Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Simple Theory about Star Wars Episode VII So Far...

Before I deliver the thesis for this article, I must stress- this is only a theory.

I say that because, like many iconic works that have become synonymous with certain cultures, Star Wars is an institution. Suggesting the alteration of the form of an institution is not often met well.

Star Wars fans in particular have a certain reputation in this regard. Comedian Brian Posehn actually has a really funny bit about how the easiest way to piss off a nerd (like a hardcore Star Wars fan) is to "get their obsession wrong...get the thing that they have wasted their life obsessing over wrong".

In other words, to some human beings on this planet, people walking around right now, probably within walking distance of wherever you're reading this, there are people who have an equally strong emotional reaction to criticism, or ignorance, of a specific movie, book, video game, etc. that most people would have to hearing someone say something profoundly racist or homophobic. I say that, and I am also a Star Wars fan. I point it out because unfortunately there are a lot of people who like what I like and have a tendency to take their fandom too far, and I prefer to distance myself from many of them for that reason.

So, in other words, I know Star Wars fans are easy to piss off. In this case, it may be hard not to piss some of them off, but here I go:

I have a theory...wait for it...

...I have a theory that Luke Skywalker, hero of the series, has turned to the Dark Side of the Force.

Why I believe Luke Skywalker will be a Sith 
in Star Wars: Episode VII

In the trailers that have been released at time of writing, we see a figure implied to be Luke, but we never see his face. We only (supposedly) see him wearing a black cloak, and possibly holding the warped remains of Darth Vader's mask.

Everyone always talks about how Anakin, then Luke, were supposed to "save" the Force by bringing balance to it...could it be that the Sith are necessary somehow? Maybe the Jedi really do need a counterbalance of some kind. Hell, just because there is "Peace" in the galaxy, like in Episode I, doesn't mean that bad people don't use good systems to do bad things.

Emperor Palpatine only seized power because he used a system that stood for Good to trick the Galactic Senate into consenting to becoming a dictatorial Empire. Hell, even Anakin became a Sith because he thought it would be worth it. He was willing to do absolutely anything to save Padme, the woman he loved, from death, even damning his own soul.

As Jesse Pinkman once said, "I made you my bitch."

Anakin didn't become Darth Vader because he desired to dominate the galaxy, he did it out of love. It was a twisted kind of love, but let's think about the rocky development of the poor guy: he was born a slave, left his mother when he was nine, worried about her every day, then returned to find her seconds from death, having been really, really badly tortured by the Sand People. On top of that, he had to deal with the constant pressure of living up to the expectations of Obi-Wan, who was constantly trying to live up to the expectations of his Master, Qui-Gon. You can't have a life like that and come out totally well-adjusted.

He did the best he could with what he had, and it wasn't enough. That's the true tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.

As for Luke, he grew up with foster parents thinking that the Empire killed his biological parents, only to find out later that, not only was his father still alive, but that he was one of the worst war criminals in the history of the galaxy. He tried desperately to "save" his father after he comes to terms with this revelation, going so far as abandoning the Rebels just before their final assault on the new Death Star so that he could personally try to convince Vader that there was still good in him.

Like Anakin, powerful love for another caused him to make a particularly reckless move, thus playing directly into the Emperor's hands.

He may have had good intentions, but Luke did exactly what the Emperor wanted him to do. He turned himself in, giving the Emperor the chance to have him either converted or killed. It's not like if Vader hadn't intervened at the last second, he would have been able to take the Emperor. Even Mace Windu and Yoda weren't able to take the Emperor.

Luke came really, really close to "giving in to his anger", dealing the final blow to a wounded Darth Vader, thus warping his vulnerable psyche into a power-crazed Sith like Vader. He came to see his father and the Emperor to peacefully win his father over...he ended up chopping his father's goddamn hand off.

Like Father, like Son.

So it's not like Luke has never had any close calls. Now, about the "balancing" aspect of my theory.

Perhaps the Sith are to the Jedi as the Joker is to the Batman. Without someone to test the power of that which is most powerful, corruption and unassailable oppression are inevitable.

Allow me to explain. In one timeline of the DC Comics' universe, Batman kills the Joker. No resurrections, no take-backs, no hitting the reset button. The Joker is dead and he stays dead.

You know what happens? Batman cleans up the streets. Permanently.

Then he establishes himself as an entity more powerful than the police, or the government. Then he goes control-crazy.

He essentially becomes the Bat-Dictator of Gotham City.

With some thing, or some one, as powerful as Batman or the Jedi, one thing is for certain: you need a purpose for that power, or you end up using it on things that you shouldn't.

"This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object...
I think you and I are destined to do this forever."

We know very little about the plot of "The Force Awakens" at time of writing, so maybe there is a reason Luke went Sith. Maybe it was a good reason. Maybe not.

Now, I've heard an interesting counter-argument from a friend of mine. He, like me, is a lifelong Star Wars fan, and he says that without the Sith, the Jedi would not necessarily become corrupt. He argued that the Jedi are peacekeepers and advisers only, and lacking an enemy wouldn't necessarily lead to corruption.

He also says that the people making the new movie can't betray the Star Wars formula, because in his words, "Star Wars works because it's simple...good and bad, black and white." It's not a deep story, it's a simple, satisfying, "Popcorn" movie.

