Star Wars, Celebrity Deaths, and Dictators
It’s officially 2017, and while most of us are excited about the “new year, new me” narrative, I can’t help but notice how current global affairs are emulating the Star Wars movie franchise in a “same old mistakes” kind of way.
Star Wars and its chronicles seem so paralleled to our own universe, it’s as if our entire planet is looking into a celestial reflection not so far, far away. In fact, this space opera takes place on Earth, 2017. On our planet. Right in front of us.
In the movies, we see The Force vs The Dark Side in an all out battle to the finish. It’s a tale as old as time – good vs evil. In front of the camera, The Force represents liberty, peace, freedom and justice, whereas The Dark Side represents fascism, classism, prejudice, and galaxy-wide domination. Behind the camera (as in many cases), art imitates life.
When it comes to the films’ plot, there are a number of Star Wars heroes representing The Force that often end up dying – never in vain and always for the greater good – at the hands of The Dark Side. These deaths are usually sudden and have resonated with audiences worldwide.
Spoiler alert – Samuel L. Jackson’s Jedi Master Mace Windu of The Light Side will never have a hand in the future of the galaxy again.
Over the course of this past year, a large number of high profile, famous trailblazers passed away – many of them idols and icons. They were true leaders and contributors to the greater good through their art and/or humanitarian, charity, and social work. These people weren’t just celebrities, they were revolutionaries; reminiscent of the Jedi Warriors because they fought stigmas and prejudices. They spread positivity, enforced individuality, promoted peace and equality, and stood for justice throughout their lives. They gave back to the less fortunate. They cared.
When people like Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Mohammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher die, we feel like we’ve lost good, talented, fierce and courageous allies. Yes, good people die every day, and absolutely, many celebrities die each year, but in these specific cases it feels like we have lost too many of the good guys – heroes and active members of The Force. In Princess Leia’s case (actress Carrie Fisher), we literally have…
She will always be remembered as the true matriarch of the Jedi Order.
While evil claims no hand in the celebrity deaths of 2016, the legacy of those lives lost have proven to be overwhelmingly Forceful. As Yoda tells Luke before he dies in Episode VI, “Always pass on what you have learned”. It would do us all well to learn from the large number of celebrity deaths in 2016. They paralleled relatable and grounded members of The Force who – during the most tumultuous of times – gave the galaxy A New Hope.
On a much grander and more frightening scale, we’ve seen catastrophic attacks targeting, injuring, and killing innocent civilians in every community, all over the world.
On the big screen, The Dark Side terrorizes villages and destroys by-standing planets in their universe – galactic terrorism. The Supreme leaders of The Dark Side are not all that different from terrorist organizations like ISIS, or even dictators like Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, president elect Donald J[abba The Hut] Trump, or Kim Jong Un. Themselves, extremists and terrorists in their own right.
Much like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, or Supreme Leader Snoke, these leaders have more in common with terrorist organizations than they do with the free will of the Force. These political institutions are lead by megalomaniacs who are “confusing peace with terrorism” – a quote straight out of 2016’s Star Wars Story – Rogue One.
Fans cheer against the bad guy on screen while on Earth we are seeing people cheer FOR the bad guy. Too many people. And we can’t help but feel The Dark Side is close at hand because of it. Many of these powerful, global leaders on Earth represent a sinister and destructive authoritarian government; much like The Dark Side in Star Wars. With such powerful armies and a threatening disregard for human life and decency, the “Dark Side on Earth” grows stronger every day.
For the initiated Star Wars fan, tyranny and bigotry is as worrisome as the potential return of Jar Jar Binks – even more so. (Definitely more so!). In the blockbuster movies, it is always in the most trying, darkest of times that we see the triumphant Return of the Jedi. Here on Earth, we need to be the change we want to see. It’s our turn to represent the social justice rhetoric of the Jedi Order, not with violence, but with vigilance and tact. Just like Queen Padmé Amidala of Noboo, we must not condone the actions that will lead us to war.
“Fear is the path to The Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Master Yoda, The Phantom Menace
In 2017, May The Force Be With You 🌟
About the Author
Joey Viola is the CoFounder of MoJo Toronto events and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion for the art of writing to promote equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.