I love Star Wars. It’s light and fun and filled with adventure. Every movie (yes even Episode 1) draws me in with wonder. The story of the battle between good and evil, light and dark, Jedi and Sith, is one that I can’t get enough of.
Today, May the 4th, known as Star Wars Day is one of my favorite days. It’s one of those days that adults get to nostalgically return to childhood. There is an innocence about Star Wars that we don’t often find in other movie franchises and I absolutely love it.
We live in a world of gray. Everywhere is nuance. In our postmodern world the anti-hero has become the norm in much of our collective imaginations. Whether its Breaking Bad or Batman, the anti-hero is our hero.
I think this is why the Avengers and Star Wars are so attractive to us. We know where we stand in those stories. We know who the bad guys are and we know who the good guys are. There is little to no ambivalence and it’s refreshing. When we have a clear sense of good and evil, we are able to relax a bit.
Knowing who to cheer for and who to cheer against speaks to something deep within us. We want to know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Star Wars gives us that.
Real life isn’t that clean and neat. The good guys are almost always sort of bad. The bad guys are almost always sort of good. Black Panther was a study in that, wasn’t it? Killmonger (the bad guy) had good motivations and you find yourself almost hoping he wins. As you’re watching you totally understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. Because of this, it builds in us anxiety and cognitive dissonance.
When we watch movies like Star Wars there is no dissonance. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. It’s refreshing.
I think this clear sense of good and evil is what also allows for the story arc of redemption in the story. Annakin Skywalker can clearly fall from the good and then can clearly return from the bad. We are drawn to stories of redemption because we inherently know we need redemption too.
Maybe that’s what May the 4th is really about, maybe it’s a day where we get to explore again our own hope and need for redemption. We are all too well aware of our own darkness and our need to move to the light. Star Wars is the reminder that redemption is possible even for the darkest parts of us.