"A more civilized age" indeed.
November 22, 2015 8:56 AM   Subscribe

The knighthood of Star Wars is neither Galactic nor an Order. "In the Star Wars films, the Jedi Order and their Galactic Republic are an undemocratic, ineffective government maintained by a combination of religious awe and martial force. Nobody elected their Council - they noisily resent any outside input at all - yet each member of their entire order is a roving diplomat plenipotentiary, general, judge, and executioner. Their members are spirited away as toddlers, promised that they are chosen by a higher, ineffable power, and trained to act without emotion while training them in personal combat and the ability to telepathically manipulate "the weak-minded". They are trusted despite the fact that this power can corrupt - not only in the traditional way, but in a metaphysical one, transforming these unemotional, unaccountable warlord-judges into monstrous super-powered spree killers. "
posted by Sebmojo (97 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was all ready to scoff, but really these exact points are why I hate Foundation so much...
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe so, but, but...LIGHTSABERS.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are some good points but an awful lot of it reads like modern politics, which is to say, in order to make your point, ignore some facts, twist things to your narrative just a bit, and emphasize some things that look damning out of context.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Part of what makes The Clone Wars so great is you get actual in universe exploration of a lot of this, which is conspicuously absent from the movies.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


"We're happy to negotiate a fair settlement to this trade dispute. We'll send along a couple of cold-hearted ninjas with mind-control powers to... discuss things with you"
posted by BinaryApe at 9:28 AM on November 22, 2015 [37 favorites]


It's barely a functioning government at all. It's a loose federation of states, with a gridlocked Senate whose only apparent function is mediating among them.

It's thousands of worlds which have billions of inhabitants each, which surely all have multiple cultures and factions and political strife of their own... of course it's going to be a loose federation, how would you keep control over that assembly of worlds without becoming the Empire? The Republic is definitely more like the UN than the US because it would have to be.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:31 AM on November 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


power can corrupt - not only in the traditional way, but in a metaphysical one

dude just because accumulating too many dark side points in KotR makes your character's underwear change color doesn't mean we need to get all woo woo on it.
posted by 7segment at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


I find his lack of faith ... disturbing.
posted by kyrademon at 9:39 AM on November 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


This had more than a couple good points. But in the end it was... a takedown piece on the EU?

Star Wars doesn't happen in a universe, though. It happens in "a galaxy far, far away". The brave heroes struggle against the Empire and its cruel, fascist enforcers - or against the inevitability of the corruption of the noble Republic and the formation of that Empire. The weapons of war are laser swords and space magic and one of the main characters is a guy in a gorilla costume. Four decades of fans pondering the logistics and "canon" of this fantasy - and the industry built around the Star Wars "expanded universe" that attempts to show what the films tell and reconcile their inconsistencies - miss that Star Wars is a fantasy story, focused on making emotional and symbolic sense. To turn Star Wars into a canon strangles all of the things that make it a fairy tale.

So, with all due sarcasm. Nice.
posted by pan at 9:44 AM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is all to say, let's hope the new films have much less politics in them.
posted by Jeff Morris at 9:47 AM on November 22, 2015


The Republic is definitely more like the UN than the US

Maybe more like... a confederacy? With clone and droid slaves? And "knights" who run around in robes and have all sorts of secret fraternal rituals?

The Galactic Republic will rise again. Mebbe not t'day, mebbe not tomorrow, but mark my words, the Republic will rise again.
posted by XMLicious at 9:48 AM on November 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


This is all to say, let's hope the new films have much less politics in them.

Part of what makes the prequels so definicient is that though they had nods to political intrigue and moral complexity it was never fleshed out, so it feels like huge chunks of them are placeholders with [POLITICAL INTRUGUE GOES HERE] and [ANAKIN HINTS AT FASCIST LEANINGS] written on them.
posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on November 22, 2015 [24 favorites]


Its just a movie
posted by Ironmouth at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this is an argument for throwing out your 'Free Tibet' T-shirt?
posted by howfar at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Galactic Republic isn't a republic. Its leaders aren't elected, it isn't founded in principles of liberty or decency or freedom. It's barely a functioning government at all.

Ahem.

"The Galactic Senate was made up of over 2,000 congressmen: governor-delegates (referred to as senators) and representatives, representing sectors, systems, individual planets, or even Corporation or Guilds. Some were elected directly, while others were appointed by a planet's ruler (or even were the planet's ruler)."

