Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Revenge of the Stupid

Don Feder unloads all phaser banks on George Lucas and his lefty ideology in his article for FrontPageMagazine.com, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Stupid:

What can you say about a movie whose most engaging character is a two-foot tall, pointy-eared, green alien? "Star War III: The Revenge of the Sith" is heavy on special effects but sparse on drama, romance, and emotion.

It’s also filled with director George Lucas’s muddled thinking. And, yes, it’s science fiction in the service of Michael Moore’s worldview.

[...]

Let us then consider the film’s quasi-spiritual/political overtones.

What the heck is the Force, anyway? A New Agey invisible power "that binds the universe together," we were told way back in 1977. What of a Supreme Being, morality, the eternal battle 'twixt good and evil?

Apparently, ordinary people can’t wield the force (or connect with it – like, say, the God of the Bible?). The Force is the province of an elite (the Jedi or their counterpart, the Sith) who learn to control it – allowing them to bend minds, foretell the future, project a force field and defy gravity.

When Lucas tries to go beyond that, he’s caught in the quicksand of ideas – and quickly sinks below the surface. Apparently, the Force embraces both morality and moral relativism – self-defense and flower-child pacifism.

In his climatic battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin growls: "If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy." To this Obi-Wan sadly replies that "only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes." So the Jedi are relativists, who discern shades of grey where the less enlightened see black and white?

But then, so are the Sith. During his seduction of Skywalker, Chancellor Palpatine says Anakin needs to embrace the Dark Side of the Force, thus rejecting the "narrow, dogmatic" views of the Jedi, whose conception of the "good" is just a point of view.

Only an evil Sith Lord deals in absolutes, meaning there are no absolutes, right? (Is Obi-wan absolutely sure of that?) Then why do Ewan McGregor’s character and the other Jedi knights act as if they were operating in a moral universe – protecting the innocent, trying to stop a power-mad politician from destroying freedom, etc.?

[...]

The politics of "Episode III" could be called "Revenge of the Kerry Crowd." The film is anti-Bush polemic at its dumbest. It’s the war on terrorism viewed through a MoveOn.org lens.

You don’t need the mind powers of a Jedi master to get what’s going on here. Newsweek’s movie reviewer David Ansen trills, "It’s hard not to feel that Lucas’s engagement with the story has a contemporary urgency, as line after pointed line invites us to see a parallel with today’s wartime climate."

The New York Times review by A.O. Scott contains the following: "’Revenge of the Sith’ is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, About how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders At one point, Darth Vader…echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, ‘If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.’" This refers to Bush’s post-9/11 admonition to foreign leaders, "Either you’re with us, or you are with the terrorists." (Only Sith Republicans deal in absolutes.)

"Revenge of the Sith" combines pacifist cliches with leftist paranoia about a conspiracy that uses war to extinguish liberty.

Speaking of the Republic’s struggle with the rebellion, Padme ruefully comments, "This war represents a failure to listen" – the cry of the Dean Democrats. (If only they’d given sanctions a chance. Just imagine what Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors could have done to disarm General Grievous.)

But this begs the question: Listen to whom – about what? What was Osama bin-Laden trying to tell us that we failed to hear? (I want to kill you and annihilate your civilization, in the name of Allah, the most merciful.) What was Hitler trying to tell us? (I want living space. And I’ll kill anyone who gets in my way.) Khrushchev? (We will bury you.)

[...]

Blathering at the Cannes Film Festival (something celebrities do well), Lucas said he conceived the Star Wars saga in the early 1970s, when the Emperor Nixon threatened to extinguish the republic. (Actually, it was the Democrats who used Watergate as an excuse to usurp executive power.)

But, according to its creator, the Star Wars’ message just keeps getting more relevant – honest Jedi.

Lucas discovered that, like hack directors, history repeats itself. Lucas: "It tends to follow a similar patterns. Threats from outside leading to the need for more control; democracy not being able to function properly because of internal squabbling." (Aside: Try to imagine a democratic government without internal squabbling.)

When asked whether there were intentional parallels between the storyline of "Revenge of the Sith" and the Iraq war, Lucas replied" "When I wrote it, Iraq didn’t exist. We were funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction (light sabers? Death Stars?). We were going after Iran. But the parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing in Iraq are unbelievable."

