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40 years of Star Wars: A reflection

Jo Scard

It’s sort of the first proper week of holidays for both my children (10 and 13).

So naturally, they decided that they’d have a binge on all six earlier Star Wars films in advance of us seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week.

It may just be the most culturally immersive thing they’ve done all year. Hang on, Ms 10 taught herself cross stitch last month and Mr 13 read the new Harper Lee book. They’ve now used their bodyweight in data.

My children are about the same age I was when the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977. I don’t recall for one second any deep analysis of the political overtones of the said box-office hit at the time. Nonetheless it’s gone on to become the single biggest Hollywood franchise that’s spanned close to 40 years.

This is how the Star Wars deep thinking goes. Some say the original Star Wars was a reflection of the United States emerging from their loss in Vietnam. It was a tale of insurrection where the Rebel Alliance came together to fight the Galactic Empire. Some people even went as far as to call them terrorists – in hindsight, of course.

Transport us all – and our teenagers that weren’t even a twinkle – to 2015 and the latest, seventh, Star Wars film (it’s the first of a Sequel Trilogy which will take the total to 10).

Maybe it’s because the festive season is upon us as the latest Star Wars film starts but as you’d expect, there have been copious pieces written about the nerdy-er nuances of the franchise but also reflections of the deeper political insights that JJ Abrams’s contribution makes.

So let me have a crack at it: caveated by the fact that I’ve just watched the first six films and will see a seventh this week. So this isn’t a spoiler alert.

The simplest way of summarising the ‘war of the worlds’ in this latest offering is that we (the audience) have been provided with a choice. To turn to the light side of the Force – a progressive, democratic, humane, and just world. Perhaps the prevailing US supported free world? Sounding familiar? Or we can give in to the dark side – a world of misery, violence, xenophobia, racism, hatred and support for a war on the poor, diversity and those that are weak. What do you think that might represent?

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, terrorism is the new ‘big scary thing’ that replaces communism as the single greatest threat to the US. Intentional or not the dominance of the Force (being with you) and all that comes with it will continue to solve all. It’s the contrast of Good and Evil and it suits Hollywood right, you betcha.

Following on from my praise of Waleed Ally last week it would be interesting what he thinks of the film. He’s not on Twitter so I can’t ask. I’m sure that not everyone is buying the hype but we should perhaps stop and think about it, even for a moment and not just let it wash over us.

Irregardless we will all disappear into darkened cinemas and fantasy worlds this Christmas. We’ll buy into the hype, purchase the toys – we bought a blow up Star Wars pool thing at Costco, how embarrassing. Kids loved it.

Whatever you do have a wonderful week. I’m heading off on a magical mystery tour with Ms 10 to colder climes (while my husband cleans the man shed) so next week I’ll talk to you from there.

Jo Scard is Managing Director of Fifty Acres: The Communications Agency and tweets at @scardjo


Jo Scard

With over 20 years' experience in communications, political advisory roles and journalism, Jo Scard is one of Australia’s leading advisers to corporates, Not-For-Profits, organisations and government. Managing Director of communications agency, Fifty Acres which is HQ'd in Canberra, Jo is a respected former political journalist in the UK and Australia working with ITV, Associated Press, Seven Network, SBS, ABC and Fairfax. A former senior adviser to the Rudd and Gillard governments and a trained lawyer she is on the Boards of the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Hockey ACT and a Member of the NSW Council of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. Jo is an Ambassador for the global entrepreneur magazine Renegade Collective and a member of the Registered Consultancies Group of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. She has spent over a decade advising corporates and Not-For-Profits at CEO and board level across strategic communications, government relations and public relations and co-authored the best-selling book The Working Mother’s Survival Guide with Seven’s Melissa Doyle. More about the Author