So... literally a republic.
posted by belarius at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


You know, the more you think about how the Republic would have to operate, the more the political situation in The Phantom Menace actually makes a bit of sense... that political situation is still boring as hell, but still. With that many worlds and no large central military, the only real carrots and sticks are going to be economic, and it opens the door for an organization like the Trade Federation to operate outside the system and extort less powerful planets who rely on trade to keep up their standard of living. The blockade prevents you from trading with normal above-board partners, but you've gotta trade with somebody or your economy tanks, and the Trade Federation will gladly be that somebody for a nice premium - and the Republic can't do dick about it militarily. And the Federation's money still spends with the planets condemning it in the Senate, I mean the Federation is made up of all these intergalactic industrialists and bankers and such... the TF members are all bigger players individually than a whole planet like Naboo is. Also, the political reality of keeping that many planets in line with trade or sanctions explains the proliferation of smugglers.

All of which might be mildly interesting if it wasn't written by a man with ham for hands!
posted by jason_steakums at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm sort of lost as to what exactly the author is doing in that last paragraph. It almost seems like he's doing a quick turn and saying that the whole thing was an exercise in beanplating.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well Star Wars: Rebellion will be out soon.
posted by Windopaene at 10:32 AM on November 22, 2015


Well, it is a fantasy story in a rather traditional form, and that is a format that has tended to reinforce reactionary world-views (see also: the monarchist conservative world-view in Tolkien's books, which would have been stale and reactionary when Edmund Burke wrote about the French Revolution). So no, don't expect a radical democratic message in a fantasy movie.
posted by acb at 10:34 AM on November 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


You know, the more you think about how the Republic would have to operate, the more the political situation in The Phantom Menace actually makes a bit of sense... that political situation is still boring as hell, but still. With that many worlds and no large central military, the only real carrots and sticks are going to be economic, and it opens the door for an organization like the Trade Federation to operate outside the system and extort less powerful planets who rely on trade to keep up their standard of living. The blockade prevents you from trading with normal above-board partners, but you've gotta trade with somebody or your economy tanks, and the Trade Federation will gladly be that somebody for a nice premium - and the Republic can't do dick about it militarily. And the Federation's money still spends with the planets condemning it in the Senate, I mean the Federation is made up of all these intergalactic industrialists and bankers and such... the TF members are all bigger players individually than a whole planet like Naboo is. Also, the political reality of keeping that many planets in line with trade or sanctions explains the proliferation of smugglers.


but enough about globalization
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


It almost seems like he's doing a quick turn and saying that the whole thing was an exercise in beanplating.

It's tagged as "trolling", too.
posted by sukeban at 11:28 AM on November 22, 2015




Part of the reason I liked the original trilogy but essentially nothing else was the lack of scope, and focus on swashbuckling (maybe rose colored glasses, too). Our single planet is massive. Individual countries can contain an endless supply of stories and conflicts, and individual cities within them almost as much. There are six billion people here, on what is likely a relatively small planet if you want to stack it up to the fantasy of Star Wars' galactic empire.

So, when you're focusing on a planet, you're really just focusing on a single settlement or a single location (like the fields in front of Naboo, or a tiny patch of forest on Endor). Battles seem to take place with a few thousand combatants, or a few hundred ships, when there are hundreds planets and tens of thousands of advanced cities and hundreds of billions of citizens who are all involved. In other words, a massive, realistic scope doesn't really fit with the setting or the story. Focusing less on any sort of realism lets you also ignore the fact that the fights are roughly equivalent to WWII plane dogfights, and that we had larger battles in the Napoleonic era than they have with laser rifles and robot soldiers.
posted by codacorolla at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, when you look at the Jedi from a rational perspective, they just plain aren't good guys. Might not be actively evil, but altruistic guardians of justice they ain't.

Mostly they're just the guys who get the soaring background music to get us to cheer for them.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:02 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]




Artw: "George Lucas on new Star Wars film: 'They weren’t keen to have me involved'"

Dude, they gave you four fucking billion dollars. Quit whining.
posted by octothorpe at 12:21 PM on November 22, 2015 [34 favorites]


So I was watching this movie about the natural predation patterns of Carcharodon carcharias, and halfway through it, an alleged "marine biologist" (he looks more like a music teacher) gets on a boat with a crazy gun-nut sheriff and a fisherman with PTSD, and they do nothing but traumatize a giant fish, going so far as to actually sneak a can of compressed air into it's mouth and start blazing away with guns to try and detonate it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:02 PM on November 22, 2015 [20 favorites]


Yeah, when you look at the Jedi from a rational perspective, they just plain aren't good guys. Might not be actively evil, but altruistic guardians of justice they ain't.

