1. Last month, on the eve of the premiere for Star Wars: Force Awakens, three Australian government ministers, a government MP and the national classification board received an utterly bizarre email.
It was addressed to the arts and communications minister Mitch Fifield and was titled “RE: STAR WARS - REFUSE CLASSIFICATION”.
3. The letter launches into a well wrought argument about why the Star Wars films should be banned in Australia. The premise is that Jedi like Luke Skywalker are just like jihadi extremists.
5. According to the writer’s rather postmodern theory the recruitment to the Jedi order is actually a metaphor for radicalising young men to ISIS:
While the Star Wars films are commonly accepted as science fantasy or science fiction, they have a strong and dangerous allegorical element that has been gravely overlooked by the Classification Board. This strong allegorical element engages a narrative regarding the radicalisation of the innocent young Luke Skywalker into the extremist religious terrorist death cult of the Jedi and the awful terrorist acts this group carries out in the name of its despicable religion…
… If we take it that Star Wars is not simply a classic good vs. evil story that rips off Kurosawa, but the story of the radicalisation of a young man who is actively recruited into an extremist death cult that seeks destruction of a benevolent and peaceful galactic empire in order to impose its own draconian brand of religious law (Jediism) on the universe, then we can see striking parallels with Daesh in the Middle East, the establishment of the Caliphate and the imposition of Sharia law.
6. It’s clearly taking the piss out of the government’s recent efforts to de-radicalise young men by suggesting Skywalker’s training is ~just like~ young men turning to jihad. And some of goes into pretty good detail…
With regard to violent extremism more generally in our society, the Star Wars films advocate terrorism allegorically. These films not just praise, but glorify, the actions of these religious cultists, violent extremism and the process of radicalization. Luke Skywalker’s descent into radicalization mirrors the “Attention” phase outlined in the Government’s publication Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia.
In the “Attention” phase:
- The person is completely engaged in a group or ideology and does not relate to previous friends, family or maintain other relationships.
- They are very hostile towards people they see as the ‘enemy’ including law enforcement and the government.
- They see using violence as a way of achieving their ideological goals as acceptable and necessary.
- They may ultimately plan or prepare for a violent act.
In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke is taken from his home, family and friends on Tatooine by a religious extremist Jedi jihadist wearing a robe, is indoctrinated on Dagobah by Yoda in the ways of the force and brainwashed into extreme ideological hostility towards the empire, all of which results in an incredibly violent terrorist act – the destruction of the Death Star.
9. The long letter ends with a call for Star Wars to be banned and is signed “James McLean”.
10. The day after the letter was sent to the writer’s government targets it was forwarded onto BuzzFeed News stating that the intention was to point out “the ridiculous and thoughtless overreach in terror legislation”.
11. After seeing the final movie it felt like the email was calling for attention (kinda like Luke’s lightsaber to Rey - SPOILERS) and BuzzFeed News contacted “James”.
After doing some digging we discovered the postmodern theorist was actually an art history expert who had formerly worked in the attorney-general’s department for FIVE years.
He is also currently in a job with a non-profit organisation that receives public funding.
13. BuzzFeed News spoke to James about why he spent his spare time trolling his former boss (the attorney-general George Brandis) with in-depth Star Wars theories.
“I wrote the letter because I was bored, but also because I wanted to bring some attention to the overreach of the terrorism laws and their unintended consequences for other laws (e.g. Classification),” he said.
“Also Star Wars was coming in hot.”