We recently received this cultural question from one of our followers about Star Wars, the blockbuster film series that just released it’s eighth movie here in China.
It’s really a huge question! And thanks for asking… it can actually be applied to a lot of Westerners, both girls and boys~
The short answer is that Star Wars is simply an American cultural phenomenon:
Cultural phenomenons are larger than the culture they come from and can tell us a lot about those societies as a whole, if not an actual glimpse into it. Other worldwide examples could include The Beatles & Harry Potter from the UK or Hello Kitty & Pokémon from Japan.
So how did Star Wars get seemingly skipped over in China while reaching every other parsec of the galaxy?
Well, the first film came out in 1977, right when China was starting its re-opening and development. In the decades prior, mainland China just didn’t have access to the crazy cultural things going on in the West.
If Star Wars had premiered in China at the time, it would have been seen as other-worldly and some of the underlying metaphors would not have been accepted at all.
In North America, Europe, and other parts of the world, every single kid grows up with Star Wars in their lives. Younglings everywhere remember the first time we saw the yellow crawling text through space, the tiny spaceship flying across the screen, and then the HUGE spaceship chasing after it. We will also never forget the first time we saw the big bad guy in black armor and scary helmet. Or the first time we realized, “that’s no moon.” It literally changed the possibilities of our imaginations!
Even if Westerners haven’t seen the films, they know the characters, they know the big twist, and they instantly recognize the music. Young boys and girls dream about being space cowboys with laser swords or scruffy nerf-herders in the forests of Endor.
Even besides being a cultural phenomenon, it’s one of the biggest movie sagas in all of cinema history. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is often considered in peoples’ Top 10 lists and is a cinematic masterpiece in every sense of the word.
The soundtrack by John Williams is frequently listed as the best of all time.
It was one of the first well-done science fiction films, and it beautifully crafts comedy, romance, and adventure all together in one unbelievable tale.
Today, there are entire communities built around the topic of Star Wars. From general fans to professional collectors and cosplayers. If you meet another fan, it doesn’t matter where they’re from, you can have an instant connection with them.
So if you truly want to understand Western culture (or your American boyfriend), this is a phenomenon you will have to make at least a little effort to dive into.
Chances are you won’t completely understand, but differences like this are what makes our universe so beautiful!
The long answer:
＊STAR WARS 101＊
Let’s study up on a few important aspects of the story so you’ll be ready when you go to the theater this weekend… remember this is just the beginner’s course. You could spend years reading up on all the little intricacies of this story. Seriously. This is only the surface level stuff.
The Magical Mythos:
In the Star Wars universe, “The Force” 愿力 is a binding, metaphysical, and ubiquitous power that is wielded by the Jedi 绝地 and the Sith 西斯 (Dark side 黑暗面) monastic orders. The line “may the Force be with you” “愿力量与你同在” is spoken in each of the Star Wars films, and has become part of the pop culture vernacular.
Usage of the Force granted a number of useful powers, such as the ability to sense impending attacks; to push and lift physical objects; influence the thoughts of others, known as the “Jedi mind trick”; and even see the future or maintain one’s consciousness after death. Dark side users strong with the Force could summon lightning from their fingertips.
Jedi taught younglings that the Force could be used for many purposes, including protection, persuasion, wisdom, the manipulation of matter and the performance of great physical feats.
It’s really just a big gigantic metaphor for Good vs. Evil, but both sides are always in existence and somewhat respectful of each other’s power. It’d be very similar to the ying & yang found in China’s Taoism. You can’t have good without the evil; you can’t have evil without the good.
The most recent movie titled Rogue One, is a throwback prequel between Episode III and IV showing us how the rebels got the plans to the Death Star. If you remember in Episode V, one of the star fighters’ call sign was “rogue two”… We highly recommend going to see this movie!
