The Best Part of Star Wars May Not Be What You Expect

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So what’s really so great about the new Star Wars anyway?

I went to see Star Wars Episode VII: the Force Awakens with my two younger kids a few days ago.  I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, but as a citizen of the world how could I give up the chance to see highest first-weekend-grossing movie ever?!  As you can imagine, my kids and I anticipated something out of this world (no pun intended ;)).

As a bit of a Star Wars “novice,” I’m sure I missed a lot of the brilliance of the film.  But I definitely enjoyed the age-old good vs evil fights, father vs son theme, and the notion of the “force” within us all which makes the film oh so spiritual.  The presence of the original characters, including biggies like Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo, made the film that much more fun.  The best part of the film is Rey, the female Jedi.  How great is it to see women kick some ass!?

And I bet you’ve all heard this from everybody else who has also seen the movie.

So what’s new here?

As I was watching the film, I couldn’t help ask myself: “Why do people love this franchise so much?”  We’ve definitely seen these themes in other movies too.  But then about an hour into the film, it hit me.

The film is full of crazy looking characters.  Your could even call them freaks.  Some characters appear human and others — well, how do I begin to describe them?  Some are a combination of metal parts and some look like huge rodents.  Many are downright disgusting looking.  This makes sense actually.  We are watching characters from a galaxy far far away.  Of course most of the characters wouldn’t look human.

The result of this?  Nobody looks like an outsider (or an insider for that matter).   Yoda, probably the most beloved character, looks like a cross between a gnome, dog, and a human toddler.  In this highly antagonistic galaxy, nobody is deemed a friend or enemy, good or bad because of his/her appearance.  Instead a character is considered good or evil because of what he or she DOES, e.g., rip off Rey when trading her parts, fight against or for the resistance,  see the force in Rey, and the list goes on.

What’s more, the really evil dudes — the storm troopers and Kylo — are the only ones who look the same.  They wear identical white or black uniforms and masks.  Clearly appearing the same as everyone else means you’re probably NOT a hero in this film.

Other films certainly try to mix races or “types” (think geeks and beauty queens) to represent a pluralistic society.  But they border on contrived.  And while each character may have a central role, it’s obvious each represents a “type.” Star Wars, on the other hand, pushes this multi-planetary look to the max.  While watching Star Wars you can imagine jumping right into the films’ scenes and not stand out not matter how you look.  And for many of us, that’s beautiful, beautiful thing.  I’m sure we’ve all wished we could just be the “normal” one in a situation.  I can imagine we’ve all wanted to feel like we belong no matter how we dress, sound, hold our bodies, or wear our hair.

I’m sure there are endless numbers of online communities chatting about all the many lessons Star Wars teaches us.  But the one I’m taking with me and sharing with all of you is that we should strive for a world where, like in Star Wars, there is no such thing as being beautiful or ugly, normal or weird, perfect or imperfect.  Instead, we should aim for a world where can harness our forces, and those of others, and use them for good.  Full stop.

Hope you all enjoy the movie!