With all due respect to my friend (the man is working on a PhD, after all), I don't buy that argument for a fifth of a pulsar. First of all, in Episodes I-III, the Jedi were used as soldiers. Call it what you will, that epic fight scene in that arena on Geonosis was a Spec-Ops rescue operation, not a fucking Peacekeeping mission.

Jedi led clone troopers into battle personally. Obi-Wan Kenobi was called General Kenobi by the third movie. All of this happened, exactly according to Darth Sideous's long-term plan to gain enormous political and military power, then use it to destroy his potential rivals (the Separatists and the Jedi), without allowing his true identity as a Sith Lord slip into the wrong hands.

So the Jedi can't be corrupted because they're strictly peacekeepers? Maybe so.

Except that the movies already showed that even the noble Jedi can be first repurposing them as soldiers.

Also, remember this guy?

All accounts, even those from Yoda himself, say that before he legally changed his name to Darth Tyranus and got himself a banana-shaped red lightsaber, Count Dooku was actually a really good guy. He was a venerated Jedi Master; an idealist, a person who wanted nothing more than peace and justice in the galaxy.

Dooku turned because he saw what no other character in the movies did, until it was too late...he saw the true extent of corruption in the Galactic Senate. He wanted to change things. He wanted it more than anything.

But that's just it...he wanted peace and justice.

"What do you want? Tell me what you want and I will show you how the Dark Side can help you achieve it. Do you want friends? The Dark Side can compel them for you. Lovers? The Dark Side understands passion in a way you never have. Do you want riches- endless life- deep wisdom...?"

-Count Dooku to Jedi Master Yoda

The Dark Side is dangerous because it takes the thing you want most and makes it, figuratively speaking, the honey to your fly. It draws you in, because, well, it works; at least in the short-term.

When speaking to Obi-Wan about Qui-Gon Jinn, whom Dooku trained, Dooku laments the death of their mutual friend, stating that he could use his help with everything he was dealing with at the time. Obi-Wan says that Qui-Gon would never join Dooku. Dooku responds with, "don't be so sure."

"What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a Dark Lord of the Sith?...Hundreds of Senators are now under the control of a Sith Lord called Darth must join me, Obi-Wan, and together, we will destroy the Sith!"

-Count Dooku to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi

Yes, he totally just name-dropped the as of then unknown puppetmaster of the entire Sith plot. He also said that his aim was to destroy the Sith.

He was either trying really hard to make Obi-Wan believe he was still one of the good guys, that he could handle the Dark Side without becoming corrupt...or he was absolutely convinced of his own bullshit. That's what the Dark Side does- it twists and perverts your judgement, even if you're as powerful and wise as Dooku.

Fun fact: you can't spell "Tyranus" without "Anus".

The Jedi Order in its prime consisted of numerous alien races, but most of them were human. The only Jedi that exists now is Luke (supposedly) who is human. You know what's universal about humans? They're flawed. Nobody "decides" to be corrupt. It happens because of A, reasons beyond their locus of control, or B, they think the payoff of doing bad things is greater than the bad things they have to do to get there, when in reality they totally aren't.

I get that the Jedi are supposed to be super mindful, but again, they're human. Even the Buddha probably said and did some fucked up things that never got written down. Plus, let's think about Luke's training...very informal, very rushed, started at an older age than Yoda would have liked because he was basically too old to brainwash. So, even though many Jedi may have been raised to be incorruptible from a very young age, Luke wasn't one of those Jedi.

Actually, while we're on the subject, is it not super creepy that the Jedi Order does that? Takes kids from their families when they're toddlers so they can indoctrinate them? How is an organization, one that steals kids and adopts mental manipulation strategies similar to those of the Nazi party and cigarette companies in the 50's supposed to be an incorruptible nexus of good?

Okay, maybe it works out for the best. Maybe. Maybe it worked out for the families, too. Like, maybe the Order paid them handsomely for selling their kid to a cryptic religious organization.

Luke, though, wasn't a kid when he started training in the swamps of Degobah. He was a full-grown adult.

Remember who else started when they were "too old?"

As for the "it works because it's simple" point, the movie is being handled by auteur filmmaker J.J. Abrams, who is known for taking existing beloved IP's and putting his own spin on them...

...and he's not afraid to take them to dark places.

No, this didn't happen in the original series. Ever.

So the Jedi can't be corrupted because they're not technically soldiers, and they're somehow immune to making mistakes or having poor judgement, and besides all that, J.J. Abrams "just wouldn't do that to Star Wars fans?" Sorry PhD friend, your tricks only work on the weak-minded.

Now, as for why I'm writing this article...

I fully concede that this is speculation, so I don't know for sure that I'm right. I fully concede that this may be wishful thinking, because my favorite kind of story is one with complex characters struggling with morally gray situations.

If I'm wrong, no big deal. I had fun writing this, got some writing practice done. It'll probably inspire very interesting conversations with my friends. It may get circulated throughout the Internet much like the "Mass Effect 3 Indoctrination Theory". It may be read by like, two people and promptly dismissed or forgotten. So no biggie, in the worst case scenario.

If I'm right, I get a bit of personal catharsis.

I always knew Vader was Luke's father. I didn't get to have that thrilling moment of shock at hearing the big, scary Sith Lord say, "No, Luke...I am your father." That's because I watched them out of sequence; first I saw Episode IV, then Episode VI...then Episode V.

If I'm even right about a fraction of the things I've written here, from now until the End I'll get to say, "I fucking called it."