My question is, how are they dealing with the force-sensitive students who fail training due to lack of aptitude, poor teaching or lack of interest, are "too old" for training to begin with, or want to do something else with their lives other than live in monastic seclusion? Because that group of Jedi outsiders has got to be at a heightened risk for succumbing to the "quicker, easier and more seductive" dark side that apparently only requires a lapse in emotional restraint to get to you, and if the dark side is as corrupting as they say, well, that's a problem. Do they mess with your mind permanently to make you averse to the idea of using your force powers and then send you on your way? Put surveillance on you for the rest of your natural life? Imprison you? Or worse? They're above the law - "Jedi business" was the only line they needed to use in that nightclub altercation in the prequels - and their mystic business is pretty impenetrable to non-Jedi so it would be pretty easy to do the equivalent of planting a gun on an innocent suspect. He was always such a withdrawn student, we couldn't get through to him, shame he started dabbling in the dark side and it came to a head in such a messy way...

And wow, are there dark conclusions at the end of the trail of thought beginning with "What about force sensitive people with mental and emotional disorders?"
posted by jason_steakums at 1:22 PM on November 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Nothing Batman does would make any sense in real life.
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]




Yeah, when you look at the Jedi from a rational perspective, they just plain aren't good guys. Might not be actively evil, but altruistic guardians of justice they ain't.

This is a lot of why I'm not big on Star Wars. A lot of the original trilogy does work for me: the Rebellion vs. the Empire, Princess Leia, Han Solo. I feel like there's plenty to love, there.

The Jedi, on the other hand, are... well, like the quote says, they're not the good guys. They were bad news the first time around, and starting the whole thing up again wasn't a triumph. Say no to Kyp Durron! Bad for Carida, bad for your children.

I was always the guy on the Trek side of those pointless high school nerd debates partly because Trek had a healthy disrespect for people who acquired godlike powers - like, there's an understanding that your Gary Mitchells are destabilizing and unsafe.

(On a less flippant note, the Jedi demonstrate something I have often played with in storytelling in games - if there are people with superpowers, and people without superpowers in a given setting, it should eventually stabilize like any other have/have-not situation in actual history. There'll be a class of unaccountable ubermenschen either running things, or only not running things because they have other interests, there will be normal people, and shit will roll downhill. Star Wars has that, it just wants us to root for the haves, because they are not as bad as the even worse haves.)
posted by mordax at 1:27 PM on November 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, you can totally do the "Aha! the Federation is actually bad!" thing if you want to.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on November 22, 2015


Wasn't The Alliance in Firefly basically the Federation as the bad guys?
posted by octothorpe at 1:54 PM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


They totally don't mention robo-slavery in the space south in that show.
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm really having to psych myself up as it is to get through a re-watch of the prequals and the cgi smeared original trilogy as is nerd law before the thing in Dec. This is not helping.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:57 PM on November 22, 2015


Blake was just a terrorist!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:58 PM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can do "the Federation is the bad guys", if you want, but they aren't drawn that way.

Until Crown Prince JT Kirk of the JJ Abrams re-boot, and .... full circle?
posted by allthinky at 2:06 PM on November 22, 2015


The Jedi, on the other hand, are... well, like the quote says, they're not the good guys. They were bad news the first time around, and starting the whole thing up again wasn't a triumph.

The alternate ending of Jedi that had Luke just walking away would have gone a ways towards redeeming the Jedi story, as it could be seen as him just washing his hands of the whole Jedi/Sith thing. I'm hoping that's where they're going with Luke in the new one.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:14 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


My favorite GM ran a D&D campaign where we played characters in a loose translation of the Jedi Order into a fantasy setting. I embraced the campaign concept and played it to the hilt. The GM later described my character as an unholy melding of Qui Gon Jinn and Jack Bauer.
posted by BrashTech at 2:22 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm not convinced that Lucas is pushing an agenda so much as the franchise has become hopelessly muddled in the development from weird samurai/gunslinger/WWII aviation hybrid to galactic empire saga.

But that's not exclusive to Lucasfilm. Most of Hollywood does the same thing in the service of Big Dumb Spectacle, and I'm not expecting the new Star Wars to be much brighter than a Marvel Movie in that regard.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:29 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, you can totally do the "Aha! the Federation is actually bad!" thing if you want to.

Oh, sure, I could totally do that. It's not really the same, though: at least in the TNG era, the Federation is not depicted as unilaterally good in a manner that invites the sort of visceral yuck that I get when I beanplate about Obi Wan Kenobi. We see them flail with issues of civil rights in stuff like Drumhead and Measure of a Man. We see Sisko morally compromised in In The Pale Moonlight. We get the stuff with Section 31. We got the Maquis having a legit set of grievances with them on at least an occasion or two. I could really go on and on about various times they got it wrong.

But that's kind of in Trek's favor: I'm fairly certain we're supposed to view the Federation as a well meaning, but ultimately human and necessarily imperfect institution, at least once Roddenberry wasn't completely in charge of everything.

