So Love Has Blinded You?

Over the past week I have come to the realization that if I connect with a character in a deep and meaningful way in a Star Wars movie, I become blind to almost all the other flaws within the movie.

I came to this realization primarily with two movies of the Saga:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. The Force Awakens

 

The Phantom Menace

 

With the Phantom Menace, my obsession is with Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon opened up a world to me that didn’t exist prior to the Prequels, and more specifically, the world of the Jedi as a functioning unit/organization.

I loved it. But it was peculiar because I loved Qui-Gon and didn’t care about any of the other Jedi on the Council or within the movie. Obi-Wan generated a shrug and “whatever” attitude from me, but I was obsessed with Qui-Gon.

I think the reason is two-fold: 1) Qui-Gon is a Jedi so therefore he follows some kind of moral compass , but 2) he is not on the council because he does not completely follow the Code and that is deliberate because he marches to the beat of his own drum.

I adored everything Qui-Gon said and did in The Phantom Menace…and I still do. I don’t understand why people dislike TPM because I’m blinded by the fact that Qui-Gon is in the movie and takes the movie to the next level.

There are flaws in TPM though, just like any other movie but there are glaring issues. I never realized this until this weekend when I saw that I have the same predicament with The Force Awakens.

Here are what I believe are the main issues with TPM. Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m only just coming to these realizations this weekend when I tried to take an objective look at the movie.

  1. The characters. If you’re a fan who grew up with the OT, the characters of TPM seem stale, lacking in warmth and connection, and they are not relatable. Whereas with the OT, we can kind of see ourselves in each of the three heroes shoes, with the PT, unless perhaps you followed a political career path, the characters seem less at ease and more distant. And don’t get people started on Jar Jar Binks (though I don’t really mind him but can understand why some people do).
  2. The politics. I have noticed this one before and have written about it. The movie is bogged down in politics to the point that it may become suffocating for some people. There is no simple (or even really linear) plot as everything is shrouded under Trade Federations, senate issues, etc.
  3. Droids. The droids were not as menacing as they should have been. The Destroyers did the job well but the Battle Droids came off comical. Where’s the fear that people had of the Empire? It’s not there in TPM, in fact, other than Darth Maul, there’s no real fear of the Trade Federation.
  4. No greater cause. With the OT, it felt like they Rebels were fighting for something real and a greater cause for the galaxy. In TPM, that essence is missing. There’s no overarching big bad guy to fight.

 

I’m only trying to play devil’s advocate here as many of you know how much I love TPM. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw in theaters and I thought it was amazing. I love that the main character is a child and there are numerous GOOD things about the movie.

But, I also came to realize that when digging deep on why I like TPM it all comes back to Qui-Gon. I blabber on about the Old Republic and the Jedi, but at my core, it’s all about Qui-Gon. He has blinded me to faults within TPM.

 

The Force Awakens

 

I had a very interesting Twitter discussion this weekend with other Star Wars fans. I learned that most hardcore fans are NOT looking forward to the Han Solo movie (this was also slightly confirmed in blog comments from last Friday). On top of that, what I thought was a minority of fans dissatisfied with Disney and the new movies, it’s actually a lot larger and the frustration runs a lot deeper than I had originally assumed.

I know there are people who did not enjoy The Force Awakens and as I was (am) a lot older when I saw TFA vs. TPM, I’m more aware of the issues in present time, instead of finding out years later.

However, I have a similar issue with TFA that I did with TPM: I love Rey. I love her more than I love Qui-Gon. She’s a female character who is relatable, but she can also fight and use the Force. She is strong without falling into a stereotype of a bland, physically strong female protagonist who has no emotion. I loved the character so much that I named my daughter with Rey as her middle name.

People bring to my attention all kinds of flaws with TFA and I have been able to argue or rationalize all the problems. I try to convince people that the movie is actually quite good and they are being bullheaded. But is the movie good? Or is my love for Rey blinding my love for the movie?

Tweeting this weekend with other fans made me take a step back and realize that TFA has some pretty major flaws.

