Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The strangest places...

I’m going off on a tangent again. I was sitting down watching the newest addition to the Star Wars genre: the animated movie “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” I started thinking. Things generally happen when that happens. Gears start turning and smoke starts pouring out. I started writing because I have thoughts. Damn irritating things…sometimes.

What is it about Star Wars? From the fruitfully imaginative mind of a relative unknown (at the time), George Lucas created the greatest series of movies that the world has ever known. He created a world “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” unlike anyone could have envisioned. What resulted was more that Mr. Lucas could have ever anticipated or foreseen.

Star Wars and everything that was, is or will be forever associated with it is, in its own right, an industry of several billion dollars (maybe tens of billions by now). 31 years later, it is still a relevant slice of society. Why? How can one thing impact society such as it has? Simply, Mr. Lucas knows how to tell a good yarn. His stories, his world, his galaxy has everything that you would expect in a great story. Good versus evil, courage and cowardice, Truth and deceit, conviction and exoneration, hope and despair, and love and hate. Elements that have always existed in society; that define a society as a whole, or individually in its singular members.

After I finished watching the movie on DVD, I watched the trailers and special features DVD that came with it (I bought the two-disc special edition). If you weren’t aware of it yet, you would be after watching the first section of the special features. “It” is the weekly animated television series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” I was barely made aware of this series by my brother David, who just so happened to turn it on after Christmas dinner at the parents. I knew of the movie, but I was not aware of the series, simply because I really do not watch much television. If I watch television it’s Jeopardy, Law and Order, or CSI (the original or the New York version—I was never a fan of anything Florida except vacations and Walt Disney World). That’s pretty much it for my television viewing habits.

What struck me about the series was that each episode is intended to be a stand-alone, even though some stories can envelop several episodes. Each episode has a “theme” that is stated at the beginning of each episode. As the DVD special feature described the making of the series, it showed several themes (statements) and described briefly each episode. To no surprise of my own, each statement was what most of us would describe as a social more or value, while others describe them as moments of inspiration or the thoughts of an enlightened individual. Some of them sound like they just fell out of Poor Richard’s Almanac:

“Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction.”

“A plan is only as good as those who see it through.”

“The best confidence builder is experience.”

“Great leaders inspire greatness in others.”

“Trust in your friends, and they’ll have reason to trust in you.”

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”

Each of these themes resonates with those of good and noble hearts. They remind us that those life’s lessons we learned from our parents or their parents or their parents are not merely words. They are values that we respect and keep close to our hearts. They remind us that the worst that life seems to offer is not always as bad as it seems. They remind us that the hardest path taken is always the most rewarding.

Star Wars succeeds because the characters, their stories and their world represent us, our stories and our world. For all of our faults and our imperfections, we also retain our strengths. The Jedi Knights are the heroes of the stories, but we have our own heroes. They might not be as clearly evident as a Jedi might be, but they exist nonetheless. We have our own Sith, our own worlds and our own societies. A society cannot exist without any of these things. There will always be (to varying degrees) good and evil, heroes and villains, hope, despair, love and hate. There is never a black without a white.

We all (to some degree) strive to be the hero, if only in our imagination. That is enough to get us by the day-to-day doldrums that we are usually faced with. It’s enough to allow us to escape for a few minutes or an hour or two, to give us the strength to carry on, to hope for better days and to realize that it really isn’t as bad as we think.

Most people would look at Star Wars as strictly entertainment. When you dig a little deeper, you notice things that would not necessarily appear on the surface. Sort of like the Force…

May the Force be with you!

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