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***The lovely Jason Palmer Padme print in this picture of the wall next to my writing space was acquired at Celebration IV.

***The lovely Jason Palmer Padme print in this picture of the wall next to my writing space was acquired at Celebration IV.

My friend Jason called me a paradox. By definition, a paradox is, “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature” (dictionary.com). I’ve known Jason a pretty long time. I met him and his family in the same way that I’ve met quite a few of the people who have become important to me: through Star Wars. It is in this context that he called me a paradox, and I wondered why. His exact comment: “Is there an issue with demographics? Are there a whole lot of sappy women like you that also like Star Wars? That’s always perplexed me about you. Most softies like the movie where the young starlet chooses happiness over her parents’ wishes and runs away with George Clooney instead of the young, up-and-coming (but jerk) stud. I’d like to hear about the thing that tugs you that way.” It’s an interesting subject, so I did some research among my female friends.

Sixteen strong, wonderful women rose to the occasion and answered my simple question: “What one aspect of Star Wars do you like most?” It would have been easy to stick with the Star Wars fans in my address book, but I chose to query a variety of friends, some whose interests have nothing to do with the galaxy far, far, away. The group’s ages range from early twenties to mid-sixties, and their lives create a colorful tapestry of careers, families and backgrounds. What all of these women have in common, however, is intelligence, indomitable spirit, and emotional strength. I loved each and every response, even the ones that had little to do with my favorite saga.

Two of my respondents, A and B, have never even seen Star Wars, as difficult as that is for me to wrap my brain around. A is among the youngest in my group, but B recently passed the half-century mark. I actually chose B for my research because I expected as much but was no less interested in her answer. C, D, E, and F have all seen at least one episode of the saga, and they are either casual or passing fans or non-fans. They all have strong memories or associations with Star Wars for specific reasons, some positive and some negative. G, H, I, J, K, L, and M are certifiable fans, but even so, they were able to give relatively succinct answers. It took a couple of them some time to think, but each was able to hone in on one, distinct aspect that they love most. Among those, I did ask Respondent I to expand upon her answer, but that was more for my clarity than hers. Finally, N, O, and P were unable to give quick answers, and their lengthy responses make me smile. N and P lovingly chastised me for asking something so difficult, narrowing down their passions for Star Wars to just one. I hope I’ve been forgiven.

The purpose in doing this research was to discover anything paradoxical about Star Wars fandom amongst my “sappy” girlfriends, but what I discovered is both congruent and contradictory. Family experiences as mothers, wives, and daughters surfaced several times. Respondent F said, “I loved it so much when I was 9 that I went to see it in the theatres 8 times with my dad,” and C echoed that. “I can remember watching with each of my kids at different ages, watching with my Dad, my husband, all at different times and different ages,” she said. And Respondent M pulled those thoughts together with hers. “Although the saga remains the same its message evolves with the evolution of oneself…as I get older, as I became a mom. There are scenes I never would have thought twice about that are now some of my favorites.”

The various aspects of characterization and the ties between characters were also popular responses. “The relationships of the characters. Not necessarily the lovey-dovey relationships…the community the characters create. They form a group a viewer instantly wants to be part of,” responded L. “Intriguing, fun characters,” said D. “The characters are portrayed in such a way that there’s no mistaking which are good and which are evil,” said E. Good vs. Evil was mentioned in several responses as were specific Star Wars characters’ storylines. For H, it’s all about Anakin, and Respondent O mentioned both Anakin’s fall and Luke’s journey. Luke is also the favorite of Respondent P who wrote in-depth about George Lucas’ brilliant storytelling. D loved Anakin’s Force ghost appearance at the end of Return of the Jedi, and Respondent I loved the compassionate connections between Shmi and Anakin as well as between Luke and Anakin and Padme and Anakin. Respondent N loves that it is, “not just Luke’s story but Anakins’ and Padme’s,” as well.

Other aspects of Star Wars that appeal to my insightful female friends include the “sense of adventure – the group together in a ship, flying through space, doing things! Like a road trip,” the fact that, “their cause becomes one we all want to fight for,” the “mythological connection…George Lucas intentionally crafted a story that taps into the world’s archetypal bloodstream,” “The expanse of the world that is created and how completely it is created,” and the “spirituality that surrounds the Jedi.”

I am overwhelmed at the scope of my friends’ astute analysis of something that I love so much. Compassion and adventure and family and characters. People. Respondents L and C both stated it well: There’s something for everyone.

But why do I love it? Isn’t that what Jason asked me? What tugs at me as a woman? With a smile I must tell you that Respondent B, one of the two who has never actually seen Star Wars, summed it up best. “What could be better than following a series of characters throughout the years and experiencing their journeys, their pain, their growth and understanding, and sometimes even relating to them? It’s like standing by a loved one and being a witness to their life.” Wow. Star Wars endures. Its characters grow and change, triumph and fall, hope and despair, and I can relate to every heartache, every failure, every celebration. When Luke whines about wanting to escape his aunt and uncle’s moisture farm, I remember when I yearned for similar emancipation. When Leia searches for “her only hope,” I recall those who have been my “only hope” at times. Han initially eschews involvement with the rebels, and I know I, too, have avoided doing the right thing more than once. Obi-Wan tries so hard but sometimes fails anyway as he watches those he loves fall around him, and I empathize. Padme loves wholly and completely, and I know I do, too. And Anakin wants more, does more, needs more, requires more, all while hiding his real self. All he wants is the unconditional love that he knew as a small boy, and my heart clicks. I get it. I always have. I can relate almost every nook and cranny of my life to something in Star Wars.

