Come for the Luke Skywalker, stay for the Stephen Colbert, and other thoughts on Star Wars…
Hey guys, this is likely to turn into a pretty lengthy tome as I go on, but it’s kind of important stuff if you happen to like Star Wars, so bear with me.
I’ve been thinking about the good old Star Wars galaxy a lot lately. Far more than I had since, oh, around Force Unleashed 2. It probably stemmed from a mix of seeing the new trailer for Episode 7: The Force Awakens and also from being introduced to the Auralnauts parodies by my friend and my brother-in-law for the first time. After seeing the latter, I was reminded how much I really liked a lot of the Prequel Trilogy.[An interjected thought here, for any of you annoying fanboys who think that I’m not a REAL SW enthusiast, because I enjoyed these movies: I’ve forgotten more about the Star Wars Galaxy then most of you likely know. So pull up your pants and GET OFF MY LAWN!]
Ahem. As I was saying, I remembered a lot of things I liked. Like all of the really cool lightsaber battles, or seeing the cityscape of Coruscant sprawling outward, or Naboo. Yes, I fucking like Naboo. I LIKE Captain Panaka. There are a ton of things I liked and still like about the newer movies and I’m not going to list them all. There were some bad things too, but frankly…I’m kind of over being bitchy about some of it. Most of the stuff EVERYONE hated about the Prequels were artistic choices of George Lucas’, which he was damned well entitled to make. He created Star Wars for HIMSELF, just like Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek for HIMself. Neither of them owe you, or me, or anyone else a damned thing and that’s just a fact. You can go on about how Star Wars has affected so many people that it’s no longer his, and I myself have made such points in the past. I was as wrong then as anyone making that excuse is now. Gene Roddenberry told fans where the hell to go at a con when they went after Wesley Crusher too hard. George Lucas just has more self control, or tact. Not sure which.
But I’m getting ahead of myself and going off on tangents that lead to rants I don’t want to go on today. The rant I want to go on today IS about fanboys, but is NOT about defending artists, it’s about calling out the whiners.
I am absolutely SICK of hearing people use the phrase “Ruined my childhood.”
I hear it every single time somebody makes a movie about or involving an established franchise. Smurfs, G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc. It’s bullshit and it’s, frankly, petty. You’re holding an artist or group of artists that created a work responsible for YOUR insecurity and false ownership of a world that you lived in when you were young. By saying that phrase, you prove that, first, you’re kind of a troll, and second, that the subject matter was NEVER really that important to you in the first place. Hence you allowed an outside source to “ruin it” for you.
If you let something as small and silly as Midichlorians take away Luke Skywalker walking out onto that sand skiff plank, saluting R2, jumping off, catching himself on said plank and triple flipping BACK onto said skiff to catch his newly crafted green lightsaber and proceed to kick ass all over the place, well then, you, my friend, are a weak-minded fool.
This scene is one of the most memorable for me. I acted it out thousands of times in my front yard, while my mother was drinking herself into oblivion and my dad was doing fuck-all. It is one of my most treasured memories and I will not allow it to be “ruined’ by anyone. Least of all Jar-Jar Binks…who totally didn’t annoy me as much as he seemed to annoy everyone else! I don’t know why, I guess maybe it was because I was watching a new Star Wars movie, impossibly! Maybe we should simply be grateful that these movies are being made, HMM?!?! Maybe we should be happy and grateful that we HAD Star Wars in the first place, because not everyone did. I mean, can you even imagine a world without it? I find it difficult. I really do. Though, perhaps I lack vision.
That rant has brought me to an epiphany of sorts. It’s one I’ve KINDA had before, but it was much more clear to me now. First and foremost: Luke Skywalker is an INCREDIBLY under-appreciated heroic character. People like to complain about him because he whines. Got news for you: ALL TEENAGERS WHINE. I did, you did, your parents did. It was all just a matter of what we whined about. Luke whined about typical teenager things: Not being able to go away to college when he wanted, his professors AT college expecting too much out of him, Han shooting up the entire joint and attracted all KINDS of unwanted attention. He whined about things most of us can relate to.
Oh yeah, did I mention that his ENTIRE life was simultaneously broadened by Obi-Wan’s revelations that his father was a Jedi Knight, and then sent right into the shitter BY said father? This is where Luke’s relateability starts to break down a bit. Over the course of the trilogy, he goes from being a plucky hero to a tragic savior. The duel at the end of Empire Strikes Back is, as far as I’m concerned, THE most intense lightsaber duel in any of the movies. Luke isn’t fighting his father, here, at least not from his own point of view. He’s fighting the man who killed his father AND his mentor AND indirectly, his Uncle and Aunt. He’s fighting the man that orphaned him thrice, and he’s fighting with everything he’s got and more. He’s not even as well-trained as Obi-Wan was in Phantom Menace. He started his training at what, 19? 20?
Granted, Vader is not 100% himself, but he IS the Chosen One and even though Luke loses the fight, Vader knew damned well he’d been in one. This is when we come to the climactic and soul-shattering revelation: It’s amazing how much we gloss over this part of the story, because everyone sort of just knows, right? But put yourself in Luke’s shoes. If someone you cared about had died and you’d thought the person that killed them was Hitler, only to find out that they had BECOME Hitler, how would YOU take it?
