Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.
This one is too fun, I just had to write about it.
Personally, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. I know it’s impossible to be born with an innate knowledge of fictional galactic histories far, far way, but I can’t recall the exact moment I was saved from my ignorance of Skywalker genealogy. Some people are like that.
But here, one father brought a video camera to his kids’ first “Empire” viewing to record their reaction. Brilliant and hilarious. Such intensity of surprise and response, especially from the son! We may finally have empirical evidence that Star Wars effects males more intensely than females on a genetic level. I hope so — this is something I have suspected for years but have been unable to prove.
Why do we love this particular video? Mostly because contains the level of extreme cuteness necessary for kid videos to be endearing, as well as Star Wars stuff. The deck was stacked from the start – this had to go viral. There’s not much to examine there, no societal or cultural quirks to dig into. But the thought occurs: It does make a nice parable.
We have here a rare event here – a recorded moment of true revelation. Here we see all the mechanics of revelation in play. There is a bigger story going on behind the smaller one, one full of important things we all need to know. The right voice speaks, and the oblivious and suspicious become one: they are let in on the big story. They receive revelation.
The recipients may react differently. They may be ecstatic and dumbfounded or have a smile and a solemn air – but everyone was helpless to understand before and is made responsible after. Whatever the recipient’s reaction may be, the knowledge received changes their view of everything prior and subsequent. ”Darth Vader is Luke’s father!” completely alters the Star Wars viewing experience. (So does “Princess Leia is Luke’s sister!”, but that’s a whole other thing.)
Behind our limited experience, there is a bigger story. Paul often spoke of Christ’s life and work as a revelation of a “mystery”* – a secret hidden for long, long ages in a heaven far, far away (sorry – couldn’t resist). The revelation of that mystery changed the way Paul viewed the entire book of history, as well as radically rewriting his own contributing paragraph.
This viral video made me think about my own kid-ishness, how I in my own way miss the genealogy going on behind the lightsaber swings and bad haircuts. I forget that I’ve been let in on the story going on behind the story, and that this sort of knowledge ought to be surprising, life-shaping, and earth-shattering.
Or maybe Alderaan-shattering? Sorry, sorry…. I know…