This weekend, my wife and I took in the Star Wars movie. I’m approaching my mid-40’s, so I was eager to revisit some of my favorite childhood characters. I loved this movie. The new cast, the familiar story, the beautiful effects–all of it was wonderful and I’m looking forward to a future with the new Star Wars franchise.
I had avoided reading what others thought of the movie; I wanted to see it first. But, once I got home from the theater, I couldn’t wait to collect the thoughts of others. After spending some time online, four facts emerged in my thinking about “The Force Awakens” that weren’t really appearing elsewhere. I think these details are important to helping people maintain a life-long learning perspective.
1. The Director is from Generation X
JJ Abrams directed the newest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. Being just 49 years old, Abrams is a member of Generation X. This societal group is positioned quietly between the Boomers of post World War II and the younger Millennials.
Lots of conversation recently has been given to the power of Boomers and the enormous number of Millennials. Usually when Boomers talk about handing off to the next generation, they don’t mean Gen X. They’re looking to give away to Millennials. The effort, contribution, and yet-to-be-seen potential of Gen X usually goes unnoticed.
Abrams has demonstrated he is not only a contributor, but a leader in his industry. With the other great films to his name, like Star Trek, Mission Impossible, and Super 8, he’ll be perceived as a pre-eminent director for years to come.
His success is a demonstration that hard work, consistency, and a little good timing can launch a career, regardless of age. Members of Gen X may not receive the same kind of accolades as Millennials, but their contribution is an integral part of society. Lets not forget the Xer. And Xer’s, get out there and produce!
Ultimately, you’re not a victim of your generation. It’s not too early or too late to learn and create.
2. The Gen X Director Partnered with a Boomer Writer
Abrams co-wrote “The Force Awakens” with Lawrence Kasdan. The latter was the original writer of “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi.” Kasdan is also a member of the Boomer generation.
I think its interesting to note the power of synthesis available when a talented Boomer and Gen Xer unite. Boomers are wanting to hand-off to Millennials because of the desire for legacy. But in this case, the unification of the Gen Xer with the Boomer has, instead, created new life. The Star Wars franchise has been positioned for a long run of fantastic new movies.
Boomers should avoid the blinding desire to only raise up Millennials; they should also find Xer’s with whom they can partner. The vigor and leadership of this middle generation can breath life into slumbering potential.
Each generation needs its surrounding contemporaries. Generations cannot stand alone. No generation has exclusive access to the best ways of solving problems. Linked together, each generation can learn from one another and accomplish immeasurably amazing feats.
3. The New “Bad Guys” are White Men
At the risk of participating in racial insensitivity, I couldn’t help but notice that the new “bad guys” are white men. The new “good guys” are not.
“The Force Awakens” presented us with an enormously talented Hispanic X-Wing pilot and leader, a strong and courageous female Jedi, and a just and noble Black rebel. It also introduced us to a petulant, Vader-wanna-be full of teenage angst. We also met a young, First Order general whose behavior and organization seem very Nazi-inspired. These last two are portrayed by white men.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but is there a subtle undertone that “the white man is bad” and “the non-white man is good?”
Frankly–if I’m not imagining the subtlety (and as a white man)–this doesn’t bother me. The white man’s hegemony is rightly finding a grave. White guys shouldn’t be able to have a leg up in society simply because of their gender or race. At the same time, they should have as much opportunity for success as anyone else.
Evil is a very real description, with very real consequences. It is allowed to lop along haphazardly when “good” and “bad” are merely the products of gender and skin color.
If the last couple of years has showed us anything, it’s that the American state of racial relations is dangerous. How are we still at this point? It feels like we’ve not traveled far from the racial environment of the 1960’s. How wonderful that other races and more women are finding places of leadership and success. We’re not done yet; even still, our society is doing better. But we’ve done little to learn from each other, partner together, and mitigate the hatred and discord we feel for “others.”
4. BB-8 is Real
Well, this may be a fact you already know. After watching the movie, I imagined the new droid, BB-8, was just a cool CGI rendering. Turns out, that little drone exists. The movie makers actually created a functional BB-8 droid!
In the movie itself, many of BB-8’s scenes are enhanced through CGI and special effects. But in many other scenes, a real BB-8 droid is on the set, moving alongside the film’s actors. See the video below for an example:
That someone has figured out how to position, and manipulate independently, an object on top of a rolling sphere is really quite stunning. We should have little surprise when we find this technology leaking off the Big Screen and into our daily lives. Can you imagine your car having spherical tires?
Sometimes it feels we hit lulls in advancement–like no one is working really hard to get us to the next technological iteration; like, maybe we’ve exhausted our ability to create something disruptive. After all, our smartphones have remained relatively unchanged for the last few years. (By the way, it’s likely a myth that someone suggested in 1899 we have no more need for a Patent Office because “everything that can be invented already exists.”) 1
But if we keep learning, keep trying, keep experimenting and position ourselves as life-long learners, there’s no telling what we might come across. Our creation might not, itself, disrupt, but it could be the very foundation needed to launch us to the next movement.
Never stop trying!
What have I missed? What did you see in “The Force Awakens” that others haven’t noticed?