Let The Wookiee Win: Week 1 January 6, 2010

The following originally appeared in The Peak. It is an exploration on why Star Wars to this day makes me squeal with girlish joy. It is part one of a seven part run.

It all begins with a flash.

The way to properly shoot a lightsaber battle is not exactly the most creative aspect of Star Wars. You take two stalwart opponents or, say, sparring partners, and have them fling brightly coloured phalluses at each other in a vaguely acrobatic neo-fencing duel and pocket the billions thrown at you by young male virgins.

Visually, you add a few frames of pure white every time one of those phalluses touch, and you get that brilliant effect that has dazzled audiences for the better part of four decades. Like a photographer’s flash, it fills the room and leaves you feeling physically dazed, which is an important dismissal of defenses when presenting audiences with the supernatural.

George Lucas was using this technique to brain-slap crowds years before Pokemon up and decided to give epileptics the finger.

I know a lot about lightsabers. I know how to make one (both where to get the amplifying crystals and how to build the housing) and I know their most revered users (Yoda, Mace Windu, and Shak Ti, to name a few).

Not only do I know the name of the technique Obi-Wan Kenobi used to make Darth Vader into a multiple amputee (“mou kei”), I know this is a predominantly Sith move, which is why that nerd to your left gasped when it happened while you were watching Revenge of the Sith (even though he knew for years what had occurred).

I also know that it’s unlikely The Holy Trilogy would have had the same global impact it did without them.

This information serves no real purpose. It won’t help me seduce a woman, provide for a family, or find gainful employment. But lightsabers are probably one of the most important parts of my life and of the lives of millions around the planet.

A long, long time ago, Robin Williams grabbed his nuts and said poets were way more important than lawyers and doctors. Though he had a lusty preoccupation with Langston Hughes and likely meant that the works of the Western canon were a touch more steeped in value than the Millennium Falcon, the Dead Poet founder was making an excellent point on the value of (dare I say it: pop) culture in a societal landscape that expects such things to be abandoned when entering adulthood.

Though I doubt he expected his students to jump up on a desk and yell “O Captain my Captain many Bothans died to bring us this information,” the sentiment applies.

It’s a worldwide flash. A single relative frame against the exorbitantly long reel of time that everyone can see, filling the room and dazzling them in a language of light and sound. Star Wars is an international handshake and an embodiment of our collective thoughts about morality, relationships, and war.

It’s as accessible to those who have no idea what a Holocron is, as it is to those who have read their share of sapphic Force erotica. If civilization collapsed tomorrow it would still be relevant: its archetypes and lessons are as universal as any Bible, plus Ewoks.

In fact, everything worth knowing, you can learn from Star Wars. And over the coming semester, I aim to prove it.

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