Conference Paper: Darth Vader Made Me Do It by philipsmith

Full title: Darth Vader Made Me Do It

Joshua Atkinson1 & Bernadette Calafell2

1 School of Communication Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403

2 Department of Human Communication Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208


In this essay, we examined the interactions of Anakin Skywalker during moral dilemmas in the Star Wars narrative in order to demonstrate the avoidance of responsibility as a characteristic of hegemonic masculinity. Past research on sexual harassment has demonstrated a ‘‘gray area’’ that shields sexual harassers from responsibility. We explored how such a gray area functions as a characteristic of hegemonic masculinity by shielding one male, Anakin Skywalker, from responsibility for his immoral and often violent actions. Through our investigation, we found three themes integral for the construction of a gray area that helped Anakin avoid responsibility: phantom altruism, a clone-like will, and the guise of the Sith.

To read this article and its associated commentaries, simply click on the PDF links below:

Full article (.pdf): Atkinson & Calafell

Full article (.html)

Commentary: Yannis Tzioumakis


1 Comment so far
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Thank you for your comments Yannis. I that they “psychological motivation” that you mention is important. Walter Fisher notes that narrative stands as the structure for communities, and this seems to correspond with your idea of psychological motivation. Ultimately, the different characteristics of hegemonic masculinity are embedded in the narratives that we see throughout society that construct and re-construct our communities. People learn how to enact and perform masculinity, and how to get away with it by emphasizing their altruistic past and shifting blame onto a “dark guise.”

I think that in large part, many people readily accept the avoidance of responsibility because it is something that can be seen taking place in everyday life. People like Mel Gibson cannot be held responsible for their reprehensible actions because they were not themselves…and then they emphasize their seemingly altruistic past. I’m just curious as to how people like Tiger Woods or Ben Roethlinberger are going to eventually make this all work for them.

Comment by Joshua Atkinson

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