Myths, not facts, rule mankind, John C. Wright says, and whoever controls Star Wars controls the window into the imagination of an entire generation:
In the decade before STAR WARS, flicks were a drag. They were filled with gloom, doom, grit, and anxiety, the kind of fretful worry-wart frenzies about non-issues in which Leftwingers love in indulge. It was the time of SOYLENT GREEN and EASY RIDER. They were made when America was at an apex of wealth and liberty. Meanwhile, back in the 1940s, we had polio, the Dustbowl, and Pearl Harbor, three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, namely Plague, Famine, and War, were riding the land. And folks made Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials that were fun escapism telling simple stories about larger-than-life good underdogs fighting larger-than-life evil overlords like Killer Kane or Ming the Merciless. And so we were inspired to storm Normandy Beach and topple the Evil Empire of the Soviets.
So George Lucas, liberal extraordinaire, misled by his sheer love of nostalgic film, and without the least notion of what he was doing, decide to remake FLASH ROGERS CONQUERS MARS, and make a pure schoolboy action-adventure film supercharged with the sheer love of escapist film for the sake of film, with some chop-socky samurai sword-fighting thrown in for good measure.
And he accidently brought the whole 1940s back into the soul of the filmgoing public with him, complete with all its conservative values, can-do Yankee optimism, and sassy dames.
The Farm boy is from Tantooine, but could be from Kansas, the lovable rogue could be a hot rodder from Route 66, or any number of other cowboys, rumrunners, or tough guys, and the Princess is a sassy but straight-shooting dame straight out of any number of 1940s adventure serials, comedies, or action flicks.
We have seen so many sassy heroines made directly in the mold of Leia that we tend to forget what decade she is from: she is more like Ginger Rogers or Virginia Mayo playing a gun moll or a girl reporter with moxie than she is like any 1970s actress. What she was not was an icon of feminism, or an ad for female equality with men: she was a princess, that is, she outranked all the male characters.
Leia spoke not just with sass, but with authority, and the script did not have, nor did it need, any embarrassingly unrealistic scenes of her wrestling apes or using wire-fu on hulking thugees twice her size. American gals from the 1940s did not need to wear men’s clothing and false moustaches and speak in a forced low pitched voice to be strong: they were strong and female, not weakminded females playacting at being strong men.
Above all, STAR WARS was pure Americana, as immediately part of our American cult and culture as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or the Lone Ranger.
Long, Long ago was 1940. The Galaxy Far, Far Away was the USA.
STAR WARS was us.