IT’S NOT EVEN that good a play on words: May the Fourth Be With You. That’s all it takes to have a holiday? A pun?
The joke at least has been around almost as long as Star Wars itself; official Star Wars doctrine traces the etymology to an ad congratulating Margaret Thatcher on the day she won the election to become Prime Minister of Britain in 1979, just two years after the first movie premiered.
It’s weird enough that Official Star Wars—which is to say, the Walt Disney Company, that most transnational of transnational culture-production oligopolies—has anything at all to say about Star Wars Day. Unlike the officially sanctioned Star Wars Celebration conventions, May 4th is a grassroots phenomenon. Its elevation to informal holiday didn’t come until the mid to late 2000s, and now it’s a day of branded-and-pegged sales of paraphernalia, festival showings of movies, Bundt cakes made to look like Sarlaccs in the Great Pit of Carkoon, and SEO-driven, barely lukewarm (hah, Lukewarm) takes from generally respectable digital journalism outlets. So bah, humbug! Or however you say that in the binary language of moisture vaporators.
Except…I was at the movies watching a different Disney movie last weekend—Avengers: Infinity War—and saw, at the end of the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, that its opening day is May 25. And OK, my heartstrings did a thing. Because May 25 is the day Star Wars opened in 1977. In fact, the first six movies all opened on or around that day. The Disney-era saga films (Force Awakens and Last Jedi) both opened around Christmas, but for me, Star Wars happens in mid-spring.
Just not May the Fourth. And I think this may be important.
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