I recently watched that HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015). I’ve always been interested in knowing how people could believe that a writer of science fiction could hold the secrets of our planet, and maybe the secrets of our universe. I am amazed how people could know the history of Scientology’s founder was nothing but a two-bit charlatan who was all about making money rather than providing people with a better way of life.
L Ron Hubbard has often been quoted as telling an audience at a writer’s convention that;
“Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.”
And so he did. Something that I’m sure not many people know about that man is that he is the Guinness World Record holder for the most works published by an author (1,084). Hubbard holds two other Guinness World Records pertaining to his work as a writer. In addition to that, some of his books have sold in the millions and have stayed on best-seller lists for many years, with many of his books topping these lists at some point in time.
But there’s another science fiction writer who holds more recognised records than “Ol’ Father” Hubbard.
Many Star Wars fans would be familiar with the story about how George Lucas, rather than taking the director’s fee for the initial movie (later retitled Episode IV: A New Hope), he decided to sign a deal whereby he’d own the rights to all future sequels and all future merchandise. And as the episodes V and VI did so well at the box office and sold ship loads of merchandise and continued to do so even before the prequel trilogy was released, you can understand how Lucas had a net worth of US$3.2 billion in 2011 according to Forbes.
All in all, George Lucas or his Star Wars franchise holds no less than 13 Guinness World Records including the largest simultaneous movie premiere based on territories with Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) being released simultaneously in 115 countries on 19 May 2005; a feat that almost 10 years later has not been matched. Think about that for a second. Depending on the source, there are between 190 and 196 countries (or sovereign states) in this world and approximately 60% of those countries had a movie released to their cinematic market on the same day.
There are only 17 countries that currently recognise Scientology as a religion with a further 18 either outright denying the “faith” any rights as a religious organisation, or having their jury still out on whether the Church, its belief system, and more importantly to them, their status as a tax-free organisation is valid and warranted. The other 155 to 161 countries do not recognise the religion at all.
Australia is one of those 17 countries that recognises with the Australian High Court ruling that Scientology is a religion. The Church of Scientology claims that there are over 150,000 Australians that call themselves Scientologists. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) however, the only 2,163 people marked down on the 2011 census that they were a Scientologist which was a reduction from the figure of 2,507 in the 2006 census. So either 147,837 people are embarrassed about being members of that Church or the Church of Scientology is lying (once again). I think it’s the latter rather than the former.
In what has been referred to as the Jedi Census Phenomenon, in 2001, the ABS recorded over 70,000 people as stating they are of the Jedi faith in Australia. This followed by a drop down to 58,000 in 2006 and back up to 65,000 in 2011. So if one was to compare science fiction writers and their ability to gain followers who profess their allegiance to a belief system within their body of work, it would seem that the one who set out to create a religion and gain followers has lost out to one who never intended to start a religion, but sure enough has created one.
A few years back I made a comment about Christianity and their ability to keep their followers because, and I’m quoting myself here;
“If Atheism had a festive season or two where we exchanged gifts or chocolate, had a huge feast, and they gave you FIVE days off work or school instead of the three* or four Christian holidays, I think there would be a lot more Atheists in this world. *Some countries do not observe Boxing Day as a Christian holiday.”
And that lead me to think about those (currently) 65,000 Jedis living in Australia currently observing those Christian holidays as recognised and observed by the Australian Government. It is on the Christian celebration of Easter that the Jedis and other Star Wars fans must purchase and give the gift of the Star Wars coffee mug with the chocolate egg inside. And it is during the Christian celebration of Christmas that followers of The Force and again, other Star Wars fan must buy their merchandise to give as gifts.
Wikipedia lists 15 dates that Scientology has as dates to be recognised by that Church, so obviously, those following the Jedi faith also need a list of dates to be recognised. And in the absence of anyone else doing it, here’s my list of suggested dates to be the official holidays, commemorations and observances.
