Monday, October 11, 2004


I'm a little late coming to this discussion, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 credits anyway. Jonathan Last (via Matt Yglesias) raises various questions regarding the chronology/timeline of the Star Wars films vis a vis the prequels and the newly released DVDs of the original trilogy.

The issue that most interested me relates to the end of the Jedi order and what became of their legacy in the intervening twenty years between episodes III (Revenge of the Sith) and IV (A New Hope). Last writes:
If Anakin Skywalker is in his early twenties when he becomes Darth Vader, and Star Wars introduces us to a Luke Skywalker who is also in his twenties, that means that (a) When Darth Vader dies, he's only in his forties; and (b) the reign of the evil Empire has been barely 20 years--not nearly long enough for all the drastic changes we're led to believe have happened since the Emperor took over. For example, after only 20 years, would people already be regarding Jedi knights and the Force as "old wizards" who practice a "hokey religion"?

I'm thinking of the classic scene in Episode IV where Bill Kristol (okay, his name is Admiral Motti, but he looks enough like Bill Kristol for me to derive immense pleasure from repeated viewings of the scene) gets uppity with Darth Vader, and Vader corrects him:

MOTTI: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it!

VADER: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

MOTTI: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort...

Suddenly Motti chokes and starts to turn blue under Vader's spell.

VADER: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

TARKIN: Enough of this! Vader, release him!

VADER: As you wish.

Yeah, that's pretty much how meetings go at the American Enterprise Institute, err, on the Death Star.

Personally, I don't find it that hard to believe that the memory of the Jedi had been reduced to a misbelieved rumor within 20 years (of course, I want to believe), I'm assuming that the Empire had complete, or very near-complete, control of the media, and that this would enable them to thoroughly color people's historical perceptions. I mean, look at it this way: a Presidential administration, with the aid of one news channel and a bunch of warbloggers have convinced over half of the American public, against all available evidence, that Saddam Hussein had substantial connections to al Qaeda. Many Americans will go to their graves believing this. Given twenty more years and complete control of the media by the government, who knows what people would believe?

It wouldn't be too hard for Palpatine to propagandize against the Jedi, as I think that the general population of the Republic/Empire would harbor some measure of resentment against them, given that they were basically a natural aristocracy: you either had Force potential or you didn't. If you did, you got a fresh lightsaber and wore robes, and if not you were ass out of luck and had to eke out a living mining tabana gas or smuggling spice or something.

It's also entirely in keeping with the whole Sith modus operandi that the Emperor and Vader would encourage skepticism of the Jedi legacy, even of the very existence of the Force, keeping the extent of their own powers on the very lowdown. It was only in a moment of characteristic impetuousity that Vader openly got his Force on and put the choke on Bill Kristol, I mean Adm. Motti.

I'm not going to get into the other questions that Last raises, interesting though I find them, about the DVDs, but I would just like to add that "Greedo shoots first" is one of the stupidest ideas ever, EVER. Stupider than new Coke, stupider than Vance and Coy Duke, stupider than Newt Gingrich's 1996 RNC speech about beach volleyball. Just stupid.

(Thanks to Rob for letting me know about this discussion.)

1 comment:

Robert Farley said...

Agreed. And agreed.