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German government uses Darth Vader to promote bike helmet use

Star Wars villain - and cinema's most famous helmet wearer - appears on billboards in major cities...

Star Wars villain Darth Vader – perhaps the best-known helmet-wearer in cinematic history –  is being used by the German government in an initiative aimed at getting more people to wear one while riding a bike.

The campaign sees the character, who made his debut in the original Star Wars film in 1977, appear on billboards in Berlin, Cologne and Munich, reports the International Business Times.

Permission was secured to use his image free of charge from Disney Film, Disney International and LucasFilm International, it adds.

Launched in a year when the first sequel to the original three films in the franchise is scheduled for release, the posters carry the strapline: "The saga continues: Thanks to the helmet. Applies in each galaxy. And on the bike."

Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, said he wanted to see more people on bikes sporting the protective headgear. "The helmet is part of promoting safe cycling," he added.

According to 2014 research cited by the government, while 69 per cent of German children aged between six and 10 wear a helmet while cycling, that falls to just 7 per cent of those aged 17 to 30.

It’s not the first time there has been a connection between Darth Vader and a road safety campaign.

Bristol-born Dave Prowse was the man inside the iconic black costume for the original Star Wars trilogy, although the part was voiced by the American actor James Earl Jones, and when his face was eventually revealed, that scene was played by Britain’s Sebastian Shaw.

Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, later revealed that Prowse’s West Country accent led to him being nicknamed ‘Darth Farmer’ by the cast and crew of the films, which were released between 1977 and 1983.

During the same period, the weightlifter-turned-actor also appeared on British television in a series of public information films as the Green Cross Code man, teaching children how to cross the road safely – his involvement with the campaign leading to him being awarded an MBE.

The 79-year-old, who has severe arthritis and has overcome prostate cancer, reprised that role last year for Road Safety Week in a campaign aimed at adults distracted while crossing the road due to listening to music or using their smartphones.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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20 comments

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brooksby | 12197 posts | 8 years ago
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Or, "I have a bad feeling about this..."  3

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Wolfshade | 211 posts | 8 years ago
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Why has no-one used this yet.

"This sounds a load of Sith to me"

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Beatnik69 | 464 posts | 8 years ago
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I sound like Lord Vader when cycling up hills.

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jollygoodvelo replied to Beatnik69 | 2185 posts | 8 years ago
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Beatnik69 wrote:

I sound like Lord Vader when cycling up hills.

Get a TUE and use an inhaler  3

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tommytwoparrots | 38 posts | 8 years ago
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hm i shall now hum.... dum dum dum dumdy dum dumdy dum when im riding with my giro aero helmet and shield..  21

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a.jumper | 849 posts | 8 years ago
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So the message is that only villains wear helmets?

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fukawitribe replied to a.jumper | 3287 posts | 8 years ago
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a.jumper wrote:

So the message is that only villains wear helmets?

Clearly it means helmet wearers have cooler space ships.

--
"That's no moon - it's a Giro Aeron"

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kitkat | 492 posts | 8 years ago
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Lets hope they turn from the darkside

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velodinho | 110 posts | 8 years ago
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The Germans have even had helmuts at the head of government (Kohl) and national football squad (Schoen).

They are way ahead of us.

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bikebot | 2105 posts | 8 years ago
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Let's give that a test...

//i408.photobucket.com/albums/pp170/johnvon28/thththspaceballs2.gif)

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hylozoist | 65 posts | 8 years ago
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Those cyclists in that Dave Prowse video were not wearing helmets. I am shocked. Shocked.

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congokid | 331 posts | 8 years ago
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Great - another way to dehumanise people on the basis of their chosen mode of transport...

Also seems there has been a sea-change in the German psyche regarding discussing 'war'. About 20 years ago my client used a Star Wars theme for the launch of its new product, and I produced a magazine all about the campaign aimed at its European network of dealers (in six different languages, so quite a challenge).

The campaign poster and other related graphics, already in use worldwide, featured on the front cover, but the German marketing bod nearly had a fit when she saw the proofs. 'It's all about war - you can't discuss things like this!' was her response. I tried to argue that the Star Wars franchise was probably as popular in Germany as it was in the rest of the world. She was of Austrian descent, so that might have made a difference.

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Simon_MacMichael replied to congokid | 2733 posts | 8 years ago
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congokid wrote:

Also seems there has been a sea-change in the German psyche regarding discussing 'war'.

Guess they must have moved on if the government is happy for the poster boy of one of its campaigns to be a genocidal megalomaniac who commands legions of stormtroopers.

 39

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CygnusX1 | 1362 posts | 8 years ago
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Helmets - no protection against fatal injury from Sith lightning  35

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brooksby replied to CygnusX1 | 12197 posts | 8 years ago
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CygnusX1 wrote:

Helmets - no protection against fatal injury from Sith lightning  35

I have never encountered Sith lightning on my commute. Mind you, I've seen a few bus drivers who looked like the Emperor (sans hooded cloak, obviously), so maybe I've just been very lucky...  3

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joemmo | 1163 posts | 8 years ago
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In the new Star Wars film, Darth Vader is knocked off his speeder bike by an AT-AT. He survives but his helmet looks like this afterwards.

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Simon_MacMichael | 2733 posts | 8 years ago
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Haha that is brilliant.

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ChairRDRF | 385 posts | 8 years ago
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German cyclists have reacted: See @wegeheld and this photo

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LondonDynaslow replied to ChairRDRF | 264 posts | 8 years ago
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ChairRDRF wrote:

German cyclists have reacted: See @wegeheld and this photo

take away your hands and see if it stays there...  36

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Some Fella | 890 posts | 8 years ago
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I foresee the comments section on this story becoming an even greater saga than Star Wars.

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