The only "unbelievable" parallels here are that Lucas opposed Vietnam and opposes Iraq. You see, going to war against thugs who are intent on subjugating on us represents "a failure to listen" and results in the death of liberty.

Actually those recurring patterns Lucas discerns are a bit more complicated. American liberty was forged in the fires of war. (Did the Revolutionary War represent a failure to listen to George III and the Tories?) The French Reign of Terror was less a response to a perceived threat from abroad, than a typical ideological attempt to establish utopia by eliminating unassimliable elements.

Nazism wasn’t the Weimar Republic’s reaction to an imagined foreign menace. The violence was internal. If the Republic had dealt with it by applying force against brown and red revolutionaries who were creating chaos in the streets, the Third Reich never would have happened.

The Cold War wasn’t an attempt by wicked anti-communists to use the perception of a foreign threat to diminish liberties. The threat – Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua and Soviet expansionism – was all too real. Over the past century, American freedom (control of our lives, income and property) has receded thanks to the advance of the welfare state – which Lucas and his Hollywood friends adore – and not due to war.


That about nails it right on the head. Star Wars was an amusing franchise when it was treated as traditional "Space Opera" escapism, with no need to draw historical parallels to our own time. As social and/or political commentary, it is as muddled, inane and stupid as they come.

Feder lists most of the major banalities, but one that he misses is the whole idea that Annikin is the "chosen one" who would bring "balance" to the Force. Now, if the Jedi have chosen the "light" side of the Force (although you never hear a Jedi name their side of it, only the other, "dark" side), then why would they want to bring balance to the Force? Wouldn't they want to destroy the dark side, and shift the balance to the light side?

Lucas, through his characters, is displaying the same kind of vacillation between moral dualism and relativism that has characterized the Left. At one moment they make a choice between right and wrong, and fight for their choice. At another moment they disclaim their choices through the language of "balance" and never dealing in "certainties". It is as if they cannot really describe what it is that they believe in or are willing to fight for, rather they blur their ultimate goal away using such comforting abstractions. When faced with a moral abomination like the Taliban, they are unable to either deny its evil, or justify any direct action in bringing about its downfall. They hate war so much that they would find a way to characterize totalitarian states oppressing their own people as being in a state of "peace".

It is fitting that Lucas would end his epic (in episode VI, the Return of the Jedi) not with Luke Skywalker killing Darth Vader, but by appealing to his humanity through an act of weakness and vulnerability. Apparently that is how we should have been dealing with Hitler and Hirohito and Saddam Hussein all along, by crawling up in the fetal position and calling out "father". By acting out in anger, we only feed the dark side of our own natures. I'd love to see George Lucas write an alternate history of the 20th century from his Jedi point of view. I'm sure that we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Hey Skipper said...

None of the Star Wars films rewards anything except shutting off one's brain in favor of absorbing the visual experience.

As a for instance: Anikin can foresee Padme's death, but not have a glimmer of a clue as to the why.

Huh?

I always saw the series as inventing spiritualistic nonsense as an excuse to make money-printing movies.

Until this latest installment--the Left nonsense is both easily palpable, and nearly beyond mockery.

BTW--Lilecks is pretty good on this movie today.

June 09, 2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious? Do you have nothing better to do than stack your political views against prarallels to reality in a ficticious Hollywood movie? Not to mention ruthlessly name-dropping all the dems you hate as if that's supposed to add some sort of credulity to your rant and incite a riot. So now it's the dems fault that Star Wars III was crap? Silly at best, my friend. Ludicrous, even. I do have to agree about the production, though; it was entirely devoid of any theatrical value whatsoever. And if I have to watch another spaceship land at another dock...I'm going to flip out. If there is any parallel you can draw here, it's that the superfluous spaceship dockings represent the way this government (and most others) have always been run: sure it looks nice, but you could have spent all that money hiring a real director / sure, that's a pretty capitol building with gold-plated toilet seats, but the people in the ghetto still can't read...

June 21, 2005 11:22 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Anonymous

I obviously have better things to do, otherwise I'd be posting to my blog more often. I'd much rather not have to dissect the political motives of science fiction films, but Lucas has made it all too clear that he wishes to use his movies as a political vehicle.

If the kids in the ghetto can't read, it hasn't been for lack of Federal dollars.

June 25, 2005 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck it! Size matters not...look at me, do you despise me because I'm stoopid?!

Do or do not, there is no try...

July 06, 2005 12:51 PM  

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