Growing Pains

An Alien To The Status Quo

May The Fourth Be With You

I first felt the magic of Star Wars when, during the opening credits, the yellow all-capital text with a downward tilt crawled on the screen into a field of stars

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

And then the iconic soundtrack started to play and I knew I was in for a treat; a treat that has become a comfort watch over the years. 

I had heard about the movie Star Wars for a long time before I sat down to watch it. I mean, who hadn’t? It was already a cultural phenomenon by the time I was born. It was referenced in so many of the movies that we were watching in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was so ingrained in the Western Nerd/Geek culture. In how many movies did we see the nerds and geeks dressed as Luke Skywalker or even Chewbacca and wielding lightsabers? I didn’t fully understand its magic until I was seated in front of the screen, being transported into a new world where anything is possible.

I felt transported into another world, another reality where the stakes were massive and the twists were shocking. For example, Why did Luke kiss Princess Leia who was his sister? Who would have thought that Darth Vader was Luke’s father all along? I remember audibly gasping when that information was revealed. Who would have anticipated that Rey, the scavenger from Jakku, was the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine, the very villain the Resistance had been fighting against? And just when we thought we knew the truth about Kylo Ren’s allegiance, he turned against Supreme Leader Snoke, revealing his own agenda. The moment when we discovered that the mysterious Supreme Leader was actually a puppet manipulated by Emperor Palpatine himself left me stunned. And let’s not forget the revelation that the lovable droid BB-8 was carrying a map to the last Jedi temple all along, setting off a race across the galaxy. Each twist kept me on the edge of my seat, eagerly awaiting the next jaw-dropping revelation. How awesome was James Earl Jones’ voice as Darth Vader?

Created by George Lucas, Star Wars is an epic space opera that began with the 1977 film and has quickly become a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon. The franchise, which is estimated to be worth US$70 billion, now boasts of films, television series, novels, comic books, theme parks that I long to go to, and video games. What started with a single movie has now become an entire fictional world that many of us wish was real. Who wouldn’t want to be zipping through galaxies in spaceships with robot companions, fighting against the powers that be? 

The first trilogy, episodes 4, 5, and 6, focused on Luke Skywalker. Then the narrative was retroactively shifted towards Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, in the prequel movies, episodes 1, 2, and 3. The sequels, episodes 7,8, and 9, follow Rey and Luke’s nephew Ben Solo holding the hero mantle and taking us through a whole new adventure, showing us whole new worlds in this galaxy far far away.

For over five decades, Star Wars has been a mainstay in modern pop culture. Several generations have been introduced to the beauty of Star Wars, right from the 70s. Many have fallen in love with the stories and with the characters. We have identified with the characters’ struggles, we cried when the death star killed an entire planet and memes have been spawned from the movies. In these five decades, we have seen an evolution of media. From cinemas to 3D cinema experiences, from television to streaming services, and still movies are impacting generations.

The overarching story within the universe has been told before. The simplified version of the story is; a chosen one struggles with his/her feelings of inadequacy before overcoming them to defeat the evil that is threatening the world. There are so many movies that have similar stories but none with the impact that Star Wars has had. Star Wars’ appeal is that these movies invite everyone to participate in the joy, the pain, the hope, and the redemption of the characters.

At its core, Star Wars speaks to universal human experiences: the struggle against adversity, the journey to self-discovery, and the eternal battle between light and dark. Yet, it’s not only the grand scale of the conflict that resonates but also the deeply personal struggles of its characters. From Luke Skywalker’s quest to find his place in the galaxy to Princess Leia’s unwavering courage in the face of tyranny, we have found ourselves drawn to characters who grapple with their flaws and ultimately triumph through sheer determination and the power of hope.

Moreover, Star Wars offers a sense of inclusivity and belonging that few other franchises can match which is why there’s an international day to celebrate it. And then there’s the sheer escapism that Star Wars provides. This galaxy far, far away is a place where imagination knows no bounds and anything is possible. Whether it’s piloting an X-wing into battle or exploring the bustling streets of Mos Eisley, Star Wars allows audiences to lose themselves in a world of endless possibilities and hide away from the world as we know it.

In essence, the magic of Star Wars lies not just in its epic battles or groundbreaking special effects, but in its ability to touch the hearts and minds of viewers in a way that few other stories can. It’s a timeless tale of adventure, courage, and the enduring power of hope—a legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.

I speak for the millennials who first discovered this movie in the 90s. I remember sitting transfixed as I watched Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan fight against every resistance to destroy the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. I wanted to have Leia’s heroism and courage. I wanted to be able to stand up against the injustices that I saw in the world. Because of these movies, I was ready to join the resistance. The idealism and hope that they inspire are truly unmatched. 

But more than just the movies, Star Wars has given us the Mandalorian, a TV series that is quickly becoming a cult classic. Without removing his helmet the entire first season, Mando became a new way for people to discover the franchise and introduced us to Baby Yoda who became an internet sensation, spawning multiple memes and gifs.

We nerds are grateful to George Lucas for creating this world because, through sweeping visuals and compelling stories, Star Wars has become something we identify with. This date, May the Fourth, born from a pun from the movie (May The Force Be With You)  is now internationally recognized as Star Wars Day.

Such is the impact of this world.

Today, I shall treat myself to a movie marathon of Star Wars and I shall remind myself that it is okay to hope.

Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth Be With You.

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