25th – The day that (in 2013) LucasFilm and Disney announced that J. J. Abrams would be directing the first of the sequel trilogy’s film.
19th – The day that (in 2015) a teaser trailer for the first Star Wars anthology film Rogue One was shown during the closing of the Star Wars Celebration.
4th – Why May the fourth? Well, May the fourth be with you…
14th – George Lucas’ Birthday (1944)
16th – Release Date of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
19th – Release Date of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
21st – Release Date of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
25th – Original Release Date of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
15th – Release Date of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) the movie that launched the animated made-for-television cartoon series.
25th – Mark Hamill’s Birthday (1951) – Although the Jedi prophecy of the “Chosen One” was thought to have been fulfilled once Anakin Skywalker was signed up to become a Jedi, it was in fact his son Luke Skywalker that brought balance to The Force. Seeing that Hamill portrayed Luke in the movies, his birthday should be recognised as a date of significance in the absence of knowing the (Earth) birth date of Luke.
3rd – Date that (in 2008) the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated made-for-television cartoon series commenced screening on television.
31st – Halloween – Who doesn’t like dressing up a their favourite Star Wars character and taking to the streets hoping to
find the droids there are looking for receive treats?
17th – Life Day – According to Wookiepedia, the “official” Star Wars wiki, Life Day is a Wookiee holiday as shown in the plot of the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) with November 17th being the date chosen because it was the date that the show was shown on American television.
18th – Release Date of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
May certainly is the busiest month on the calendar so we might as well just call it Star Wars Month. Of course, LucasFilm themselves recognise the 4th of May as Star Wars Day and you can read about Star Wars Day on their official Star Wars website.
Now I’m pretty sure that if you’re a self-confessed nerd, dork, dweeb, geek or maybe even just a smart-mouthed troll and you are reading this, especially if you’re one of those Star Wars aficionados, you might be ready to pull me up on some, if not all of these dates. I know what you’re thinking; only one of these dates could be considered part of the Star Wars canon, and only if we’re going to allow the plot of the Star Wars Holiday Special to be considered canonical. But even if we do allow that which would mean that Life Day becomes a recognised observance, why would a follower of the Jedi Church care about what the Wookiees on the planet Kashyyyk are celebrating?
And whilst the planet Earth has the month of May, the city planet of Coruscant where the Jedi High Council is located may (excuse the pun) not. Therefore, to assume that within the Star Wars universe all of the planets acknowledge our yearly calendar system is ludicrous. Therefore, unless a character from within the expanded Star Wars Universe came to Earth to celebrate the day with us, to them, floating somewhere out there in in a galaxy far, far away, this date is meaningless.
And if they did come to our galaxy and arrived here on Earth, and they did acknowledge May the Fourth which many affectionately refer to as (International) Star Wars Day, then that’s going to be a HUGE break of the fourth wall. And then, all those other dates that are about the movie, the director or a star of some of the films would also be a huge break in the fourth wall. And we can’t have that. Something like that will be the cause of the entire universe folding in on itself sucking in this galaxy of ours along with those other ones that are far, far away.
So, I am happy to treat the Jedi faith as I treat the Scientology faith, and any other Church or religion that has followers on this planet of ours. And by that, I mean it’s just a work of fiction. Nothing more. Nothing less. But I am happy to observe these dates, and all those in between if it means spreading the word of Star Wars.
And unlike all of the other religions of this world (well, the cult versions at least), I’m pleased to say that the end is not nigh. Well, for the main canon it will be, but not for the expanded universe’s canon. I can’t make predictions about when it will happen, but I can tell you that the next major event will take place on;
- December 18, 2015 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- December 16, 2016 – Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One
- May 26, 2017 – Star Wars Episode VIII
- 2018 – Untitled Star Wars Anthology project
- 2019 – Star Wars Episode IX
Do you celebrate Star Wars Day? Are you looking forward to seeing the new movies in the third trilogy? What do you think about the anthology project films?