I can’t say myself, but Luke took it on the chin and kept going and here is where we come to the part that gets a bit personal for me: I’ve come to understand, after careful review of movies, shows, and other media that I enjoyed as a child, that I’ve patterned myself at different times in my life after roughly four major fictional characters.
The first, as many already know, is Batman. Then there is Goliath from Gargoyles <— this one is easy to spot in my daily life. Then there is the friendly stranger in Crocodile Dundee. (Yes, I love this movie and when I was in my teens would say hello to EVERY SINGLE PERSON I saw on the way to and from anywhere. This was especially difficult and worrisome in a city like Baltimore, as you can imagine.) Then there is Luke. I wanted to be him, or at least be LIKE him, as I’ve never really not wanted to be myself, just a different version of myself. One with Force Powers.
This actually came out last year in a game of D&D. I was playing with some friends and my wife was DMing. My party was, shall we say, morally-fucking-bankrupt and we were in Freeport, so, I, being a good-aligned Cleric, was a pilgrim in an unholy land. (Oh yeah, we also had a Paladin in the group, figure that out.)
Anyway, at one point we come into direct opposition with the city’s criminal element, as I had purchased a small building that I’d converted into a clinic for the sick and poor, which said criminals burned to the ground. I kind of went to a dark place at this point, but I’d always offered my foes a way out. I told the guy that he could pay for the damages and change his ways, or suffer. Then the sorcerer lit the building on fire and we basically became Super Hero Terrorists after that until the big Elder Thing bad guy was revealed and all was set right…
BUT I realized only today that this is the exact kind of behavior Luke displayed in the beginning of Return of the Jedi! “Nevertheless, I’m taking Captain Solo and his friends. You can either profit by this, or be destroyed. The choice is yours, but I warn you not to underestimate my powers.” <—THIS is way more badass than ANYTHING Mace Windu did, but no one will FUCKING ACKNOWLEDGE IT. He even gives Jabba the out KNOWING he won’t take it, and just sets up a plan where he and like two or three other people COMPLETELY 86 Jabba and his floating social club. Wizard.
I’d actually kind of felt bad about turning that Freeport Mob Boss to stone until I realized I was emulating Luke. Felt better about the whole thing almost immediately. Oh, and another awesome thing Luke did? Built a lightsaber from scratch in a time when lightsaber parts are illegal. No one taught him how, he just found a book at Kenobi’s that had schematics in it. Did I mention that if you don’t align that shit PERFECTLY it explodes?
Which brings me to the lightsaber from the trailer with the cross guard. At first, I was super annoyed for reasons that no fanboy has yet to express… Mostly that it seemed less an innovation in lightsaber design and more a cool-looking prop that would make a fast-selling toy, but we are dealing with Disney here, so I shouldn’t be surprised. As for it being impractical…that hardly matters does it? See, cause the Sith are SUPER into weapons that are scary when in use and just as likely to kill THEM as their Jedi enemies. A double lightsaber is a perfect example of this. In fact, in every description of a double sided lightsaber I’ve ever read it states that a wielder is just as likely to kill themselves as their opponent. If you want to talk about completely crazy weapons that are WAY more trouble than their worth, check out the the Light Whip. Shit is ridiculous. The cross guard on the Sith’s lightsaber in the trailer is likely not meant to be useful, it’s meant to be intimidating, which it is. The Sith are into intimidation. That’s why they use, almost exclusively so, Red Lightsaber Crystals, which have a chance of overloading an opponent’s Lightsaber and causing it to short. The Sith like subtle psychological weapons like these. Then again… having a red lightsaber does not mean the wielder is, in fact, a Sith.
THIS brings me to Mr. Colbert, or Dr. Colbert as it were. Just this evening, I watched a clip of him giving a dressing down to some fanboys about the same subject. Here it is: The Lightsaber Controversy.
I supremely respect his declaration of “amateur hour” being over. His status as a Star Wars fan 2 weeks before anyone else was warms my heart. That is why it is so hard for me to point out the fact that his theories about the lightsaber cross guard are so completely and hopelessly wrong. That is not…that has never been how a lightsaber works. You see, if you were to cut down onto the hilt and damage the emitter, you would break the circuit between to focusing crystal and the emitter lens. If this occurs, one of two things will happen: Either A) The lightsaber will expel ALL of its abundant energy, resulting in a Turbo-Laser like discharge. Or B) The lightsaber will simply explode and if the focusing crystal cracks, then it will be like a grenade going off. We saw this to a lighter degree in Phantom Menace when Obi-Wan sliced Darth Maul’s double saber in half. If it weren’t for the fact that he dropped it right away, Maul would have been eating blast.
So that’s kind all my points for this one guys, sorry it’s a bit disjointed and all over the place, but then again so are my feelings on this subject which I DO care so much about. I have to admit that Colbert’s words stirred something in me. At first I thought it was anger at being called out about not liking the hilted saber, but now I see it for what it truly was at the time.
I had sensed a worthy opponent. I had found an equal in the ways of my passion that I wished to test myself against.
Well Stephen, I have cast the gauntlet.
May the Force be with you all, and as always, have a wonderful day.