Editorial – The benevolence of Star Wars

The editorial for Dec. 24 on Star Wars and the holiday season.

The one event that has caused nearly as much excitement and anticipation as the actual holiday season is the release of the newest Star Wars movie. The Vogue Theatre in Fernie nearly sold out of all of their weekend showings, making it the most profitable movie of the year.

The timing of Star Wars to be released during the holiday season was no accident and to me it makes more than just financial sense. The Star Wars franchise has a history of benevolence that complements the Christmas spirit.

The most recent example of the good will Star Wars stimulates was last month, when director JJ Abrams held a private viewing for Daniel Fleetwood. Fleetwood, who was 32, was terminally ill, with a very aggressive form of cancer, and his dying wish was to see the newest installment before he passed. “If I get to see the movie, I might actually die of happiness,” Fleetwood told People magazine.

The campaign to support Fleetwood gained traction on the Internet, with the hashtag #ForceforDaniel trending on Twitter. Mark Hamilton, who played Luke Skywalker in the original series, said he was elated that Abrams held a private viewing for Fleetwood. He saw the movie just days before he passed away on Nov. 10, and if seeing Star Wars eased his pain at all, the campaign was entirely worth it.

The franchise’s history of benevolence goes deeper with that, much of it coming from its creator, George Lucas. When Lucas sold Disney the rights to Star Wars in the fall of 2012, he donated most of the $4 billion sale to education initiatives.

“I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race,” Lucas wrote in a pledge letter. “We have a plan for our collective future – and the first step begins with the social, emotional and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt – as educators, storytellers and communicators, our responsibility is to do so.”

With an attitude like that, “The Empire Gives Back” would be a better title for one of his movies.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Star Wars or the holiday season. But I am a fan of events and initiatives that remind me of the good in people. These two things do just that.

I hope everyone  enjoys their holiday season, with Star Wars or anything else that makes them smile.