Why Do Many Americans Want To Be On The Dark Side?
I found The Force Awakens – the new Star Wars movie – to be formulaic and unimaginative. The merchandise for the movie, however, strikes me as formula defying.
Ordinarily, merchandise would focus on the heroes of the story. In this case, however, merchandise is dominated by a villain – and one who doesn’t even appear in The Force Awakens. Darth Vader is everywhere, as on this Cornell University tshirt.
It’s particularly striking that an overpriced school where parents send their offspring to earn good grades and learn professional skills would advertise itself in conjunction with the image of one of the most profoundly failed students in science fiction: Darth Vader.
Of course, Darth Vader stands for much more than just dropping out of school. This is a character who conduct terrorism against entire planets. Wearing a Darth Vader tshirt is like wearing an Adolf Hitler tshirt. Showing one piece of mercy before death doesn’t begin to make up for the murder of billions of sentient beings… except in the Star Wars universe, in which Darth Vader becomes a friendly ghost in the end.
The fact that our country simultaneously loves Darth Vader swag and exaggerates the power of real life terrorists on our planet is no coincidence. American culture craves powerful villains. Americans are terrified of the idea that peace is all around them, depriving their lives of a sense of meaning.