Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ramble Post on Star Wars

WARNING: This does contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen the latest Star Wars, you do NOT want to read it. If you haven’t seen previous episodes, you also may not want to read this because I’m going to talk freely about all seven episodes.

I think Star Wars is fascinating as a social commentary. Let’s begin with its discussion on government from the first three episodes. The Jedi were numerous and kept the peace across the Galaxy. There were separate from politics, and yet very closely connected. It reminds me of the how the prophet Samuel was connected to King Saul and King David. Both kings were considered highly praised at first, but neither were a prophet. Likewise, Samuel was not the King. Another example would be King Mosiah and the prophet Alma. They were tied closely together, but they were not one in the same. You did not have to be a believer to follow your King, etc.

As the Phantom Menace begins, the Naboo people are suffering because of a blockade from the trade federation. They want to force the Naboo to sign a treaty. However, it must be noted, that this blockade was perfectly legal. These people that have been set up as the bad guys used the law to their advantage. They probably should not have tried to kill two Jedi though. That was a stupid move.

The trade federation tries to take over the planet in an effort to force the queen to sign a treaty, but she escapes. She makes her way to Coruscant to plead her case to the Senate. The problem is that any form of republic or democracy is slow. She needed an immediate answer. Her “friend” Senator Palpatine expresses to her the inefficiency of the Chancellor.  Even though the chancellor is a good man who wants to help, he is limited in what he can do. It appears that he is under the influence of those with money/power. Titles are great, but we often see that money is where the power comes from. In an effort to speed things up, she calls for a vote of no confidence so that a new chancellor, one that isn’t limited, could take his place. However, this move does absolutely nothing to help her. She has effectively voted a good man out of office; but before anything can be done, she realizes that this isn’t a problem that the Senate can help her with. This is a fight she needs to fight on her own.

So she goes back and wins the day. Meanwhile, the first step has been planted to bring about the empire. Can you blame Queen Amidala? Not really. In her eyes, the previous chancellor wasn’t able to do his job. Perhaps, though, you could argue that it wasn’t his job to protect her.

I like Padme Amidala a lot. However, I’ve often wondered when she actually does politics. In the first movie she walks around letting her decoy pretend to be in charge. In the next movie, she has to run and hide to be protected, and Jar Jar takes over for her.

Onward, so then in episode II we see separatists. No one likes separatists. They’re unpredictable. They are essentially stating that they don’t want to follow the rules. Being separatists doesn’t necessarily make you the bad guy. These separatists just had the added benefit of being obedient to the bad guy. And thus we see the perfect formula for war. Chancellor Palpatine was directing the republican movement while simultaneously directing the separatist movement. He had control over both. Everyone was his puppet.

Count Duku told Obi Wan that the Senate was being lead by a sith Lord. The Jedi, however, took his words, which were half true, and decided that they were meant only to bring mistrust amongst the government. I call it half true because Count Duku failed to mention that that same sith Lord was also leading the separatist movement. His words probably were meant to create mistrust, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t true.

With every crisis, the chancellor said that unfortunately he couldn’t do much because he didn’t have the power. So Jar Jar voted emergency power to the chancellor so that they could get an army quickly to battle the separatist group – the same separatist group that the chancellor had set up in order to give himself more power. Palpatine said he would give the power back when the crisis was over, but there was always another crisis. He made sure of that.

Until finally the crisis was in regards to the Jedi. Oh my, the Jedi tried to KILL me, we need to get rid of the Jedi. Let’s set up an empire. Then comes one of my favorite lines from Senator Amidala, “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.” The people don’t see that they are being manipulated, and so they gladly vote away their privileges in order to guarantee their safety. Do we not see the same thing today?

In the next few episodes, we see the tyranny of the empire – sort of. The worst we really see is them blowing up a planet just for fun. Don’t get me wrong, that’s pretty terrible. However, apart from blowing up the planet, everything else we see is one of two things. We see Darth Vader’s anger issues as he keeps killing his own men when they fail him. Then we see them beating up on the rebellion because guess what! The rebellion is beating up on them! I guess what I’m saying is that the empire looks a lot like the bully of the universe, but we don’t necessarily see its perversion. That doesn't mean it wasn't evil, I'm just saying we didn't see much of its evilness.