Plus - and this is really where I feel they diverge from the Jedi - the Federation has some sense of what it means to step on the little guy in the form of the Prime Directive. That's a rule that was bent to meaninglessness over the course of various TV shows, but the underlying principle of 'don't screw stuff up for people who can't even understand what you're doing' is a good idea that has no counterpart in the Jedi ethos.

Jedi are encouraged to go ahead and do what they think is best on the basis of their own psychic powers and connection to mystical forces. That's both completely understandable given their supernatural abilities, but also not very heroic.

... which is not to say Star Wars is *bad*. I think there's tons of intriguing stuff in there, and I am actually sad to see certain aspects of the EU go. (Thrawn is the best, and I actually think there's a bit of something to his use of art criticism as a weapon.)

It's just fun to pick at this stuff and consider the implications once the thrill of all the cool stuff on the big screen has passed a bit.
posted by mordax at 2:30 PM on November 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

But don't mind me; I'm a really bad actor choking on really bad dialog.
posted by rokusan at 2:45 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


While this article is amusing, if I might internet nerd out for a moment: can I just point out that not three sentences in there's an accusation that's based on a total misunderstanding?

It's the "elegant weapon" of a man so feared that his battle cry sends the local people scattering.

That wasn't a battle cry, and the Sand People don't know anything about Obi-Wan. The sound he made was an imitation of the hunting cry of a feared local predator, the Krayt Dragon (the enormous reptile skeleton seen on the sand dunes a few scenes prior is one of them, for scale). So, he basically scared them off with the equivalent of a recording of lion roars (though as to why he's doing his weird arm waving thing, who knows).

I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that the majority of the really problematic things he identifies about the Jedi are from the prequels. Which, well ... yeah. Everything political from the prequels is utter garbage, and basically makes any positive feelings from Obi-Wan, Leia, or anything of the members of the rebellion about the old republic sound like the reminiscences of reconstruction-era ex-confederates, waxing about the good old days before the Union up and ruined everything.
posted by tocts at 2:52 PM on November 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.

Oh no, I agreed with Emo Darth! Oh, what a world!
*melts*
posted by mordax at 3:08 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem with the Galactic Republic is that it only works in concept if you don't go into any detail. As soon as you apply a conventional political/economic framework it completely falls apart. It would never have existed in such a state, much less have thrived for however many centuries. A despotic empire is much, much more plausible.

The rest of the analysis is clearly trollbait. Jedi elections. Right.
posted by echocollate at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2015


Whenever this subject comes up, I can't stress the awesomeness of Legend of the Galactic Heroes (SLTVTropes) enough. It really is the beanplating of Star Wars you're looking for because it has everything, including....

A Galactic Empire which asserts rule over the entire Galaxy that did some truly nasty and evil stuff in the past but is now moving in a surprisingly progressive direction as a new leader with a serious, personal grudge against the aristocracy consolidates his power.

A Rebellion / Republic, originally formed by people fleeing the oppression of the Empire, that is now so obsessed with destroying the Empire and liberating humanity that they're more than willing to sacrifice their democratic principals in a jingoistic fever.

A Minor Trade Federation with ties to a shadowy religious cult that profits greatly from constantly playing both powers against each other in a never-ending conflict.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:24 PM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that the majority of the really problematic things he identifies about the Jedi are from the prequels. Which, well ... yeah. Everything political from the prequels is utter garbage...

You had me up until the last two words there. For my money, the political angle that Lucas took in the prequels was the only shimmer of hope about those films. Yes, the prequels were garbage, but the most interesting thing I took from them was that the rebalancing that needed to happen with the force was due to the fact that the Jedi were too powerful. They had become tyrants. Beneficent tyrants perhaps, but tyrannical nonetheless.

This was shown both with the political machinations happening in the Jedi council, as well as in the analogy of Anakin as an example of how the Jedi were set up to become this bad thing. Here is a group of telepathic telekinetic ninja monks who have chosen themselves to be the equivalent of intergalactic police force/"diplomats." Of COURSE they're going to be corrupt, or turn out enough bad apples as to maybe cause more problems than they solve.

If Lucas could have taken that idea (which probably is more fit for a novel than a summer blockbuster movie) and run with it, if he could have said "everything you know about Star Wars is about to get muddy and complicated," and packaged it up in an action-y space opera movie with space battles and robots and lasers? That would be have SO VERY COOL. Instead we got the most wooden scripts ever committed to digital celluloid. Fingers crossed that we get something better next month.
posted by nushustu at 4:28 PM on November 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


A Rebellion / Republic, originally formed by people fleeing the oppression of the Empire, that is now so obsessed with destroying the Empire and liberating humanity that they're more than willing to sacrifice their democratic principals in a jingoistic fever.

