announced we were clambering to see Vader's origin story.  In that pre-Fandango world, light saber duels were being conducted and cutters were being mocked by fans in ticket lines which stretched around entire city blocks.

Even though that particular chapter proved to be the least "stellar" of the collective, the sense of mania is repeating itself.  Some say, the excitement is at such a high level because to original performers are returning.  Yet, I wonder if it's not simpler than that.  As psuedo-ideological as it sounds, I think Star Wars simply resonates with people in a way other stories don't.

In any case, I have my tickets.

Epilogue Added 11/17/2015:

I’ll be taking a break from blogging. During the next 6 weeks I’m going to; design & send this year’s Christmas card, design next year’s calendar, rewrite a few chapters of my book, and look into raising money for a copyright lawyer so I can self publish “Murder According To Hoyle.”

* = President Obama actually confused the "Jedi Mind Trick" with the "Vulcan Mind Meld."

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