Wednesday, May 4, 2011
May 4, 2011: May the Fourth Be With Us
As you no doubt already know, today is Star Wars Day. Since I was carried along all unknowingly to see the first film back in May 1977—my Mom was pregnant with me at the time—it’s been in my genetic makeup to be a fan; or, to put it another way, “It is … my … destiny!” (James Earl Jones voice.) And since the components of one’s identity and passions are never perfectly separable, here are four things about America that Star Wars can still teach us, provided we are not too old to begin the training:
1) Watch out for wretched hives of scum and villainy: I believe Obi Wan would be the first to admit that compared to the offices of Fox News, Mos Eisley spaceport is in fact a vacation paradise. Luke and Obi and the droids had to go to Mos to find Han and Chewie, of course. What’s our excuse for still tuning into Fox?
2) We really have a hard time wrapping our heads around biracial identity, even long ago in a galaxy far, far away: Seriously, the dude under the Darth mask just plain should have been JEJ. Yes, I suppose that might have made the whole “Come over to the Dark Side” dynamic somewhat more awkward. But how much sweeter would the Emperor’s death be if we knew that it was James throwing that wizened old Klan-type into the Death Star’s core?
3) Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view: Right on, Obi-Wan. Note he doesn’t say all, nor that they depend entirely on our point of view. There’s true and right, false and wrong, good and evil in the Star Wars universe. But it also turns out that Dad is a little bit of everything all wrapped up into one confusing and vital package, and if by “Dad” we mean “our past, collectively, nationally, multi-vocally, you name it,” then yup.
4) History’s most important actors aren’t necessarily, and in fact aren’t usually, the ones we’d immediately identify as the Big Folks: At the end of the day, nobody could tell an accurate story of the Rebellion and the takedown of the Empire if it didn’t highlight very prominently the work of one Yoda and a whole bunch of furry Ewoks. Sure, the famous younger Jedi did his part, and so did the Admiral Ackbar military leader types and Princess Leia government types (and Han Solo dashing scoundrel types). But the most authentic history might well be the Puppet’s History of the Rebellion, y’know?
And one to grow on, courtesy of (well, paraphrased from) none other than the wise little green fella himself: “For a long time have I analyzed these Americans, always looking to the future. Never their minds on where they’ve been, what they have come from.” We’ll try to do better, Master. More (well, not more of this, but more blog) tomorrow,
PS. Any Star Wars lessons for America you’d highlight?