People working in the music industry earn a living from it through writing, editing, arranging, performing and managing recording artists. Music has become a global frenzy especially if songs and their singers are packaged wonderfully to attract the audience’s interest. Television shows have their own bucket meals, plastic toys and school bags for the kids. The general audience is kept glued to the programs by creating familiar plots and even up to the extent of creating better lives as what Oprah and Tyra does best. Even the movies have gone life-changing by building characters set apart from real people by superhuman abilities or extreme personalities. All of the three examples stated above are products of the entertainment industry for the past century purposely designed to provide pleasure or a certain emotion to human beings. It cannot be generalized though that all movies, music and television programs are created to please the audience rather these media are available for all as a means of entertainment but not limited to this purpose. They have been popularly used to express a feeling or emotion, to make a point understood or to simply inform the audience of something. The song written by Elton John for the English Princess has captured millions of mourning hearts. Groups of “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” all over the globe understood the bizarre friendship between six people. One of the most successful franchises of all time is the Star Wars franchise, which includes films, television series, and merchandise (“Star Wars”).
The Star Wars movies, created by George Lucas, have enthralled a generation of kids and adults worldwide about the love story and chronicles of the lead characters in a make-believe sci-fi world. The characters in the story written thirty years ago still captivate children today and encourage a healthy imagination.
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Pop culture does not only bring satisfactory results from the public but it is also subject to criticisms. The recording artist Eminem’s lyrical prowess has always been questioned for intense profanity along with others like Marilyn Manson. A review board screens television shows and movies for malicious content or anything inappropriate to be televised.
What with its bold success and huge following of fans spanning the entire globe, one could also expect a controversial issue about the epic movie here and there. It is the talk of the town so it is most likely the target of critics’ eyes too. There have been issues that there are numerous hidden meanings in the story and the characters of the movie as kept under wraps by the creator himself. Spanning from morality to sexual issues, the critics have a lot to throw at George Lucas for his most popular creation.
A Religious Take
Most writers attribute a certain religious aspect to the films. It is expected though especially in a saga like this. To put it simply, the Jedi itself is a call to religious faithfulness. It can be comparable to life in monasteries where the monks’ life is dedicated to prayer. It is obligatory for the Jedi to follow strict regulations. This was very evident with the love story of Padme and Anakin shown in the prequels, wherein they had to keep the pregnancy a secret. Just like the Jedis, other groups from the movies, such as the Siths also follow certain codes that reflect popular persuasions evident in the modern society. The Siths dress code has a parallelism with vestments worn by Christian priests such as power embodied by the cloak, the stole which symbolizes the sense of duty and the texture of the fabric which represents sacrifice (“The Darth Maul”) This similarity is very possible because the use of the same vestments for the Siths can render the same effect when people see them as similar to priests.
Another hidden meaning described in the Star Wars films is an obvious stand against homosexuality in the Catholic Church (“The Hidden,” 2005). With Padme’s pregnancy, Anakin is kept from following the strict rules of the Jedi because of his selfish goals for his love interest. Eventually he turns into the dark side and ignores his responsibilities as a Jedi. At first look, this scenario is very similar to issues Catholic priests are in nowadays. Priests have a vow of celibacy that does not allow them to commit sexual relations with the opposite sex. Priesthood and this vow is similar to the responsibilities of being a Jedi. Anakin turning to the other side is similar to priests who have broken their vow of celibacy and have children of their own. Worse is the homosexuality issue put on priests or having sexual relations with the same sex. If Star Wars indeed is advocating the celibacy of priests and is against homosexuality, then it is very obvious in this certain example. Although personally, this plot is very simple and the formula for the possibility of this event to happen is very high that I don’t think the movie is purposely taking a stand against a sensitive issue like this. There are also other B movies with this kind of plot but did not rouse public feedback. This is an evidence of how Star Wars has become a really huge success that it has even become a basis or reference for moralists and other critics.
In the later of years of Disney filmmaking, a black propaganda was released that Disney’s cartoon characters and fairy tale stories have a hidden sexual meaning. Star Wars did not escape this controversy too with the release of a Jar Jar Binks toy which doubles into a strawberry candy. An activist group fighting against George Lucas and his creations saying he was creating evil characters and promoting sexual interest in children called for a campaign to boycott this merchandise. The Jar Jar Binks Toy has a long, protruding, hard, red, strawberry flavored tongue the groups suggests to be a man’s sexual organ. They believe that the toys are innocently packaged for kids but create a negative psychological effect (“Lucas Jar Jar…”). Another claim was that a C-3PO robot trading card image had a large penis which was later phased out after finding out that it was indeed true (“Sexual Hidden…”).
The activist group has even come to the extremes by creating a “Lucas Watch” which intends to check on the things George Lucas releases believing that he does not create movies in the Christian way of living. This is a Baptist group even calling for George Lucas to “stand in trial at their church for crimes of blasphemy and corruption of the innocent, or move to France” (“Lucas Watch”) If this group really does exist, I believe they have a problem with coexisting with people in this world and start becoming fanatics of their own religion believing that they are always righteous and no one is above their morals. The movies and the fantasies the Star Wars has created are all made-up in the rich imagination of George Lucas and the other producers of the trilogies and you cannot blame their morality for it. The group may believe that the films are evil and immoral but it is based only on their personal interpretation of what they see. There may be hidden meanings in the films brought about by coinciding circumstances but surely, George Lucas has not sold his soul to Satan, as so the group claims. These negative controversies are only a part of the huge success of the franchise.
