Pop Culture Link Round Up: Star Wars Edition

 

So there’s this movie coming out later this year. You might have heard of it. It’s part VII in the Star Wars saga and it is set to roll out in theaters on 12/18/15 (two days after my big ’40’). I’m not the world’s biggest Star Wars fan, but I do still enjoy the mythology. I agree with many fans that Episode V is the best of the bunch, I despise Jar Jar Binks with the fiery passion of three exploding stars, I’m not a fan of the Ewoks, I love me some Darth Maul, I think Han shot first, and I liked Episode III. I’ve noticed more and more Star Wars articles and pop culture merchandise lately. I’m not sure if that’s bc there actually is more Star Wars stuff out there, or if it’s observational selection bias on my part (honestly, I think the latter is the case)*. In any case, I wanted to highlight some of the interesting Star Wars related material I’ve seen around the net:

Let’s start with the most awesome thing I’ve seen, the Saber Academy:

Established just last year, the Saber Authority — “Your Source For the Force” — teaches lightsaber dueling based on a blend of Asian martial arts. “When it comes to saber dueling, we don’t believe in fictional styles or make-believe combat,” the website states. “We also don’t believe in learning skills that cannot be used in real life or self defense situations. Why spend time learning something that does not help you in any way.”

The Saber Academy begins with foundation strikes and footwork, and then builds toward more advanced techniques, like the ever-popular double saber and saber-staff dueling. It’s not only for adults, either. As you can see from the photo above, younglings are welcome.

You don’t have to worry about your mid-chlorian count, either; the Saber Academy gladly accepts cash: A monthly membership starts at about $57 U.S. (less if you provide your own lightsaber). And if you’re in the market for a lightsaber, they can set you up with one of those, for the right price.

How cool would it be to take a saber class? To study and train and hold mock battles? And do it in Singapore?! Sign me up!

Where the Saber Academy sounds fun and exciting, the next entry is offbeat and unusual.

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STAR WARS-SHAPED BOILED EGGS

Hard-boiled eggs are tasty, but they can look kind of…boring, so why not squish them into a Star Wars shape? It seems like the logical thing to do.

These Star Wars egg shapers let you make your own R2, Threepio, Stormtrooper, or Darth Vader eggs. Just boil and peel the egg, pop it in the mold and squish! Use the Force to crush Vader once and for all!

This sounds…quirky to me. From the image, it’s hard to tell how big the molds are. They don’t appear to be very big, so it looks to me like you can’t fit the whole egg in there. And even if you could fit the entire egg in there, I’m wondering how that works. Somebody buy these and let me know how it works out, kay?

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PHOTOGRAPHER  JORGE PÉREZ HIGUERA SHOWS THE OTHER SIDE OF STORMTROOPERS

STORMTROOPERS HAVE PRETTY busy schedules, what with doing the Emperor’s bidding and getting shot by blaster rifles all the time. But they do have a little time to themselves each day, and Jorge Pérez Higuera shows us just how they spend it in his series The Other Side. There they are, washing dishes. Playing videogames. Even kicking back in the Jacuzzi with a fruity cocktail.

Higuera was in his last year of college in Madrid, Spain, when he got his hands on second-hand stormtrooper armor and started the project in 2012.1He simply liked the idea of stormtroopers being just like us, except for the whole marching and killing thing. “They represent the galactic working class,” he says. “Let’s be honest, if that future existed, we would probably be imperial soldiers and not heroes or villains.”

The photographer feels the stormtrooper is a pop icon most people can identify with. “I like to think that in my photography I can represent everybody and nobody in particular,” he says. “I love the idea that the stormtrooopers’ roles are assigned by the spectators’ imaginations in terms of whether they are males, females, teenagers, or elderly.”

Check out many more images of Stormtroopers engaged in mundane activities here.

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Next up…look, I won’t lie. The words “I want that one and that one and OOOOOH *that one*” may have been uttered when I discovered this link to Star Wars Kitchenware:

 

I love cereal, so I can easily see myself eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Frosted Flakes while trying to harness the power of the Dark Side! The water bottle would be perfect for the gym, while the insulated tumblr just looks too cool not to have. And don’t worry people, I still plan on destroying all coffee in the world once the final phase of my world domination plan begins. So no, I won’t be drinking coffee out of that mug. Only hot cocoa or hot apple cider.  I do wish they had some salt and pepper shakers though. That would have been suh-weet!

Click on the link for much more, including a whisk, kids plates, coin holders, and much more.

(h/t That’s Nerdalicious)

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I feel the need to warn readers about this next one. You’ll likely want to rush out to your local dealer (not that kind of dealer) and buy one of these. Unfortunately, these are only promotional. They are not for sale. You’ll have to settle for drooling over these Stormtrooper Dodge Chargers:

The automaker provided eight Chargers, including a Hellcat, for a Hot Wheels promotion with Uber on Friday in New York that coincided with the toy car maker’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise.

Uber users were able to ride in the Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Chargers for free by using the code HOTWHEELSFF.

The Chargers take on the look of the Hot Wheels Stormtrooper cruiser.

Riders received an official Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hot Wheels diecast car.

Hot Wheels officials said they picked the Charger because it “embodies the look and feel of the Hot Wheels Stormtrooper diecast car and is sure to turn heads when traversing on the streets of NYC on ‘Force Friday.’”

A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spokeswoman said the Hot Wheels collaboration is a one-time promotion that is independent of the company’s recently announced promotional partnership with Lucasfilm for the upcoming movie.

More images are available at the link. Man…can you imagine a Vader Vehicle?

