Monday, June 06, 2005

I hope the Professor is more forgiving than the Emperor

If Professor Bainbridge doesn't mind, I'll post an e-mail I sent him tonight. He linked to a Galactic Empire apologist. Just like I was with those two Slate writers, I'm rather dismayed with how some people glamorize the Empire yet misunderstand much about Star Wars.

Mr. Hayes has some good thoughts, but I think that ultimately he's selective in his examples. The Empire never aggressed the Ewoks because the Ewoks weren't worth the bother. The Ewoks were no threat, which never stopped conquerors before, but they were a primitive race. As slaves, they'd be useless. They're too small for physical labor (droids are better), and their hunter-gatherer economy is of no use to the mercantilist Empire. (Recall Columbus' first report to Ferdinand and Isabella, where he praised the happy, industrious natives who he said would make good slaves.) On the other hand, the Wookiees are technologically advanced and physically powerful. Perfect slaves.

Of course the Imperial forces on Endor didn't expect trouble from the Ewoks. The Empire reasonably dismissed the Ewoks as no threat, especially if the Empire left them alone. But Mr. Hayes forgets the *real* reason the Imperial forces were there. Remember that Palpatine had orchestrated the entire trap, with "an entire legion" waiting for the Rebels.

Did Mr. Hayes watch a different "Return of the Jedi" than I did? The Ewok that found Leia was very suspicious at first. He eventually helped her, but not before introducing himself via spearpoint.

It's a fantasy that the Empire paid the Ewoks for the base's land, not when the Empire could just take. This is the same Empire whose representative (Vader) threatened to leave a garrison on Cloud City, merely because Lando Calrissian wanted the Empire to fulfill its own part of the agreement.

"they use C3P0's divine status to turn the Ewoks into their own private army" also makes me wonder what edition Mr. Hayes watched. In fact, Han asked C-3PO to "try and get our weapons back," which was hardly the demanding tone that a god could use. C-3PO explained everything to the Ewoks, from the battle of Yavin to Cloud City, functioning as an interpreter, not a deity. The Ewoks were previously unaware of the Empire's evil, only deciding that they'd better stay away, but they appeared to join the Rebels quite willingly.

How is it "trickery and deception" to tell people of a tyrannical empire that has established a base on your world? Remember that Vader, one of the top officials of this "benevolent" Empire, thought nothing of killing the captain of Leia's corvette when he refused to talk. When Moff Jerjerrod begged, "I need more men," Vader suggested he "can find new ways to motivate them" -- which did not sound pleasant. And why does Mr. Hayes forget the most damning evidence against the Empire? In Episode IV, the Empire embarked on a policy of fear and destruction -- via the Death Star -- to keep star systems "in line." This is hardly something that a benevolent Empire does, especially if its subjects love it. The Empire may be at war, but it destroyed Alderaan, a peaceful planet that had no weapons. Even after Leia gave the location of the old Rebel base (trying to avert Alderaan's obliteration), Tarkin ordered the countdown to continue anyway. It was a demonstration of power, because as he boasted, no planet would oppose the Empire now that the Death Star's abilities were proven.

If there's no popular support for the Rebellion, why were the Empire officials (Episode IV) so worried that capturing Leia would foment more sympathy for the Rebellion, at least among the Senate? (To which, of course, Moff Tarkin immediately replied that the Senate was dissolved.) Why, at the end of "Return of the Jedi" (special edition), did an overjoyed crowd topple the emperor's statue?

Mr. Hayes makes a lot of assumptions, including that the Rebels "raid legitimate commerce" to sustain themselves. Also, Mr. Hayes is completely in error when he accuses the Mon Calamari of being a foreign nation. The official Star Wars site explains that the Empire conquered that people, too. So for him to say "We have no data as to the motivations of the Mon Calamari" is not just an assumption, but ignorance.

Also, when Obi-wan used the mind trick against the Imperial storm troopers, it is a matter of perspective that what he did was rebellious or treasonous. Against a corrupt, evil government, can there be such a thing as treason?

There's more to say, and perhaps I'll blog it at a later time.

[rest snipped, giving him the links to my Star Wars blog entries]


Blogger anomdebus said...

How about the most simple explanation: the writers were against the Empire. The writers believed the Empire was evil and made it so.
Beyond that, if we take the story line as given truth, the Emperor precipitated both sides of the conflict and slaughtered each side. Maybe they had capitalism on their side, but at that point it hardly mattered. Those groups were pawns anyway.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005 1:33:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Naturally that's how Lucas created the Star Wars universe, but it's like reading poetry: you must go strictly by the content, not by the author. (This is why I detest deconstructionism.) If we reduce something to "Well that's how it was created," I find it loses its richness and worth.

The Emperor was indeed playing both sides against each other, but that doesn't mean both sides were wrong. The Jedi and two thousand Senators were correct to realize that the war was his way of gradually seizing power in the Republic.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger anomdebus said...

Sorry, I should have closed the circle. Because the Emperor is the Empire, his evil nature is inherent in the Empire.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:16:00 PM  

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