  1. Too similar to A New Hope. This is obvious and even I couldn’t deny this one. The movie practically copies ANH in every way possible, to the point that even my beloved main character comes from a desert planet. Really? Starkiller Base is a bigger, badder Death Star…that gets blown up by the Resistance. Resistance sounds too similar to Rebellion. At least the Empire got a makeover in their name.
  2. Our 3 main heroes never get screen time. If you are going to go to such lengths to copy ANH and pay homage to the movie, why didn’t you give our 3 heroes some screen time together? If everyone survived, we could have maybe hoped for a reunion further down but that has been revoked with Solo’s death and the real death of Carrie Fisher.
  3. Politics…or lack thereof. Whereas TPM delved into politics TOO much, TFA goes in the extreme opposite direction where we have no understanding of the current political climate. At least within ANH we had some mumbles about the Imperial Senate and we understood Empire vs. Rebellion. In TFA there was Republic, a Resistance, and a First Order…but the First Order sounds kind of small? Or is it large? And is the First Order now the opposition group, like the Rebellion was?
  4. Too much convenience. Rey learns to use the Force very quickly. Artoo wakes up at the most convenient time. Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber magically appears at the right moment with no explanation of where it came from. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that you can accept when you see a movie, especially one in the sci-fi category, but TFA leaped and jumped over that line. Perhaps we will get all the explanations later, but if not, this is a glaring problem.

 

I have stood up to people’s complaints about TFA just as I did with TPM, but this weekend, I had to admit and accept that both movies have a lot of flaws. Would I love TPM or TFA as much if Qui-Gon and Rey were not in them? That’s where I bite my lip and think…no, probably not.

Qui-Gon was not in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith and I do not enjoy the movies as much as I enjoy TPM. I actually reallllly don’t like AOTC and I enjoy ROTS but it’s not something I usually pull out to watch at odd times like I do with TPM.

With the future Sequel Movies, I get nervous that they won’t capture Rey’s essence as well as they did in TFA. I worry that there will be no character development or that she will become the Hollywood stereotype of a “strong female character” instead of, well, just, Rey. At least there is hope for The Last Jedi and Episode IX, whereas the Prequels are over and done with.

 

Tell me – have you ever loved a character (any movie, doesn’t have to be Star Wars) so much that it’s blinded you to shortcomings in the movie?

Advertisements

Reflections on the Guest Posts

I am back!  Still a little jetlagged and tired, but overall, I had a great time.  I went to four different places in Australia in two weeks and embarked (and disembarked) on nine different planes.  Though fun, I am exhausted.  This, my friends, is what I believe is the difference between vacation and traveling.  In my eyes, vacation is what I did in May when I went to the Bahamas: I relaxed, read books, went swimming and really had no responsibilities or commitments.  Traveling is what I did this time: I saw as many places as I could, jam packed our days with flights, sightseeing, family visits, driving, and doing as much as possible.

While I was gone, I had two wonderful guest bloggers!  There was supposed to be four, but oh well, two is better than zero.  I want to thank Megan and Null so much for their work on the posts.  Both are fabulous and I appreciate the hard work that you put into writing them.

For the future, if anyone is interested in guest posting, please let me know.  There are really no rules other than it has to be about Star Wars.  As you can see, Null slammed the Jedi even though my blog is often pro-Jedi.

Now that I have had the chance to read through them, I thought I’d give my feedback on both.

 

Facts in Fiction: Conspiracy Theories for Star Wars 

First of all, I love the concept of this post!  It’s so much fun!  I have never really thought about conspiracy theories around Star Wars (this would force me to think outside the box and we all know how I’m not very good at that) but this was a fun way to look at questionable circumstances within the Star Wars universe and create crazy explanations for them.

Theory 1: Jocasta Nu erased Kamino from the archive for Count Dooku.

I actually really like the theory of Nu being in love with Dooku.  And weirdly enough, I am kind of looking at Dooku and Jango’s relationship differently.  So good job to Megan for making me rethink things.

I do agree that this subplot could have been very interesting.  I understand why it wasn’t explored in depth…it would kind of be a tangent in the movie.  But it would have been interesting to explore if Jocasta had deleted Kamino for her own reasons.  I believe Null is correct, that we are supposed to infer that Dooku cut Kamino out, but this is a post on conspiracy theories so anything goes!  What if Jocasta Nu did have a larger role to play in the galaxy?  A small task done for love that ultimately had much larger consequences?

