The essence of Grogu is innocence, but an innocence masking great -almost divine -potential
I’m no longer sure what to make of our constant online life. During this age of COVID, it seems we spend most of our waking moments working, meeting, buying, viewing, even visiting church, concerts and art museums through our safe home-based portals. Our cellphones allow us to turn our social life into virtual reality, our photos into art, our culture into memes, and our technology into entertainment.
Witness the “Grogu” feature that was recently launched by Google in its phone app. The app uses an “augmented reality” 3D function to plunk a virtual Yoda-like creature into pretty much any situation you can cook up. Is it merely a chance to place a cute Star Wars-based character inside our home environments, the same way we used to discover “Pikachu” in our surroundings? Is it simply a way to take our minds off the endless drear of lockdown by presenting us with an adorable distraction? Or is it, as some darkly speculate, a way to more effectively collect data and spy on us through our cellphones?
Like the pint-sized Grogu character from Disney’s Mandalorian series, we don’t know its ultimate story arc yet.
You can introduce the green, long-eared infant wearing a cloth robe — eyes blinking, childlike curiosity intact — into your Christmas photos, into your home videos, into your daily work environment.
But what does it all mean? The essence of Grogu is innocence, but an innocence masking great — almost divine — potential. The fact that Grogu is sometimes referred to as “The Child” in the show suggests something a little more messianic than just Disney marketing here. The New York Times, back in October, nailed the zeitgeist with the provocative headline: “Baby Yoda Is Your God Now.” As columnist James Poniewozik put it: “It’s almost Christmas, and I don’t need to connect the rest of these dots for you, but other people already have, putting the foundling and his hover-cradle into cosmic nativity scenes.”
God knows, when the character first popped up in the Disney+ series, the world found a way to forget — just a little bit — the political and pandemic miseries lurking out there. News might have been fake, but we were good and ready to adopt a fake CGI Baby Yoda as an antidote to the news.
No surprise, then, that Baby Yoda has turned up everywhere lately, and I couldn’t help wishing him into some art masterpieces. Maybe we have finally arrived at a point where life is a meme, just waiting to happen.
Banner caption: Hieronymus Bosch, detail from “The Garden of Earthly Delights”