If you have taken in any piece of media over the past week, undoubtedly you have heard a Star Wars reference. With the new movie The Force Awakens coming out, this probably should not be a surprise. However the extreme saturation is incredible; consider that I heard or saw a Star Wars reference on all of the following:
- The latest episode of the Serial podcast
- The latest episode of The Blacklist podcast, where the movie was about a Christmas town
- A White House press briefing.
This incredible saturation goes well beyond Disney marketing and speaks to the depths in which Star Wars has invaded our consciousness. At this point Joseph Conrad enthusiasts would pontificate about the hero cycle, how certain characters are ingrained in the human psyche, etc. However, what if Star Wars resonates for a different reason?
If you think about it, Star Wars (especially Episodes IV-IV) is a great American story, both within the context of the movie and outside. Consider:
- The writer/creator was a California boy who followed his dream to make a space opera and struck it rich living his dream, which is the quintessential American success story.
- Much like the American Revolution, the small rebellion takes out a large empire which strong British accents. A farmboy is the hero and the leader is an upper-class aristocrat who abandons status to lead the rebellion.
- Similarly, a combination of luck, courage, and fate drove the rebellion to victory, which looking back on the American Revolution would have made sense to the leaders of the American revolt.
- Anyone, ANYONE, no matter class, race, or status, can become a hero.
As Americans, we can relate to Star Wars because in some ways it resembles our success story. So it should not be a surprise that so often, especially with a new movie coming out, our default to referencing the concepts come so easily and naturally.