Binary sunset on Tatooine.

Why is “Star Wars” our postmodern myth?

To kick off 2016 we circled our favorite nerds to talk about Star Wars and why it’s the story we want to hear over and over.

Dave Eggers told us that the movies are “hugely important,” now and in his memory:

When I was a kid, everyone had to see Star Wars at least a dozen times. If you didn’t, you weren’t considered cool. Everyone had to count how many times they saw it and verify it with ticket stubs, and whoever saw it the most times was the king.
Dave Eggers & Amanda Palmer.

How is it that, forty years later, we all still want to live with the Skywalker’s and the Solo’s? Pop punkstress Amanda Palmer said Star Wars is the rare mythology that welcomes both the weird and the dashing:

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be or sleep with Han Solo — but probably both. Egotistical yet fallible and supremely cool, and hangs out in bars that look like bars I would want to hang out in… I was spiritually in the cantina, playing with that amazing band.

The best myths are aspirational. You see yourself in the hurly burly cantina band but also in the Force-touched hero scanning his last double sunset.

Stephen Burt.

And for Stephen Burt, our favorite poet and pop reader, there is a New Hope that the next chapters will democratize destiny for every kid and droid:

I am hoping that Rey does not turn out to be Luke’s child or somebody’s child or anybody’s child — that having the Force is not just like being a Bush or a Clinton, that it can happen to anyone. The dynastic aspects of the Star Wars story are not my favorites... I would like to see a more democratic story about who can be important and who is favored by divine powers.

Listen this week for more of Dave, Amanda, and Stephen, along with Deb Chachra, Alan Andres, Maria Tatar, Seth Mnookin, and Eric Molinsky.


Thanks for listening, commenting, and subscribing on iTunes.

— Pat Tomaino

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