Gator Talk Episode 14: May The Fourth

Welcome to Gator Talk, a collaborative CalState podcast that brings city and statewide perspectives to SF State news.

Guest Host Elizabeth Freeman knows less than the average stormtrooper when it comes to Star Wars trivia, so in celebration of May the Fourth this year, or as it’s better known, “Star Wars Day”, she went through the journey of a “padawan” to get an understanding of the hype surrounding the movies and the Force.

Star Wars fans rejoice for this episode. Our guest host has chosen the “Light Side” of the Force.

Like, comment and share this episode with your droids, you will.


Seb: This is Sebastian Mino-Bucheli, I’m your multimedia editor and your host for Gator Talk, a Golden Gate Xpress podcast that brings news to SF State students.

From here to the end of the semester I’m going to go on to publish two episodes for the weekend. We’re going to push on through! 


For more information/coverage, check out OR @GatorTalkPod on all social media platforms.


Preview of the show

Seb: Here’s a quick preview of the show.

I’ll be updating the audience with a quick news brief with news that happened this week that matters to SF State students.

City news reporter Elizabeth Freeman will be joining us for the main story!


News brief

-President Biden announced that he intends to ban Menthol Cigarettes – it is currently the only flavor allowed in cigarettes at the moment in the US domestic market. It should be noted that last year, the state of California prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigs and menthol cigarettes


-As we’re talking about President Biden, we just passed the 100 Days of the new presidency! Our beloved editor-in-chief, Chris Ramirez is now free to report on other projects. So please reach out to our website and check out his work at It is a huge multimedia project that chronicles President Biden throughout his first 100 Days.

-Last bit of news, I promise.
The CDC released new guidelines: Fully vaccinated people can choose to not wear their mask if they’re outside and away from a big crowd. Unless you’re like me who is paranoid and will continue to doublemasks after being fully vaccinated. . 


Main Story 

Liz: Hello everyone and May the Fourth be with you. This is Elizabeth Freeman, staff reporter for the Golden Gate Xpress and your host for today’s podcast where we will be diving into the fascinating and ever-expanding Star Wars universe.

When it comes to star wars, I know less than the average bear, so for May 4th this year, or as it’s better known, Star Wars Day, I went into this whole star wars journey to get an understanding of the hype surrounding it. And I wanted to take you along with me.

 I have some special guests today that I’m super excited to talk to and learn from. I also have been doing a lot of research into star wars this past week so I’m going to intersperse this episode with my favorite fun facts that I’ve learned. 

First things first, let’s look into the history of May the 4th. In 1979, two years after the original “Star Wars” was released, Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Britain, and her party backers took out an ad in the London Evening News that featured the note,” May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” taken from the movie’s popular phrase, “may the force be with you.” If it wasn’t abundantly clear, that was the first fun fact. 

The day wasn’t recognized as Star Wars Day until 2011 when superfans Alice Quinn and Sean Ward hosted a festival at the Toronto Underground Cinema. And year by year, it has picked up more momentum. In 2012, fans jokingly started referring to the following day as Revenge of the Fifth, taken from the 2005 film “Revenge of the Sith”

The first question I wanted to explore was why Star Wars? Surely it’s not the only space-age science fiction movie out there. So what is it about this series that has captured the hearts of legions of fans and has created the empire (pun intended) that exists today? To help answer this question, I have with me Isaak Johnson, a long-time fan of the series. Though he’s been a fan since childhood, he said he crossed over to a ‘hardcore fan’ around his freshman year of high school. He even built an exact replica of Han Solo’s gun for his father’s birthday. 


Q: So, Isaak, what sets Star Wars apart from, say, Star Trek, or other movies of that kind?

Isaak: “So for me, what it really boils down to is Star Wars is like on the surface, it’s set in space. And it’s about big machines that blow up planets, and the good guy is trying to stop them. But beneath that, there’s also kind of some more old-fashioned traditional storytelling where it’s like, like so. It’s basically to save the princess from the evil castle type thing. And then you have space wizards and space Knights. And so I’ve always been into medieval fantasy and stuff like that, like Lord of the Rings, and whatnot. And so what Star Wars has done that other pieces of science fiction have yet to do, effectively is kind of translate the archetypes that you’ll find in medieval fantasy, and put them into a science fiction setting. 

But also their relationships. You know, a lot of science fiction settings focused on like the gadgets and the technology of whatever. But Star Wars at its core is about the relationships at play and how they develop over time. And I would say that that is pretty consistent throughout all Star Wars mediums, whether it’s the prequels or the cartoons, or the comic books, they really focus on those relationships. And I think that’s, that’s what speaks to me the most.”


Liz: I wanted to explore just how deep the fanbase goes and really what it has to offer. I found the perfect person to help me with that: Jen Hyman, Endor Base Commanding Officer of the Rebel Legion.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, like me, the Rebel Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization composed of and operated by approximately 8,000 registered Star Wars fans worldwide. While not sponsored by Lucasfilm, it is Lucasfilm’s preferred volunteer Rebel costuming group. 


Q: So, Jen, how does one get into the Rebel Legion?


