Star Wars fans come in full ‘Force’

PETALING JAYA: Star Wars fans want Malaysians to know that the Force is with them, but even so, they still need to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Members of the Official Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club have been going around posting pictures of themselves getting their jabs at various vaccination centres (PPV) here, sometimes, in their Jedi outfits or even sporting a stormtrooper helmet.

According to club president Sanjiv Indran, the club’s 1,400 members have been feeling rather down since last year after various restrictions to fight Covid-19 prohibited public gatherings.

Sanjiv, who owns a large stash of Star Wars costumes, said in a normal year, he and other members could be dressing up to 20 times, but such opportunities are rare now.

When the opt-in AstraZeneca registration was available in May, things started to change for the better.

“We all love to dress up and go for events. With the vaccination, we thought, since we cannot gather, why not wear our costumes and bring whatever that can be legally brought into the PPV to enliven the atmosphere?” he said in an interview.

Dressed up as a Jedi, Sanjiv went for his jab at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on May 6, just two days after Star Wars Day – an unofficial day that falls on May 4, with its tagline “May The Fourth Be With You”.

The most common prop that club members would bring, other than their costumes, is the lightsabre because it is highly recognisable.

As far as helmets go, the two most popular ones are the ones worn by stormtroopers and Mandalorians.

Reception to these Star Wars fans has ranged from mild bemusement to outright adoration, said Sanjiv.

“Those in the PPV hall, be it people on duty or other vaccine recipients, will ask to pose with us or take our photos. It is all part of the fun, and everyone has something to remember for the day.

“This gives us a brief opportunity to be with people in a safe environment, with proper physical distancing observed, ” he said, adding that photos taken at the PPV are then posted on the club’s Facebook page, which is followed by around 14, 000 people.

“From there, other members can see who has been vaccinated, and those with their photos up there have kind of earned bragging rights, ” said Sanjiv, adding that this had the effect of encouraging each other to get inoculated.

“It is also in some way like goading each other, to see who can outdo others (in terms of costumes, props and poses), and makes all of us enthusiastic about vaccination, ” he said.

“Understandably, some members are a bit reluctant to get vaccinated but when they see the rest doing it, it then serves to give them the courage to step up.

“And then, there is also the Fomo (fear of missing out) factor that comes into play, ” said the engineering consultant, who is in his early 30s.

For example, he said 23 of the club’s 32 committee members have been vaccinated, five have received their AstraZeneca appointments in July and four others are definitely planning to.

“The day for the opt-in registration for AstraZeneca, we updated each other throughout the process, and kept on encouraging each other, ” said Sanjiv, who is looking forward to his second dose sometime in August.

“All my costumes are just lying in the closet, and are badly in need of an airing, ” he quipped.

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