Happy 30th Birthday, STAR WARS!

by Ryan on May 25, 2007

in Anything Else,Culture,Pop Culture

Today, Star Wars turned 30!  On May 25, 1977, the movies changed forever and my childhood was full of a lot more imagination and fun!  Back then, Jimmah Carter was President, America was still reeling from the Vietnam War, the economy was stagnant and gasoline cost way too much.  Hairstyles were bad, disco was emerging and I was still cookin’ in the oven (I was born in November of that year). 

Star Wars is undeniably a mainstream sci-fi adventure franchise that deeply permeates throughout our culture and society even to this day.  For example:  

  • Everyone knows who Darth Vader is,
  • Everyone’s heard of the “Force”,  
  • Wise, Yoda is, hmmm?,
  • Nearly everyone laughs when you refer to someone as Chewbacca for the first time (sorry Rosie!), and
  • Princess Leia’s hairdo is a Halloween classic (let’s not forget the slavegirl get-up!),

just to name a few.

I remember owning the toys and having space battles every night with a Millennium Falcon whose radar dish was missing somewhere, seeing Return of the Jedi three times in the movie theater, sword fighting with my brothers using those cheap plastic yellow wiffleball bats that made light-saber sounds as we smacked each other’s hands, and thinking that Luke’s flips were the most awesome thing in the world.

But I don’t simply love Star Wars because so much of my 1980s childhood was filled with it.  Aside from the action and special effects, I have grown to appreciate the eternal archetypes that our favorite characters embody.  The young reluctant hero, the wise old guide, the evil bad guy who is deep-down a pitiful tragic figure, the world at the brink of change and the hero’s quest.  The Hero’s Quest in Star Wars fits the typical trilogy format: adventure (Star Wars), trial (The Empire Strikes Back), and redemption (Return of the Jedi).  Even the prequels add quality depth to this mythology.  I loved watching the Republic fall into chaos and seeing the transformation of that pain-in-the-neck annoying brat ”Ani” in The Phantom Menace, to the arrogant, evil, yet tragic Darth Vader who destroyed the Republic and his Order for the protection of the woman he loved, yet could not save in the end. 

The cultural impact of Star Wars will continue to live on and its impact is truly too immense to touch on here, but on its 30th birthday, Uncle George really deserves a shout-out!  Sorry, I have to add a Yoda pic.

Pics from the About.com galleries.

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