Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Randall is musing that even such a popular film as Star Wars will likely one day be forgotten. The comic ponders how long that may take to occur.
"May the Force be with you" is one of the many famous phrases from the Star Wars movies. Star Wars has become popular enough to remain part of today's popular culture almost forty years since its initial release, and the source and meaning of the quote is commonly recognized. This comic suggests that eventually even the enormously popular Star Wars will fade into obscurity — by which time, ironically, Star Wars-like hovercraft will have been invented.
It is not uncommon for once-popular sayings to lose popularity and come into disuse; particularly when the sayings are sourced from a pop-culture reference such as a book or film. In fact, there are entire books dedicated to such topics. Each generation generally develops its own pop culture references which frequently become unrecognized to the next generation. Only a handful of pop-culture quotes tend to survive for decades. For example, the phrase "Sit on it", coined by the creators of "Happy Days" as a TV-friendly but derogatory-sounding comeback for the character Fonzie. The phrase was very popular during the show's 1970s-80s heyday, but today is far less recognizable to those born after that era, and is not commonly referenced today.
The title text indicates that the characters will write off the phrase as a saying from the "old country" (the foreign country or place where one's ancestors emigrated from). This is a play on the fact that ubiquitous film and TV quotes have not been around long enough for society to generally forget their origins, and the most common source for unfamiliar sayings in today's world are sayings from other countries where one's ancestors originated. The use of the expression in this comic implies that the speaker has no idea about the origins of the phrase. To him it might be a translation of a foreign expression, or from a long left-behind homeland.
A similar topic was addressed in 493: Actuarial, with Black Hat predicting when the last of the original Star Wars cast would die, and in 1093: Forget, predicting when the release of The Return of the Jedi would be forgotten. Also, 794: Inside Joke is about how much pop culture of centuries past has been forgotten.
A lot has changed since this comic came out  . Now with Disney controlling Star Wars and releasing a movie a year, it is very possible that this saying would never die out. This doesn't change the meaning of the comic, but it shows how even a few years of time passing causes massive changes.
- [Two figures with spiky hair and backpacks are conversing. One is riding in a hover-car, or similar.]
- Future Hair: Bye!
- Friend: May the Force be with you!
- Future Hair: Huh?
- Friend: It's just something my grandma used to say. No idea what it means.
- I wonder on what date Star Wars will be quoted for the last time.
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My prediction: forever. Not sure we would recognize their star wars, though ... "Han shot first" pale in comparison to what will next generations do with it when they will be doing holographic version. -- Hkmaly (talk) 08:50, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The idea of this makes me sad. --DanB (talk) 13:09, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
(Oh, hello, edit conflict. Anyway...) Assuming that humanity is (collectively) doomed to die off at some point in the possibly distant future, through natural cateclism, external interference or some form of self-inflicted destruction, there 'will' be a last time for every saying and quote, in their original form or morphed into the dialect/language of the future. Thus someone will say some form or other of "May the force be with you" on one final occasion, although whether it outlives (just) "Don't tell me the odds" and/or "I've got a bad feeling about this!" is a question for another day. ;) 188.8.131.52 13:16, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Sadly, those last two examples will no doubt long outlive MTFBWY, if for no other reason than people will use them "accidentally" in casual conversation. In terms of conscious use of a Star Wars references, I'd like to think that MTFBWY would outlast them all... -- Nonnal (talk) 13:25, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Aww. Steven Wright started the thought. I thought Randall had come up with a clever way to signal the "end" of a quote, it's death, by saying unquote! :¬I But doesn't that also resurrect the quote! Damn!ExternalMonolog (talk) 21:13, 9 September 2013 (UTC)ExternalMonolog
Will someone please edit that misspelled "resurrect"? ExternalMonolog (talk) 21:16, 9 September 2013 (UTC)ExternalMonolog
Typing from a phone, but the title text is very likely from Neil Gaiman's recent book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, where numerous references to a mythical "Old Country" are made. Randall seems like a Gaiman fan. Sorry for not abiding by appropriate edit/comment rules. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
It's a trap!220.127.116.11 02:57, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
- I find your lack of faith disturbing. 18.104.22.168 13:52, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
- Hmmm ... in case of some form of self-inflicted destruction, which phrase have higher chance to be the last quoted Star Wars reference? "It's a trap" or "I've got a bad feeling about this!"? -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:25, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
- Could this count? ;) 22.214.171.124 13:39, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
My impression is the reference to "the old country" is an ironic reference to the Star Wars opening lines "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...". 126.96.36.199 17:02, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Of course, the act of noting the last time a Star Wars quote was used would automatically trigger more quotes. A little like Heisenberg, no? --Mr. I (talk) 19:23, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps "the old country" refers to the notion that the past is "another country". As for the longevity of MTFBWY, compare with "Live long, and prosper," or one could compare it with Shakespeare -- it depends on how much the Star Wars mythology speaks of a general human experience. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
What about the normal stuff, like "I love you. I know"? People were saying that before 1980 and generally only geeks and film buffs attach any importance to it now. The rest of us don't think about it. We also have to consider requoting. For example, I was watching The Roast (an Australian satirical news show very similar to Jon Stewart), and a member of the cast parodied the "I felt a disturbance in the Force. Like a million tiny voices cried out in terror, then were suddenly silenced" bit. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
This just made me stand up and rapidly recite every single quote I could possibly think of. I hope I saved it. 220.127.116.11 05:43, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Are the terms "unquote" and "Old Country" references to Orwell's 1984 in anyway? While I don't see how they are relevant, the term old country is used a lot, and "unquote" uses the language Newspeak's style of words, prefixing "un" to create an inverse, such as "ungood" instead of "bad" 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)