Free The Force Is With US All: Research Paper Example
Discussing the Myth, Metaphors, & Modern Influences of the Star Wars Phenomenon
Science fiction has been and remains one of the most popular genres all across the globe. From little grey men in flying saucers to robotic high-tech invaders and from cybernetic entities intending to overthrow the government to time travelers attempting to change history, science fiction is part of a universal cultural paradigm. However, in the 1970s popular science fiction had been ideas of space battles and people were often subject to technology, George Lucas’s “Star Wars,” hit the theatres and changed the way that people perceived and understood science fiction. “Star Wars” did not just focus on the high tech aspect of science fiction, but brought with it the investment of family, of long lost religions, which are antithetical in many science fiction tales (Utley 1).Religion and spirituality had had very little to do with the realms of science fiction until now. There are very few people, fans of the genre and Star Wars or not, that do not know the phrase, “may the force be with you” and “Luke, I am your father.” “Star Wars” has become imbedded in culture from America to the other side of the world. This pivotal saga of films has taken root in society and led to inspired a new religion, presented a new philosophy, and has added to the altar of modern mythology.
Science fiction is a far broader genre of works, than when it first became identified as its own genre. People have been telling the tales of cultural origins, pivotal figures and the mythos involving their faiths since man first began gathering in communities. What sets science fiction apart, at face value, is that it tends to deal with the scientific side of the imagination, things involving technology, time travel, and the discovery of unknown worlds. The works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are often remarked as the forefathers of modern science fiction, which included famous classics like “The Time Machine and “20,000 Leagues under the Sea.” The popularity of science fiction has been on the rise since it began (Franklin 1).Long-running and beloved franchises and cult classics like “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Dr. Who” led the way for modern science fiction, like the astoundingly popular “Hunger Games” and groundbreaking films like “Avatar.” However, it is very possible that if it had not been the contributions of Star Wars, modern science fiction may be very different entirely.
The Star Wars universe is a vast canvas that really has no limits, just places and people as yet to be discovered. It incorporates laser weapons fire with princesses in distress and introduces a number of foreign and alien races and characters that are immediately recognizable and often beloved, like Chewbacca and Yoda. However, in the “Star Wars” universe many molds were broken. In this story archaic titles and governmental organizations pervade, yet they are represented with new twists (Giacomazzo 1).The Princess can be the one in charge and fire a blaster as well as any man, the smallest of beings can be the most powerful, and that one can live in a world of technology and still celebrate religion at the same time. These variations on the traditional science fiction realms changed the face of the genre and introduced science fiction in a new way that made the fan-ship of science fiction a far more mainstream phenomenon.
It, also, introduced a class of beings that were a bit different in these films than any that had come before, the droids. The droids, a mechanized worker class, designed for specific tasks, they are bartered, traded and sold whenever the current owners see fit (Sofge 1). However, the droids of “Star Wars” are not robotic automatons; they have personalities, fears and even strong opinions. Even R2D2, who cannot speak, makes his personality known through whistles and clicks, in contrast, C3P0, never ceases to whimper, whine, and worry about everything that is going on around them. The likability, humor and humanity of these mechanical beings make them more than property in people’s eyes. This begs the questions are the droids representative of a slave class and how does that change the one’s outlook of the “Star Wars” world? The reality is that droids are, in fact, less than slaves, in the “Star Wars” universe, even a slave, can own a droid. Slaves are living people sold and traded as laborers and servants, however, a droid in perceived a tool; they were no more alive than a toaster or an electric screwdriver. However, this creates an intriguing conundrum in the films, because while the opinions of the droids are intended more for the audience than characters generally were correct in their assessment of the situation. In many ways they become the perspective of the audience because they are very much spectators of the events going around them.
The second major ethical dilemma that continues to be asked by modern “Star Wars” viewers, why is Lando Calrissian, portrayed by Billy Dee Williams, is the only African American character, with a proper name and dialogue in the entirety of episodes 4 through 6? This raises many questions about why that is. Did people of color not survive to exist in the future? Is that a statement that was intended? Given that new characters of color, like Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is presented in the prequel films, episodes 1-3. Could the racial slight have more to do with the mentality of people in that era? The reality is that it is true that, with the exception of a few background characters, Lando is the only character of color in the original 3 releases, but that does not necessarily mean that the Star Wars universe a little racially non-inclusive (Pianka 5). Firstly, there is no reference that the human beings that are presented in the tale are, in fact, truly human, or at least human from Earth. So our earthly racial issues may be irrelevant in the Star Wars universe. When dealing with so many alien beings, so very different in many cases, there is likely little time for human beings to worry about discriminating amongst themselves. If race is irrelevant then it is there is no intention in the oversight. As far this science fiction icon possibly presenting a negative racial point is ridiculous. If anything “Star Wars,” and science fiction in general, have worked to break down racial stereotypes and disregards race a cause of discrimination. Also, if human beings in this universe are not involved in racial discriminations then the visual variation of race would become rare. Many people would have become so ethnically mixed that skin color is likely far less varied.
Despite its immense popularity that has not deterred, non-fans and fans alike, from the discussing and heatedly debating the validity and metaphorical importance of the “Star Wars” universe (Giacomazzo 1).It is a testament to its impact that a fictional story about a galaxy far, far away could find itself being discussed in many realms of study, including psychology, theology and sociology. There is a philosophy behind the “force” that plays such a huge role in the “Star Wars” universe. The force is energy, more than just molecules or god-beings; it is a tangible energy that exists around and within all things. The Jedi, as well as their nemesis, the dark Sith, have an ability to use that force to telekinetically manipulate the world around them. Such spirituality is often eliminated from science fiction, because of the pure scientific tale that is being presented. In fact, much of science fiction is centered on atheism. (Persall 1). ”Star Wars,” of course, broke that mold. However, in contrary to the teachings of Plato and Descartes, the force works under differing principles (Waldman 2).While the details of the force was a child of George Lucas’s mind, much of the storytelling and format of the tale can be attributed to the philosophical perspectives of Joseph Campbell and his “Heroes Journey” theory of writing tales that can withstand the test of time (Joseph Campbell 1).
