Star Wars: A Media Studies Primer

Curator's Note

This is the last (new) InMediaRes post of 2015. It seems fitting that we would end on Star Wars, not just because it is a poised to break records at the box office, but also because this franchise has been a pop culture phenomenon for nearly the entire length of modern Film Studies. For that reason, the topic of Star Wars gives us an opportunity to consider the state of the field.

In the same way Film Studies has shifted away from auteur approaches or the notion of a “director’s cinema,” this theme week has illustrated the broad set of approaches suited for Star Wars-study. Media industry studies, political economy, fandom, and formal analysis are all here. However, the clearest trend in this week is expanding what we consider the object of film study. This week’s posts were written before the release of The Force Awakens, but of course studying Star Wars would include toys, fan films, and trailers! These posts illustrate sophisticated approaches to Star Wars and its paratexts in a way that redefines the boundaries of the film text.

I cannot help wanting to join the fun, so I would like to widen that analytic net slightly by turning your attention to Gary Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s dog. (Because why not?) As the actress explains in this bizarre interview, Star Wars is special because at the release of each film there is time for this reflection on film, media, and culture. Carrie, now at the age of “over the age of let’s say 40 and we could also say 50,” can bring her dog to nap during Good Morning America, and more importantly, she can chide an interviewer for asking her about losing weight to prepare for the role. Similarly, black Hollywood showed little patience for hashtags boycotting a black lead in the latest film. Things change. Thank goodness.

Many people are rushing to theaters to watch see The Force Awakens, considering the release of the first Star Wars film in a decade a holiday miracle. I would like to suggest this theme week is a bit of a gift as well, but for young Film/Media Studies majors going home this holiday break. When someone asks “Film Studies? What are you going to do with that?” Think of this theme week and Gary Fisher, stick your tongue out and say, “whatever I want.”

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