10 ways 'Star Wars' became a pop-culture fixation

OK, so maybe he was mixing his "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" references. But when U.S. President Barack Obama spoke of getting congressional leaders into a "Jedi mind meld" back in 2013, eight years after the last "Star Wars" movie had come out, he was displaying in one small way just how firmly the franchise had rooted itself in our popular culture.

See Full Article

Well, the new "Star Wars" is finally out. But since it might take you some time to get to the multiplex, here's something to chew on while you're waiting -- 10 reasons "Star Wars" has retained its exalted position in the pop culture firmament:

IT MADE SCIENCE FICTION COOL

Just ask a science fiction nerd. "I remember going with my wife and saying, 'Look at these audiences!"' says Paul Levinson, sci-fi author and communications professor at Fordham University. "This franchise really brought science fiction, which had a cult following, into the mainstream in a huge way." And in a way, too, that managed to resonate with little kids, grandparents and everyone in between.

IT SPAWNED A PARALLEL UNIVERSE

And we don't mean up in space -- we mean down here on Earth, in human shopping malls. The comics, the video games and, of course, the toys. "The films are the mother ship," says Henry Jenkins, professor of communications, journalism and cinematic arts at the USC Annenberg School. "Meanwhile, all these other forms are generating content. These integrated systems have become the norm for successful Hollywood franchises."

ESPECIALLY THE TOYS

How big has "Star Wars" been to the toy industry? "The biggest property the industry has even seen, bigger than any other by billions," says Jim Silver of TTPM, an online toy review site. "To put it in perspective, just imagine "Frozen" lasting for close to 40 years, but with a much larger demographic."

HUMOUR

One of the best things going for "The Force Awakens" -- and this is hardly a spoiler -- is its liberal use of humour amidst the action, a quality it takes from the early films, particularly from Han Solo (more on him soon) and, of course, C-P30 and R2-D2. "Robots had never been funny before," says Levinson.

UM, HARRISON FORD, PEOPLE!

To many, the dashing young Ford's embodiment of swashbuckling space cowboy Solo was the best thing in the original film -- he seemed to be having way more fun and way less stress than everyone else. Well, he's still dashing at 73. And he's prominent in the new film.

CHARACTERS TO RELATE TO

Solo's one of the best, but the whole "Star Wars" universe presented characters people could relate to and remember. "In the end, characters and story are at the heart of the films, not the special effects," argues USC's Jenkins. "They have so many dimensions. Compare that to 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (which also came out in 1977). Most of us don't remember those characters."

GENRE MASHUP

Another unique aspect to the franchise was how creator George Lucas mashed together film genres to create a multilayered world. These included the Western, the fantasy and science fiction. Jenkins also sees echoes of World War II films, "The Wizard of Oz," even Laurel and Hardy. "Everyone can have a corner of the universe that speaks to them," he says.

FATHERS AND SONS

What "Star Wars" line is more iconic that "I am your father?" (And to satisfy purists out there, it's "No, I am your father," not the oft-quoted "Luke, I am your father.") The father-son dynamic is "a motif that goes back to the ancient Greeks," says Levinson. Fans will be happy to know the motif figures again in the new film.

THE LURE OF THE SABER

Quick, name a movie-related toy that's had more staying power than the lightsaber. "I turned everything into a lightsaber as a kid -- wrapping paper rolls, flashlights," says Gerry Canavan, a professor of English at Marquette who specializes in science fiction. Canavan was born after the first movie came out, but feels like he entered the world knowing the story -- and the saber. "The noise, that hum -- there's something awesome about it," he says.

AND THAT CRAZY HAIRSTYLE

Call it cinnamon buns, bagels, doughnuts -- we're talking about that crazy original Princess Leia hairstyle. Where the heck did it come from? Lucas told Time magazine in 2002 that he was looking "to create something different that wasn't fashion" -- he certainly got that right -- and went with "a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look." Whatever. It's hard to forget.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Halifax mayor moonlights as stand-up comic for comedy festival Saturday

    Entertainment CTV News
    Halifax's mayor will try his hand at stand-up comedy this weekend. Mike Savage, known for his off-the-cuff jokes and one-liners in council chambers, will take his humour to the stage of the Halifax Comedy Fest. Source
  • Gunpoint heist 'meant to happen to me,' says Kim Kardashian West

    Entertainment CBC News
    Kim Kardashian West says that being held at gunpoint during a Paris jewelry heist last year "was meant to happen." Kardashian West said she's "such a different person" after the October robbery, during an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show on Thursday. Source
  • Remastered Purple Rain will include 6 unreleased Prince tracks

    Entertainment CBC News
    A remastered version of Prince's landmark album Purple Rain will be released this summer with several previously unreleased songs. In 2015, the year before his death, Prince himself oversaw the remastering of Purple Rain, his landmark album that was accompanied by a film starring the influential singer-songwriter and musician. Source
  • Karen Gillan's Nebula was killed off in original 'Guardians of the Galaxy' script [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Karen Gillan is thankful to still be a part of the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise because her villainous character Nebula was killed off in the first movie’s original script. The Scottish star reprises her role as the alien baddie in the blockbuster’s new sequel, but she wouldn’t still have the Marvel gig if screenwriters had stuck to their initial plot for the 2014 release. Source
  • Jefferson Starship's former guitarist sues band over name

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    SAN FRANCISCO — A founding member of Jefferson Starship filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop some of his former bandmates from using the band’s name for upcoming performances and merchandise. Guitarist Craig Chaquico is asking a judge to prevent a new iteration of Jefferson Starship from using the name in the federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco. Source
  • Blink-182 pull out of disastrous Fyre Festival in Bahamas

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Punk trio Blink-182 have pulled out of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas over fears about the promoters. In a statement released on Thursday the rockers reveal they were concerned they wouldn’t be able to deliver a performance fans expect. Source
  • Getting carried away at the East Coast Music Awards in Saint John

    Entertainment CBC News
    The East Coast Music Awards handed out many of the event's top awards on Thursday night at the gala in Saint John. The region's top performers had a chance to pick up awards — and in the case of Serge Brideau of Les Hotesses D'Hilaire, the premier of New Brunswick. Source
  • Maine poet wins international prize for work about dementia

    Entertainment CTV News
    PORTLAND, Maine -- A Maine poet's endearing piece about her husband's dementia has won an international poetry award. The Press Herald reports that Lee Sharkey was presented with the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize for her poem, "Letter to Al", at an award ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, on Thursday. Source
  • Guitarist sues to stop use of Jefferson Starship band name

    Entertainment CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- A founding member of Jefferson Starship filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop some of his former bandmates from using the band's name for upcoming performances and merchandise. Guitarist Craig Chaquico is asking a judge to prevent a new iteration of Jefferson Starship from using the name in the federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco. Source
  • Prince's 'Purple Rain' to be re-issued with unreleased songs

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A remastered version of Prince's landmark album "Purple Rain" will be released this summer with several previously unreleased songs. NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records announced Friday that two remastered versions of the 1984 album will be released June 23. Source