The Line: “May the Force be with you.”
Who Said It: Alec Guinness as Ben Kenobi–among others–in 1977’s Star Wars.
The Setup: George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise became a cinematic entity that made Hollywood history with with prequels, sequels and billions of dollars in licensed merchandise, ranging from miniature spaceships to vinyl wallpaper.
The Payoff: In 1978, a paper presented at the eighth annual convention of the Popular Culture Association reported 46 percent of Americans were baffled by the concept of “the Force,” a confusion widely shared by the organization’s 2,000 members. Some academics saw it as simple Manichaean dualism, others as Orthodox Christianity or Hollywood Zen. Fraser Snowden of Louisiana’s Northwestern State University argued with some passion that the Force derives from “the impersonal bipolar absolute of Chinese Taoism and the all encompassing ki energy field of the Japanese art of aikido.” He offered to teach how to experience the Force. Most conventioneers decided they had other engagements.