[Article] Star Wars: An Influence on Modern Popular Culture

Alfian Adhytia Haliim

Even though it took place in the galaxy far far away, it doesn’t stop them to make an impact on modern pop culture. Star Wars proved how could something so small make such changes on our culture. The Star Wars universe is now part of our popular culture, the reference that attached so firmly on every culture, from English-speaking countries to the non English-speaking countries. Phrases like “I sense a disturbance in the force”, “May the force be with you”, and even Yoda’s grammar have become part of our culture.

Started as a pretty low budget movie, leave alone trilogy, the studio couldn’t even afford the actors for A New Hope, instead they were promised to be paid after the movie released or get certain percentage from the money they get from the movie. That was how small Star Wars at the time it was first shown to the world. And now we get the expanded universe, from the Trilogies (original, prequel, and the planned sequel), series, novels, short stories, spin offs, and games; although not all of them considered as canon now (thanks Disney!, now I will just let the Old Republic rest in peace). Some took notice and made several parodies and *cough* porn parodies *cough*, some of them are the Spaceballs and Family Guy’s “Blue Harvest Special”. Even the fans started to make their own fan films.

This science-fiction saga has a pivotal role on making an impact on filmmaking. Star Wars stories provided us with vast numbers of beloved characters and storylines. Shifted the Hollywood itself to create characters and long-running story (even though it was not the first big trilogy) that was dramatic and filled with irony. Trilogy movies such as Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and The matrix was inspired by Star Wars. It pushed Hollywood to make a setting that somehow feels alive, that was real and felt like it has been there for years. Also promoted the use of various technologies on film. The special effect using computer initiated imagery in films, go motion animation, the dykstraflex camera, 3D wireframe animation, and Reyes 3D rendering algorithm are some of them. On the characters part, it turned the use of female character as “damsel in distress” into badass female lead who can defend herself and achieve her own goals, like Leia, and inspired some iconic characters in the future like Ellen Ripley (Alien franchise) and Sarah Connor (Terminator Franchise). Other characters are also made with unique personality, look at R2-D2, it stole the show by beeping and clicking. The beeping shows deep emotion for Luke, as his owner, and its droid counterpart C3PO. And before there was “I Am Groot”, they have Chewbacca. The beloved walking-carpet only speak through his inaudible grunts and growls. It inspired some movies with a part of the movies with no dialogue but very touching as you can see on Wall-E and the first 5 minutes of UP. These are some of the impacts Star Wars had made on film making.

The impacts it made on the communities was the fans themselves. The Star Wars fans keep growing larger and now they targeted younger generation to know about it (like The Force Awakens not obvious enough). separated to various communities and some become popular, the 501st legion: Vader’s Fist, the Manda’galaar, and from Indonesia there is Order 66, these communities are some of the popular one.

The 501st legion established in 1997 as an organization that create a screen-accurate costumes. On the early years they started only with the white stormtrooper costumes, as they grew larger, the costumes now vary from the canon-wise troopers variation, bounty hunters, and the saber-users, Jedi and Sith alike. January 1st 2007 was a memorable day for the legion, 200s members marched on The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. What made it so special was that George Lucas himself joined the march as the Grand Marshall which led to unofficial partnership between the legion and Lucasfilm. The Manda’galaar is smaller because they only focus on mandalorian bounty hunters costume. Most of the members use their own self-designed costumes and there are some who use the costume from the movies and series. The unique thing about them is, upon joining, the member will be given a mandalorian name. Order 66 S.I.T.H (StarWars Indonesian Troopers Homebase), on the other hand, is not a costume-making-based-organization, its more like if you like Star Wars we have a community to discuss some Star Wars stuff with you. But the organization have more activity from the others, while some (same as the others) make some costumes, some make properties (from droids to blaster pistols), and there are some who trains on saber-fighting skill.

Outside the communities, people can still meet-up with other Star Wars fans. The annual event, almost everywhere, is held on May 4th, or the Star Wars Day, with tagline “May the fourth be with you”. All the fans, the communities, and fan-base organization, gather together on this day of celebration to show how much the galaxy far far away means to them. This event usually took place somewhere crowded, so that people in general could also see and enjoy it. The event provides lots of things to do or look at. There will always be attraction, from a simple march, a dramatic play, intense saber-fight, and usually there will be music at the end at the show with a DJ stormtrooper and people, with their costumes on, dancing to the music. There are also games to play from cards to next-gen console using VR (Virtual Reality) device. The fan-base will use the event as a media to show off their new costumes, to sell merchandise, and to look for new members. There is also some toys stores that open their booth there to sell all kinds of toys and merchandise, ranging from t-shirt to really big action figures. The saber-fighter will look for new members and sell some of their self-made lightsabers to ones that are premium quality replica lightsabers.

And from all this cultural impact, there is also this. The movies was so inspiring that some people started an actual religion with the same concept as the Jedi Order and its Jedi characters. On 2001, the United Kingdom census, showed that there are around 390.000 people stated that they entered their religion as Jedi, making it the 4th biggest religion. The religion itself called Jediism, with the followers follow the moral and spiritual codes as the Jedi demonstrated in the movie. Their teachings based on the Jedi Code consisting of 21 maxims, which follows the “16 teachings” of the fictional Jedi.

Aside from all that Star Wars has inspired the advance of technology. Some of them are a bionic hands that can be used by the amputees, a “Death Star” a bug-zapper that use laser to shoot down mosquitoes in a flight to prevent malaria, and some weapons and robots from Star Wars are on their way to be seen and used in real life, a powerful handheld laser that looks like a lightsaber made by a Hong Kong company, a walking robot that resembles the AT-AT, and USA made a draft plans of armor that looks like stormtroopers’.

The Star Wars saga is more than a movie. It helped the advances of technology, entertainment, and culture. A cultural phenomenon, a legacy that other franchise could not even match. In its 30s years existence has made it into a cultural entity unlike any other. If all the things, that was made or inspired by it, get us to the future as we saw on the galaxy far far away, may the force be with it.

References:

http://www.starwars.com/news/category/in-pop-culture

http://www.starwars.com/news/category/fans-and-community

http://www.space.com/8917-star-wars-changed-world.html

http://www.shutterstock.com/blog/infographic-the-influence-of-star-wars-on-film-and-tv

http://www.fandango.com/movie-news/all-the-ways-star-wars-has-influenced-pop-culture-more-than-anything-else-750149

http://www.501st.com/

https://www.facebook.com/501st.indonesia

https://www.facebook.com/groups/order66indo

https://www.facebook.com/mandagalaarclan/?fref=nf

Word Count: 1283

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