Surely, stories of fiction do not stem from just pure imagination instead are borne out of inspiration from experiences or events of the times. Since the storyline of Star Wars is not exclusively intended for children, there are some themes injected into the story that most adults can relate to. The setting of the first trilogy is simple enough to create parallelism with a lot of different things. Scott Warner believes that there are three possible allegories of different sorts that can be taken from the movies. The first allegory involves a certain Hero Rule, the second one which adheres to Lucas’ personal life and the third one which links the movies to Hitler (Warner, 2007).
In the first allegory, Warner emphasizes the strict faithfulness of George Lucas to the monomyth which is a description of the pattern usually undertaken by heroes in narratives, classics and other literature (“Monomyth”). The character of a hero is said to be constructed by a writer thoroughly by following the sequence as follows: (1) the call to adventure, (2) the road to trials, (3) the vision quest, (4) the meeting with the goddess, (5) the boon or goal, (6) the magic flight, (7) the return threshold and (8) the master of two worlds (“Monomyth”). The hero is made-up of some but maybe not all of these elements depending on the writer’s choice. A lot of critics have said that George Lucas has played around this cycle in his movies a lot and strictly followed it. This became his basis for creating storylines to create the succeeding films.
In the second allegory, Warner focuses on what is more evident for a typical writer to have done while writing literature; infuse a part of himself in it. George Lucas has paid homage to some of his favorites by including hidden analogues in the movie. An example listed by Warner is the funeral scene of Amidala is comparable to Ophelia’s death in Hamlet. More similarities and analogies can be seen in Scott Warner’s literature which includes famous lines from classic movies and famous character references (Warner, 2007).
The third allegory provided for by Warner proves to be the most controversial since it shies away from the mythological aspect of Star Wars, instead dwell on an extreme comparison with Adolf Hitler’s life. A New Hope was said to be patterned from a lot of World War II metaphors including the outfits of the soldiers, the Nazi’s appetite, the setting of the fight scenes and the fight scenes themselves (Warner, 2007).
Senator Palpatine was directly linked to being the Hitler in the film especially when he utters words of manipulation of the Queen. Palpatine was elected as Chancellor similar to Hitler becoming a dictator in his own country. Warner even sees Yoda as a character similar to the personality of Winston Churchill.
George Lucas was once quoted for saying that “although he wrote the original film during the Vietnam War, his six-part saga could apply to the war in Iraq” (Burns, 2005). It is indeed a great parallelism between the war waged against the Empire and the Dark Side and the modern day war America is facing today. What if America is the Jedi trying to save Iraq which is on the other side? Then America is the hero of this day and in the end wins the fight against the Dark Side. Turning the tables upside down, what if America really is the Dark Side and its enemies are the heroes? There is a possibility to this fact as history tells us what America has done to Iraq. Like Anakin Skywalker gradually turning to the other side, America might be doing the same too. The war on Iraq has lasted so long that it feels like this country is abusing the power it gained. After taking down a dictator, it seems like it has become the replacement (“An Open Letter…”) Now, George Lucas might not have purposely written a story that coincides with the events in the present day but due to interpretations from people who have seen the films, the parallelisms are drawn and become obvious.
On a personal note, I believe it is no issue that George Lucas might have included World War II elements in the movies since the effects of the war is familiar with him and the public also. It is inevitable not to involve it in some way in a film that started out as a war against the dark side in the first place. The article written by Scott Warren may give out a lot of examples of parallelisms to reality yet his arguments are too trivial to be considered as conclusive information. Other sources cited many other examples of hidden meanings in the Star Wars characters and icons that are not enough to discuss here. George Lucas even had interviews where he claims to have written the Star Wars saga in the light of the Vietnam War and even roused further controversy because the movie may seem to be a political attack because of its plot.
The evidences of parallelisms, allegories, and similarities and other links of the Star Wars to real persons and events presented above do not necessarily or even deliberately reflect the producers and creators of the movies. The interpretations from the resource authors are a product of their own analysis and perspective. Some linking may not even present a significant effect in the movie but harbors a particular reaction from these authors due to personal biases and preconceived notion.
Huge box-office returns and extreme popularity do not necessarily dictate the success of movies. In the case of Star Wars, it has caught the liking of the general public and spanned a generation or more and even stood the test of time for more than 2 decades. But what makes this franchise really successful is the fact that it is being talked about in every sense. The characters have become household names and will always be remembered for the roles they have immortalized in the eyes of the enthusiasts. How about the negative issues put into the storylines by misinterpretations and personal views? Star Wars is inevitably an interesting tale that can never free itself from damaging interpretations. Humans are rational beings and we do not dwell on the superficial instead we have an inescapable thirst to dig for deeper implications to create meaning into our actions. The mystery of Star Wars and the possible infusion of hidden meaning give the audience more thrill and reason to love the films. George Lucas can not just give away all the details put into the writing of such a wonderful saga just to answer these questions and avoid the controversies. Lastly, there is nothing wrong with the deep analysis of the hidden meanings of the Star Wars films because it is such a resonant story that changed the lives of a lot of people that loved the trilogies. Yet, it is important to maintain an open-mind in knowing issues as the ones enumerated earlier.
So, as the audience and the critics of films and other entertainment media, we should remember that they are made for entertainment and give pleasure to people. Creating symbolisms and personal analyses is part of being an audience so as long as we don’t forget to enjoy the films rather than endlessly criticize a work of art and a considered masterpiece by some.