Jen: “So you have to be at least 18 years old. And then you buy, make, create a costume that is for the rebel Legion. Good guy character. So that’s Leia, Han, Luke, Rey all the clones, Ahsoka, the Mandalorian, to these things that we call standards, and you take a front shot, a back shot, both sides, any detail shot like if you’re Ahsoka, do like a close up on your face paint or there are certain other like very intense details. Some of the new Laias what? from the sequel trilogy, you show, like your jewelry. And then you submit you do an action shot too. So you can do pretty much anything that’s not crass.


Q: And then, what does the Rebel Legion do?


Jen: “So we do a bunch of different stuff, at least and our base. We’ve been involved since the pandemic with a lot of virtual walks. So we raise money as a base. We did a couple of auctions where members donated items and we split the proceeds from the auction between two to three different charities. So we did a bunch with Toys for Tots, we did the new Grant Imahara STEAM foundation. And we did two that I’m forgetting right now off the top of my head. But you know, in non pandemic times, we will also do hospital visits with kids, we’ll do school fundraisers, we’ll do cons, we’ll do a lot of the charity walks in person, just stuff like that.”


Liz: [And it’s time for our second fun fact of the episode, and yes, this one has everything to do with my love for Ewan McGregor. When filming in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Ewan McGregor kept imitating the noise of the lightsaber during his fights. George Lucas explained many times that this would be added in by the special effects people later on. Ewan kept saying “I keep getting carried away.”]

Now, a big part of the initial popularity of the first film were the special effects, which Lucasfilm production has built a reputation for over the years. SF State alumni and current Lucasfilm writer/historian Lucas Seastrom walked me through the necessary human touch behind the special effects. 


Lucas: “We talk about how Star Wars was such a big deal when it first came out because of its effects. And a big part of that was this camera system that they pioneered on that original film. And then as I’ve talked with people who use these systems, one of the things that has come up is how they’ve talked about well, ‘We always have to make sure when we would operate those highly computerized state of the art cameras, that we ourselves were making adjustments as a camera person that because if we just let the computer do it, it would look too smooth, it would look too, you know it, it wouldn’t have that handmade touch to it.’ And I think that says a lot about the behind the scenes importance of how the Star Wars movies were made back then and continue to be today, it’s this combination of cutting edge, never seen it before, and good old fashioned hand flying, you know, good old fashioned do it yourself with duct tape and chewing gum and make it work.”


Q: What is working at Lucasfilm like as an SF State graduate?


Lucas: “San Francisco State has, is very much wrapped up in Lucasfilm’s legacy, just by the sense of there are so many alumni, too many to count, who have gone on to work at the company, by the nature of the fact and in part, because it’s close. And so there’s a relationship there. But also because it’s such a good film program that, you know, gives students a real good combination of practical and kind of theoretical knowledge and experience. And it’s almost become like a game every time I come across another person who went through SF State at some point. And, you know, when we think of George Lucas, we think of the University of Southern California USC, that’s where he went. A lot of other filmmakers were there with him at that time. And it’s very important, but for Lucasfilm as well, up here in the Bay Area, San Francisco State has been essential. There are all kinds of people that have played major roles at the company who, who went through the school. So it’s been really special as an alumni myself to discover that.” 

Seb: We’re gonna take a quick break.



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*break ends*

Main Story, cont.



Liz: [Before we jump back in, let’s go to our third fun fact, this one provided by SF State Cinema Professor Steven Kovacs: Star Wars was originally based on a Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa called The Hidden Fortress]

As I’ve learned, what makes this universe so impactful to so many people, are really the characters, and the relationships they have with one another and with themselves. To wrap things up I have with us Loukas Farr, another longtime fan. His family has been invested in the universe since its conception; his brother even auditioned for Anakin when they were younger. I have him here to talk about his all-time favorite character. 


Q: So, Luke, who is your favorite character, and why?


Luke: “Luke Skywalker. Of course. Um, it was- from a young age, I think I just kind of related to Luke Skywalker, his hero journey felt attainable, you know, he didn’t start out just perfect and knowing everything, he kind of started out whiny and annoying and, and like a little kid, and he kind of grew into his role over the course of the original trilogy. And I think, for me, as a kid, I saw that as something attainable and relatable. Where it feels like a lot of main characters and heroes are kind of just perfect from the get-go.

“I mean, what I love about the Star Wars universe in the 90s. In the early 2000s, I read a lot of the novels that were based out of the Star Wars universe, and what I loved about what came out of that, and then what we’re seeing with stuff like the Mandalorian is the stories about people that aren’t necessarily Jedi and aren’t necessarily, you know, these really cool godlike figures, but it’s kind of just the people that are normal in the Star Wars universe.”


Liz: As for his May the fourth plans? Usually, he celebrates by doing lightsaber choreography performances or going to conventions. This year, he’s probably going to stay inside and watch the original trilogy. Considering I’ve never seen it, I might do the same. 


And that was the episode. 


This is Elizabeth Freeman, staff reporter and your host for today’s episode. Thank you for coming with me on my journey to a galaxy far, far away. And, of course, may the fourth be with you. 


And with that, I’m signing off.