BLOG May The Adverts Be With You

Why do Star Wars ads make some people want to turn to the Dark Side, wonders Steven Ellis?

So, there’s another TV advert featuring Star Wars characters doing the rounds; Yoda is appearing in a Vodafone advert this time, and parts of the net are alive with reports of Star Wars fan outrage yet again. What is it with this small section of extremist fans, or the constant need for some to report on their apparent behaviour and opinions?

I consider myself a huge Star Wars fan and I’m not outraged. Very few other SW fans I know are outraged either. Sure, there’s the odd Lucas-bashing comment on the forum, but then there always is, but really… outrage? I don’t see it. And if anyone actually is outraged it’ll probably be the same small minority group of people that were outraged at the Blu-ray release, which when you consider the number of films that have never been released on Blu-ray before, like Star Wars, which get released every month without comment or complaint, then it is just Lucas bashing again, really.

It seems Lucas is just a very easy target doesn’t it? And reporting on some fan outrage seems to be the go-to article subject anytime Lucas (or his company) does anything.

I know it’s just lazy sensationalism to report on “outraged fans”, but why should they get all the attention and normal middle-of-the-road fans like myself don’t get a voice. I know it’s nothing new, nor likely to change, but I still find it really irritating to be lumped in with the extreme knee-jerk “rape of my childhood” reaction gang every time. We’re not all like that are we?

I don’t have a problem with these adverts at all. In fact I think they’re great. It’s nice to see these beloved characters from my childhood appearing on TV and getting back in the public consciousness. It’s nice to see the Star Wars characters used in a more light-hearted fun way sometimes. It’s not product placement; we aren’t seeing Han admiring a pair of Converse All Stars in the lounge of the Millennium Falcon are we? We’re not going to see Chewie sporting a hairdryer in Empire Strikes Back and Artoo isn’t going to marry Hetty the Hoover in a future episode of The Clone Wars is he? The ads do nothing to damage the integrity of the original films; they’re not supposed to be taken seriously. They’re parodies for Heaven’s sake. You’re supposed to be amused. You’re supposed to enjoy them, not run off to the nearest forum and demand Lucas’ head on a stick.

I understand that some people have issues with Lucas over the alteration he keeps making to the SW films but that’s a different argument. That said, I’m amazed that tinkering in 2011 or licensing characters to appear in adverts seems, in some people’s eyes, to retroactively make everything else Lucas has ever done suddenly crap. People seem to forget that this man was responsible for, or involved in, a lot of great sci-fi genre stuff that we all loved when we were kids. His later work might not be as good, but that doesn’t take anything away from his earlier accomplishments and Yoda showing up in a phone ad won’t make me look back on my childhood and weep.

These are just TV advert. People accuse Lucas of selling out and I wonder what they mean? What’s he selling out on exactly? Star Wars fans? The integrity of the characters? The high moral ground? And if you do think he’s selling out then what difference does that make? Nothing done today alters what came before, the original films are still there, the Indiana Jones films are still there, the wider related products from both franchise are there and you are not obliged to purchase anything new or tinkered with, you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want or like, and you don’t have to automatically fork out your cash on anything that a Star Wars

Adverts are everywhere. We go through our days bombarded by the bloody things from left, right and centre. Some are great, some are terrible and some are down right irritating, but none of them should be taken that seriously. I’ve included a selection of the recent adverts featuring Star Wars characters in this blog. Check them out for yourself.

The little kid in the Darth Vader costume is my favourite, but I think all of the ads shown here are funny and all of them bring a smile to my face when I see them. These adverts prove that the Star Wars characters are iconic; that these characters are well recognised outside of the sci-fi genre. George Lucas came up with great characters that are known and loved the world over. Well known enough and loved enough that they can be used in adverts and people know them instantly. And that’s a good thing, there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact we should probably celebrate their popularity rather than demonise their creator.

So, what do you think? Had you seen these ads before? Did you laugh? Or are you already reaching for your pitchfork and heading to the Lucas Ranch with a burning torch?