Given all the new and goofy shapes lightsabers are turning up in nowadays, I'm looking forward to the Lightsaber Guillotine next month. Citizen Leiaspierre screaming from the lectern as an elderly General Binks kneels beneath the harsh blue light.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:34 PM on November 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


But that's kind of in Trek's favor: I'm fairly certain we're supposed to view the Federation as a well meaning, but ultimately human and necessarily imperfect institution

If you count. Which you don't, really, if you're a machine intelligence or if your ancestors modified their germline. The only reason they're not slavers as bad as the Republic is that they forcibly prevent their machines from attaining sentience, like Idir did.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:38 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


The political stuff in the prequels is garbage because it was absurd. Unless anybody thinks democracy on a galactic scale is remotely plausible. Yea, I know it's a space fantasy, but the political stuff was by far sillier and more far fetched than hokey religions and ancient weapons.
posted by echocollate at 4:46 PM on November 22, 2015


The only reason they're not slavers as bad as the Republic is that they forcibly prevent their machines from attaining sentience, like Idir did.

Right, but they own that. It's a topic of debate and discussion, rather than just... glossed over for comic relief, like C3P0 getting a memory wipe. Like, the narrative itself encompasses that this is a thing we should be aware of and think about, and as a result, I'm less likely to feel the need to do that for them, if that makes sense?

If Lucas could have taken that idea (which probably is more fit for a novel than a summer blockbuster movie) and run with it, if he could have said "everything you know about Star Wars is about to get muddy and complicated," and packaged it up in an action-y space opera movie with space battles and robots and lasers? That would be have SO VERY COOL.

This is the idea that I was trying to get at, and maybe expressing poorly. The way the Jedi operate is actually pretty sensible, given their perspective, even in the prequels. Their actions and hubris actually make the *most* sense to me out of anything that happened in the prequels. I don't understand how their silly government is supposed to work, but I do understand that precognitive mind controlling ninjas with laser swords are probably gonna operate above the law. I totally buy it.

My problem with it is that the story itself doesn't explore and play with that, lead us to question them and consider various perspectives. I find that offputting, and it makes me more inclined to beanplate their problems than the ones in Trek, even though both are deep and troubling.

I hope I'm expressing that better.
posted by mordax at 4:56 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The political stuff in the prequels is garbage because it was absurd. Unless anybody thinks democracy on a galactic scale is remotely plausible. Yea, I know it's a space fantasy, but the political stuff was by far sillier and more far fetched than hokey religions and ancient weapons

They have instantaneous communication and travel between stars in... hours? A day or two? It's a reasonable analogue of the modern day, just with more people.

Brilliant troll-lord Supermechagodzilla has been running a years long campaign to convince the something awful forums that the prequels are actually good, which another goon described as a 'difficult but rewarding'.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:24 PM on November 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think a ton of problems with the Jedi in the prequels would have been easily resolved if Count Dooku wasn't a Sith.

There's a point where he makes his case to Obi-Wan about how the Jedi and the Republic have come under the influence of a Sith Lord, and he even goes as far to mention Qui-Gon Jinn (his padawan!) as having expressed similar bad feelings about things. Everything he says is absolutely true, and it would have made for a very compelling if tragic ending for the Jedi to have defeated him and his "rebellion" anyway because they've become pawns of Palpatine/Sidious and they're that far gone.

But no, Jedi have to always be on the side of Good, which is why five minutes before the film ends it's revealed that Dooku is in fact in league with the very Sith he raised a droid army to defeat and he and Palpatine were just playing both sides for yucks.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:29 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Would not the Jedi theoretically hold their self interest in check by their commitment to follow the light side of the Force? Perhaps the submission to the will of the Force would break down over time (leading to the fall of the Republic?) Perhaps in the Jedi's eyes, that commitment to metaphysical benevolence would legitimize their status of guardians of the common good.
posted by JKevinKing at 5:31 PM on November 22, 2015


They have instantaneous communication and travel between stars in... hours? A day or two? It's a reasonable analogue of the modern day, just with more people.

Consider the problems with democracy in a country of 350 million people. Now apply that to a galaxy. No way no how.
posted by echocollate at 5:44 PM on November 22, 2015


I assume everybody knows of Darth Jar Jar.
posted by effugas at 5:59 PM on November 22, 2015


Consider the problems with democracy in a country of 350 million people. Now apply that to a galaxy. No way no how.

you mean an evil manipulator might get himself declared emperor?

fair point.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:03 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Right, but they own that. It's a topic of debate and discussion, rather than just... glossed over for comic relief, like C3P0 getting a memory wipe.

