The Bromance of the Imperial Stormtroopers

There are some 370 active members of the 501st Legion in Germany. I refer, of course, to the "Vader's Fist" legion of the Star Wars universe, which is the handpicked legion of Darth Vader. This legion is really the costume enthusiast group that does a lot of charity work and things of that nature all throughout the world. It's a fairly substantive and substantial group of people who like to dress up in Star Wars costumes.

Now, would I ever engage in something like this? I don't know. It's tough because I have a wife and I have children and that means family obligations and all that. I have no interest in Star Wars anymore. I would have to say no to something like this. It's just not for me, although I have been very intrigued, as of late, in the reenactors who do the Napoleonic era stuff. Why is that any different than what they're doing in the 501st Legion? I don't think it is, and, again, this is a worldwide organization that does appearances and seems to have the full blessing of Lucasfilm, which doesn't really bless off on much.

But the angle that I see in all of this is that you could join a group like this and end up in a powerful bromance with like-minded people who may or may not be doing this for the right reasons. Just by looking at the website for the 501st in Germany, these guys seem to be doing it for the right reasons. They're going to places like Legoland and they're doing appearances. This is Star Wars, after all, and it resonates throughout the culture in ways that can be positive and uplifting. Note that there really doesn't seem to be the same level of enthusiasm for the Rebel Alliance (the good guys), but, I digress.

Can you be assured that joining this kind of activity or organization is not going to come around and backfire on you? Can you look at it as something similar to a hobby? I would hope that someone could. If something like this ends up bankrupting you or costing you your job, maybe then you could say, "joining up with that stormtrooper brigade in Germany, hey, what was I thinking?" Again, that's just me throwing things around out loud.

Here are the images (no links) of some of the members of the 501st in Germany. Many of the participants have masked their names to keep them from being identified.

Just a cursory glance at how big this organization is here in Germany leads me to ask another round of really uncomfortable questions. How is it that there are so many people who like to dress up as Imperial Stormtroopers in Germany? Is it fair to even bring that up? Probably not.

But it occurred to me to ask that question because I live here. These things come up in polite conversation. I'm not going to shy away from pointing out that this is probably the one country on Earth where there are a lot of people who might say, "you know, I'll pass on dressing up as a stormtrooper because it just doesn't feel right." Or, as they say on Google Translate, "Sie wissen, ich werde auf Verkleiden als Stormtrooper passieren, weil es einfach nicht fühlen." I have no idea if that's even right, but it sounds right to me.

If I were a working comedian, the obvious joke that you could make here is "isn't it odd that they didn't have any trouble at all finding several hundred guys in Germany who could dress up in scary uniforms, hold weapons, and march in a perfect formation?" Well, maybe there's a better joke than that out there.

 It's one thing to connect with other men and join a service organization, like the Kiwanis or the Knights of Columbus. It's another thing to get into costume reenactments and things like that. Whether that's a good thing is not my decision to make. It's a personal one. 

What kicked this off? Well, I was reading this article about "Confederates on the Rhine," and you'll have to read that and decide for yourself whether or not I'm making the right kind of observation here.