Star Wars Doesn't Mean Anything Anymore

March 18, 2018


Star Wars doesn't mean anything anymore.


To be clear, Star Wars -the collection of intellectual properties spanning across the narrative media of movies, TV, novels, and videogames- doesn't mean any one thing anymore.


I had this thought while listening to some of screenwriter Max Landis' rant/blogs. He pointed out that Emperor Palpatine never knew about the Ewoks, or if he did, he never factored them into his plans. To Landis, this fact represents the amusing hubris of a fascist regime (represented by a government with a policy of choking people who point out problems). He also suggests that Rogue One's  reveal -that the assumed flaw in the Death Star was actually an intentional sabotage- undermines the clear themes of "Titanic-esque" fascist arrogance established in the original trilogy.


I agree. In fact, Rogue One intentionally removes any sense of silliness from its war setting. I personally love it.


The ideas of character driven realism and political caricature are both present in the canon of Star Wars. That's what makes the modern Star Wars Universe so interesting. It's also a side effect of a story that's too big to mean one thing. 


Star Wars used to be simple. It was the story of a farm boy becoming a jedi master. Fulfilling his destiny. Completing his hero's journey over the span of three movies. Between 1977 and 1983, every piece of George Lucas' fictional universe was used to build the story of Luke Skywalker's transformation.


Now Star Wars stories are used to build the universe. The art of storytelling is a tool for world building, and not the other way around. This development, coupled with the leadership of multiple directing storytellers, has resulted in an intellectual property that resists objective analysis. What was once the poster child for story structure is now, at best, an impressive patchwork of distinct ideas, themes, and cinematic flavors all trying to tell one story (like sherbert). At worst, it's a bit of a mess (like TwitchPlaysCinematicUniverse). 


Honestly, I don't believe that this evolution is either good or bad. I'm a fan and I'm on board for the ride. But if you ever decide to comb through every scrap of Star Wars story searching for meaning, I promise you, you're gonna find more than one answer.

















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