chris “jedi” knight interview

chris knight jedi star wars school board video

i was browsing youtube and found a bizarre star wars parody as school board elections ad. i researched a bit whot his guy is and i learned more about chris knight. chris did some interesting stuff, he seems to invest a lot of energy into fighting for little bits and pieces here and there and i have to appreciate this.

he made fuss over a copyright issue with viacom, he tried to change some school stuff, he is a very busy activist who uses internet virals as his tool. he is weird yet eloquent.

i did a quick interview with chris this morning.

q: introduce yourself chris, from day one to now, in as much details as you want.

i’m a freelance videographer and writer and independent filmmaker, with a background in teaching and journalism and a bachelor’s degree in history. and i’m an eagle scout, too! currently i live in north-central north carolina.

q: most of your work which i found online is a form of provocation. it is not obsessed with quality or direct profit but about setting new standards. your education projects are same. what do you think motivates you do produce these projects?

i don’t know if “provocation” is the right word for it, because there’s a traditionally negative connotation to the word. but i certainly do – and always have – tried to challenge people to think about matters and issues a bit deeper than they are usually inclined. it’s like the old adage: “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” it’s the same way with ideas and critical thinking: i *could* tell people what *i* believe in. but that’s too pre-packaged and pre-digested.

a better way is to present the idea, and do it in a way that leads them to ponder it on their own. and hopefully they will go on to entice others to think about it on their own, too. sort of like “viral philosophy”. so like when i ran for school board and made the “star wars”-themed tv commercial: most people thought it was entertaining and i definitely aimed to make it so.

but beyond that it was also about no child left behind and federal involvement with education… which is a very serious thing. quite a few people have told me in the two years since that they had never thought about no child left behind until they saw that ad. which even though i didn’t win a seat in that election, that’s been enough to satisfy me that the effort *was* well worth it.

q: i am not convinced that video and internet are so dominant in your philosophy. i think you are exploring these mediums only by accident while you try to distribute a message. as they serve this purpose now in future you might expand into more different media. what is the essence of the message that you wish people to hear form you? how would you sum up your message?

the long and the short of it is: people need to think for themselves, otherwise there will always be someone else more than willing to think for them. in that regard, video and the internet are extremely useful tools… but without solid ideas behind them, they are worthless. george lucas once noted that “a special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing”. so it is with things like blogs and youtube and such.

right now, i think we’re still getting used to these new technologies. we’re still “stretching our wings” so to speak. we haven’t yet exploited them to their fullest potential. and we won’t at all until we begin to embrace them as platforms for presenting new ideas instead of reinforcing tired *ideologies*. the presidential election we just had in the united states? i thought it was a very frustrating thing because apart from the pro-ron paul movement and a few others, none of the campaigns had a serious vision about using the internet in a fresh way to promote their messages.

you could get the same thing by watching the evening news every night. but i like to think that the “monopoly of the status quo” is beginning to erode, and that regular common people will start to discover how empowered the internet has really made them. who knows: perhaps in another decade we’ll see a front-runner for president who is a product of the internet instead of a political party. i’d certainly love to see that!

q: how do you think the world will be in 50 or 100 years?

right now we are at a precarious stage, whether we realize it or not. if we continue on the path we are now, where we insist on clinging to, again, old reinforced ideologies instead of allowing for new concepts and ideas, we are going to stagnate as a culture and as an entire world. we are at the same place that rome was circa 400 a.d., give or take. and maybe a lot further down the road to ruin than that. ever notice how many movies these days are remakes?

the roman empire had a similar decline in artisanship: constantine even had to pillage previous monuments that were hundreds of years old so that he could decorate his own. so there’s definitely some cultural “rot” already at work. but i’ve a lot of hope too. there are things happening right now outside of washington and hollywood so far as politics and entertainment go, and even things like private efforts at space exploration and other sciences. i’m talking incredible things! i’m working on a full-length feature film right now and if i had attempted this ten or fifteen years ago, it would have cost an unholy amount of money.

but the way we’re doing it, it’s going to be done practically for nothing at it’s *still* going to look amazing. that astounds me to think about. and then when you consider that there are men and women – of all ages and who have never even thought of entering filmmaking until now, mind ya – doing this all over the place now… that is a very exciting thing, indeed! if we take our eyes off of the old “powers that be” and turn the average person loose to do what he or she wants, then i think we can steer clear of the stagnation, and have quite a golden century ahead of us.

check out chris’ blog at

new books: katsushika hokusai, niccolò machiavelli, immanuel kant       nikola tosic on copyright