Yep. It’s OK to be non-Star Wars (I’m even married to one).
Science fiction (sf) and fantasy fans do take their fandom quite seriously; I’ve been reading sf since I was ten years old, and I started watching the original Star Trek series when it first aired in 1966. So there! But my sf fan “credentials” aside, I do understand the quizzical looks I get from folks about, from their point of view, pinning an entire “spiritual” belief system on a space cowboy/space opera story line.
The story line is pretty old (more than a couple thousand years if you go back to Homer, and his story was better), as well as thin (no acting Oscars that I know of), but the idea of the Force really struck us back then when we were all looking for something more “flexible” to bind the universe together than the religions we’d grown up with. I think the fan loyalty has persevered mainly because George Lucas, the director of the first Star Wars film (Episode IV: A New Hope) took Joseph Campbell’s universal archetypal view of mythology and made a nice little space opera out of it.
Also, at the time, the innovative special effects were world-shaking. Nowadays, they look pretty mundane, of course. I credit the Force as my entré into the New Age and the beginning of my journey to where I am now spiritually. So, for some of us, this was an important trigger to awaken. And for me, its science fiction backdrop gave the Force extra validation since there was supposed to be some pseudo-scientific basis for the Force (never really explained, though, as I recall).
So, yeah, it’s a bit extreme in the play of opposites in our relative universe (with some complexities thrown in as human characters find they really have both sides of the Force inside of them—except maybe Princess Leia— ;)).
I didn’t realize until last month, though, how much the Force (or just the Star Wars franchise) actually bound my own family together. My two young adult children had grown up watching the original movies as well as eventually seeing the prequels (1999 to 2005). When the current Disney-fied sequel, The Force Awakens, came out, I had very mixed feelings about it (it’s really a young hero adventure thing, and those actors from 1977 had gotten a whole lot older!), but I discovered that both of my children were adamant that we three should watch this film, in the theater, together.
And that was really the best part; sharing this fictional adventure world and its archetypal characters with another generation. The movie was a predictable nostalgia trip for at least the director, J. J. Abrams, and possibly for some of the viewers, older and younger. But for us, it was about the Force of love and shared experience that we had, mother and children, the force that binds so many parents and children, no matter how old we all get.
Outposts along the Path
If you’ve never explored where Lucas got all those weird ideas in Star Wars, do check out some of Joseph Campbell‘s work, at least the most popular bits like The Power of Myth. He also has more academic publications if you want to get serious, although some of his theories about the spread of common mythological themes and symbolism have been questioned by later anthropological research.
And if you’d like to explore the possibilities inherent in really excellent science fiction storytelling, way beyond the space opera of Star Wars, I recommend starting with Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. That’ll stretch your brain. 🙂