By the Way

May the 4th Be With You on Star Wars Day

By JEFF CLARK

jclark@sunherald.com

Benjamin Hart of Pascagoula
Benjamin Hart of Pascagoula

It all started as a pun.

“I think this started because 'May the 4th be with you' sounded funny and it started spreading and being shared around Facebook,” said Pascagoula “Star Wars” expert Benjamin Hart.

Regardless of its comedic origins, today is Wednesday, May 4 and it is officially “Star Wars Day.”

“It has been officially sanctioned and recognized by Lucasfilm,” Hart said.

And Hart knows what he is talking about, Willis. He is one of the curators of the “Star Wars Underworld,” a popular website and podcast devoted to all things “the force.” The Underworld also has a Facebook page that’s knocking on 200,000 page likes. If you are familiar with metrics, that’s a pretty big deal.

So what exactly is “Star Wars Day"?  Is it a day manufactured to sell “Star Wars” merchandise and renew interest in the recently revised franchise, much like a galactic Mother’s Day? Yes. It is and Hart said he is fine with that.

“It’s a boost to the economy, so to speak, even for us on the Facebook page and site,” he said. “Plus, hopefully there will be some announcements -- we’ve already gotten a “Rogue One” trailer, but who knows what will happen?”

I asked some of my film industry friends for their thoughts on the impact of “Star Wars.”

Here’s what they said:

"’Star Wars’ and the entire franchise actually led me to a deeper exploration of literature. That seems like a strange statement but in discovering Joseph Campbell's mythos of the hero's journey through the films, I became much more interested in words and it influenced my career path. Plus, I am still madly in love with Han Solo.”

-- Melanie Addington, director of the Oxford Film Festival and the Best of Oxford Film Festival at Ocean Springs

“‘Star Wars’ is a cultural reference point that brings people together in ways far deeper than any other movie before or since. My writing partner and I were each inspired by not just the storytelling, but the music, the characters, and the humor that informs our work to this day. Last year I was able to share the Star Tours attraction with my daughter for the first time on May the 4th, and this year I can't think of a better follow up than introducing her to the films themselves. I would make a Star Wars pun, but (like Kylo Ren's lightsaber) those are getting out of Han.”

-- Wally Phelps, stand up comic, co writer of “Monsters Anonymous”

“‘Star Wars’ is a timeless piece of art that traverses no boundaries in pop culture. That is obvious when looking at the diverse fan base. It has endless story-line possibilities, which in turn keep it alive indefinitely.”

-- Darnell Fayard Sheffield, producer of “Monsters Anonymous” and “Panda”

But when it comes to “Star Wars Day,” no one could say it better than Hart:

“Not that it isn’t special, but every day is ‘Star Wars Day.’ Official ‘Star Wars Day’ is just more amplified.”

-- Jeff Clark is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. He lives with his family in a galaxy far, far away called Long Beach.

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