Rawr

Rawr

Theory 2: Luke Skywalker is Obi-Wan’s son, not Anakin’s.

LOL to the fact that Padmé had multiple boyfriends!  I mean, if you watch TCW, it gets even worse so I can somewhat believe this.   I agree with Null that Anakin was really pathetic around Padmé.  I like to blame it on his emotional issues of losing his mother and being thrust into this rigid, chaste monastery of Jedi Knights.  But, no, in the end, I do not think that Luke is Obi-Wan’s son.  I think both twins belong to Anakin because I hope, in the end, Padmé did love Anakin a lot and I would like to believe she remained true to him during the saga.   (Though I agree that she can be kind of personality-less at times)

Theory 3: Qui-Gon faked his own death in order to marry Shmi

I love this theory.  Mainly because I love Qui-Gon so the thought of him still being alive (and happily with Shmi!) warms my heart.  I have a hard time believing Obi-Wan would be pulled into this though…however, it would be hard for Qui-Gon to make it to a bacta tank without him, so maybe he was?  And then for Cliegg to know about Qui-Gon too…?  I dunno.  As much as I love Qui-Gon and want to believe this theory, I find it just a little too far fetched.  He seemed to die a pretty certain death on Naboo and I don’t think he ever got to go back and see Shmi.

I loved reading all the theories and I definitely think theory 1 would be the most plausible of all.

conspiracy theories

Thanks, Megan, for putting this together!  I love fresh looks into the Star Wars universe.

 

On The Jedi Code

Null’s in depth post on the Jedi Code talked about how the Jedi don’t actually follow their code.  Or, worse, their rigid following of the code creates an exclusive society that is detrimental to the good of the galaxy.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Null made good points about the Jedi and their need for controlling power.  I never really thought about the Jedi Archives (what a coinkidink that both my guest bloggers brought it up!) and how the Jedi keep it to themselves.  Perhaps they should give access to the public, but keep certain potions just to themselves?  I’m sure the public was not completely ignorant and I also believe there were probably other libraries within the galaxy.  We meet people from all over the galaxy in the saga and none of them seem very ignorant, excluding Jar Jar Binks.

Interestingly, the second point made under the knowledge header was how the Jedi prohibit understanding the dark side.  I agree completely with Null that they are, in turn, forcing ignorance of the dark side.  There will be Jedi who are curious and will find other ways to get the knowledge.  I have also thought about this before and thought that maybe the Jedi should have had someone like Mad Eye Moody to teach them a class where they were presented with the dark side so they could understand it and fight it better, and would not be tempted later down the road.  Armed with the knowledge of the dark side, they would be better equipped to face their enemies, as Null also mentions.

There is no emotion, there is peace / There is no passion, there is serenity

In my own post on the Jedi Code, I also wrote about how Luke brought about the fall of the Empire with his passion, exactly what the Jedi

Don't turn off your emotions! You may end up choking your wife.

Don’t turn off your emotions! You may end up choking your wife.

Code tried to stamp out.  I did not look at it from Vader’s point of view, and I find that most interesting.  I also like how Null brought up the Sith.  The ultimate Sith, Palpatine, is a perfect example of the lack of emotion that the Jedi try hard to achieve.  In the end, how can you care about the galaxy and not feel passionate or emotional?  The Sith care about no one but themselves, so their lack of emotion is easier to maintain and easier to live by.

But as I wrote last year, I still stand by the fact that I think Yoda mastered his emotions the best out of all the Jedi we see.  I disagree with Null that Yoda showed grief after Order 66.  I read it more as complete shock.  I think the grief was fleeting; I think if he felt grief he would not have been clear headed enough to sense his own clones turning on him.  Similar to Obi-Wan sensing Alderaan blowing to pieces, it hurts him briefly, but it’s more shock than emotion.

 

I must say this is a great post from Null.  I agree with so much of what he said and think that trying to follow this code inadvertently brought about the destruction of the Jedi.  I’m hoping that Null sits down and writes one on the Sith Code for us next!  I’m super interested in that since I know next to nothing on the Sith.