Fair point, that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:15 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


JKevinKing, that almost works except for where it totally breaks down. Like, for example, the part where the Jedi don't actually do anything to stop the galactic slave trade and I'm not even talking about droids here but the trade in organic slaves that seems pervasive across the whole galaxy.

Plus, more disturbingly, the part where semi-randomly Jedi flip to the dark side, keep all their Jedi training and powers, and become super villains with apparently even bigger powers than they had to begin with.

And the part where the Jedi/Sith conflict has been ongoing for tens of thousands of years and apparently has been sufficiently destructive that the galaxy is barely more advanced technologically now than it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Per part of the now defunct Expanded Universe, a Sith Lord bombarded (both with conventional weapons and biological weapons) a planet as densely inhabited as Coruscant all because finding a single Jedi on that planet was becoming annoying so the Sith Lord decided that it was just more convenient to bomb the entire planet into the stone age.

At any moment any of the Jedi can flip a mental switch and become exactly as powerful and ruthless and batshit insane as that.

I'd argue that from a non-force sensitive person's POV the best thing would be to engage in a galaxy wide program of identifying all force sensitive people and quarantining them on a planet with no means of getting offworld and letting them murder each other as they seem so driven to do.

Turning the theoretically "good" ones lose with a warrant to be judge jury and executioner seems like a piss poor idea.
posted by sotonohito at 6:54 PM on November 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I guess you can just test whether a padawan likes bitter foods
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 7:09 PM on November 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


The problem with this is that we really don't know anything about how the Jedi or the Old Republic worked. That is, unless you accept as canon the totally incoherent fanfiction that is the so-called "prequel trilogy." And who would be foolish enough to do that?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:13 PM on November 22, 2015


And the whole thing works better if we don't ever know how the Old Republic worked, like it's beyond human comprehension.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:27 PM on November 22, 2015


I assume everybody knows of Darth Jar Jar.

Oh good I thought it would never get brought up! That there is an FPP for sure.
posted by odinsdream at 10:32 PM on November 22, 2015


I'm really having to psych myself up as it is to get through a re-watch of the prequals and the cgi smeared original trilogy as is nerd law before the thing in Dec. This is not helping.

I am one of those people who found it nearly impossible to keep track of the plot during the prequels due to all the insipid bullshit and bad acting, so I found the Phantom Edit to be a useful cliffnotes version. YMMV!
posted by Feyala at 11:56 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


That, and Harmy's Despecialized Edition.
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 AM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, the Empire blows up populated planets just to flex their muscles. The evil is relative.

In the prequels (hiss) there was the throwaway line about Anakin/Vader being "the one who will bring balance to the Force". The major thing he did was wipe out the Jedi population. So, mission accomplished I guess?
posted by Foosnark at 6:20 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apparently what he was actually supposed to do as chosen one was being balance to Mortis, the Force planet, but everything on Mortis is some silly Star Trek godlike being shit so he said fuck that.
posted by Artw at 6:27 AM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Rebellion that seeks to restore that republic that preceded it doesn't appear to be just, either. Its heroes all seek to aggrandize themselves rather than liberate - or even help! - anyone but themselves. They are less "rebels" and more royalists, revanchists, and criminals. Obi-Wan controls the minds of police and maims people in bar fights. Han Solo is a drug smuggler who works for a slave-keeping warlord. Lando Calrissian is a double-crossing womanizer and slave-owner - and why does he have a dungeon exactly like Jabba the Hutt's, complete with torture chamber? Luke Skywalker is a would-be Jedi who learns powers he never turns to any end but killing and destruction. And Princess Leia lies, constantly.
...

This is contrarian writing at its best.

The Rebellion is already proven to be just, if only for inclusion of different races, something the Empire had eliminated for the most part from galactic governance (i.e., enslaving alien races - being human only). The police are stormtroopers, the faceless jackboots of the galaxy who have no problem gunning down farmers and metal dealers, and fought only for self defense in the bar. Han is a scoundrel, so duh, and Lando doesn't own Lobot, so I'm not sure where that idea came from. Luke patently used the Force, again, in self-defense be it the Wampa, his training, or lifting C-3PO up in the air to avoid him and his friends being the main course for the Ewok party.

...

But really, you lose, I already lost, by engaging this silliness. There's a lot of Star Wars articles popping up right now, written by those who aim to take the contrarian view against the general "Good guys!" perspective that the Original Trilogy carries strongly, and the Prequel Trilogy somewhat undermines. You might call these writers Prequelist for their approach to writing about the topic, as they seem to offer the same level of respect, if writing honestly, that Lucas did when writing the Prequel films. Ha!

