Star Wars and the One Percent

There was a meme going around social media awhile back, near the release of The Force Awakens.  Maybe you saw it – it said something like “I am part of the 1% that has never seen Star Wars”. People were proudly posting this and making comments like it was a badge of honor. I kept thinking it was akin to saying “I have never had ice cream!” Ok, so living without ice cream is unique, and maybe even surprising, but also; it’s kinda sad. Now, if you’re lactose intolerant maybe this comparison fails, but my point is this; even for those that are not complete sci-fi nerds, Star Wars is a treat.

I’ve become interested in understanding who these people are that would deny themselves the pleasure of Star Wars. Maybe some of them are like those kids we knew in high school that refused to listen to any mainstream music and only followed bands that no one had ever heard of; the underground of the underground music scene. These people avoid anything even remotely popular in an effort to maintain an identity based on being different.

Then there are people who just don’t like science fiction. These people prefer entertainment based in the real world. Maybe they’re into documentaries, crime shows, the nightly news… those avenues of entertainment requiring no creativity or stretching of the imagination. I’m sure these people are loads of fun, really.

I’d say both of the aforementioned reasons play some part in my younger brother’s situation. When he posted the meme in question on Facebook, I was shocked. I had just mailed a box of Christmas gifts to his kids; Awesome blankets/bath robes that make you look like snuggly Storm Troopers. Did this mean my niece and nephew have spent their twelve years on earth being deprived of ice cream? I mean, Star Wars?

I called him up and asked him if he would be willing to watch the movie and talk to me about it. He agreed, but before we could discuss the details, I received this text:

“I rented Star Wars.”

I replied, “Which one?”

“The one in the Red Box.” (A little research revealed that TFA is already out on DVD and this is what he has rented.)

“That’s the 7th movie.” I told him.

“My friend at work said it doesn’t matter.” (Is this friend crazy?)

We agree that he will watch it and we’ll talk after. His girlfriend’s six year old son, Jake, watches with him. Jake knows what’s up and I’m hoping he’ll be of some assistance to my brother. But, a short while later, I received this text:

“I’m lost.”

After he finished the movie, I called him. The conversation was like a Star Wars version of the classic “Who’s on First” comedy sketch. I tried to explain that the first three movies take place after the next three movies. This is clearly confusing, so I ask him if he understood anything from TFA.

“I recognized Princess ‘Leia’ and the Han Solo Dude. I thought I saw Darth Vader but Jake said he’s dead.”

“You saw Kylo Ren. He’s the son of Leia and Han Solo.”

“Oh. Well, who is Anakin?”

“He’s Darth Vader.”

“Really? I thought Anakin and Luke Skywalker were the same person.”

“No, but they do have many parallels in their lives.”

“And Luke is Darth Vader’s dad?”

“Son.”

“Oh. Well, at the very end of this movie, Jake said ‘There’s Luke!’”

“Yes, he’s the guy on the island.”

“Oh. Yea… I didn’t get it.”

“I know.”

It didn’t seem like the right time to ask him to watch the other six movies. I began to wonder if it might be too late for my brother. We, the 99%, have such an advantage in having been there from the beginning – you know, when movies IV through VI were released.  Even with the assistance of the little padawan, Jake, and growing up in a culture inundated with Star Wars references, my brother couldn’t make heads or tails of TFA.

But I have (a new) hope; one of the prevailing (and very American) themes of Star Wars is that of choice. As pointed out in the recent podcast interview with Harvard professor, Cass Sunstein; even the Emperor, that embodiment of the Dark Side, respects choice. My brother has a choice of whether or not to invest in understanding the national pastime that is Star Wars. If he so chooses, he can embark on the hero’s journey on behalf of his children; to learn the way of the Force and pass it on to the next generation. In other words, take them for ice cream in a galaxy far, far, away. Whatever he decides, for my brother at least, that meme no longer applies.