I love a good Rom Com as much as the next sappy girl, but my heart soars in the galaxy far, far away.

Always…

—pam

Email me your thoughts! pamb@coffeewithkenobi.com

…This IS the podcast you’re looking for…

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10 Comments

  1. Lisa
    November 13, 2014 at 08:25 Reply

    Pretty sure I know who ‘Respondent O’ is. 😉

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      November 13, 2014 at 11:59 Reply

      Hmmmmmmmmmm….I wonder….. 🙂

  2. Erica
    November 13, 2014 at 12:47 Reply

    What a fun entry! I loved hearing everybody’s varied replies–especially yours!

    You know, whenever someone asks me “why do you love ___?” I always have this moment of feeling totally stumped, because it’s not like when I encountered whatever-it-was I sat down and rationally considered all the pros and cons about that story, or person, or song, or movie and thought, “Yes, now I’ve considered all the options and I’ve decided I will feel strongly about xyz.” I don’t choose to love something, it just grabs me at a gut level, and that’s it. I feel first, then maybe I can go back and sift through all those intense emotions and tell you a bit about why. But whenever I try to sum it up, it always feels like those parts, wonderful as they are, are not the whole, and they’re not why I love something, because love works way deeper than on the rational level. My heart became a star wars fan before my brain ever knew what was happening.

    But you know that, you love the emotional galaxy 😉
    Love this topic! And it was so much fun to be a part of your research!

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      November 14, 2014 at 13:43 Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment and kind words, Erica! I completely agree with you that my heart fell in love with Star Wars long before my brain knew what was happening. It’s that way for most things. My initial question was going to ask for one word to describe what you love most, but even though I had one in mind for myself at the time (relatability) I quickly realized that it isn’t enough. There’s just so much I love about Star Wars.

  3. Dan Z & Cory Clubb
    November 14, 2014 at 11:00 Reply

    I loved the approach you took with this Blog, and I’m guessing there is enough material for a sequel. Thanks for all of your hard work and enthusiasm!

    -Dan Z

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      November 14, 2014 at 13:47 Reply

      Thank you for your faith in me, Dan. I wrote a research paper in this style for my Urban Anthropology class a few years ago, and I hoped it would work here, too.There is certainly more I could have written about! Suffice it to say that some of the information my friends shared with me inspired me for topics of future CWK blog entries…

  4. Melinda Wolf
    November 18, 2014 at 10:39 Reply

    I usually chuckle (at least; sometimes I will outright laugh) whenever someone offers: “But you CAN’T like Star Wars! You’re a girl!” (I usually save the chuckling for youngsters who are too young to be schooled in what we of the female gender can and cannot do. 😉 Is there anything we can’t do? 🙂 ) “Of course I can like Star Wars,” I reply. “Probably for a lot of the same reasons you like it.” 🙂

    I admit I have issues with anyone who (tries to) pigeon-hole others into categories based on gender, race, age, etc. I like a GOOD action film as much as — if not more so — my husband, and he likes a GOOD “chick flick” as much as I do. It all boils down to whether a film has two key ingredients — strong storytelling and good character development. If a film lacks in either of these two criteria, it will fall flat on its face. Star Wars exceeds in both areas. 🙂

    I absolutely loved this entry, Pam … the way you wove everything together, your sharing your own musings about your various connections to Star Wars. 🙂 I always enjoy reading whatever you write; yet, this was particularly outstanding! 🙂 Thank you so much.

    My question: A paradox do you consider yourself? Hmmm… 😉

    MTFBWY 🙂

  5. Lisa Febre
    November 18, 2014 at 15:19 Reply

    There was a moment after I emailed you that I thought “I should write more” or “that was a stupid answer”. I always felt like that in school, too… But the more I think about, and especially after reading this, I’m so excited that my response was so unique! But it really is what keeps me hooked. As children, we’d turn my brother’s closet into a spaceship and have our own adventures. Luke & Leia. When he took the road trip with me when I moved to Las Vegas, it was the same thing. I LOVE the idea of the open road, or the open sky, or open space.

    This was a FANTASTIC entry, and it’s so amazing to see how your writing style has become so refined and artful. Love you! xoxo

  6. Mike MacDonald (@MikeTarkin)
    November 22, 2014 at 10:06 Reply

    Loved the final paragraph! Speaks to the fact that our favorite characters were created with sooooooo much depth, depth we discover in a relatively short amount of time via the movies.

  7. Becca Benjamin
    November 23, 2014 at 14:09 Reply

    Respondent I 😉 Most definitely lol!

    Great article Pam and incredibly funtastic research 🙂
    This is so awesome! Love seeing what the other respondents had to say, makes me re-think and think all over again. It’s funny…after my second time responding to your email, I felt like it wasn’t clear enough, that it was still a bit too vague. Obviously that’s not the case 🙂

    And you’re right, the Star Wars Saga evolves as our lives do. Our feelings or connections to them change as well, as they endure, we do too…we can relate and empathize.

    Happy Thanksgiving Pam!

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Pam is a writer, editor, mother, fangirl, and self-proclaimed geek from Pittsburgh, PA.

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