“I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in the force” – anonymous Jedi Knight
Comparisons between Star Wars and Christianity are easy and plentiful. Both offer up a sacred source-text packed with allegory, introducing us to those incorruptibly good, those bitterly evil and those tragically flawed. Both serve as a life-guide for the masses – a beacon in the dark waters that are our mortality. And both have a tendency for the long-winded, for the two-dimensional and tedious and dogmatic. Then, of course there’s the whole matter of the old and new versions…
Why the religious ramble?
Well, for many toy lovers, Star Wars holds a deep spiritual place in their psyche. It was the escapist fuel of their childhood, shaping them forever in profound and meaningful ways. And it is with them always.
But is this necessarily a good thing?
I loved Star Wars as a kid, but having grown up in the pop-cultural swamp-waters of 1980s South Africa, I didn’t have access to the toys; to the literature, to the fandom. There were no happy meals or trips to Disneyland. The force was only as strong with me as the grumpy, unwashed dude that ran the nearest video store would allow it to be – a dingy flea-pit hedged between a drycleaner and a butcher.
Every few weeks in this store – my only link to Uncle Lucas and his Technicolor space-pants – I would rent the original movies. That’s if the Betamax copies weren’t too damaged, or some other pig-nosed half-ling hadn’t scooped up the only vhs copies first, hightailing it up the hill, all the while wheezing and screeching: “Yeeep! yeeep ! wheeeee!”
My childhood grasp of Star Wars was unbearably weak. Maybe that’s why I can say the following with confidence: “I just don’t get it?” I don’t get why wave after wave of wonderfully talented toymaker, artist and illustrator exhaust themselves with exploring this diluted and over-hyped franchise
Before the collective will of every nerd this side of Bobba Fett’s ball-sack riddles me with mind-bullets, let me state my case…
I know the characters are awesome and enduring. I’m with you in the belief that it doesn’t get better than a Storm Trooper or Vader or an AT-AT – these images will be with us always, beyond even death. I’m with you brother. sister. Amen! Hallelujah!
But while we’re all gathered here, praying in his chapel with our eyes tightly shut, do me a favour. Brother. Sister. Open your eyes and take a look at that lady in the front. The one shaking the tambourine. You see her? The one speaking in tongues and flayling her arms around like a lost fart trapped in Jar Jar’s dump-bucket.
Doesn’t she make you feel weird? And those people, tucked in the corner. The ones counting all the coins from the collection plate. Their chinless faces, their bloated necks; their thick tongues mumbling in a language we don’t understand – doesn’t something feel a little off to you? Doesn’t any of it make you feel a little dirty?
Could it be. brothers. sisters. that were are trapped in a belief system? And is this system polluting or ability to generate new ideas for toys and stories and characters?
Maybe it’s time we all wipe the stars from our eyes…