I have a confession to make. I am kind of a nerd when it comes to politics and government. I became a journalist because I truly am fascinated by the political process. Things like economic development, infrastructure investment, community engagement, police policy, parks and recreation and more just really do interest me. I enjoyed my time covering meetings and seeing the political process unfold. I covered elections, even interviewed in person Beto O’Rourke before he got famous.
Sure it’s easy to see with that background why I would be a staunch defender of The Phantom Menace in particular, that whole scene with the congress calling for a vote of no confidence in the chancellor really gets my brain juices flowing. But did you know that it’s actually because of Star Wars that I became so fascinated by politics in the first place? Well let me explain.
When I was a kid I loved reading books. I read books well above my reading grade. I was reading college level by 5th grade. I remember reading the novelization of Star Wars From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker repeatedly as a kid. Even though it was just a few hints here and there just reading about the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire got me curious as to what all those terms meant.
It was sometime in 5th grade when I started learning the basics of the U.S. system of government. The first time the teacher spelled out the three branches of the government a light bulb turn on inside. Then I got really excited when I started learning about the Rebellions against the Empire that took place in our nations history. Once I started connecting the concepts I was learning in social studies to the terms I had read in my Star Wars books I became even more entrenched. I remember sitting at home watching C-Span and being mesmerized by the debates. I hadn’t formed my political alliances yet but I was enjoying learning how it all worked.
Once I started reading the Expanded Universe books I started having fantasies of being a governor of a small outer rim system trying to balance being subject to the empire but secretly supportive of the Rebellion. It even influenced my interest in Sim City and similar games as a way to enact political scenarios in my mind. I would even imagine I was a dignitary on a capital warship on a political envoy while I was working as a busser at a buffet inside the casino.
I had always attributed my interest in the prequels as a combination of my love for the EU, my own interest in politics and being the right age when Episode I came out that I just fell in love with a movie others happened to hate.
It never occurred to me that the reason I enjoyed the movies with the most politics in them isn’t just because I was into politics, but it was because it was the very franchise itself that sparked my original interest in the field in the first place.
Why am I writing this now, today? Because of the connection with the 4th of July. You see I am a day dreamer of course. You don’t get to be a very good writer/storyteller if you aren’t. So I used to always lay in bed imagining that I was on a planet in the Star Wars universe in a heated battle between Imperial and Rebel forces every Independence Day. The sound of the fireworks and the way they lit up the night sky was the perfect sensory enhancement to maintain that illusion. To this day I can’t do anything on the 4th without thinking of Star Wars. Not to mention the way my brain associates Star Wars with the Will Smith film ID4. It all kind of goes together for me.
This Fourth of July I am hoping to celebrate with my own re-watching of the two Star Wars films I associate the most with the holiday, the original A New Hope and of course, the Phantom Menace. I missed May 4th but there’s no reason you can’t have a May the Fourth be With You on the Fourth of July, is there? #StayCool.