Episode 66: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Cultural Anticipation

I also feel like movies speak to a human desire, if not need, to congregate and to experience stories communally. They’re experiences that allow us to feel that connectivity, which is truly what ‘Star Wars’ is all about — the Force and the idea that we’re all connected. In whatever format it is, whatever screening, whatever the best available version is, I would just argue that, if possible, to try to see it with a crowd.
— J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I was in the same room as all these legends and all these new people who I’m sure will go on to be legends.
— Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) on set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The upcoming release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens offers an unprecedented opportunity to discuss the historic, popular and influential film series as a greater whole. In anticipation of the climactic return to the franchise after 10 years, we welcome Sam Whipple to examine the impact Star Wars has had on global, cultural and generational levels.  We explore the past of the franchise and talk about our hopes and expectations of The Force Awakens, as well as the excitement, controversy and mysteries surrounding it. We would like to thank Trevor Hailey, Chris Katzmann, Nico Hargreaves-Heald and Haleh Kanani for their written contributions which are available to read below.