May the Fourth Be With You… A Tribute to Star Wars

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Today is Star Wars Day. As Such, We’ll Bask in Reverence for George Lucas’ Masterpiece, and Revel in its Glory!

May the fourth. In the past few years, it’s become known as Star Wars day because of the pun phrase, “May the fourth be with you.” No other movie series has permeated and shaped our culture so much over the last four decades. Maybe that’s why for some, Star Wars is much more than a movie series. It’s a religion. But what makes the story that captured the world’s imagination so special? Well, let’s take a look and find out, shall we?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

At the core of Star Wars is mythology. It’s well known that Lucas based much of his writing off of Joseph Campbell’s work. If you’re unfamiliar with Joseph Campbell, he literally wrote the book (volumes, actually) on what he coins the “monomyth.” or “The hero with a thousand faces.” Campbell studied thousands of myths and legends from cultures the world over, and he came up with a common thread that serves as a blueprint for the most enduring tales in human history. Legends like King Arthur, Beowulf, and even further back like Gilgamesh, all follow some version or slight variation of Campbell’s pattern.

And so does Star Wars.

At it’s core, Star Wars is a fairy tale set in space. It’s an amalgamation of every legend, fable, and, myth we in the west have been told since we were small children. And for people of my generation, it literally was the myth that shaped our childhood. 

One of my earliest memories is of seeing Return of the Jedi in theaters with my grandfather and cousins. I was only five, but I was more excited than I’d ever been to see lightsaber fights on the big movie screen. Prior to that, I had only known Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan, and Vader through grainy pirated VHS tapes on a 27″ console CRT television. But I watched those movies constantly, and collected every action figure and playset I could get my hands on. I traded other toys like G.I. Joes and He-Man figures for Star Wars ones. I had Star Wars pajamas, a Star Wars lunchbox, and even Star Wars bedsheets. 

“What else? Moichendising!”

“Moichendising!”

Therein lies the other part of George Lucas’ genius. He knew that the movie was going to make waves because of the special effects and the revolutionary style in which this time-tested fable would be told. And he had the foresight to secure merchandising rights. By doing so, he controlled the cultural impact that his movie (soon to be movies) would have on the world. 

If I’d only seen the holy trilogy as movies, it’s likely they would have never been as big a part of my live as they have been. After all, I had plenty of other movies that I loved at that age, The Last Unicorn and The Secret of NIMH spring to mind. However, I couldn’t buy a Schmendrick or a Red Bull action figure from the former. Nor could I find a toy version of Jenner and Justin from the latter. But I could ask for a TIE Fighter for my birthday…

Surviving the Fanboys and Critics.

One might be tempted to believe that criticism of Star Wars didn’t start until the re-releases in the mid-’90s. Unfortunately that’s just not true. Older fans were outraged by Ewoks, while kids like me couldn’t sleep at night without our stuffed-toy versions of Wicket. And let’s just not even mention the Star Wars Christmas Special, mmmkay?

Then Lucas re-did the holy trilogy and made some changes. “How dare you?” many cried. Especially when Lucas had the gall to make GREEDO SHOOT FIRST in episode IV!

If George Lucas were the President, he’d have been impeached by fans so many times…

Yet those same fans, if given the opportunity to meet him on the street, would bow down and kiss his feet, I’d wager. 

Because in the end, Lucas gave us a modern American myth to hold onto. He gave us a philosophy and religious ideas that have soaked into our culture like so many holy scriptures did millennia ago. When we’re facing a crisis… when reality is just too much to handle, we can journey to that galaxy far, far away—where the battle is simply between good and bad, and the Storm Troopers can’t hit shit. That’s the world I want to escape to.

Happy Star Wars day, everyone. May the fourth be with you… always. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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