[I recently spent the long holiday weekend with my significant other’s family. Her fabulous family includes a 5 year old child who, like other boys in his age group along with my 6 and 8 year old nephews, is infatuated with Star Wars. Sadly, these poor children grew up on the Jar-Jar Binks era of Star Wars. We had Han Solo, Ewoks and the Dagobah System. Which begs the following question: why on Earth has it taken me this long to write on something Star Wars related? Clearly I have dropped the ball on this one.]
In 1983, Revenge of the Jedi (Star Wars Episode VI) was released and contained, by far, the best character of all the Star Wars movies: Admiral Ackbar.
Leader of the Rebel Alliance, Admiral Ackbar is “officially” considered a “Mon Calamari” (whatever the hell that is). As you can see above, he resembles a cross between a lungfish and a squid. If you’ve never seen Return of the Jedi, Admiral Ackbar essentially leads the Rebel Alliance in its last stand against the Empire, represented by a ginormous space station (a.k.a. the “Death Star”). But, the good Admiral led the Alliance into an ambush…..or as he stated so eloquently in the movie….IT’S A TRAP!
While flying around the Empire’s space station with his fleet of Rebel ships, the Death Star takes out a whole ship (the Rebels’ equivalent of an aircraft carrier) with a single shot, then the Admiral acts surprised about the Death Star’s firepower, and how the fleet is unable to repel it. Way to go Admiral, it has the same weaponry as the Death Star that the Rebel Alliance took out years earlier in Episode IV. Guess you didn’t do your homework before leading your whole fleet into battle? In the end, all his ships with all their lasers couldn’t do sh*t against the death star, it was brought down remotely by a bunch of primitive furry creatures wielding sticks and rocks. (I didn’t write it, don’t ask me).
In years subsequent to the movie’s release, Admiral Ackbar has become something of a cult following with countless plays on his famous line from the movie. Apparently, after leaving the Rebel Alliance (perhaps a dishonorable discharge?) the Admiral tried many professions, ultimately failing at each of them. For awhile, he tried his hand as a Barista:
Then he hit the lecture circuit, but quickly grew tired of discussing the same topic:
After that, he went into the food service business…
…then finally retired.
However, Admiral Ackbar‘s popularity has likely grown well beyond anything intended by George Lucas’ in the last couple decades. Perhaps my favorite fact about this character is the following:
In 2010, the students of the University of Mississippi (that’s “Ole Miss”) started a campaign to institute Admiral Ackbar as the official mascot of the college since the school had gone 7 years without one. [I digress for a moment for a little factoid on American History. Ole Miss’ teams are referred to as the “Rebels.” See, south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Civil War was not the Civil War, it was the War of Northern Aggression. The brave men who fought for states’ rights were rebels, not confederates. Well, who better to be the mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels than the leader of the Rebel Alliance himself? Makes sense to me…]
Soon, this campaign gained national attention, including ESPN, and endorsed by LucasFilms. A short expose on the student efforts [note the Admiral’s figure on the University President’s desk]:
What an awesome idea. Admiral Ackbar would make a sweet mascot. Sure as hell beats the former mascot of Ole Miss; the Kentucky Fried Chicken producing, plantation owning “Colonel Reb.”
Sadly, Admiral Ackbar lost the mascot competition, too. But, I argue, his spirit lives on in each of us.