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After seeing the next Star Wars themed merchandise, old-school fans (i.e. people who watched Episodes 4, 5, and/or 6 in the theaters during their original theatrical release) may be jealous of today’s whippersnappers. After all, they didn’t have Millennium Falcon bed sets when I was a kid.

Of course even if these were around when I was a kid, I doubt my parents could have afforded one:

Young Star Wars fans can now sleep like Han Solo with the whimsical Millennium Falcon bed from Pottery Barn Kids. The playful piece of furniture features the ship’s iconic cockpit shape, crafted with solid hardwood in a twin size. It’s hand-painted and built to last from playtime to bedtime, and is the perfect addition to a room that’s probably already full of toy Lightsabers, action figures, and a replica R2-D2.

While the exterior resembles the famed ship, the interior doesn’t disappoint, either. It has knobs and gauges imprinted on either end of the cockpit so that children can set their dreams into hyperdrive.

The Millennium Falcon bed doesn’t come cheap, however.  It can be yours through the Pottery Barn Kids website, for a price just shy of $4,000.

Ah, to dream. Kids these days just don’t know how good they have it (and no adult has ever said *that* in the history of ever). More shots of the MF bed are available at the link.

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It wasn’t lost on me that the two children featured in the image of the MF bed above are racial minorities. I think it’s great that Pottery Barn (possibly with the input of Disney) used two ethnic minority children in an ad for this awesome bed. Rather than fall back on using white children as the default has long been in advertising, the company went with a more inclusive image. One that shows that people of color exist, and buy things. It’s a good move.  It’s not like companies will stop subliminally (or deliberately) marketing towards white people. It’s more that companies will open up and pursue other racial groups.  And speaking of inclusivity…

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Chuck Wendig is the author of the new novel Star Wars: Aftermath, a book notable for the inclusion of a major, Sinjir Rath Velus, who is gay. For fans of social justice-inclined fans of Star Wars, this is a good move. The SW movies and novels have long been populated by alien beings of all shapes, sizes, and colors, but when it comes to the human (or human-looking) protagonists and antagonists, they’ve almost always been heterosexual, cisgender, white, men.  In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wendig opens up about the book and this new gay character:

Entertainment Weekly: I wanted to go back to Sinjir. There was a lot of attention paid to a lesbian character who becomes a part of the Star Wars universe in another book this year, and late inAftermath, a character sort of flirts with Sinji. It’s not a big part of the plot, it’s just a character beat; but he says, “Actually, no, I’m not interested,” and she’s slightly offended. Then he explains. Was that something that you personally wanted to put in the story? I know you’re a big advocate for diversity in storytelling, and I wonder how that went over, trying to get it into the Star Wars canon.

Chuck Wendig: There was no issue in terms of the Lucasfilm people. They have been very gracious and accommodating for that sort of thing, as they should be. The only question in terms of story stuff was, some of the earlier readers of the book were like, well, it’s kind of a shame, because he and that other character actually have some good chemistry. So in some ways it’s like, well, it’s a shame that they’re not getting together.

Not all chemistry has to be sexual, though.

Yeah, there’s more to do there in terms of both their friendship and who he is. I don’t think that his sexuality needs to be this giant plot point, but at the same time, it’s part of who he is as a character, and I thought it was an interesting moment. Especially since you don’t necessarily see it as much – not just in Star Wars but just in science-fiction.

It’s happening more.

You’re starting to see it more, obviously, in the larger narrative properties. Comics are just starting to figure out that that [LGBT men and women] exist in the world, and you can include and incorporate them in stories and speak to those people, and speak to audiences who may not have been spoken to before.

Do you find it more powerful that it’s not a plot – that it’s not singled out as an issue in the story? It’s accepted that he just happens to be gay…

Well, it’s not even just that he “happens to be.” I don’t want it to seem like a glib choice. I mean, I think it’s fundamental to who he is, in terms of his character, but at the same time, it seems strange to sort of exploit that for plot fodder at the same time.

So why is it important to you? Is it just because there might be somebody out there who reads that and sees a part of themselves represented in the galaxy?

Yeah, you know, it is increasingly clear to me – and it wasn’t necessarily clear to me when I first started writing, because when you first start writing you’re sort of in your own head, you sort of think that everyone is you. And as I go out and I meet fans, it’s very clear that that’s not at all the case. I used to work at a library, and one of the jobs I had at the library was marketing, and we did outreach for what they referred to as “underserved populations.” To me, it was important that we were going to bring people into the library who maybe didn’t think we had something here for them.

Yes, yes, yes to all of that. LGBT people have long been an underserved population, whether we’re discussing movies, television shows, video games, comic books, or novels. It really warms my heart to see companies attempt to reach out to this segment of the population and include them in their products. Marketing to LGBT people tells them “we know you’re there. We know you’re consuming our product. We want to include you. And we want your money.”  It’s really pretty simple. And to all the whiners-and they are out there-don’t worry, heterosexual characters aren’t going to disappear. All this means is that the attention is not solely on you any longer. Of course removing the spotlight, however temporarily, is what has you folks all pissed off. Ya’ll are really going to have to deal with it. Things are not going to go back to the way you want them. LGBT people, women, and People of Color exist. We are a part of the fabric of society. Companies that recognize this and cater to us are doing so bc they realize we have money to spend on their products. You folks fighting against this are a dying breed of regressive fanatics who can’t accept the fact that you’re not the only segment of the population being pandered to. Boo-fucking-hoo.

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*Actually, I’ve since learned that the Walt Disney Company-owners of the Star Wars franchise-recently began a promotional blitz for the December releasing movie. So chances are there really *are* a lot more Star Wars related products on the market at the moment (compared to several months ago).

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Pop Culture Link Round Up: Star Wars Edition
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