Show Me on the Trilogy-David Pascoe
I love Star Wars (unlike Her BbES Highnessness, who I’m more or less convinced just doesn’t like the competition). It was likely the most formative milieu of my early youth, and remains an easy place to rest my thoughts. My father had, at some point in the misty, murky passages of pre-time, acquired an LP of the Empire soundtrack, and before we had a VHS player, I used to listen to it for hours while trying desperately to get my Legos into the right configuration for an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter. (Couldn’t happen; they didn’t have all the nifty pieces they’ve since created. Back in MY day, we had to put our Legos together barefoot, backwards, both ways, in the snow AND the dark. It was a rough period in my life. Now, of course, I just can’t afford all the sets I deserve. /sigh)
My father introduced me to that long time ago, in that galaxy far, far away at a formative point in my childhood, and I immediately incorporated the mythos into what went on in my head. Space wizards and heart-of-gold smugglers, inhuman (literally) bounty hunters and brooding over it all, the Big Man in his black mask. His first scene, where the stormtroopers breach the door onto the Tantive IV, and he steps through after they’ve slaughtered the rebel scum? Used to make me jump. Every time.
Since then, I’ve learned about Joseph Campbell, and developed a fair sense of story and how to go about putting a universe together for others’ enjoyment, and I’m morally certain that Lucas screwed up a few things. Now, admittedly, many of those only become glaringly, painfully obvious once the two prequels were released in theaters (I’ve heard there was something that came between the original trilogy, and the two others, but I have it on good authority that it’s a poorly done fanfic of a film, and that an otherwise excellent cast did the best they could with what they were given. Which halfway applies to the prequels, as well. It’s knotty). The joke became, “show me on the trilogy where George hurt you,” and it was painful to watch a lot of it. Of course, half of that pain was the Big Bad Guy being a whiny adolescent. Something to look forward to in about a decade and change, when Wee Dave goes to the Dark Side.
But there are some kinda messed up stuff about the Star Wars universe. The Good Guys use the Force to
cloud men’s minds “influence the weak minded,” in the words of one prominent Jedi master. They are an unelected elite, super-powered by reason of an accident of birth, and given the authority to judge their fellow sentients. In one scene, the oligarchy at the top of the Jedi Order actually discuss (and then attempt to implement) what amounts to a military coup. And we’re told these are the good guys.
On the other hand, the Bad Guys are, well, pretty bad. Working to topple a
corrupt and oppressive government that is so weak as to fall prey to the guilds and unions of the hyper-wealthy. The government of a polity so loosely aligned that its internal politics are dominated by a few major players; whose elite work toward their own ends, rather than what will benefit those who owe them allegiance. (Wait a sec, that sounds like American politics…) And it’s not like these Darths are exactly working toward reformation, except in the sense that galactic society will be reformed according to their will.
Murder, intrigue, subversion, all are legitimate tactics in pursuit of their goals. We even get to see an innocent and carefree (*cough* for a slave *cough*) young boy
grow into a whining and petulent adolescent twisted into one of the most recognizable of villains in pop culture through the machinations of a single, powerful Bad Guy. A bad guy who thinks nothing of throwing whole systems into chaos. He manipulates millions to fuel his rise to power. Wars are fought, entire species enslaved, all to put one man on a throne. And eliminate those pesky Jedi, of course.
And there’s messed up, and then there’s messed up. How does the economy of the Old Republic work, actually? There are a few things known about specific corporate entities. Han Solo wields a BlasTech pistol. Crime lords have enormous power, albeit on the outskirts of otherwise “civilized” space. Free traders seem rampant, and the space pirates who prey on them. What about governance? There is, presumably (it’s mentioned a couple of times) an extensive bureaucracy, but the audience never actually sees much of its influence. Obi-wan Kenobi never has to show up to traffic court to explain that midnight chase through the air-lanes of Coruscant. Did he even have a valid driver’s license?
And what about the Empire? Is it a command economy, as seems reasonable from the autocratic and militaristic nature of that particular beast? We have no idea, as such details are missing from the films, and the canon lore is in a constant state of flux (thanks, Disney). How does the Rebel Alliance function, logistically speaking. They seem to have sufficient resources to wage war on a galactic hyper-power. Do they control whole systems? Is there some kind of shadow economy funneling them money through donations to popular charities? Save the Aquatic Gundark, perhaps? Keep Dantooine Green?
Speaking of rebel scum, how are they freedom fighters, instead of terrorists? Dialogue from Episode IV suggests they regularly engage in espionage against military targets. What about the Luke Skywalker guy? Celebrated Hero, or mass murderer? How many lives must have been snuffed out when he destroyed the Peace Star?
There’s a lot to learn from the series of five films, and assorted additional source material. Or at least a lot of speculation possible, which, to be fair, is the more likely. Especially for a writer. Especially for a writer of space opera. I’ll be digging through George’s magnum opus in the coming weeks, and I look forward to your thoughts.