The Return of the Jedi!
The rebels blew up the Death Star!
The day “the man” lost!
Ewoks danced. Old friends embraced a new peace. On the expanded, “special edition”, creator George Lucas added footage of civilizations all over the galaxy celebrating the destruction of the empire. These images parallel those shown from countries around the world after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Complete strangers cried in each others arms with joy. These moments captured the hearts and imaginations of the world. What’s so wrong with that?
The comparison between “Return of the Jedi” and Obama’s victory is far from superficial. “Jedi” was well-received on its release but is now considered the weakest of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, called by Dante in the Kevin Smith film “Clerks” as “a bunch of muppets”. Similarly, the euphoria surrounding Senator Obama could lessen after the initial honeymoon period. Should the Obama administration stumble in a way similar to the first Clinton administration, it would be easy to draw a comparison with Lucas’ prequel trilogy: an ill-fated attempt to create a future while stumbling into the past.
For a moment, let’s look at what Barack Obama and his millions of supporters have created. Instead of electing a president based on caricature (Reagan, Clinton, Bush II), the United States has elected a real person; a man who is almost excessively accessible to the media. A president we might not immediately identify with, but aspire to be in the vein of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy.
George Lucas has recently launched his latest “Star Wars” project, “The Clone Wars.” Universally panned by critics, “The Clone Wars” film was uninspiring and at times, quantifiably boring. My son, Shane (3 years old), reviewed it better than Roger Ebert ever could: “Robots and robots and robots!” The ensuing series on Cartoon Network, is a distinct improvement despite online rants by haters like Harry Knowles. More telling is the effect of the new series on kids. Just a few days ago, I watched two boys pretend to be “Commander Rex” and “Commander Cody” in a space fight against the droids. They’re excited. They’re involved. They believe. Who am I to take their butterfly?
Maybe us old guys have gotten too cynical. Like it or not, we have bias for a past which was never as shining as the one idealized in our minds. An overwhelming fear of being disappointed yet again. Every attempt to do so is doomed to fall short. However, there is a new generation who believes without skepticism. We all remember a time when “Star Wars” reeked of cool. The core message of Lucas’ films was of hope, redemption and unending faith in your friends. It is the same message sent by millions of American citizens on November 4th, 2008.
Some things are bigger than pessimism and doubt. Maybe, just once, all of us, should enjoy the moment for what it is: a vindication of belief; a legacy of unending faith. Let’s all be kids again and enjoy the experience that is life. Let the fantasy become reality – even if it’s only for a second; rekindle our hearts and imaginations. Citizens of the world, Ewoks, Wookies and Hutts – it’s your right. Celebrate tonight!
President Obama, may the force be with you.