Shortly after The Handmaid’s Tale first premiered on Hulu, author Margaret Atwood enjoyed a moment of renewed relevance as desperate Americans sought her opinion on what the fuck to do now that fascism appeared to have come knocking on America’s front door.
Now, a year later, Atwood is still being interviewed about “The Handmaid’s Tale in the age of Trump.” And either she’s getting bored with the whole thing and dropping in wild statements just to amuse herself, or being right about the creeping encroachment of religious fascism in the United States doesn’t preclude being very wrong on other things. For example, in a recent interview with Variety, Atwood expresses her belief that the 9/11 hijackers were inspired by Star Wars:
There was an opera of “The Handmaid’s Tale” that premiered in Denmark in 2000. It started with a film reel going across the top of the stage and showing various things blowing up. And one of the things that blew up was the Twin Towers. But it hadn’t blown up yet. They did the opera again, and they had to take it out, because it was no longer in the future. Does that give you a creepy feeling?
Yes, it does.
They didn’t get that idea from my opera, don’t worry. They got the idea from Star Wars.
Do you really believe that?
Remember the first one? Two guys fly a plane in the middle of something and blow that up? The only difference is, in Star Wars, they get away. Right after 9/11, they hired a bunch of Hollywood screenwriters to tell them how the story might go next. Sci-fi writers are very good at this stuff, anticipating future events. They don’t all come true, but there are interesting “what if” scenarios.
One interpretation of that statement is that Atwood is saying that the parallels between science fiction and later reality are coincidental, and therefore not to take so-called prophets—as she’s often been made out to be—too seriously. Another is that Osama Bin Laden watched George Lucas’ sci-fi blockbuster on VHS one night after a hard day of being trained by the CIA in the mid-’80s, and had a “eureka” moment. Which is possible, we suppose—although he appears to have been more of a video-game fan.