Obiwan Kenobi vs Obi-Wan Kenobi

To the delight of people like me — who enjoy making easy pop-culture references for a living — a 37-year-old man named “Obiwan [sic] Kenobi” was arrested in Rosedale, California, in connection with a multi-car hit-and-run accident. Man, the Force is so not with this guy, amirite? …Which is about the quality-level of jokes that have been made so far by other news outlets, like, for example, CBS News, which says:

The force is not strong with this one.

Or there’s Time Magazine, which says:

The Force Is So Not With ‘Obiwan Kenobi’ Right Now.

Clever! We sense a great disturbance in the news cycle, as though a million bad Star Wars references suddenly cried out and were suddenly not silenced. There you go. That should work.

Anyway, all of this originally came about because of radio announcers. Truly, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in the universe than those guys. So Obiwan Kenobi originally changed his name for a radio contest. Mr. Kenobi’s name was once the somewhat more prosaic “Benjamin Cale Feit”–

“KWOD 106.5 had a contest back in April of ’99 when ‘(Star Wars) Episode I’ came out in theaters as a promotion. The first person to come in with a legal document with the name Obiwan Kenobi on it would get $1,000,” Kenobi said.

…The contest required Kenobi to keep the name for 30 days and he decided to hold on to the name for a while longer, unaware of the changing identity laws looming on the horizon. In January of 2000, had he wanted to change his name back, it would have cost Kenobi $500 and he would have needed to plead his case with a judge.

So there’s another horrible thing that Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace is responsible for besides sucking as a movie, ha ha, insert Jar-Jar reference here.

Then, this past March, Obiwan Kenobi was allegedly involved in a five-car chain reaction accident, which he probably caused with his green sedan. Kenobi then allegedly fled the scene. Obiwan was finally arrested in connection with the crime at the end of April. And who is more foolish, the fool who hits a car or the fool who allegedly flees the scene?

Except for the part where it was a real accident and not a joke and people might have been badly injured and stuff.

The original interview with Mr. Kenobi actually has some interesting tidbits about what it’s like to go around with the name “Obiwan Kenobi,” and what it’s like to be a slacker who works in a pizza parlor named Obiwan Kenobi:

Now working at Mary’s Pizza Shack, Kenobi kept the name Obiwan, and most acquaintances don’t know him as Ben.

Once, Kenobi said, his father came to his house and asked for Ben. His roommate told him no one named Ben lived there.

Kenobi’s manager at Mary’s Pizza Shack, Amy Savage, said he uses his name to entertain his guests.

“It’s entertaining and funny. It’s not obnoxious,” Savage said.

His chosen name made Amy Flack, also a server at Mary’s Pizza Shack, see “Star Wars.”

“He’s really popular at the restaurant, especially with the kids. The name fits his personality. I don’t know anyone else who would do that,” Savage said.

There are some tangible benefits to the name.

“I think, for the most part, it helps out with my tips,” Kenobi said. “It gives people something to talk about if I take a little longer to bring their drinks, and if I do screw up, I just say something like, ‘The Force is not with me tonight.’ That usually smoothes things over.”

There are of course, a number of customers who tease or make jokes about his name.

“I always get people asking me where my light saber is. I usually tell them it’s being used to cut their pizza or something,” Kenobi said. “Some people ask me where Luke and Darth Vader are and then I get the people who want to tell me everything they know about ‘Star Wars.’ Most of the people over 65 have no clue about it, though.”

Obiwan then goes on to discuss how he truly wants to be a painter who works in space — an “artstronaut,” he calls it. Which is why he works in a pizza parlor, so that he can be a starving artist and paint in his spare time while he pursues that dream. But of course, none of these things are jokes or pop-culture references, and therefore, are of no interest to the culture at large.

Anyway, you can “Go about your business now.” “Move along, move along.” Just like in Star Wars, ha ha.

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