Erica Pang

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date



This paper will examine the success of the Star Wars franchise by comparing two of its films: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015). During the nearly 40 year period in between each film’s release, there was significant socio-political change that had occurred. Therefore, in order to continue to appeal to its existing audience, as well as adopt new audiences, Star Wars had to deviate from the traditional characters and storylines of A New Hope and instead, focus on diversity and representation in The Force Awakens. Using socio-political and feminist approaches, I will analyze Star Wars’ place as a strong force in American popular culture in both the late 1970s and in 2015. By fitting into the specific cultural landscapes of these times, the Star Wars films asserted themselves as works that satisfied what people were looking for, whether it be a fascinating fantasy adventure film or a film that conveys the importance of on-screen representation. I will compare the two time periods’ socio-political climates through my analysis of how male, female, and BIPOC characters are depicted in each of the films. At the end of the paper, I also discuss the importance of representation, both on the screen and in marketing. By understanding the ways in which films respond to and influence our socio-political landscapes, we can become a more socially-conscious audience.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.