‘Star Wars’ prevails as a cultural phenomenon

Star Wars prevails as a cultural phenomenon

Grace Vance

[heading size=”18″]’The Force Awakens’ unites the old and the new[/heading] Moviegoers delighted at the famous line, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” The revelation, “Luke, I am your father,” shook the people of Generation X.
Millions of people across generations marveled at characters like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia with their journies heightened by moments of virtue and bravery. Even though the series follows these iconic figures through outer space, concepts these characters battled with, like choosing good versus evil, instilled in them a sense of relatable humanity. The storyline takes place in a “galaxy far, far away,” but the characters could never felt more tangible, with countless action figures, Halloween costumes, and famous lines to reenact. Since the series debuted nearly 40 years ago, ‘Star Wars’ has become a cultural phenomenon.
“It’s a different reality that people are able to become a part of,” sophomore Dean Frossard said. “Personally for me, I like how ‘Star Wars’ was created and the plots and characters that are in it. [That is what] makes it interesting to me.”
Frossard, fascinated by the story of ‘Star Wars’ at a young age, was anxious to see the latest installment of the series, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’
“I thought it was excellent. It was really well directed and the storytelling was unexpected yet perfect for the next movie of ‘Star Wars’,” Frossard said. “The graphics were a big step up and made the movie a lot more captivating.”
Though the film was highly anticipated, many fans like Frossard had doubts. While George Lucas had directed most of the ‘Star Wars’ movies, director J. J. Abrams was set to direct the most recent episode of the series.
“I was a little skeptical on how it would be carried out, but overall it was very well produced. There was a lot more humor that was in the right places in this movie, which we haven’t seen as much of in past movies, yet it still had the balance of action within it,” Frossard said. “The storyline was different from the past movies but still was ‘right’ for this movie. I think it carried on the ‘Star Wars’ legacy very well with the connecting points from past films.”
[quote cite=”Turi McNamee”]It maintains a lot of the same themes as the original series but gave a nod to us old folks by bringing back some of our favorite characters without making them seem passé.[/quote] For junior Emerson McNamee, the legacy of ‘Star Wars’ runs in the family.
“I spend a lot of time around massive nerds, family included. I remember catching bits and pieces of it when the movies would play in the living room,” McNamee said. “My brother definitely had a ‘Star Wars’ phase. The same was true for a handful of my friends.”
Although McNamee does not describe herself as a “diehard fan”, her parents did influence her exposure to the series, similarly to Frossard.
Turi McNamee, Emerson McNamee’s mother, was 12 years old when she watched her first ‘Star Wars’ movie, ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’
“I didn’t start watching ‘Star Wars’ movies until the second movie was released. I grew up on a farm and it was kind of a big deal to get to go to the movie theater, so after the first one came out and generated all of its hoopla, we made a point of seeing the second one in the theater,” Turi McNamee said. “The biggest thing about these movies at the time was the special effects. They seem a little hokey now but they far surpassed the norm at the time.”
Despite ‘The Force Awakens’ introducing a new generation of Jedi, Turi McNamee said the film effectively appealed to younger audiences without polarizing their existing fanbase.
“It maintains a lot of the same themes as the original series but gave a nod to us old folks by bringing back some of our favorite characters without making them seem passé,” Turi McNamee said. “I’m glad that it’s a young woman who is the central character, and I’m even more glad that they veered away from what seemed to be a disturbing inclination towards ridiculously cartoonish characters [like] Jar Jar Binks.”
Even though Emerson McNamee grew up around unavoidable ‘Star Wars’ references from her parents, she does not tell the typical tale of a ‘Star Wars’ fan, having not seen all the movies. However, after watching the episode VII of the series, she believes it kept the legacy of the series alive.
“As far as content goes, I think they did a great job with keeping some of the elements from earlier movies, most notably the opening scrolling text and background space effects while using cinematography and SFX you’d expect to see in any movie in theaters today,” Emerson McNamee said. “The humor is timed really well and the main characters have strong personalities. Stereotypes are definitely broken.”
[quote cite=”James E. Gunn”]it was the only film I ever attended in which at the end the audience stood and applauded. Clearly it filled a need that nobody had recognized until then.[/quote] The underlining themes of ‘Star Wars’ — a hero’s journey, internal struggles of good versus evil and the rise and fall of power — propel this space magnifying tale into that of a moral compass. While many other stories like the ancient Greek ‘The Odyssey’ and the ‘Flash Gordon’ serials use the same progressive message, what makes ‘Star Wars’ special?
“Aside from the obvious virtues of a gorgeous, thoroughly imagined screen, ‘Star Wars’ had an appealing basic story structure, a mythic backbone and a fairy tale motif,” science fiction writer James E. Gunn said. “It also drew upon several generations of published science fiction for many of its images, which enriched the backdrop against which the action took place.”
Unlike other movies of the 1970s, ‘Star Wars’ created a much more hopeful vision that the dystopian ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Logan’s Run’ movies lacked.
“I attended [the] premiere — the Lucas people were active in promoting the first film with science fiction writers — and it was the only film I ever attended in which at the end the audience stood and applauded,” Gunn said. “Clearly it filled a need that nobody had recognized until then.”
While no one knew how popular ‘Star Wars’ was going to become when it debuted in 1977, Turi McNamee believes its success is partly indebted to its comprehensive marketing and compelling plot.
“Who doesn’t love a good ‘underdog saves the universe’ story? In fairness, this was one of the first really heavily marketed movie series as well, complete with action figures, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes and breakfast cereal,” Turi McNamee said. “I think [that] has resulted in a lot of people with memories of ‘Star Wars’ intimately intertwined with memories of their childhoods.”
She believes it’s the unique characters of ‘Star Wars’ that make the series it’s own — something she hopes will live for generations to come.
“This series brought a set of relatable characters with a great story set in some, at the time, groundbreaking cinema effects — the combination was electric,” Turi McNamee said. “This was probably the series that made science fiction as mainstream as it is today.”
Hover your mouse over the pictures to see slideshow:
[slider source=”media: 280574,280580,280573,280576,280579,280578,280572,280575,280577,280581″ limit=”10″ link=”lightbox” width=”800″ height=”480″ speed=”15″][custom_gallery source=”media: 268489,268488,268487,268486,268485,268484,268474″ target=”blank” width=”460″ height=”460″ title=”never”][carousel source=”media: 268474″ height=”200″ title=”no”][/custom_gallery][/slider] All photos used under Fair Use Doctrine. Source; www.starwars.com
Are you a ‘Star Wars’ fan? What is your favorite movie in the series? Leave a comment below!