There has been a lot of media attention recently regarding Star Wars and the franchise’s upcoming movie, but perhaps “Emperor Palpatine” winning an election in Ukraine stood out the most.
Dimitry Palpatine was elected as a city councilman in Odessa. The emperor was just one of 50 Star Wars themed individuals running for public office. The year prior, a man dressed as Darth Vader ran for Prime Minister. A statue of Vladimir Lenin was transformed into Darth Vader in response to a law outlawing communist symbols.
The franchise is a huge transnational influence and its spreadablity in culture and profitable revenue has been the envy of many, however people in Ukraine are now taking it in a new direction. Despite the candidate officially changing his name in order to run as the emperor, the event drew the attention of US mass media to Ukraine’s democratic elections. This also brought awareness to the number of issues in the country, involving claims of fraudulent elections, the war, economic downfall and government corruption.
These events echo what Jenkins, Ford, and Green explained in chapter 7 of Spreadable Media, where “spreadable media practices are expanding points of contact between countries.” Despite many reasons given for how and why a Star Wars villain won an election, what is clear is that people are sending messages through the re-purposing and reusing of media to call attention upon themselves and spark change. A message in which “two cultures are touching each other across geopolitical distances.”