Warming up to The Light Side

I first came in contact with the Star Wars franchise when I was pretty young, probably about 6 or 7. Within my parents’ circle of friends, I was the sole girl, so I spent a good deal of my childhood in someone’s living room watching all the guys in my cohort play video games or watching cartoons with them. Thus, I grew up equipped with a plethora of “boy-knowledge” such as how to beat someone at Super Smash Brothers, or what combination of attacks could win you a Pokemon battle. This type of knowledge simply extended to Star Wars as well.

Though I readily accepted other parts of boy culture, for some reason I was rather resistant to Star Wars. I think in the girliest part of my heart I rebelled against it because it was just too much- too many guns, too much shooting at other people, too many explosions, and even at that young age I felt it was too infuriating to deal with all my guy friends staring at Leia in her metal slave bikini (which, by the way, is so popular that the bikini itself has inspired its own website). So for the longest time I did not enjoy it.

It's as true today as it was when it first came out: Star Wars is much beloved.

Then I grew up, in a literal and mental way, and by the time I was in late middle school I realized that the story was more than just guns and mindless violence. It was a story about love, courage, bravery, family… basically everything in life worth fighting for. I don’t know when the lightbulb clicked on for me, but I’m sure that moment is what caused massive numbers of other people to adore this series and everything to do with it. It has such an overarching and universally relevant message that I think it’s actually very hard to dislike it if you are aware of what the meaning behind the message. I wouldn’t call myself a fan exactly, but I certainly appreciate what Lucas meant it to be.

It has all the hallmarks of major, cross-culturally appealing stories that make it big because they have mass appeal: a hero from a seemingly ordinary but actually exceptional background; a beautiful woman who seems vulnerable but does her share of ass-kicking; a group of sidekicks that are useful and loyal; an old and aging mentor who teaches the hero what he must do, but then leaves him to fulfill his quest alone; a very dark and scary villain who has the power to ruin EVERYTHING. Later in school I learned that these were called archetypes, and that George Lucas had actually consulted an archetype expert, Joseph Campbell, and the theories of Carl Jung while writing the story.

So really, how could most people NOT like Star Wars? We’re socially, culturally, and psychologically hardwired to respond positively to such characters and messages. And I think that ultimately, that message is universally appealing and timeless. I don’t see it losing much of its attraction unless human nature undergoes a drastic change.

I would have to say that, in that hypothetical situation, I’d have to throw C3PO off of the Millennium Falcon, and for a very simple reason. The Ewok and Jar Jar Binks have the advantage of being alive, even if neither are very smart or potentially useful to the universe as a whole. R2D2 cannot be thrown off because he is simply too cute, too comic, and too useful as a hacker. How many times in the movies have the main characters been saved because R2D2 plugged himself into a system and saved them? That’s right, quite a few. How many times has C3PO saved anything/anyone?

Not enough to avoid being thrown off the Millennium Falcon, that’s for sure.

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