What’s with all the Star Wars “Empire Merch?”

The original Star Wars was released in the summer of 1977. I was six and was immediately hooked. I’ve been a Star Wars Geek ever since, even finding myself occasionally defending some aspects of the universally panned Prequels (Episodes 1-3). But until recent years, probably around 2015 when Episode 7, The Force Awakens was released, nobody that I can remember “celebrated” the Empire. If you owned any Empire merchandise, it was only collectibles like action figures or a tie-fighter (with the detachable wings!) so you would have all characters represented or a bad guy to “shoot down.” But never anything that immortalized or idolized the Star Wars equivalent of the Nazis!  And yet, all of a sudden with the lead-up to Episodes 7-9, new order – sorry – new OWNER Disney re-launched the franchise spending the last five years celebrating all Star Wars culture as if it were all morally equal. Disney has flooded the public square with Empire-celebrating merchandise, introducing the galaxy’s worst  on T-shirts, car decals, hats, dog toys, even a stormtrooper helmeted handle bars on a dirt bike I saw a child riding the other morning. No wonder Trump happened. Parents allowing their children to buy Empire merch are practicing the worst kind of “both sides-ism” that I can think of in popular culture. Look at how much crap Hot Topic alone is peddling: https://www.hottopic.com/theme?q=star+wars+empire

Let me be clear, for those of you who apparently have embraced this casual affair with the Empire, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper masks, or the First Order. They are evil. They are the Nazis. As Toby Ziegler would say, “Do not, do not, do not do that!”

It’s obvious why Disney has pushed this merchandise. They learned from the National Hockey League. The NHL realized that their respective franchises weren’t selling much “away uniform” colored merchandise. So, what did they do?  Just prior to the 2003-2004 season, the NHL had all of their teams make their white/lighter uniforms their AWAY uniforms and their darker/black uniforms their HOME uniforms. This clever switch-a-roo reversed the merchandise sales gap between home and away merch, and teams continue this practice today. Clearly, Disney realized that by only selling shirts, bags, etc. idolizing Luke, Han, Chewy, Leah, Lando, C-3PO, R2D2, and a bunch of Ewoks, they were only selling half the story. My guess is Disney wanted to double their profits by romanticizing the Empire. This is business genius (business basics, really) but is just morally unacceptable to me. So, allow me to humbly ask, since this was a short post and thus a favor to you, if you are a parent of young children, lead them to the Force – the GOOD side only, please – and away from this hot garbage effort to celebrate space Nazis.  Thank you! 

1 Comment

  1. Sometimes, like a good movie *Silence of the Lambs”, “The Usual Suspects”, “Liverpool 2019-2020”, the more interesting characters are the bad guys. What are you going to do? It’s art, we can celebrate it.

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