“Galaxy’s Edge,” the new Star Wars exhibit opening in Disneyland and Disneyworld, represents the apotheosis of immersive consumer culture … but it also represents the crossover between myth and reality, and the reality of culture as socially created construct.
As we move into an ever-more mediated society, we have to be conscious of the creation of culture as an economic, social and even political force, and how stories at their most basic and primal level literally define how we experience, interpret and live in the world.
Therein we find great potential for historic good and evil committed at the societal level. Our stories matter. How we tell them matters. How we experience them matters. What we want from them matters. Consider the narrative of the Third Reich as turned into heroic myth by Leni Riefenstahl.
“Galaxy’s Edge” is a place of fantasy, props, sets, casts and written plotlines. But it’s also a signpost pointing to just how immersive and mediated our society will be in our very own, non-science-fictional future.
Again, we must ask ourselves what stories we will write of that future, will they be for good or ill?
Of course we want to go to Galaxy’s Edge. Of course we want to LIVE and BE in that world (at least for a brief visit). And as good consumer pop fans, we will!
But can we bring the same intentionality and consciousness to the world we actually live in?
It was like going to Burning Man. (This was back in the ’90s when it was still cool. 😛 ) Yeah, it was amazing. But why wait around for one week in the middle of the year, in the desert, to go create and live in that world?
Wouldn’t we want to make the world we live in like that every day?
Fabulist, fantasy and fantastical fiction of all sorts (which absolutely must include science-fiction franchises such as Star Wars, which is really a space fantasy with wizards and magic swords) all show us new and different ways to be in the world, practice empathy, and imagine the possibilities for our own lives.
The meta-message we should take from Galaxy’s Edge, therefore, is: You can tell better stories, and then go live in them.