 

Again, thanks to both writers.  Another one of my followers, Icarus, has a guest blog in the works so expect to see that in the near future!

Food For Thought – Darth Vader Style

One of the last Star Wars Insider magazines posed some very thought provoking questions to a few Star Wars authors on whether Darth Vader was a product of his environment or just innately evil. I am not going to list their answers here, (sorry), so you’ll have to pick up the magazine yourself to see their responses, but the questions did make me think.  I decided to post them here with my own answers.

I’d love to know your responses as well, so please feel free to participate!

 

Is Darth Vader really a bad guy or a victim of tragic circumstance?

It’s hard to answer this question because we see Vader when he was younger as Anakin: at times a caring, fearless, loving, loyal person.  But I have to say that I view Darth Vader as a bad person.  There are many people who have tragic circumstances happen to them throughout their life, but they rise above it.  Anakin made decisions that were not the Jedi way…not even the way of a good being with a good moral compass.   Every decision is a choice, and the choices he made through his arrogance and insecurities caused him to be a bad guy.  He definitely had tragic circumstances, I am not denying that; I’m arguing against the word “victim.”  By using that word, it creates Anakin as someone who is blaming external events for his decisions.  And I do not think that is right, which is why I put him under the “bad guy” label.

Anakin choking padme

 

Who is really to blame for the tragedy of Darth Vader?  Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi, or Palpatine?

This is a hard question.  We all know how I feel about the Jedi’s shortcomings, as I went into with my post on the Jedi Code, but I really, really hate when people blame others for their actions.  It’s similar to my response to the above question, blaming your circumstances does not give you an easy out for the actions YOU did because it was YOUR choice.  And it’s the same with this question.  Why blame all these other people?  I definitely think they had a role to play in Anakin’s downfall, but in the end, the choices belonged to Anakin alone.  It is a complicated question, but I feel it really deserves a simple answer.  You are responsible for your own actions, so you are to blame.  Unless someone actually physically took Anakin’s hand and swung the lightsaber to kill others, and it was all against his will, then it is his fault.

The interesting facet to this question is that Obi-Wan and the Jedi (which, really, all that’s left is Yoda) probably blamed themselves for Anakin’s tragedy.  They probably were thinking “If only I had done this…” or “If I only I had listened more…” etc, etc.  But, as Princess Leia says, “He’s got to follow his own path.  No one can choose it for him.”

anakin and palpatine

 

Can he truly be redeemed given the atrocities committed: The murder of younglings, the destruction of Alderaan, torturing Leia, the purge, and his other murderous acts?

I remember very distinctly staying awake until around 2:00am one morning when I was about 12 years old, wondering what would have happened if Darth Vader didn’t die and Luke brought him back to the victorious Rebellion.  It really made me upset because I couldn’t see how it would work. I then imagined Luke having to run off and hide with him on Dagobah or something, but I could never imagine Leia wanting to do that.  I built up all these scenarios trying to figure out a way to make it work out for Luke and Vader, and how Luke would explain it.  In the end I realized there was just no other way out of this situation than to have him die at the end of the trilogy.  It was too complicated otherwise.  And keep in mind this was before AOTC and ROTS were released!

So was he redeemed?  Yes, I believe he was truly redeemed to the light side of the Force through his son, Luke.  Did he regret all his despicable actions?  If given time to actually think about it, probably.  Could he truly be redeemed if he remained alive?  No, I don’t think he would have been.  I think the Rebellion would have executed him pretty fast, no matter what Luke (and maybe Leia) said.

darth vader without mask

 

So…agree or disagree?  Do you have any thoughts on this?

The Jedi Code Absolutes

I’ve always had some strange difficulties understanding the Jedi Code – this weird mantra that we actually never hear uttered in the movies, but somehow most average fans know about it.  Well, maybe that’s not true, but I know I ran into it when I was in middle school so it’s been around for over 10 years.  I’ve been trying to research where it first came about, and Wookiepedia is saying Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson and also the video game Knights of the Old Republic.  If anyone can figure out where this first came about, please let me know. [see update at end of blog post]

My main problem with this code is that it seems to set them up for failure and if we suppose this Code was in place during the Prequels, it definitely put too many limitations on the Jedi as a body.

