I was very close to taking my family on vacation to Anaheim this year to attend the Star Wars Celebration. The reason we didn’t go is because we are trying to stay a bit on the fence—we are all fairly invested in the Expanded Universe and want to make sure that the new films are not utterly screwed up continuity wise. If we had known that Jaina Solo would be in the new films, we likely would have dropped $20,000 for a no holds vacation to California. But right now we don’t know much about the future of characters we love as a family, and Disney really didn’t get a huge presence into their theme parks yet—which was the other qualifier. It’s only been three years, but I had hoped that Disney would have had more Star Wars specific attractions by now, especially since they put the Celebration event right next to Disneyland. But they didn’t so given the unknowns, we held onto our money for the time being. However, that didn’t mean we couldn’t see what was going on. The event was live streamed for the entire weekend, which my daughter and I watched religiously trying to see each and every interview shown. We were like many millions around the world scrapping up every bit of Star Wars news coming out of the convention—which from a mythology perspective was quite extraordinary.
The reason for all the fuss is that Star Wars is all about values and the world has in many cases been deliberately starved of them to fulfill various political agendas. Star Wars is really the first global influence which clearly attempts to define good and evil in a way that every culture from every segment of society can relate to. Religion used to be that vehicle, but it no longer works properly for most, and Star Wars is filling that void.
Another massive revelation which came out of the convention the day after the movie preview for The Force Awakens was shown was the new Battlefront video game which features Star Wars scenarios in some of the most intense battlefield action seen to date—themed to the original films. I am currently playing Star Wars: Commander on my iPhone 6 just to fill the time between game platforms. My wife and I just finished playing Star Wars: The Old Republic which we played every day for nearly two years and now we are waiting for Battlefront which can be seen in the following clip. This is a new reality that fans around the world can enjoy playing in real-time against real people at all hours of the day no matter where they reside. When Battlefront comes out, I may retire again and spend most of my days playing that game. Here’s why—I never get enough of this type of activity!
One aspect to Star Wars: Commander that continues to amaze me is how many people chose to play on the side of the Empire. In Star Wars the Empire represents the bad guys and I have been mystified as to why people would or could play the bad guys. There is a segment of the population, and I see this extensively in the table top games from Fantasy Flight, like X-Wing and now Armada that roughly half the human population identifies with the bad guys so much they prefer to use them as representatives to themselves while the other half chooses to play on the side of the good. According to many who prefer the bad guys, the Empire is poorly understood and is on the side of institutional justice. There is a power in the bad guys that is attractive to these people and ironically it does affect their morality in real life—it will affect their decisions at the voting booth in favor of marijuana legalization, immigration strategies and generally the size and scope of government. There is quite a science to the natural appeal of those who love bad guys over those who don’t. In Commander there is never a shortage of bad guys to play against in live combat. No matter what time of day or what part of the week there is an Imperial base to attack because that many people love the bad guys of Star Wars so much that they are willing to invest the massive amount of time it takes to build up to a level 8 base—which is what I have.
A common theme throughout the years 2000 through 2010 among from young men who knew me was that many liked the villains of Star Wars much more than the heroes. I was trying to mentor them, most came from homes where the fathers were terrible. They only identified with the bad guys, whereas young men who had strong fathers that they could look up to tended to agree with me, that the good guys were the ones to cheer for in Star Wars. I would get pretty animated at these young boys who loved Boba Fett and Darth Vader over characters like Han and Luke and tell them that there was harm in liking the bad guys, which I still believe probably more so today than I did even then. Yet I could not convince them otherwise because their foundation thoughts were set in stone from early in their youth. I suspect this is the case for many who love Star Wars from the point of view of the bad guys. Somewhere along the line a mentor of some kind let them down, leaving them to turn toward institutional consensus to behold their values.
Of those young people who argued with me in favor of the bad guys over the good every single one of them has had a rough life a decade later. Often drugs were part of their lives, but also they suffer from relationship issues and generally low self-esteem. I still feel if they had listened to me, they would have been greatly improved as human beings but their desire to identify with the bad guys in Star Wars indicates a much more systemic issue than anything that can be quickly cured with some motivational speaking. If the wires are crossed during their infancy, there isn’t much anybody can do to fix them later unless they recognize the error of their identification.
As a kid, and still now, I could never play the bad guys—I never felt comfortable flying a TIE fighter against an X-Wing fighter in the video game series X-Wing. I could have never put on a Boba Fett costume—and certainly not a stormtrooper. When the game Force Unleashed came out I did not play it at first because you had to play as an agent of Darth Vader—which I couldn’t do. I literally could not physically show aggression toward what I considered to be the good guys in Star Wars. It actually makes me sick to do so—to play a bad guy. I’ve been like that my whole life—down to my earliest moments. In kids both male and female the love of good guys or bad guys seems to come down to the relationship they have with mentors in their lives. If they are short on proper mentors, they tend to love the Empire. If they have several positive mentors in their lives, they love the good guys. One of my nephews really became angry with me when he tried to justify Darth Maul as a cooler character than Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had a really manipulative father—so no matter how much I tried to inspire him to something better, he always snapped right back into loving Darth Maul over Obi-Wan. After several years of trying I stopped—understanding that the static patterns had already been established and it would take a major crisis in his life to shake him into wanting new heroic archetypes.
But what’s great about Star Wars, even those who love the bad guys, is that the stories from that franchise are about essential values and are some of the most powerful works of philosophy and religion currently being explored anywhere. Star Wars is shaping the tone and values of the 21st century and is defining the next thousand years of humanity. It is becoming our new Bible wither or not people like it or not. In a society that is lacking values—purposely implemented—Star Wars and a few other comic related franchises are all they have. In most cases, parents have failed them, schools have failed them, mentors have failed them, entertainment, religion, economics—etc, have all failed them so they turn to Star Wars for the values uttered in those stories. That is why all the emotion over a simple preview in anticipation for one of the most epic experiences most people will ever have even in relation to the life and death of loved ones—the opening of the next Star Wars movie. It’s much more than a film franchise designed to make money as a capitalist endeavor. It is that—but it’s much, much more. Star Wars is about values, and people weep over just hearing the music because it makes them emotional to have those empty voids filled within their minds where values should be—values that have in some cases deliberately been withdrawn as a means to control the population through political efforts. Star Wars is about recreating those values and the result of that endeavor usually puts people on one side or the other. But whichever side it is, they are at least better off than valueless slugs awaiting the commands of a political class that rules by the void of valueless utterances. Star Wars provides those values, and the world is far better off because of it.