There are some good things about LOTR and SW — they are in favor of standing up against bullies, celebrate diversity and nature, emphasize the importance of emotion and the human scale in vast technological civilizations. They also have some dangers to them.
- Uncritical us vs. them thinking, demonizing of the other. When the rebels kill people on the death star, that’s fine, because they’re the good guys. How can you tell the good guys are the good guys? In part because of traditional prerogatives — Luke was just born to be a leader, Strider simply descended from ancient kings, the elves inherited their beautiful places. In part the good guys just have inner certainty that they are good.
- Racism. More LOTR than SW where the orcs are evil and you can tell because of their race.
- Denigrating thought in favor of mystic mumbo jumbo. More SW. Luke is the hero because he closes his eyes and trusts. The Force gives people magic powers. It’s ancient. You can’t think about it too much. For some reason even though it works people stopped using it.
Don’t stop enjoying these stories and movies but use them with care! If you are thinking — wow, I’m fighting bad guys just like Luke and Frodo — try the old Buddhist trick of exchanging self and other and realize that the bad guys think they are the good guys and you are an orc. If you find something resonates deeply and is not worth thinking about because it is the ancient Jedi religion, or the old ways of the elves, try asking yourself — if I did think about it, what would I think? And who benefits from telling me not to think about it?
Even beautiful things can be used as propaganda for bad ends. If “The Lord of the Rings” existed in George R.R. Martin’s Westeros it would be used as propaganda for his bad guys — who are only marginally worse than his good guys.