Like countless others last night, I tuned into the Super Bowl which is as much an advertising bonanza as a sporting event. I did not expect that anything I saw would inspire me in any way, but a commercial for Heinz Ketchup surprised me with its display of the official fake space language of this blog, Aurebesh.
The commercial features a split screen of visitors to various eating establishments across time and space that are united by a common use of the tomato condiment. One of the settings is an alien market adorned with banners that clearly use the Aurebesh alphabet. Even though some of the letters have been rotated and altered somewhat, there is no doubt that Aurebesh is used here.
If you’re like me and hoped for an inside joke declaring mustard to be the superior condiment, you’ll be disappointed. The letters do not translate into anything with an obvious meaning. I have no doubt that someone in authority made sure that there were no secret messages to be found. Indeed I think the use of Aurebesh itself was the whole of the easter egg for Star Wars fans.
Even if you don’t get the Star Wars connection, anyone can still look at those banners and recognize that they contain writing of some sort, even if it is not legible. That duality sums up Star Wars’ core aesthetic that seeks to strike the perfect balance between the alien and the familiar. Star Destroyers evoke battleships without looking that much like them. No Authurian knight or Japanese samurai ever wielded a laser sword, but lightsabers instantly connect the Jedi to those traditions. What is clever about Aurebesh’s design is how it is also strange and familiar at the same time. Aurebesh’s letter shapes are often based on their English counterparts, but their component parts have been twisted around or turned inside. If I find myself stumped by some Aurebesh, it actually helps me to translate it by “reverse engineering” the glyphs into familiar English letters.
This is certainly one of the more unusual things I’ve examined for this blog, but it never ceases to surprise me how far Star Wars has seeped into pop culture.