The radicalisation of the Hero’s Journey.

/The radicalisation of the Hero’s Journey.

The thing is though, al-Qaida and Star Wars have some common ancestry. The Foundation series of books by Isaac Asimov, is a key influence of Star Wars. The name of the first book, in Arabic, is al-Qaida and there has been considerable speculation that Osama bin Laden, may have been influenced by the book as a young, nerdy, pampered Saudi youth.

There are certainly many parallels between the struggle presented in the Star Wars films and current Middle Eastern unrest. Much as I love Star Wars, I find it impossible to watch A New Hope these days without seeing it as a story about the radicalisation of a young man and his Jedi trainers as really quite manipulative. Luke is of course told about his origins very much from “a certain point of view” – which is a nice way of saying that Obi Wan utterly misled him to believe his father was dead and not a leading enforcer for the Empire which he wanted him to rise up and fight.

[…]

Oh, and before I move on, there’s also this troubling business with force ghosts. It’s established that the ability to merge with the living force and interact with the living was only discovered recently, by Qui Gon Jinn in fact, and Yoda and Obi Wan then spend the next 20 years meditating about it. I can’t help but wander if this isn’t a bad direction for the Jedi to go down; as soon as you start believing there’s a form of life after death then, well, the gloves are off. Obi Wan, after all, deliberately martyrs himself so as to further push Luke down his path towards hating Vader. But he would almost certainly have been more wary of doing so if he didn’t believe that “if you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” It’s hard to get away from the idea that Obi Wan and Yoda spent the 20 years between Episodes 3 and 4 moving even further away from certain restrictions within their faith that existed for thousands of years for very good reasons.

overanalysingstarwars over-analyses Star Wars.

One of the things the recent massive glut of superhero movies has made me uncomfortably aware of is just how many, um, Unfortunate Implications there are in narratives about young men who become radicalised into violent action in order to destroy a perceived enemy. Like, don’t get me wrong; I love me some Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey/Origin Story structure as much as the next nerd, but… yeah. About that.

(Incidentally, I don’t think the narrative crux of the Hero’s Journey arc necessarily has to be violent conflict, or a violent conflict initiated by the hero. It just very often is, particularly in Save the Cat-style Hollywood popcorn films, because, a) special effects!, and also b) it’s easier to write than the alternatives.)

2017-07-17T11:37:14+00:0025th March, 2016|Tags: culture, pop culture|4 Comments
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