There was a moment, a few months after the release of the Force Awakens, that I stopped what I was doing and started asking myself questions: Why do I love Star Wars so much? Why do I spend hours each week reading and watching YouTube videos about Star Wars news and theories? Why do I feel the need to read academic books analyzing the themes of Star Wars and whether or not the prequels are any good? Why do I look forward to the release of the next movie like it is a vacation to Europe?
Given the intense passion among the Star Wars fandom, I suspect many people ask themselves these exact questions. For me personally, my love of Star Wars comes down to a handful of factors:
- Nostalgia: I was first introduced to Star Wars when I was about 5. My mom got me the original trilogy special edition VHS set, and from then on I was completely hooked. I would watch A New Hope, the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi over and over again until I had practically memorized the entire trilogy. I had Star Wars action figures, Halloween costumes, and, of course, lightsabers. I even liked to kneel by the front door with my toy gun to mimic Princess Leia’s soldiers on the Tantive IV. I was only about 7 when the Phantom Menace was released, and even though I see some of the movie’s flaws now that I am older, at the time it was just about the coolest thing ever. The reason that Star Wars is so nostalgic for me is that it brings me back to my childhood. While being an adult comes with some awesome privileges, it also comes with significant stresses. Star Wars brings me back to a time when I was more innocent and had less responsibility, which can sometimes be a great escape from real life.
- Adventure & Purpose: There is no doubt that most people look for some kind of purpose in their life and feel like they are somehow special in their own way. However, as we get older and wiser, most of us realize that our lofty dreams of becoming a famous actor, politician, athlete, or entrepreneur are likely not going to materialize. This does not mean that life is not great (because it is!), but just that we have to temper our childhood dreams as we get older. One of the great benefits of Star Wars is that it lets us immerse ourselves in a world where the fate of the galaxy is at stake and characters do have a destiny and purpose. When Luke looks out into the binary sunset in A New Hope, that represents all of our longings for meaning and adventure. As Luke goes on the hero’s journey throughout the original trilogy, I live vicariously through him and imagine myself rescuing princesses, blowing up super weapons, and saving the galaxy. Now, we can all do the same with Rey, Finn, and Poe. Much like the nostalgia effect described above, the hero’s journey in Star Wars lets us escape our current reality and imagine a more epic existence.
- Relatability: None of the above would matter if the average person could not relate to the world of Star Wars and its characters. However, even though it is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the universe and its inhabitants are easy to relate to. The Star Wars universe faces the same kinds of political questions that we do about how much power government should have and whether rebel groups are freedom fighters or criminals. Characters in the Star Wars universe also face the same kinds of emotional challenges that we do in our universe. For example, Luke’s battles with Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi have so much going on under the surface. In Cloud City, Luke faces the “man” that killed his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and on top of that has to learn a terrible truth about the identity of his father. Learning that our parents are fallible is a truth we all come to realize, but it is nonetheless powerful. Moreover, Luke’s sacrifice in Empire to avoid joining the dark side and in Jedi to try and bring his father back to the light provides an incredible example with which we should all try and live up to. As the original trilogy progressed, I identified more and more with the characters and their stories. It is this strong emotional connection that fuels my love for Star Wars.
It is because of my love for Star Wars that I decided to start this blog. I hope to be able to share that passion with you, and in return, I hope you will share yours with me.