I love Star Wars, and it is this saga of films that first got me interested in storytelling. I even use it when I am giving lectures on story development, as it is one of the clearest examples of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, a story formula that shows what unites the features of stories from every culture.
Not only is the story reflective of the age old fight between good and evil, it also shows a journey of personal discovery expressed through the main heroes, thus far embodied by Luke and Anakin Skywalker, as they embark on their quest to gain knowledge of The Force; a journey which is reflective of our quest to understand our place in the universe.
However, a story is always interpreted in the context of the age in which it is told. This being an age of terrorist threat, it is no surprise that there are elements of this creeping in to the Star Wars tale; especially if you watch the new Rebels series, or read the new books.
Imagine that you are just an average Joe living in the Star Wars galaxy. You go to work, spend time with family, go to the pub, go shopping; you live a normal life. During all of this, you realise that there is unrest, elsewhere in the galaxy, but you don’t seem to see any of it happening on your doorstep. As far as you’re concerned, life seems to be running very well in your neck of the woods, law and order being kept in check by those white clad stormtroopers and government officials.
As far as you understand it, the unrest is being perpetuated by a group of terrorists who call themselves “The Rebel Alliance,” who regularly commit acts of violence and terrorism against the Empire, in an attempt to sabotage the smooth running of government. Well, that’s what the news broadcasts tell you.
Of course, as outside observers of this story (the first six films), we are well aware that the man at the top of this government is truly evil, and seeks to control everything for selfish reasons. The point is, however, average Joe doesn’t know this because, as far as he’s concerned, he has no reason not to trust the news feeds. Why would the government lie? Yes there are stories of slavery and subjugation, but these are conspiracy theories, surely.
Does average Joe remind you of anyone? Yes, he’s you. You, and all of us, are living in world where there are threats everywhere, and conspiracy theories abound. We have no idea what is true and what is propaganda, on either side. We certainly have less and less of an idea of who we can trust.
Food for thought as we look forward to the next awesome instalment “The Force Awakens.”