Monday, May 23, 2005

More Star Wars Politics

Debra Saunders, in her latest article, takes on Star Wars and finds it wanting.
For me, the "Star Wars" saga faded with "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi." It wasn't the cutesy Ewoks, although the teddy-bear warriors were irritating beyond belief. No, the big problem was the fact that Darth Vader, who had killed countless souls without hesitation and destroyed an entire planet just to make a point, nonetheless wholly redeemed himself by refusing to kill his own son. Thus Vader won a coveted spot in the afterlife sitting by the eternal campfire with Jedi good guys Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.

The dead Darth-turned-Anakin looks happy, too. You can imagine him turning to his old chums, and saying, "Sorry about Alderaan. Have a nice day."

If only Hitler had sired a son. Then, after the Blitzkrieg and the Holocaust, Hitler might have had that redefining moment that would have gotten him in touch with his paternal inner self, and taken up gardening. Or origami.
This is a fair point. Once could suppose, however, that those dead on Aldereen (or on Hoth, or the Younglings in the Jedi Temple) were taken care of in the force. Certainly Yoda seems to hint at that in the latest movie, where he suggests that Anikin learn how to let go of those that he loves.

The contrast, however, is that we only see Jedis as blue ghosts, and Yoda, at the end of episode three, indicates that the ability to maintains one personality in the living force is a bit of a trick. Of course in some forms of Buddhism (from which the ideas of the Force borrow, somewhat) maintaining a distinct identity in the face of infinity is not desirable.

At any rate, Saunders then goes on to talk on how George Lucas has presented the movie as a subtle dig at the administration, and accuses him of elevating moral relativism.
Thus, we discover, as Obi-Wan says before the final light saber duel, that the Sith are evil (despite their germ of good?), not just for what they do, but because, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." In Lucasworld, moral relativists are the real good guys in a universe of gore.

Which doesn't make sense because the Jedi do trade in absolutes, as does every tribe. They've got their rules, too -- and they're pretty good rules, if they do become overly cumbersome, hokey and dangerous at times.

Here's a sign, early in the movie, Lucas gives moviegoers that Anakin Skywalker is drifting toward the dark side. After hacking to death every body in his path, Anakin has an evil mastermind at his feet. Kill him, the future emperor coos.

Afterward, Anakin notes it is not the Jedi way to kill an "unarmed" man. Forget that this particular villain can't be unarmed as long as he has his mind. Forget that he is the reason so many others died, and the Jedi didn't fret about their end.
Of course this begs the question of whether the Republic has the death penalty or not. To make a real world comparison, Howard Dean has gotten a lot of flack for wanting Osama Bin Ladin to stand trial. I don't know whether bin Ladin can be taken alive, but if he can, I want him to stand trial as well. A society of justice is better than a society of blind vengeance.

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