Star Wars Empire Strikes Back
Ohio University-Chillicothe will present screenings of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," along with audience discussion following.

Star Wars Film Series Invites Critical Discussion of Pop Culture

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There are certain stories that transcend the time of their inception.  These stories withstand cultural, historical and societal progressions. They are deemed “classic” and are used as recurring reference points in the standard-setting of excellence.  They reach beyond the emotional capacity, intellectual depth and creativity of their predecessors and leave a longer lasting imprint on the imaginations of their recipients than successors ever can.  Undoubtedly, Star Wars is one of these stories.

In that spirit, the Ohio University Cultural Committee is featuring three of the Star Wars episodes during its Fall Film Festival in the Bennett Hall Auditorium. The first in the series, A New Hope, was screened on Sept. 23. The two remaining films, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, will be presented Oct. 21 and Nov. 18, respectively. Show time for both films is 7 p.m.

Tony Vinci, OU-C English faculty member, will provide introductory background information for the films and facilitate discussions after the screenings. The events are free to OU-C students. Free pizza and refreshments will be served.

“As fantasy and science fiction become more a part of everyday culture, we seem to lose the ability to see the importance of these radical narratives,” Vinci said.

An active proponent of critical cultural analysis on campus, Vinci organized the Star Wars Film Festival as a way for students to interact intimately with an influential piece of pop culture and apply it to their understanding of the world around them.

“My hope is that this fall’s festival particularly will help community members to engage more deeply with these stories, use them to ask difficult questions about our lives and times,” said Vinci.

Vinci emphasizes that the consumption of outlandish achievements is dulled by time; that work once conceived as extraordinary and strange is melded into an accepted norm as generation after generation repeats a fondness for it. Audiences begin to experience stories without actually examining them. The elements that once made Star Wars so brilliantly “weird” are celebrated without being thoroughly acknowledged, inspected or understood.

“Somehow, by 2015, this uncanny cinematic landscape has lost its strangeness, and audiences no longer engage with the film’s complex aesthetic composition or its competing cultural messages,” said Vinci. “The film festival provides an opportunity for audience members to regain perspective about a specific pop culture piece and deepen their relationship with the stories they love.”