krpalmer: (europa)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I've been mulling over a seemingly recurring Star Wars topic for a little while now, and I think I've got my thoughts together enough to make a post about it, for all that I'm slightly worried I'm taking on something too big for me, to result in annoyed responses or just an ambiguous silence... In any case, though, the topic that I've noticed is that every so often, when the discussion turns to "good and evil" and all that, someone will toss out "Yeah, well, Luke blew up the Death Star!", and it seems to me that this is meant to cut the ground out from under him and the "good guys" almost as a whole.

Now, maybe there can be a serious discussion about whether a story resolved by violent means really allows for "good guys" and "bad guys," or whether there's merely one group that will be somewhat less worse to most others once everything is over, and about how people could try harder yet to make stories in which non-violent resistance is noble and exciting... and yet, that discussion would seem to encompass a vastly greater scope than just Star Wars, and perhaps leaves me wondering again if there are those who seem to want Star Wars to be something it's not and complain about it instead of finding something that is what they want, and perhaps even doesn't have to be compared to Star Wars at every moment.

Closing in on specifics, I can wonder if this is rooted in a comment by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence, never for attack." Even then, though, it seems quite possible to argue that Luke was defending those on Yavin against an impending and final attack. To me, it feels like sinking a battleship, not bombing a city... and you can stuff the Death Star full of unknowing crewmen, but it does begin to seem like a hypothetical case. I can wonder if the Force can be interpreted as defining certain acts as intrinsically evil, or if some acts can be powered by anger focused against the target (and some acts may require that anger), anger that will ultimately leave the perpetrator unable to draw on anything else. Of course, at times I do wonder if it could just be argued that this is an example of how badly the Force is out of balance at this point.

(I suppose I've seen this turn up somewhat outside of Star Wars discussion as well, too. Somebody once tossed it out in direct comparison to the scene in The Matrix where Neo and Trinity stylishly gun their way through a lobby full of police officers. I do have to admit that that scene was the one in all three movies that left me ambiguous and perhaps even disturbed when I first saw it, and yet, to use a gruesome term, it seemed somehow "overkill" to bring in Luke using the Force to destroy the Death Star. I found myself instead contemplating Luke, Han, and Chewie shooting their way into the cell bay to rescue Princess Leia... they may well have been as "protected" by the story itself as any protagonists ever are, and yet they seem somewhat more on the level of the guards than Neo and Trinity were in The Matrix at that point.)

Date: 2008-06-29 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matril.livejournal.com
I'm always annoyed when people try to apply moral ambiguity to destroying the Death Star and other such moments in Star Wars; it indicates to me that they're entirely missing the point. From the start we're told that it's the "Evil Empire" and the Rebellion is the good guys. Having a clear-cut view of what is good and what is bad - that's what makes Vader's redemption possible. He had to be bad for his redemption to mean anything. That's where the morality becomes sophisticated, not in imagining the Death Star to be full of innocent civilians.

On a more emotional level, I just find it more repugnant to watch the characters in The Matrix plugging everyone full of holes like a video game, compared to the mild violence in Star Wars. Their blank faces are so lifeless. Like they don't contemplate the morality of what they're doing because they are fundamentally utilitarian, as robotic as the machines they're fighting.

Date: 2008-06-29 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
I once spent a fair while reading the web site of someone who at least played the role of an "Imperial sympathiser" (the site was devoted to arguing "the Empire could beat up on Star Trek's Federation"), and at times it seemed he would discount the opening crawl as "the movies have their own point of view"... but by that time, it seems you're less interested in what anyone can see than in what you've set up inside your own head.

For some reason, I find myself wondering about "blank faces" and whether anyone would try and turn that back with the accusation "indifferent acting/direction!", or whether they'd just say "they're keeping track of the choreography, and maybe the emoting has to wait for the scenes afterwards"... but I can also wonder about looking back at those "scenes afterwards" one day, too.

(And this isn't a direct response to the comment, but one point I realised I'd forgotten to set down was to ask if, just perhaps, Yoda's comment is meant to inspire thought in those he's telling it to than to be interpreted as narrowly as possible.)

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