I know I’m probably the last tech wonk to stumble across this Internet phenomenon, but I think it’s absolutely hilarious! The saga of Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager, is zany, brainy, and very entertaining. I read that it is now one of the most popular indy short films available online and a YouTube staple, eclipsing illegal Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report clips in popularity. In this fabulous dramatization, Chad Vader, Darth Vader’s younger brother, works at as a shift manager at an American supermarket. The fourth installment was released in October, and the fifth installment is now being filmed. The clips chronicle his struggle to win the respect of his employees through mind control, his seduction and subsequent dumping by fair Clarissa, no Princess Leia she, his fall from day shift manager to night shift manager, and lightsaber duels in the bread aisle.
Why does the saga of Chad Vader make America great? Isn’t it just a silly series of short clips by a couple of unkempt dudes from Madison, Wisconsin, who are hankering for attention and Internet fame? No, and here’s why. "Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager" is a intelligent analysis of stereotypical American culture using an well-known icon from one of American’s great film sagas. It is designed by a bunch of Americans, filmed in an average American supermarket and posted to the Internet, which was developed by the U.S. Government, using equipment either invented by Americans (the computer, the router, the movie camera) and/or built by American companies (Apple, HP, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel), watched largely by Americans on American web sites such as YouTube. End to end, these short clips are at least 99.9999% American, from thought to execution.
Sure, there are other influences at work, presumably the Greek tragedy or Japanese-made film equipment, but this work is an ideal example of Americana. If you think the saga of Chad Vader is silly, then you might also be tempted to assume that America is somehow lacking if Chad Vader represents the pinnacle of all that is American. I contend that it shows that America encompasses the big, bold, simplistic, and kitschy, yet at the same time, is deep and empowered, enabling anyone to excel. I’m looking forward to watching the next installment of Chad Vader’s saga and dwelling on what makes America great.