by Becca Tzigany
Have you seen the recent installment in the Star Wars series, Episode 7? It has the hopeful subtitle, The Force Awakens. I saw it. Wow! I donned the 3-D glasses, saw star cruisers within arm’s reach, and felt my seat jiggle during spectacular explosions.
In spite of being riveted by the story unfolding before me, I kept enough awareness to notice some “disturbances in The Force” sneaking by me.
Any self-respecting control system or totalitarian regime knows the importance of propaganda. Those few who rule from the top of a pyramid must gain the acquiescence of the many below. In our case, we – an arguably educated, sophisticated society – must be tricked into giving our support. No one has refined this manipulation better than Hollywood.
The film industry discloses the machinations of the controllers under the cover of the seductive fiction of the silver screen, and mixes facts with misleading lies. It is this deception that bothered me in the movie.
I enjoyed being caught up in the thrilling trans-galactic scenes and the emotion of seeing characters – Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker – so beloved from my youth. I identified with the archetypal Hero’s Journey, lionized by the first Star Wars movie and brought to our attention by venerable intellectuals like Joseph Campbell.
Nonetheless, I would have gladly traded some of those dazzling battle scenes for more exploration of what the Yoda-like character Maz Kanata knew. She had obviously learned a lot in her millennia of living.
There was much talk about The Force, and Han Solo underscored that it was all true, but there was very little demonstration of it. If we presume that The Force represents the power of life, love, compassion, justice, and respect, then shouldn’t it be stronger than the Dark Side’s selfishness, control, greed, and murderous rage? Do you agree? We all want the forces of “light” to defeat the forces of “darkness”, and the seventh Star Wars movie missed an opportunity to show us what that looks like.
The thing is: we need to know now more than ever. I did feel the truth of the movie’s depiction of final battles between the liberty-loving Light Side and the control-mongering Dark Side. Planet Earth feels a lot like that right now. Domestic police now dress up like Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers, and act like them, too.
In these desperate times, we desperately need to know how love operates in our inner and outer worlds. We watched Rey use her psychic powers to escape imprisonment. What else might be possible? Stopping bullets à la Neo in The Matrix, the power of Trinity’s kiss reviving the dying Neo in the same movie, reaching the hearts of our persecutors, crafting 3-D reality in our dreams, working with Nature to meet the needs of all living creatures, perhaps?
Filmmakers have the technology and resources to show us a different reality. Instead, the perennial battle between Good and Evil is reduced to the firepower of their weapons and the cleverness of the warriors. I know: the saga is entitled Star WARS. But guess what. Even in a galaxy far, far away, war just perpetuates more war. We know that already, so why box us in with this paradigm of war as the only way out?
Another little lie is the need for a savior. The subtle message is that we are just little people, without the correct DNA to master the secrets of the Jedi. So the Resistance must scour the galaxy for lost Luke Skywalker, who is bereft since his Jedi warrior training produced a traitor. Granted, such a teacher should take some time for inner reflection. But 30 years? C’mon, Luke, get over yourself! If your destiny is to be a leader, why are you hiding on some remote planet with awesome ocean views?
Functional relationship was absent in the film. Leia and Han Solo embraced, as did Rey and Finn, but did not have time for a kiss. On the other hand, the shooting scenes racked up a body count in the hundreds, and we got to witness the obliteration of entire planets, which took whole civilizations with them!
I was happy to see strong, feminine characters, different ethnicities, an acknowledgment of the light and dark sides that are held in balance by The Force (a boon to us Shadow workers), and new villain Kylo Ren addressing Dark Vader’s cranium and helmet, a noble literary reference to Hamlet’s self-reflection before Yorick’s skull. These feel, however, like crumbs fallen off the table of the propaganda masters, just enough to stave off our hunger for the whole feast of truth they could have served us.
At this time, when so much of life hangs in the balance of Earth’s Sixth Great Extinction, we need to fortify ourselves with truths so that we can actively promote our life-affirming missions. I felt like the Star Wars saga originally gave us some of those truths, but is now dawdling its way to reveal a few more. Hopefully, among them will be the fact that we are sovereign beings who can use our free will to choose life and completely repudiate the structures of control and death that run rampant on our home planet right now.
Why does Star Wars get to spend $200 million telling its story, and Starhawk, who has spent 40 years championing Earth-based spirituality, have to crowdfund her equally exciting and complex film project based on her book, The Fifth Sacred Thing? The latter, I might add, does weave an engaging futuristic tale with plenty of practical advice on how to live a sustainable, human reality.
The answer to that question delivers a warning about us getting swept up in the high-tech, fast-paced blockbusters without proper discernment. What distortions slip into our psyches while we watch movies?
With our awareness keen, we may make conscious decisions in our lives, which will affect the next generations on this planet. Presuming humans survive and we launch ourselves into other worlds, do we really want to take our unimaginative penchant for war with us?