Hollywood has a huge influence on audiences. For that reason alone, it has been referred to as the biggest propaganda machine in the world, with the ability to shape belief systems, perceptions and an understanding of how the world works in the minds of billions.
As one of the biggest cinematic franchises in Hollywood, with box office takings of nearly $8 billion since A New Hope was released in 1977, it's unsurprising #StarWars has occasionally been identified as playing an important role in spreading messages to the masses.
Generally, its impact is seen as spreading a message of hope. However, in an old Soviet Propaganda textbook, unearthed and Tweeted by Moscow Times journalist Matthew Bodner, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was referred to as "the final act in an insidious capitalist plot to militarize space."
The last Jedi himself, Luke Skywalker (a.k.a. #MarkHamill), clearly didn't take well to the idea of the anti-Star Wars as propaganda, responding with a hilarious Tweet of his own making, writing in Russian: "Go Force Yourself, comrades!" and joking that Google translate has difficulty translating the word "Force."
May The Metaphor Be With You
Hamill has a point; Star Wars has always been rich in metaphor, and draws influence from real life, but usually in a positive way. A New Hope (1977) — seen as an anti-Vietnam message from Lucas — first introduced #TheForce, the metaphysical energy that underpins the Star Wars Universe, which was influenced by Buddhism and the counterculture of the '60s.
Even more recent installments carry messages related to real life events. The parallels between Emperor Palpatine and Adolf Hitler are striking, Revenge of the Sith has messages toward the war on terror, while The Force Awakens (2015) depicted the evil First Order as a Nazi influenced, totalitarian ideology.
#TheLastJedi, directed by Rian Johnson, is the eighth instalment in the main saga, and in all likelihood will also reference world events. The story will focus on Luke Skywalker's Jedi training of newcomer Rey, as well as their attempt to challenge Kylo Ren. The film will also feature Hamill's Skywalker heavily, following his last-minute appearance in The Force Awakens.
Is Star Wars an insidious capitalist plot to militarize space?