The cultural impact of Star Wars


For as long as I can remember, the Star Wars universe has captured my imagination.

When I was five years old, my dad showed me the original Star Wars. From the instant I saw that movie, I was hooked. I have fond memories of playing video games such as “Lego Star Wars” and “Star Wars Battlefront II” with my brothers on the PlayStation 2. I would spend hours looking up obscure trivia and playing weird flash games on the internet. I owned several action figures, model ships and toy lightsabers.

In middle school, I would anxiously await the end of the school week so I could partake in the ultimate Friday night activity: watching the next episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Cartoon Network. “The Force Awakens” came out when I was in 10th grade, and my entire family saw it together, wearing Star Wars-themed Christmas shirts.

The point is, I have seen these movies way too many times, and I am sure that I am not alone in that fact. Almost four decades after its debut, Star Wars remains one of the most popular movie franchises in our culture. Everything about these movies, from their characters and stories to John Williams’s sweeping musical score and the iconic ships, is permanently ingrained into our collective memories.

To say that the original Star Wars film was groundbreaking would be an understatement. It was a cultural phenomenon that inspired a wave of more fantastical stories at a time where darker and grittier movies were the norm. Without the original Star Wars, films like “Avengers: Endgame” would not exist.

It is hard to imagine what it would have been like to be a part of an original 1977 screening of the film: Seeing those groundbreaking special effects, being enthralled by the story of a tiny rebel alliance going against an evil galactic empire. Amazingly, even all of these years later, the franchise is still impacting the entertainment world.

An entire generation is now growing up in a world where all nine films in the newly dubbed “Skywalker Saga” are available on Disney+. Disney World just opened an entire Star Wars-themed land in Hollywood Studios last year and is planning on building a Star Wars-themed hotel to accompany it. A popular new live-action show, “The Mandalorian,” came out last winter, and several more shows are in the works.

My middle school self’s head would have exploded if you told him about all of the content we have now.

As we get older and the world becomes a more complicated and scary place, it is important that we have entertainment as a form of escapism.

For me, watching the Star Wars films reminds me of a simpler time when my imagination ran wild with stories from this universe, when the world made more sense and I had very little to worry about.

The Star Wars films are not as deep and meaningful as some other films regarded as great American classics, but they were never supposed to be. They are simple, space adventure films where good and evil are clearly defined. I think that this fact is why these movies are still relevant all these years later.

It seems that these stories from a galaxy far far away will not be going anywhere anytime soon.