I read over much of the article, and now, I have to explain to the grieving widows of the braincells lost in the venture, why their loved ones had to die. Eh.
posted by Atreides at 6:49 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Federation aren't evil, they're just the sinecure the Culture gives to its squares so that everybody else can get on with the orgiastic drug raves.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


But really, you lose, I already lost, by engaging this silliness.

Hmm, I wouldn't say it's silly. Pop culture is continually influenced by what's going on in the world and Star Wars is no exception. Everything written could be attributed to something in the real world. I mean, an "undemocratic, ineffective government maintained by a combination of religious awe and martial force" describes more than just the Republic.
posted by FJT at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2015


I'm about to blow your little fanboy minds right now, did you know you cannot hear explosions in space? Sorry I ruined your favorite movies for you
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:24 AM on November 23, 2015


That's an in-cockpit warning system for nearby exploding ships.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I assume everybody knows of Darth Jar Jar.

Oh good I thought it would never get brought up! That there is an FPP for sure.


There's already an FPP on the original Reddit post.
posted by zamboni at 10:54 AM on November 23, 2015


Hmm, I wouldn't say it's silly. Pop culture is continually influenced by what's going on in the world and Star Wars is no exception. Everything written could be attributed to something in the real world. I mean, an "undemocratic, ineffective government maintained by a combination of religious awe and martial force" describes more than just the Republic.

It's definitely fine to point to worldly influences on pop culture, but it is silly when you have to start contorting and misstating facts to establish your argument. In 11th grade, I tee'd off a number of classmates by convincing my history teacher that the Battle of Endor, the Empire versus the Ewoks, or better put, a highly militarized industrial society versus a poorly funded and under technologically equipped force, could be construed as commentary on the US war against the Viet Cong (Got an A!).

If you look at the discussions in the Fanfare topics on the Prequels, people bring up these points and far more convincingly than the author here. Revenge of the Sith is ripe for comparison and so on. Ultimately, I understand the writer was attempting to tweak the perspective on who was who and what was what, but Jay Allen fails because there's too much effort involved in pushing the subject material to reflect the desired reality.
posted by Atreides at 11:03 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's an in-cockpit warning system for nearby exploding ships.

Yeah, if you really want to argue about sounds in space, this has always been a reasonable explanation to me. Binaural hearing is really helpful for proprioception, and if you're designing controls for something that's happening in the silent reaches of space, simulating positional audio cues (like surround-sound for movies) would be a very good way to provide more feedback to the user without adding yet another visual indicator.

(alternately: it's just a movie.)
posted by tocts at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2015


It's definitely fine to point to worldly influences on pop culture, but it is silly when you have to start contorting and misstating facts to establish your argument. In 11th grade, I tee'd off a number of classmates by convincing my history teacher that the Battle of Endor, the Empire versus the Ewoks, or better put, a highly militarized industrial society versus a poorly funded and under technologically equipped force, could be construed as commentary on the US war against the Viet Cong (Got an A!).

Endor as Vietnam isn't contorting and misstating facts. It's such obvious subtext that it's not even sub. You deserved the A.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:05 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nub-nub text
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on November 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's definitely fine to point to worldly influences on pop culture, but it is silly when you have to start contorting and misstating facts to establish your argument.

Yeah, but fan theories are going to always involve a certain massaging of the facts and omission of evidence that is contrary to the point your making. I guess it was more how I interpreted what is meant by "silliness", and that we do agree the exercise of interpreting a story in a different way can be fun and all right.

On a slightly related note, is it surprising that The Rebellion and Empire are two sounds of the same coin? I mean, they both sprung from the Old Republic, and there's a reason that the Old Republic collapsed. In our world, it's very rare for successor governments to completely shed the troubled pasts that caused them to form in the first place. The Confederacy continued on with Jim Crow after all.

(Also, the Empire was human supremacist, but racism just doesn't appear out of nowhere. Not super expert on SW-lore, but doesn't that point to a long history of inter-species discrimination and prejudice, one that The Empire exploited and probably still stays even after The Empire is gone?)
posted by FJT at 11:58 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Also, the Empire was human supremacist, but racism just doesn't appear out of nowhere. Not super expert on SW-lore, but doesn't that point to a long history of inter-species discrimination and prejudice, one that The Empire exploited and probably still stays even after The Empire is gone?)

This human supremacist notion is kind of hinted at as originating on a few human dominated planets, such as the one where Grand Moff Tarkin is from originally. Also, well, if you're Palpatine and you had to deal with the likes of Jar-Jar, I could kind of see an anti-non Human belief forming. But obviously, the planets which form the heart of the Rebel Alliance appear to be inclusionary.

