Star Wars: May the Fourth Be With You
May 4, 2021 – Alli Boyer, Adult Services
Okay, story time:
My very first memory – genuinely MY memory, without influences from outside parties – is from when I’m four or five years old. My two uncles were babysitting my twin brother and me, and they decided they wanted to go to the re-showing of Star Wars at our local theater. They were just teenagers themselves, and they weren’t going to let a couple of toddlers stop them. I remember the day in flashes – flashes of us speeding through town and my uncles running with us over their shoulders through the theater (because, of course, we were late).
And then it happened. My uncle opened the door to our theater, I lifted my head from his shoulder, and staring down at me was the dark, shiny mask of Darth Vader as he interrogated Princess Leia about the Death Star plans.
I remember being completely mesmerized by his overwhelming presence and instantly empowered by Leia’s lack of cooperation. My mind was blown when we found out Luke and Leia were twins (hello, I’m one-half of a boy/girl twin pair). You would think those two would have been our favorite characters to play, but, in reality, we loved Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett (another misunderstood villain) and our favorite scenes to reenact take place at Jabba’s palace (complete with a 1980s Rancor action figure – that used to belong to one of those aforementioned uncles).
To say the least, this core memory awoke in me a love of Star Wars, obviously, but also a love for misunderstood villains and spunky, rebellious women. As such, May 4th quickly became one of my favorite days. Commonly referred to as Star Wars Day, May the Fourth is a play on the phrase “May the FORCE be with you,” and is simply a commemorative day where fans let their nerd flags fly. After purchasing Lucasfilm in 2012, The Walt Disney Company has been officially recognizing May the 4th as a holiday, complete with several Star Wars events and festivities at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In recent years, several fans have taken to celebrating May 5 or 6 as Revenge of the Fifth (or Sixth), in which the Sith Lords of the franchise get their moment of celebration.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Star Wars, you can’t deny the success and influence of the franchise. Episode IV boosted the careers of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess/General Leia). It spearheaded a new generation of special effects in cinema, was one of the first franchises to seamlessly meld different genres together (a drama/adventure story, that’s also a Western, but also set in space), and brought about a craze for fast-paced Blockbuster movies (be honest, we all love those).
Star Wars also highlights some popular character tropes we all know and love:
• Light side vs Dark side (good vs evil): Very typical with a hero’s journey. Luke (the hero) must defeat Vader (the villain). Simple as that. We see this trope all over literature – The Fellowship vs. Sauron (The Lord of the Rings), Inigo Montoya vs The Six-Fingered Man (The Princess Bride).
• The Chosen One: Also typical with a hero’s journey. Luke (and the whole Skywalker lineage, really) is the one who can restore balance to the force. Other Popular “Chosen Ones” include Harry Potter (or Neville Longbottom, technically), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), and Val (Mistborn).
• Redeemed Villain: One of my personal favorite tropes. Darth Vader turns out to be *spoiler* Luke’s father and joins forces with him to stop the Emperor. Other popular villains we actually love include Zuko (Avatar the Last Airbender – and, personally, Azula), The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Marvel), and even Helga Pataki (Hey! Arnold).
If you’re interested in celebrating this May the Fourth (or just interested in consuming all the Star Wars media), we’ve got you covered:
• Click here to see our Star Wars DVDs and Blurays.
• Click here to see our adult Star Wars fiction series.
• Click here to see our youth Star Wars fiction series.
• Click here to see our Star Wars nonfiction selection.
May the Force be with you!