One of my friends (recently, not a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) asked me whether I think Star Wars or Harry Potter will have more of an impact on future generations.
I argued that Harry Potter impacted British film making so much that its effect on story-gulping future generations is certain, and now with more thought I’d add refocusing an entire generation on reading more and recognizing the complexity of characters (and thus real people) has and will continue to change culture and society for decades. But ultimately, there would probably be no Harry Potter without Star Wars.
This is due to the hero journey, which probably many of us have heard about so I’m not going to get too into it. But basically all epic stories follow the same format (this is why I can’t stand it when people try to diminish my love of such stories by telling me they are all the same. I know that. They are supposed to be. It’s the details that make them wonderful). Hero doesn’t recognize he’s special -> leaves on a journey -> discovers his strengths -> awesome allies -> horrible evil -> hero uses his new strength to defeat horrible evil -> and there is much rejoicing.
The way Star Wars presents this journey was groundbreaking in its time. It’s obviously not the first hero story out there (let’s go with Odysseus on that one), but up until then, hero stories were myths and legends. They took place in the nearly forgotten past, or Middle Earth which resembles the nearly forgotten past. But here comes Star Wars, which was a long time ago, but in a galaxy far, far beyond our current technological capacity (and racial tolerance). It was sci-fi, but a western, with the structure of fantasy. Even Star Trek and Doctor Who, which are now largely associated with hero journeys due to reboots, did not exactly have that structure or journey in them at that time. Star Wars was different, and as such redefined culture for the remainder of the century, and beyond.
So give it some respect, and celebrate today.