Here is the entirety of the code as I learned it in middle school, and the one Jedi Code that most people know about (you’ll find a Jedi Code on Wookiepedia that was supposedly established 32 BBY but I’m not acknowledging it):

the jedi code

There is no emotion; there is peace.

Many have argued that the Jedi set this up not to be taken as the Jedi are robots and completely lacking of emotion, but rather that they should not experience strong emotions because strong emotion inhibits rational thinking.  But this code implies that the lack of strong emotion will bring you peace and I think that’s ridiculous.  As you notice in the movies and even The Clone Wars, we see some Jedi struggle to gain this peace that they think they should have.  The only Jedi that mastered it pretty well was Yoda, and he had almost 900 years to reach that level of clear, rational thinking in all situations.  Then again, if he had listened to stronger emotions, or his gut feeling, would he have realized that there was something fishy going on with Palpatine?  And that Palpatine’s constant meetings with Anakin were actually a strategic move he was making to gain control of the galaxy?  The only way to gain peace is to have that contrasting strong emotion because then you know what real peace feels like.

I have always thought that Qui-Gon Jinn has been the “perfect” Jedi.  I say this qui gon obi wan sunset coruscantbecause though he is flawed by Jedi standards, he follows that gut feeling that he has to do what he must, regardless of if the Council agrees.  He consistently defies the Council by following his stronger emotions and in turn, through his actions, we get Luke.  Without Qui-Gon picking up Anakin from the desolate rock of Tatooine and insisting he be trained as a Jedi, we would not have the arching story of Anakin’s demise and in turn his redemption through his son.

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.

I understand this, for the most part.  Constantly learning and evolving as an organization is the only way to stay in synch with each other and understand the galaxy around you.  The problem comes about when you know so much pong krellthat you consider yourself superior to other people/races.  Take a look at Pong Krell (my favorite episode arc of TCW) and the battle he oversaw on Umbara.  His thirst for knowledge made him a formidable Jedi General, so much so that he sought success no matter what.  He refused to listen to his clone troopers and viewed them as dispensable units, so that the troopers were dying in large numbers.  Under Captain Rex, his troops showed that not only were they individuals with the ability to feel and think through problems themselves, they also understood more about the current battle than Krell did.  His thirst for knowledge and success, led to his thirst for power, which in turn led to him turning to the Dark Side.

There is no passion; there is serenity.

I’ve talked about this numerous times in other blog posts, but this is perhaps the most frustrating of all the lines in the Jedi Code.  I believe that this was the downfall of the Jedi Council and the rise of Darth Vader.  Because of their refusal to let Anakin “miss” his mother, it amplified his fear of losing her.  Later, with his love for Padmé burning inside of him, he had to hide his marriage from the Jedi Council.  Rather than acknowledging these feelings and working through them, it is pushed aside under the guise that passion brings a Jedi to recklessness.  In my opinion, it’s a good concept, but horrible in reality.  One of those “easier said than done,” moments.

But passion is essential to the reason for why Luke was able to turn Anakin luke vader rotjback to the Light Side of the Force.  When Obi-Wan and Yoda were telling Luke to destroy Vader, Luke held onto the notion that there was good in him.  His love, or passion, for his father is what tipped the favor once more to the Light Side of the force (or you could say he brought balance to the Force but I now hold that notion in check since I read this Tor article).  The refusal to allow passion caused Anakin to turn to the Dark Side, but Luke’s refusal to accept this rule brought Anakin back to the Light Side.

And a life without passion is not serenity.  It’s boring.

There is no chaos; there is harmony.

First question that rises to my mind: are they referring to inward/emotional chaos or are they talking physical/galactic chaos?  If they are referring to the former, then I’ve already gone into this enough so I won’t barrage you guys again.

If they are talking about chaos within the galaxy, then they are striving for a grand goal, but perhaps they are overreaching a bit.  Sometimes their need to create harmony within the galaxy ended up making them look like the enemies and they were seen as creating more chaos, as was explored in TCW TV series.  The Jedi are seen as guardians of the peace in the galaxy, so this line is understandable.  Also, the more harmony there is in the galaxy, and then I’m sure there is more harmony within the Force, which leads to more harmony within themselves.  Out of all the doctrines in the Code, I find this one to be the best only because I can see the overreaching effects.

