The young master prepares for this birthday battle
Let me put it out there right now, I dig Star Wars. As photographic evidence I bring you pics from Gus’ 4th Birthday Party, where we played games such as “Star Wars T-Ball” and “Jedi-Jedi-Sith” (I’ll talk more about that and other birthday party ideas later).
The original three is a grand-but-simple space western that with a few exceptions (ahem, Ewoks, ahem) were tightly told, well acted, and a tremendous amount of fun. I’m not going to go into detail about the prequel trilogy, which I think I liked better than most, but I think Lucas got stuck in many ways between writing a movie for adults that kids would enjoy, and writing a movie for kids that adults would enjoy. The result was a hybrid that didn’t quite work in either regard.
The animated Clone Wars series that started with the movie I mentioned in my Ep. I post is, however, simply kids’ fare, and not very good fare at that. Once Star Wars got off the main path and started delving into details, it really had to go one of two routes—start giving some depth and dimension to its stories, or make all the stories similar backdrops for watching the main characters slice and blast lots of stuff. They chose the latter, which is especially a shame because we already know how the whole thing turns out, so the interest lies in any surprising details.
As someone who enjoys Trek, loves a good crossover, and has worked in the peace community for some years, I was actually hopeful of the Clone Wars episode “Defenders of Peace” which included Star Trek’s original Mr. Sulu, George Takei, as a new villain. The plot has the Jedi stranded on a planet with pacifist inhabitants. The Jedi essentially berate them for being bystanders against evil until some of them decide to help.
It’s a pretty standard story, an easy one to tell. Those who don’t want to fight are just naïve pawns in the face of evil, and eventually they either join with the good guys or get their comeuppance from the baddies. It was standard, boring, jingoistic pabulum. The genocidal weapon in the episode obviously makes for holocaust references, making the “you have to take a side” argument easier to make and the story that much easier to tell.
Blow out the candles, we must!
What if, instead of having the locals decide to fight the bad guys, they fully stuck to their pacifist ways, and the Jedi were forced to flee? Could the Lurmen (that’s the local race) have a different, more long-term view of the concept of freedom or tyranny? Perhaps they’re an ancient race that has seen thousands of outsiders come to their world, and see 1000 years of being under a foreign tyranny, or a liberating democracy to be simply a small link in their chain, and their commitment to peace will outlive the separatists, the republic, the empire, etc.
I’m not saying that this is the right path to take, but exposing kids within the Star Wars world to this novel concept, that some might look at the things we find so absolutely vital in the “now” as simply a small link in a long chain, and the truths we hold so dear like liberty and freedom may not be truths to all would be a radical, interesting, and fascinating way to add depth to the Star Wars universe. Instead, it’s “Y’er with us or Y’er against us!” or as the faux-wisdom tagline of the episode says: “When surrounded by war, one must eventually choose a side.”
I must say it was with some joy the day I pushed the button on the DVR erasing all the Clone Wars episodes, as my boys had simply lost all interest in them, without my prodding.
Drat, already broke my first post’s word limit. Will work on that.