The Old Republic, of which we now only have the films, a scattering of books, and two television shows as our new basis for understanding it, seemed to have collapsed from Lucas' argument from a certain degree of over bureaucratization resulting in a sluggish response to bad players within the system. It was originally viewed by its truest believers as a source of democracy (hence Padme's sober statement,"And this is how democracy dies, to thunderous applause..."). it's real world counterpart would probably would be the United Nations, though one without a security council.

Going back to the original question, it's the disparity between humans and non-humans which causes a primary character in Lost Stars (a book in the new expanded universe) to leave Imperial service. It may also be that humans are kind of the cockroaches of the galaxy, there's so many of them, and they appreciate elevating themselves from that position at the expense of non-humans. In that instance, the Jedi Order sticks out like a sore thumb, it's the model of races working together toward peace and harmony.
posted by Atreides at 1:05 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Empire is human-supremacist because fantasy racism is an easy way to establish a faction/character as evil without having to engage in/depict actual racism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:11 PM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm really having to psych myself up as it is to get through a re-watch of the prequals and the cgi smeared original trilogy as is nerd law before the thing in Dec. This is not helping.

I am one of those people who found it nearly impossible to keep track of the plot during the prequels due to all the insipid bullshit and bad acting, so I found the Phantom Edit to be a useful cliffnotes version. YMMV!

That, and Harmy's Despecialized Edition.


I'm going full core, full CGI bullshit.... on the theory it'll make the new one seem even better.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:59 PM on November 23, 2015


I'm about to blow your little fanboy minds right now, did you know you cannot hear explosions in space? Sorry I ruined your favorite movies for you

That's an in-cockpit warning system for nearby exploding ships.


That was my idea!

No, seriously there is not one single aspect, quirk, 'mistake' etc of this series that won't have some explanation somewhere. And every single background character, not matter how fleetingly seen, will probably have a whole series of Extended Universe books and comics written about them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:01 PM on November 23, 2015


I thought it was canon?
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


No-Prizes for all!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:11 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Wookiepedia article on Vacuum:

A few possible explanations for this exist, some more likely than others:

1 - The sound effects are only for the benefit of those viewing the movie and cannot be heard by the characters.
2 - Enough atmosphere has been released from ships/space stations that space can support sound wave vibrations, but still not life.
3 - Since the stories of Star Wars are told in many cases from a Force-Sensitive perspective, perhaps the ability to "sense" sound vibrations despite vacuum is a component of Force-assisted perception.
4 - It never occurred to anyone while making the Star Wars films that there is no sound in a vacuum, and it is too late to change it now.
5 - There may be speakers in the cockpits to aid in warning the pilots of dangers, such as other ships, or blasters.

posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on November 23, 2015


I'm following the lead of Darth Trump and not letting mere facts get in the way of what I know to be true.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:20 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brilliant troll-lord Supermechagodzilla has been running a years long campaign to convince the something awful forums that the prequels are actually good, which another goon described as a 'difficult but rewarding'.

Man, you're underselling how great this particular enterprise is.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:26 PM on November 23, 2015


Supermechagodzilla is the single finest poster on the forums, whether or not he's sincere.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:28 PM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just reached the end of their posts and am genuinely sad.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:37 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


#1 best prank to pull on new pilots, you change the default sounds in the sound-in-space simulator to clips from old recordings of Senator Binks.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:16 PM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Threads like this are why I genuinely love Metafilter.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:27 PM on November 23, 2015


Meesa gonna hug you all.
posted by Artw at 9:44 PM on November 23, 2015


Why do you hate America, Artw?
posted by Atreides at 8:04 AM on November 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


/comedic pratfall inserted "for the kids".
posted by Artw at 9:10 AM on November 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fingers crossed there's not a full scale thermonuclear war before my booked showing.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:16 AM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great. Jump ahead to seventy years from now. An Indiana Jones like figure descends into a dusty chamber in a half buried building near the ruins of Old San Francisco. The figure pushes his way through tumbled over shelves and small dusty mounds of what appear to be film canisters and hard drives. She pauses, inspecting a particular pile before holding one up to her light. Behind her, her sidekick asks, "What is it? Is it valuable?" The figure responds, "It's the rumored finish cut of Episode VII. The plays you have at your school are based only on spoilers and rumors, no one truly knows how the story went." The War spoken of by their parents and grandparents looms ominously in their minds. The sidekick's eyes widen and he stutters, "Y-y-you mean, the fabled St. Abrams Cut?"
posted by Atreides at 9:57 AM on November 24, 2015


Fingers crossed there's not a full scale thermonuclear war before my booked showing.


It's retro!
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on November 24, 2015


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