Can somebody explain to me what everybody’s fighting for in the Star Wars universe?
In the Prequels, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi visit Tattooine. There they find a world that still has legal slavery, and is run by the Hutts. The argument might be that the world is on the outer rim. However, it’s right next door to Naboo, a world the Republic values. So, Tatooine’s either not as remote as we think, or remoteness is used as a pretense for its lawlessness.
Then let’s also throw in the Trade Federation imposing an embargo on a world with a teen queen as its leader. This is an embargo that could lead to war and countless innocent people dying, and the Republic refusing to act.
We don’t see any genuine wealth or prosperity or, most importantly, philanthropy. Sure, the capital of the Republic, Coruscant, is impressive. However, it’s this uber-metropolis that may be more emblematic of the rich gorging, while the poor struggle.
In Star Wars: Episode II:Attack of the Clones (2002), we see somebody selling “death sticks” in a club on Coruscant. Shortly afterward, Obi-Wan, literally, disarms the assassin Zam Wessell, and the onlookers only display mild curiosity. This is neither a puritanical nor an enlightened locale.
Come the Original Trilogy, the Empire’s now in power. They do one relatively evil thing: blow up Alderaan. But given the Empire is trying to stamp out the rebellion – an insurgency – we can understand why they’d destroy a potential military target, even if it’s not, and it costs lots of innocent lives. How often has that happened in today’s world?
In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Darth Vader mows through a series of military officers who’ve disappointed him. Now, we could consider that evil, or exemplify him for maintaining high standards in an organization that’s becoming progressively slipshod. Given the ineptitude of these officers (and especially at a time stakes are so high), I know which way I’m leaning.
In Return of the Jedi (1983), the Empire builds a shield generator on the Endor moon, oblivious of the natives. This is a subversive move, but typical of rapid expansionism. On the flip side, the Empire doesn’t seem to be annihilating the Ewoks, or displacing them, but just using some of their lands. Presumably, once construction of the Death Star was complete, the Empire would’ve left and the Ewoks could reclaim their moon.
In the Sequel Trilogy, the First Order slaughters a village to try and find the map to Luke Skywalker’s location. We don’t know anything about the people in this village. They look helpless and frightened…or is that exactly what they want us to think? Again, it’s the same context as blowing up Alderaan. This is a village that could be harboring terrorists, and they could know the location of a key antagonist.
Okay, so Luke’s not meant to be an antagonist (although Rian Johnson may suggest otherwise), and the First Order is meant to be the villains. However, it’s really just a matter of one’s perspective. At least the First Order is trying to do something about the Galaxy. Luke exiled himself so he could die.
We can suggest that the Empire/First Order has perpetrated some evil acts. Yet, is it any worse than the Republic (in the Prequels) ignoring the Trade Federation’s embargo, or slavery and crime on Tattooine? Is it any worse than the Republic ignoring the First Order’s abduction and brainwashing of tens of thousands of kids to turn them into stormtroopers?
The TV series doesn’t really clarify any of this. The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett exist during a time the New Republic should be asserting its authority and establishing order, yet crime remains rampant. The galaxy seems a mess during the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but it’s something the Empire inherited. They’re just trying to clean it up.
Everybody’s raving about Andor, but why? We see Luthen Rael and Mon Mothma complaining about the Empire’s oppression, yet they live in opulence and attend affluent parties where people politely mock the Emperor. Oh wow. The horror. The horror.
Sure, the Empire throws Andor into prison for six years after he’s caught walking on the beach – a trumped-up charge. However, don’t we get much of the same nowadays? This is hardly emblematic of a ruthless Empire. Rather, it’s more a sign of an over-zealous magistrate trying to impress higher-ups.
What are people fighting for in this galaxy? Regardless of who’s been in power through ten films and four live-action series, the galaxy is still a cesspool. One of the weaknesses of the true Star Wars movies (the ones made by George Lucas) is that I don’t understand Palpatine’s motivation. He wants to become Emperor. Why? It’s not like he’s ushering in an age of Sith or telemarketing or throwing orgies.
We never understand why he wants power. He’s just absolute, which might make sense for one film (a la the Joker in The Dark Knight), but not when he’s the key antagonist in seven films. Palpatine is certainly not around to clean things up.
We also don’t understand why Snoke wants power in the Sequels. He’s just echoing what Palpatine did, just not as charismatically. Then, when Kylo Ren takes control, he does nothing. He talks about bringing order to the galaxy, but that’s just a cheap political throwaway that echoes Darth Vader’s sales pitch to Luke. Kylo should probably claim he’s going to lower taxes, too.
When the Republic is in power, why don’t they do something about how horrible the galaxy is? Why don’t they do something about the Trade Federation, the slavery, the criminal underworld(s), the death sticks, and the Jedi’s wanton abuse of fashion by popularizing the color brown?
The way various filmmakers have built the Star Wars universe, it’s become this horribly redundant place where, regardless of who is in power, everything remains relatively the same, a few rogue elements aside. This franchise was never meant to be about the redundancy of war, the futility of industry, and the aimlessness of leadership. It’s not a movie about Disney’s handling of franchises, after all.
I would love to see a Star Wars TV series or set of films that show a truly evil government, one that’s strip-mining planet after planet after planet to build Death Stars and fleets, which is conscripting armies to conquer more planets to mine into desolation to build more Death Stars. Or discotheques. No, too evil. But anything that shows me why they need to be ousted.
After loving the Original Trilogy, and feeling so-so about the Prequels (I don’t hate them as much as some and believe they have moments of brilliance), and loathing the Sequels (I hate them more than most, and believe they are only brilliant in how insipid they are), I think all I can really say is that I don’t really care anymore about this galaxy far, far away.
Whatever comes next, I’m sure not much will change.
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