My husband told me he would not marry me until I had watched all of the Star Wars movies.
That was 1994, and I had watched none of the three out at that point. We went to the local Blockbuster and rented the VHS tapes. Looking back, it’s rather miraculous that I made it through the ‘80s sans Star Wars. But I wasn’t much on science fiction, my parents didn’t have a lot of money for trips to the box office and back in the 1980s the films weren’t easily available.
In fact, one of the reasons historians say the film was such an initial hit in 1977 was that people loved it and went to the theater to see it again and again. Back before digital media, before cable TV, before VHS, you didn’t necessarily know when you’d get to see your favorite movie again.
My favorite guy was definitely a fan of the Force, so there was no escaping the trilogy. To my surprise, I liked it. As much of humanity likes it. Nay, loves it. Fanatically.
In fact, my son who is 11 and who refuses to watch movies “made in the last century” (aka before 2000), loves all things “Star Wars.”
What makes this franchise/brand/series so enduring? And what can we learn from this brand as communicators? Here are a few thoughts:
- Star Wars captures the imagination. It opens us to something new and exciting, innovating and creative. Innovation can never be underestimated. It should be a top priority as thought partners in communication.
- At the same time, Star Wars taps into something deeply familiar. Star Wars Creator George Lucas was an admirer of Joseph Campbell, a world-renowned mythologist, who argued that myths often had certain archetypes. While different stories portrayed them slightly differently, you could find the Hero (Luke Skywalker), the Mentor (Obi-Wan), and the Shadow (the dark side) in all great stories. According to some sources, about half of all American movies are based on this “Hero’s Journey” storyline. As communicators, we need to remember to connect our audiences to the familiar in order to be more engaging.
- Finally, the mythology of Star Wars appeals to the fact that we are hard wired for story. There is actually brain chemistry that changes when we follow a character-driven narrative. It makes us more empathetic. It helps us make connections. So make sure your communications are more than facts. If you want to move your audience, share a story.
Many movies do these three things, but Star Wars does it masterfully.
I’ll be taking in the newest Star Wars saga on opening day, with my husband who bought tickets weeks ago. I’ll probably see most of you there.