Star Wars Is A Different Story Every Time

This month, our themes are Star Wars, Transition, Maturity, and Agency. We examine Star Wars, the role it has played in our lives and in our development as people, and what lessons we can take away as the door closes on an important part of our shared cultural heritage.

I recently watched an episode or two of Star Wars: Clone Wars[1] that I would not have understood as a child. I’m frankly surprised that this show is PG – on one episode, I watched Asajj Ventress stab a guy through the heart from behind, and on another, a guy threw himself off a roof in front of a crowd, but kids can’t handle seeing two dudes kiss? I don’t understand reality some days.

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This is fine.

As an adult, I recognized that it was a fairly sophisticated story of honor, responsibility, and choice, with themes that the child I was would have never gathered. This refreshed in my mind a realization that I had some time ago regarding Star Wars – that it has been a different story every time I’ve seen it.

The Skywalker Saga is a story, told in a specific order[2], that imparts a great many lessons. Depending on your age when you first see it, those lessons differ. If you’re wise, as you grow older, the lessons will change as you understand the story with more depth and an appreciation for sub-plots and secondary character arcs.

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These guys had names. Names and families.

The first theme I clearly remember was good versus bad. Star Wars was a color-coded battle between good guys who talked to blue ghosts, and bad guys who kept shooting at the Millennium Falcon. There were lasers and space ships, and it was awesome.

As I watched later releases and prequels in my childhood and adolescence, the themes of the Heroes’ Journey began to stand out more vividly – the call to adventure, the war, the different political players involved in the ongoing conflict[3]. I saw how key players manipulated talented but naive associates, and how people who are determined enough will ruin entire societies to get what they want. It was a stark lesson learned not only in social science, but, for a child with autism, it brought to mind questions about the nature of empathy, and helped me to grow as a person, understanding the needs of others, and the impact that an individuals desires can have on the world around them.

As an adult, as the saga’s drawstrings have been pulled closed, the picture is painted in my mind of a society that has crumbled under the weight of its own hubris, dragged down by a leader with a nebulous vision, drowning in his own opinion of himself, and the tired but determined rebellion desperate to breathe free of his deadly, oppressive regime.

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I’m still talking about Star Wars, I’m still talking about Star Wars, I’m still talki…

The excitement I still gain from the series comes not so much from the memories I have of it throughout my childhood, but from the understanding that, as I grow as a person, I will see a different story unfold. With The Mandalorian, a series set some 5 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, we are invited into a part of this universe that is yet to become aware of the Force, or of the Jedi who once wielded its power on behalf of the Galactic Senate. And, though they may never be formally trained, we are excited to see the future of The Child unfold, and will be watching with great interest.

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I just ate a frog.

 

[1] Season 2, Episode 10 – The Deserter, and Season 2, Episode 12 – The Mandalore Plot

[2] That order is 1 (as a prologue), 4, Solo, 5, 2, 3, 6, Rogue One, 7, 8 and 9. I have spoken. The Mandalorian is the beginning of a brand-new saga, so don’t even start with me.

[3] It might be said that the political animal in me was well nurtured by Star Wars – I wouldn’t be so fascinated with world history and governing bodies, if I hadn’t been interested in the sub plots involving the disbanding of the Galactic Senate and the formation of the Rebellion. But it could also be said that I come from a long line of book-hungry nerds fascinated with the human animal and all of its machinations, and Star Wars is just a bulletin board on that highway.

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