Star Wars culture and its evidence that the cinema has a direct impact on America history through the phenomena that it causes. The writer explores the Star Wars movie from the 1970’s and argues that it is possible for a film to create an entire culture of existence as was proven by this movie and its subsequent releases. There were four sources used to complete this paper.
Since the beginning of the silver screen millions of movie goers have flocked to theaters to be entertained by their favorite actors and directors. Some movies flop, while others make a profit and every once in awhile a movie is released that creates an independent culture of followers crossing all economic, social and racial boundaries. This was the case of the first Star Wars movie which was released in 1976 and created a multiple decade following of fans. Whether the movie made the culture or the culture made the movie is arguable however, the impact the movie had on American society cannot be ignored. It is a classic study in human nature, wants and desires that began with the first rolling of credits.
Before one can begin to understand the hold Star Wars has had on the American public for the past 30 years one must first have a grasp of the storyline itself. Star Wars tells the story of a young Luke Skywalker who is good natured and pure. He lives on a planet called Tatoonine which is filled with dust. Living with his aunt and uncle, Luke dreams of having a different life. He dreams often of becoming a rebel soldier. The soldiers are led by Princess Lea who is played by Carrie Fisher and she is working with her army to fight against evil forces of darkness. The evil empire is taking over planets by force and violence and destroying the freedom and lives of the innocent who inhabit those planets. The ship the Empire uses is called the Death Star which sets the stage for understanding which side each character in the movie is on.
The side of evil is led by Darth Vader and the Grand Moff Tarkin. Shortly after the story begins Luke’s aunt and uncle are murdered by the evil force troops. Luke locates a message from Princess Lea in an android pleading with him to come and help rescue her people for the good of the world. To perform this task she first asks him to locate Obi-Wan Kanobi who is an old mysterious hermit who has amazing powers. His quest to find the Obi-Wan Kanobi is aided by Harrison Ford who plays a rouge who is money hungry and basically will work for whichever side wants to pay him the most. In addition to Ford’s character there is also a sidekick named Chewbacca who has since been referred to across the nation as the “walking rug.”
Throughout the movie this team of mismatched personalities and beings encounter many difficulties and obstacles in their search for Princess Lea and the effort to rescue her.
In the end they did rescue her and the movie went on to become a foundation for an entire new culture.
One might be hard pressed to explain what happened following the release of Star Wars. Americans have long been known to invest much of their time and energy into entertainment even going so far as to see movies a second time, but Star Wars swept the nation with such a mad craze that people were lining up to see it a dozen or more times while it was in the theaters. It was not unusual to stand in line for hours on end to get a ticket to be able to see the show (Strickler, 1997). Hundreds of thousands lined up across the nation to buy tickets for shows they had to come back at a later time to stand in line again to see the show. It was a movie that people were willing to call in sick from work to see, a movie that couples would see with each other, in groups, with kids and without. It was a movie that triggered entire cultures to band together in the loyalty and study of the movie and its meanings. Underground discussions occurred that argued whether there were hidden and underlying meanings or not, and there are still debates as to the political significance of the movie and its plot (Strickler, 1997).
With the release of the movie came the sound of “Star War Geeks,” a nickname for those who lived, breathed and ate Star Wars moments and discussions. As the counter culture began to form several defining characteristics of individual members began to surface which included:
The willingness to stand in line for hours
The ability to hum the Star Wars theme song
The ability to give a minute by minute description of every fight
The ability to mimic Darth Vader’s voice
Owning a light saber
For Americans to get totally taken in by a film the film has to offer certain elements as well as have perfect societal timing. Star Wars provided both of these elements for its audience which skyrocketed it to stardom (“Star Wars” despots vs. “Star Trek” populists (http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/).
For many people the attraction was good ole fashioned science fiction during a time when the nation needed some light fun. America was just coming off of the long 13 years that it was involved in the Viet Nam conflict. Viet Nam took its toll on the American public and robbed millions of the innocence they had previously been safely encased in. The war left many feeling jaded and skeptical and to push the public even further into despair the American economy had been in a stall for years with no relief in sight (“Star Wars” despots vs. “Star Trek” populists (http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/).
The public was ready for some relief from constant and relentless stress and the movie provided the perfect amount of fun with the right amount of good winning out over evil. The audience members came from all age ranges which was another part of the attraction. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and uncles could attend the movie together and then have something to talk about later. It was not so childish that it bored the adults, and it was not so mature that children would be lost in its meaning. It was a movie that provided months and years of family discussion and games that were related to the movie itself.
The very essence of the movie created the aura of what America is built on. It insisted that the side of good and light win over bad and darkness. Americans needed that message at that moment. After 13 years in Viet Nam most Americans could not vocalize why we had been there and what we had accomplished. Even those who had been blindly loyal to the cause were at a loss to describe its purpose. The economic standing of the nation was in a slump. Hundreds of thousands of American citizens were out of work, or pressed for cash and after supporting the war for more than a dozen years they resented their position. Those who had work were working longer hours for little pay and the paychecks they received barely covered the escalating inflation. All in all it was a time of great stress for Americans and the movie brought the ability to sit and relax for two hours without a care in the world.
While most Americans believe Star Wars was a much needed light hearted remedy for their stressful existence there are some who believe it only served to further entrench American residents into a class system that American fights so hard to admit exists. Through Star Wars some experts believe several negative messages and lessons are being provided for the public including:
Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn’t be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow.
Good” elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability.
Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough.
True leaders are born. It’s genetic. The right to rule is inherited.
Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.
Said one published author: “That is just the beginning of a long list of “moral” lessons relentlessly pushed by “Star Wars.” Lessons that starkly differentiate this saga from others that seem superficially similar, like “Star Trek (“Star Wars” despots vs. “Star Trek” populists (http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/).”
There are others that believe the release of Star Wars provided an unhealthy escape for those who were stressed out by current and past events and did not want to deal with it anymore. While it is true that the movie provided an escape for those who latched on to it, there has been no evidence that it had a negative impact on lives,…