Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars Thoughts: What Force Should We Awaken?

Desert planet waif finds droid with secret inside leading to quest that ends in destruction of a giant weapon.  
--Episode 7.  I mean Episode 4.  I mean…

The brouhaha over the latest Star Wars movie leads me to believe any additional analysis is not only unwarranted but most likely moot.  However, I wanted to lay down my thoughts on the matter for my own reference years from now for, while it is certainly not a revelation to suggest that the enduring success of the Star Wars franchise is a testament to the power of storytelling, it also seems a testament to a few other things as well and Episode 7 further reveals to me many things about modern man’s enchantment with movies—some more blatant than others. 

Most clearly, we crave stories with characters we care about to make the journey worth the investment.  Episode 4 succeeded brilliantly not just because of its dazzling world of special effects, but because of the characters that filled that world.  While Episode 7 is derivative (see synopsis above), contrived (an uber high tech facility can’t do something as simple as locate intruders) and obvious (who didn’t see Han Solo coming a mile away?), we forgive because we have been offered characters we care about—both new and old.  The thrilling action sequences and related effects that are part and parcel of the franchise remain, but they are all focused around the characters and their quests and never become about the action itself. 

Another positive note is the fact that the leads are an independent, whip-smart, strong woman and a courageous, heroic black male.  Yes, there are still lots of white males running around, but we’ve come a long way, baby.  The woman out-fights and out-smarts men left and right and the black man doesn’t die as they so often do in films: he fights hard—with heart—and lives to see another day.  It may all take place in a galaxy far, far away, but it’s starting to look more and more like our own.  And that’s a good reflection, in this case.

But there is a Dark Side.  Happy as I am that audiences once again are as excited about a movie as they used to be, the fact that the world will plunk down collectively over 500 million dollars in one weekend for 2 hours’ entertainment while there are people lacking basic food and shelter is a sobering statement of our blindness to the twisted priorities of our day.  Think about it:  the amount of money spent to make and watch this film could certainly be put to more humanitarian uses.  I’m not saying we should cease feeding our imaginations—a vital road to solutions, discoveries and creativity—but perhaps we should feed starving children first…or at least at the same time or in as impressive an amount.  After all:  the more healthy and inquisitive minds we cultivate, the greater the potential for a brighter future.  If we can see our way to come together as a force for the good of the planet and its inhabitants, we may indeed discover A New Hope.

May THAT force be with us.  Soon.