Lessons from Loving Star Wars: Theatricality for a Cause


The annual celebration of Star Wars day on May 4th earlier this month and its birthday recently had reaffirmed my affinity for Star Wars movies ever since I was a kid. As a kid, I never got to watch them in the theaters, but I can remember watching its VCDs through a little old TV. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what it was all about. I only saw it as a space fantasy movie and I was just fascinated with all of its theatricality aspects like its laser beams, lightsaber fights and the unique characters it had in its universe. Years passed by, and as I got older I started to realize the virtues that the Star Wars movies possess. Soon as I got older, understanding and loving Star Wars became a revelation to me.


Two years ago, precisely on December 2015, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens was released. Knowing it would be my first Star Wars theatrical experience, I wanted to make it theatrically worthwhile and everlasting in my memories. Therefore I took the liberty to wear my Darth Vader costume to the premiere and wore it all day long. Of course there were lots of people asked to take a picture with me, but gaining public attention was never my intention in that premiere.


Photo credit: Jakarta Shimbun

Some of my friends unsurprisingly mocked me for being ‘childish’ and ‘unusual.’ Some also said that I was too ‘theatrical.’ Sadly they have misunderstood me, because I dressed up as Darth Vader for nobody but myself, and I didn’t need any approval, rejection, or judgment from anyone. If some children were happy because they took a picture and had a high-five with me, it was indeed an honor and joy for me too. However in that day, I was simply being me, a 21 years old geek who believed that somehow by wearing a Darth Vader costume, he could mark his first Star Wars theatrical experience in a satisfyingly unforgettable way.

After the movie premiere, I recalled the time when I wore my Darth Vader costume to a tobacco control rally that I held with my friends in Youth Movement for Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Just like the Star Wars movie premiere, my costume had successfully attracted crowds of people to support our cause. Even The Jakarta Post unexpectedly covered a news from our rally titled “Death Star” with the picture of Darth Vader theatrically posed with his right thumb up, while holding an FCTC rally banner.

Photo credit: The Jakarta Post

At the end of the day, I realized one thing that made me love Star Wars movies in the first place: its theatricality. All of its costumes and special effects are juxtaposed to effectively deliver epic tales about the fight between good versus evil. A rebellious princess who didn’t wait to be saved and bravely embarked on a mission to deliver a message which will save the lives of many. A family conflict where a father reconciled with his son and redeemed his wrongs. The fight for democracy by Jedi and the rebels against the authoritarian government of Galactic Empire ruled by evil Sith lords. These tales with virtues like freedom, redemption and democracy are wrapped up in one big space opera, sprinkled with countless theatricality materials, making the audiences delve deeper into Star Wars and the values in its tales.

No wonder that most people would agree that theatricality plays a great role in drawing people’s interest to understand the virtues in the epic tales of Star Wars movies. This fact has encouraged people to use the theatricality concepts of Star Wars to express their devotion for the characters and the stories they love. Furthermore, some went beyond that and used its theatricality to deliver the message of virtues from another epic tales of their own. For instance, recently we can see people bringing up Princess Leia rally banners with the jargon “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” cementing the Star Wars character as the symbol of Feminism in Women’s March all across the globe.

Even the dark side supports Feminism!

I myself also wore my Darth Vader costume to the Women’s March in attempt to hopefully amplify the support for the causes that was being fought for in the rally. Even beyond Star Wars, some people in Indonesia with an affinity for other pop cultures have been inspired to use theatricality concepts for their cause, like a man from Kulonprogo who was seen wearing a Batman costume in a rally to protest various developments of the city which was not in favour with the farmers’ rights.

Aside of pop cultures, theatricality has also been used in some other campaigns like the one conducted by Greenpeace in 2010, when some activists wore Orangutan costumes to protest Nestlé and its ties to forest destroyer companies. Sometimes theatricality is also used to express satire remarks to protest certain public figures, like how I wore the mask of Donald Trump, a well-known anti-critic who labelled ‘fake news’ to critical medias in the World Press Freedom Day celebration held by UNESCO earlier this month.

#MakeMediaGreatAgain

Some may not like theatricality in rallies and consider it as a joke. Some may also consider that theatricality are only relatable to segmented parts of society like younger audiences and pop culture geeks. Nevertheless, all of those costumes, installations and other theatricality materials in many rallies have brought joy and passion in the people who rallied along with them, supported their cause and covered news for them. Moreover, theatricality have also emphasized its potential to revamp campaign methods and promote good cause through popularly relatable symbols and fairy tales.

We are living in a bitter world where fear and hate dominates the reality of our society. We might even find ourselves fed up with being optimist when the facts are pointing out the contrary. A little touch of theatricality will encourage us to find real hopes among fantasy.

By embracing theatricality in achieving our good cause, we will be reminded that even in our darkest moments, we can transform our fears into hopes greater than our favorite fairy tales.