So I stumbled on this cartoon the other day and it has really been bugging me. As a guy who does communications for some reviled industries, I have always said that every side of every issue has an equal right to tell their story and let the people decide. In many cases, I have found that the industries panned for their services or products are actually staffed by people who truly believe in the quality/value of their work and hate that their industry is seen in a different light.
So when I saw the cartoon, I laughed probably a lot harder than I should have at the depiction of Ben Kenobi as the villain in Star Wars. Then it hit me. This is actually spot on, and the original trilogy of Star Wars is really a grossly inaccurate portrayal of Darth Vader.
Let’s examine the facts just as portrayed in the cartoon, then discuss the rest of the story:
- Ben knew Leia was Luke’s sister, but in that very first meeting in the cave never bothered to say, “Oh, yeah, that’s your sister dude.” As a result, Luke spends two of the three movies chasing his sibling and ends up making out with her.
- Ben also knew he had severly disfigured Luke’s dad, and left him to die on the side of a lave river rather than showing him any kind of compassion and just putting him out of his misery.
- The death of Luke’s aunt and uncle are really not tied to Ben given that they died while Luke and Ben were having this discussion. Could Ben have warned Luke that anyone in possession of these particular droids was probably in danger? Sure. But that’s unlikely to have had much affect.
But now let’s look at the real villains of Star Wars:
- Han Solo is a smuggler, cheats at gambling, welches out on his debts, and OH YEAH, shot first.
- Ben, as mentioned, left Anakin – his protege and friend, to die river side. But there is ample evidence that Ben is a sadistic bastard. In the cantina, Ben could have used his Jedi powers to disarm the guys that start trouble with Luke, but instead he hacks their limbs off. On the Falcon, he seems to take sadistic pleasure in watching Luke get zapped by the orb, which seems a fairly barbaric way to teach the Jedi arts.
- Lando sells out his friends to the Empire.
- Leia is engaged in espionage, sabotage, and is just fairly unpleasant to just about everyone around her. She is condescending and rude most of the time – even to those that have helped her OVER and OVER. She only lightens up in the movie after she gets her comeuppance in the form of servitude to Jabba.
- Luke and Leia together kill Jabba and blow up his barge because he froze the guy that welched on his debts and had to be chased across the galaxy. At no point did they offer to pay Solo’s debts, they just demanded he be released.
- C3P0, it’s widely agreed, is the second most annoying character in movies – behind only Jar Jar Binx.
- Yoda turns his back on the Jedi order and goes into hiding on an inhospitable planet rather than help fix the problem he created by letting Anakin into the order despite his misgivings about him.
The only one of the “heroes” that seems to be a decent soul is R2-D2 and he selflessly gives of himself to save a bunch of people that keep putting him in harm’s way. It’s not entirely clear where Chewbacca falls. His greatest failing seems to be his willing association with a criminal element.
Now compare that rag tag group of misfits to Darth Vader.
Vader, in the first three movies, actually only kills two people in the “rebel alliance” – the captain of the ship that stole his plans (he was simply protecting his intellectual property) and Obi-Wan (who, as mentioned, LEFT HIM TO SUFFER AND DIE on a fiery river bed despite their LONG friendship. Other than that, Vader only kills Imperial soldiers and eventually the Emperor – ending the war.
Other than those two “rebel” deaths, Vader is actually just the father of two kidnapped children, widow to the love of his life, and a guy that eventually brings about galaxy wide peace when he is finally reunited with his long lost son. Even in the prequels, Vader only kills for love. He kills to avenge his mother’s torture and murder. He kills to prevent his true love’s death, and he kills to save the life of the son that has been manipulated into trying to kill his father.
But somehow Vader is the bad guy. You keep telling that story.