Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Mad Science: On Star Wars & the Nature of Rebellion

The last trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dropped yesterday, and it looks impressive.  Most impressive...

I've not seen the script for the original version of this movie, of course, but I don't think it's overly difficult to see where the rewrites and re-shoots might have occured, and in my humble opinion, they look to be a pretty good piece of last-minute editing.  

The new trailer is most obvious in its case for rebellion.  This is important because there's been a lot of writing out there in the last few years that makes the case for the Empire.  A lot of it is intentionally crackpot, but I still think that Disney needed to address the issue in its storytelling somehow.

Per no less a source than the Washington Post:

Death Star Clipart!
"[O]n one side of the ledger you have a meritocratic force for order and stability led by a more-or-less benevolent dictatorship that seeks to maintain galactic unity, facilitate trade and head off a nasty intergalactic conflict before too many people can die. On the other, you have a band of religious terrorists whose leaders include a drug smuggler in the pocket of slavers and a pair of incestuous twins working to restore a broken republic held hostage by special interests that tolerated its citizens being treated as chattel."

Right.  And this in a day and age in which our own nation is at the vanguard of Western Civilization as it attempts to maintain a generally useful but far from globally egalitarian global status quo against forces that could very easily position themselves analogous to the Rebellion.  

Religious fanatics from a desert planet bent on the unknowable Will of the Force?  Say no more.  This has already gotten too close to home.

Or am I the only one who's read Dune?

What the new movie really needs to do, then, is to re-establish the Empire as a force for Evil, re-legitimizing the Rebellion, and making damn sure that all of this is cast in a light that stays palatable for American audiences for years to come.  How do you do that?

By casting the Rebellion as a force for hope and positive change.  And here we are.

It helps that stories have to make more sense than Real Life.  In Real Life, people make mistakes, bad things happen to good people--often at random--and the truth is usually far more complicated than people want it to be.  Few issues in the Real World are clearly Good and Evil.  In movies, though, motives are important, and Good and Evil are usually pretty easy to suss out.  For example, the Rebellion isn't out there bombing hospitals or causing shitloads of collateral civilian casualties with indiscriminate bombings.  It's the Empire that does that stuff.  The Rebels also don't torture.  Again, the Empire does.  In fact, if there's one over-arching foreign policy theme embedded in all of Star Wars' cannon, it's that the ends never justify the means.  Evil is as evil does.  This is the path to the Dark Side.

America is a nation born of rebellion, and for this reason, I think Star Wars will always have its place in American culture.  We have to keep in mind when and why Rebellion is justified, however, and we have to remember that not all acts of independence have merit.  In looking to the future with hope, I think this new movie is at least trying to strike the right tone, though it remains to be seen how effective it will be in its storytelling.

While we're talking about Star Wars...

Star Wars started as a space-western with decided samurai elements, and with this in mind, either of my potential plots for an Obi Wan Kenobi movie follow essentially western story-points.  They are both variations on the idea of The Man with No Name.

1.  Darth Vader feels a disturbance in the Force and begins to wonder if perhaps his wife or his child are somehow still alive.  He dispatches agents, either bounty hunters or Imperial inquisitors, to pursue his premonitions.  These agents somehow discover the truth, leading Obi Wan on a chase across the galaxy.  The last Jedi must find and kill the Empire's agents before Vader can learn the truth about his son.

2.  After years in the desert, Obi Wan begins to lose faith in the mission that Master Yoda gave him in the aftermath of Order 66.  He meets and falls in love with a young woman, and suddenly a different life emerges before him.  The Jedi are gone, and Luke's uncle will allow "Old Ben" no contact with his supposed charge.  Ben Kenobi is therefore about ready to abandon his lonely crusade when Something Happens, forcing him to again choose exile on Tatooine.

That's all I've got.

Happy Friday!

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