That brings me to my next point – the storm troopers. In episodes IV through VI, the storm trooper is someone you can always shoot at. They are always bad (except when Luke and Han Solo took their armor and dressed us as them). In Lord of the Rings, you can kill orcs without really wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Orcs are innately evil and you are making the world a better place by killing them. In our society, in our wars, you don’t have that convenience. The evil is never all on one side in our world. Sure, Germany was the aggressor in World War II, but that doesn’t mean that every German was evil. That doesn’t mean every American that fought in that war had a good heart. We will dehumanize people in our minds to make war easier. But humans will always be humans. The storm troopers, on the other hand, are easily dehumanized. You can’t see their faces. You don’t see their eyes. You don’t see who they are. You don’t have to know who they are. They are the evil one’s minions and can be shot down at will.

That is, until we get Finn. When I saw the advertisement for The Force Awakens, I was so excited to see a storm trooper turning sides. These creatures that we’ve dehumanized are becoming human again! Unfortunately, I was wrong. These creatures are programmed from birth, so they remain less than human. It was some sort of malfunction that made Finn human. Still, it’s better than nothing, so I will take it.

I want to contrast Darth Vader and Kylo Ren for a second.  It’s hard to see who is more evil. We saw Darth Vader kill a lot of his men because of his anger issues. On his path to the dark side, he killed a lot of children who would grow up to be Jedi. We can assume Kylo Ren did something similar, but we don’t have that whole story as of yet. However, everyone that Darth Vader killed, you could see some justification. He killed a whole group of sand people because he blamed them for his mother’s death. He had to kill the Jedi to serve his master so that he could save Padme. He didn’t kill Han Solo on Cloud City. He asked that Leia and the wookie be brought to his ship, but he didn’t have them killed, nor did he kill everyone on cloud city.

Kylo Ren, on the other hand, had all the villagers killed when he didn’t get the map to Luke Skywalker. The villagers weren’t necessarily accomplices. His decision to kill them was out of indifference. I guess you could argue that perhaps they knew too much because of this raid and thus he didn’t want word to get out. You could convince me either way. However, before you say that he is more evil than Darth Vader, look at his temper tantrums. Yes, he has similar anger issues as his grandfather did; but he didn’t kill his own men. Yes, the men were terrified to be around him, but we don’t see any of them die of incompetence.

Kylo Ren killed his own father. That’s pretty much a spiritual death sentence. You could argue that Annikan killed Padme, but he states that he felt life in her when he left her. Even though he made the action to kill her, he restrained himself. She died as a result of a broken heart. It’s still his fault, but it’s different than Kylo Ren’s actions. Kylo Ren didn’t kill Han Solo in anger. He killed him in sadness. He didn’t want to do it, but he wanted to want to do it.

We can see that Kylo Ren feels more than just anger. When he sees Finn, he screams in desperation, “traitor!” His emotion there is quite riveting. How could he possibly feel so much betrayal from a single storm trooper? It wasn’t like he had trusted that storm trooper with any special secret. Instead it was almost as though he saw the dark side as a supreme force and anyone who would oppose it after feeling its power must have betrayed that supreme force. To him, Finn is so much more than a minor annoyance of bad programming.

One thing that annoys me about the Jedi is how much they stress to have no emotion. Jedi are supposed to not have any form of attachment. Attachment leads to all sorts of passion. Yoda states, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” In the Book of Mormon, we are told to “bridle all your passions” (Alma 38:12). We don’t need to destroy our emotions, but we should control them. Emotions themselves are neutral. It’s what we do with them that can be good or bad. I was thinking about how recently I have been incredibly frustrated in situations. That frustration led me to take action. If Jedi have no emotion and Sith use their emotion to gain power, where does that put me? Am I on the dark side because I use my anger to do good things?

I never quite understood the emperor’s attempt to turn Luke Skywalker to his side. Even if the emperor was successful in getting Luke to turn to his hate, Luke would never have served the emperor. The emperor was killing all of his friends. “Oh, I hate you so much, now let me serve you.” If anything, Luke would kill the emperor and then turn evil and take his place. Perhaps because of their connection with the force, Jedi and sith think differently than the rest of us. Or maybe the emperor got old and forgot how to effectively tether a servant. Jedi fight. That’s what they do. Fighting a sith Lord is not putting Luke on a path to the dark side. The whole theory is rather ridiculous.

I guess on one hand, the more Luke fought, the more likely he was to being forced to kill his father. If he killed his father in anger, that would put him on a path to the dark side. However, again, that would not make him the emperor’s servant. He is more likely to replace the emperor than to become subservient to him. How does that help the emperor at all?

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts that I've been dying to write down. I know this was long so if you actually read the whole thing, give yourself an Aubry pat on the back.