Joseph Campbell agreed with Carl Jung in that there are certain archetypes of characters that are predominant among every culture and ideology, past, present and future. The names and faces may change but the metaphor they represent remains the same. These archetypes are so innately recognized by people that they are inevitably drawn to them. More so, these archetypes follow a format in their experiences and the people that they meet. He argues that this “Hero’s Journey” can be applied to most myths, fairytales, science fiction and most literary works. stories easily (Joseph Campbell 1). The general structure of the “Hero’s Journey” involves a central character who begins the story in humble locales who is then thrown into a situation out of their control. This forces them to leave what they know behind to go on this quest. This can be applied to Frodo, in “The Lord of the Rings,” leaving the shire, Dorothy, in the “”Wizard of Oz” ending up in Oz and, of course, Luke Skywalker, leaving his Aunt and Uncle’s home. The hero will meet a mentor to teach them, a goddess or princess that sort of guides their fate and a number of characters, including an anti-hero, clown for humor, and villain that represents, not just evil, but temptation (Persall, 1). Respectively, for Frodo, it was Gandalf, Arwen the Elven Princess, Aragon, the reluctant hero, the other hobbits that travel with him and the “Ring” itself, which tempts Frodo away from what it "good." For Dorothy it would easily be Glenda, the Good Fairy, the Wizard, the Lion is both the anti-hero and comic relief, the Scarecrow and Tin-Man; also, provide comic relief, and finally, the wicked witch. In “Star Wars,” we see the same dissemination of characters. For Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi is his mentor, Leia is his princess-goddess, Han Solo is the anti-hero, the Droids provide a great deal of comic relief, and, of course, Darth Vader is both his enemy and his tempter towards the dark-side of the Force (Joseph Campbell, 1).
If one really wants to see for themselves just how influential the concepts behind the ancient Jedi religion truly is then one no one need look any further than the church of the Jedi. It is a fact that an actual new age religion has been formed, where the members follow the teachings that were born from corners of George Lucas’s imagination. Many argue that Jedi faith has familiar element’s reintroduced in different ways (de Castela 1).There are aspects that are reminiscent of Buddhism, it has an immense following here in the United States and all across the globe. The religion, in fact, began as a humorous phenomenon on results of a census in the United Kingdom. When, 2001, more than, 300,000 people filled out their census information instead of filling in the bubble of a mainstream religion, many identified themselves as “other” and wrote Jedi as their religion, it shocked the census reviewers. What does it mean to be a member of the Jedi faith? Again, the faith and metaphor of the ideologies behind “Star Wars” are based on ancient metaphors that are familiar to us all and therefore it is no wonder that the characters and themes are embraced by so many (Persall 1). Well, they not only follow the ideology behind the power of the force in the universe, but also, must work to live under the day-to-day codes of honor, integrity and purpose. All and all, the Jedi faith, whether one considers it a valid religion or just a club of sorts, the teachings of the Jedi are not harmful or dangerous so they do not pose a threat to society in any way.
Ultimately, there is no question that “Star Wars” is one of the most influential of films period, regardless of science fiction or otherwise. Star Wars has all of the elements, as Joseph Campbell, explains that are innately familiar to everyone, regardless of where and when they have lived. By taking what is already a part of us, combining it with strong metaphors and changes the genre and established itself as a cultural paradigm in and of itself. “Star Wars” changed the science fiction genre, making it more accessible and appealing to diverse audiences and the characters, ideologies and themes have become part of who we are. In the end, there are many other literary and cinematic works within the science fiction that see the “future” as grim and often devoid of humanity. However, “Star Wars” proved that science fiction has more than enough room for technological and the supernatural to coexist successfully and that is a pretty positive message for all to learn and heed
de Castela, Tom. "Have Jedi created a New Religion." BBC Magazine. 25 Oct 2014: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29753530>.
Franklin , H. Bruce. " Science Fiction: The Early History." Andromeda: Rutgers University. 2013: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf/sfhist.html>.
Giacomazzo , Bernadette R. "Star Wars Legacy: How A Little Sci-Fi Flick Became a Global Phenomenon." Latin Post. 9 Feb 2014: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <Star Wars Legacy: How A Little Sci-Fi Flick Became a Global Phenomenon>.
Persall, Steve. ". Move over, Odysseus, here comes Luke Skywalker " Folk Story. 1999: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.folkstory.com/articles/petersburg.html>.
Pianka, John Paul. "The Power of the Force: Race, Gender, and Colonialism in the Star Wars Universe." Wesleyan University. May 2013: 1-96. Print.
Sofge, Erik. "They Deactivate Droids, Don’t They?." Slate Magazine. 19 Jun 2013: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/06/droids_in_star_wars_the_plight_of_the_robotic_underclass.html>.
Utley, Dave. "The Cultural Phenomenon of Star Wars: Why the Force is Still With Us." California State Polytechnic University. 2012: 1. Print.
Waldman, Katy. "Metaphorically Speaking." Slate magazine: The State of the Univers. 24 Nov 2014: 1-2. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/11/embodied_cognition_metaphors_about_the_physical_world_help_us_reason.html>.
Joseph Campbell." Star War Origins. 2015: 1. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.moongadget.com/origins/myth.html>.
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