The Thrilling Music:
The Charismatic Characters:
Han Solo isn’t necessarily the protagonist of the film, but he’s the guy everyone wants to emulate. Smooth-talking, first to shoot, and devilishly handsome. A pilot. A pirate. A cowboy… in space. Vehicle of choice: Millenium Falcon. Weapon of choice: blaster.
Darth Vader is hands down the best villain in any film ever made. He personifies evil and when he comes on the screen and begins his trademark breathing, the tinkles in your spine will cause you to never forget him. Vehicle of choice: TIE Advanced x1 Starfighter. Weapon of choice: red lightsaber.
Don’t let Princess Leia’s space-age haircut fool you. She’s a women with a plan and a great leader. She’ll kick your butt herself if she needs to. Just don’t fall in love with her, you might regret something.
Luke Skywalker, the lonely teenager in the middle of nowhere who ends up becoming a powerful Jedi. Not everybody likes this guy, but his story arc and character progression is one of the best in the series. We watch him grow up. Vehicle of choice: speeder or X-Wing Starfighter. Weapon of choice: green lighstaber.
A helpful etiquette & protocol droid that follows our beloved characters everywhere they go. Threepio’s witty jokes are amazing, especially his interactions with other droids. Oh, and he is fluent in more than seven million forms of communication.
You won’t find a better or smarter astromech droid in the galaxy. A fan favorite, R2-D2, or “artoo” for short, is always helping our favorite characters get out of a jam. This little guy also appears in all seven movies so far. Will he be in the new one?
The true protagonist of the series, we see Anakin’s entire life from a troubled youth, to a whiny teenager, to a powerful man. We learn to see past his faults and love him for the messed up reality he had become. Vehicle of choice: any. Weapon of choice: various lightsabers.
Another fan favorite, Boba Fett is a galactic bounty hounter, who we first see in a cartoon working for Vader in the legendary Star Wars Holiday Special. He also works for Jabba The Hut and is after a big reward to capture Han Solo.
The beautiful queen, senator, wife, and mother. Padmé also knows how to fight. She keeps the Jedi in line, and is always willing to sacrifice herself for her people or her children. Although an advocate for peace, she knows when to go to war.
Master Windu, a wise and powerful human Jedi, second only in strength to Yoda. He’s best known for his use of the unique purple lightsaber and the slaying of orginal clone Jango Fett.
Another fan favorite, Chewbacca (Chewie) stands tall above the rest in stature and heart. His weapon of choice is the Wookie bowcaster and he’s fought battles with both Yoda and Han Solo. There’s more to this guy than we’ll probably ever know.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Ol’ Ben Kenobi is a Jedi Master of the highest honor who was commissioned by Yoda to watch over young Luke Skywalker until he was old enough to become a Jedi himself. He was also friends with Anakin Skywalker.
A mysterious and largely unknown character, Darth Maul made a huge impact on Star Wars fans for his epic battle with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I. Best known for his two-sided red lightsaber and distinct facial features.
A small green alien of unknown origins who talks funny. But don’t underestimate him because of his size, Yoda is one of the most powerful of all the Jedi. He’s known to have trained apprentices for over 800 years and helps all aforementioned Jedi in this list.
A senator and chancellor, Palpatine always seemed shady and shifty. Turns out he was on the Dark Side the entire time. A guy you quickly learn to despise and cheer when he meets his righteous end.
Stormtroopers are the empire’s army of cloned “minions” who listen to the Emperor’s every word. They are not very good at shooting, thankfully. But their uniforms are unmistakeable.
The Diverse Locations:
Cloud City 云城
Mos Eisley Cantina 莫斯艾斯利小酒馆
The Stunning Spaceships:
The Awesome Weapons:
Death Stars 死星
Carbon-freezing Chamber 碳凝室
Proton Torpedoes 质子鱼雷
The Force Awakens
The Unforgettable One-Liners:
The Classic Toys:
Did this answer your question? Do you understand a little bit more about your boyrfriend now? If so, please share this post with your friends and enjoy the new movie in China~
And feel free to continue asking us any questions about American culture… we are happy to answer them!