There is no death; there is the Force.

This makes sense.  I don’t find much fault with this.  When a Jedi dies, they believe they become one with the Force, so death does not exist.  It’s only aforce ghosts real anakin reunion and as Dumbledore said, “Death is but the next great adventure,” so I feel the Jedi took on the same viewpoint.  Questions only arise when I start thinking too hard about Force ghosts.  According to the Star Wars Encyclopedia, a Force ghost was the “soul and essence of a deceased Force-sensitive who denied the will of the Force upon death, yet was able to interact with the living, albeit not physically.”  You are denying the will of the Force by becoming a Force ghost?  Hmmm, interesting.  A Jedi works with the Force their entire life, why would they all of a sudden decide to go against the grain?  Maybe I’m just too hung up on that once word…

Overall, can you see my frustrations with the Code?  I understand that though they have monk-like attributes, the Jedi were not made to be sitting around on a planet humming and chanting, while they try to find serenity and peace internally.  The problem I have is with the absolutes that are within this code.  When you have absolutes, there are extremes because of the limitations.  When you do not fit into this absolute of “no passion”, “no chaos”, “no ignorance”, etc., then you are setting yourself up for failure.

[Update: I tweeted to Pablo Hidalgo to see if he knew where the first instance of the Jedi Code appears.  He replied telling me that it “first appeared in the first edition RPG rule book by Greg Costikyan, West End Games, 1987.”  Sure enough – he was right.  Page 69.  Amazing how something like the RPG rule book has now made this simple EU Code almost omnipresent in the Star Wars universe.]

January 10th Calendar Fact

This post is clearly written because I’m procrastinating…

I still haven’t written my self review and it’s due tomorrow…I need the motivation I have for writing about Star Wars for my self review.

Every year, I own the 365 day-at-a-time Star Wars calendar.  Last year it was all scenes from the movies, this year, it’s facts from Star Wars.  Most of the facts have been pretty lame, like “Luke Skywalker and other rebels road Tauntauns on the ice planet of Hoth” or around those lines.

Today though, the fact is “If a Jedi ignites his lightsaber, he must be ready to take a life.” –The Jedi Code.  This is the first non-movie based/EU fact they’ve thrown out there.

Took this photo at my desk as proof lol

Took this photo at my desk as proof lol

It’s interesting that this comes up right when I was so curious after writing about last week’s Scene it on Friday.  I have been thinking a lot of about Jedi and never attacking first with their lightsaber.  I also was curious as to whether igniting your lightsaber immediately invites an attack and if so, does it count as an attack?

So of course, I travel to my handy dandy Wookiepedia and I find this fact in there, but guess where it comes from???   The 2013 Star Wars day-at-a-time calendar, so someone must have just added that in today.   This calendar is telling me lies because the rest of the information on the Jedi Code seems to contradict it.

This one section in Wookiepedia says “A sizable number of Jedi, in training, confused the meanings of attack, defense and aggression. Thus Younglings were taught that it was possible for a Jedi to strike without aggression, so long as they acted without recklessness, hatred or anger. A Jedi was permitted to kill in self-defense—only if there was no other option. However, Jedi instructors taught their students that killing, no matter what the circumstances, was not to become commonplace. To conquer aggression, even in combat, a Jedi must have explored every other option, including surrender, before resorting to using lethal force.”

Conclusion: this Star Wars calendar made up a fact in the Jedi Code that I don’t think should be in there.  Stupid thing for me to get worked up about, I know, but really Lucasfilm??  If you are going to make this calendar, please try to be consistent with the EU (or you could argue – even the movies).  There are always deeper meanings one could argue in favor of the calendar Jedi Code quote, but I’m not buying them.

Rant over.

In other news, because I was on the Jedi Code Wookiepedia page, I found out that an exception was made for Ki-Adi-Mundi in terms of marriage and he had several wives!  Why didn’t I find that when I was doing research for my “Love Within the Jedi” post?  I guess he was allowed to marry several of his species because of low birth rate, but he tried to avoid emotional attachment to them.

I really have to write my self review and stop procrastinating.