Forced Away

May the Force leave me the heck alone.

When my wife wanted to watch a movie in the early days of our marriage, she knew better than to ask me for a suggestion. “Star Wars” was a likely first response. She got tired of that, especially since she wasn’t a sci-fi fan in the first place. She hated it less than Star Trek, but I was such a nut about it then that she soon lost any fascination she might have had otherwise.

Now we have come full circle. I am officially tired of Star Wars. There; I said it.

Actually, I still like the original trilogy…mostly. There was a lot to like; I mean, you’ve got a classic coming-of-age story with Luke and his mentor, Obi-Wan…which later includes deception, disillusionment, and maturity (?) and the oft-used “I am your father!” plot twist that no one saw coming. I enjoyed Chewbacca’s frustration with a world not built for his size, and C-3PO’s British humor and timidity to go with R2-D2’s spunky resourcefulness. Han Solo and Leia’s sassy romance was subtle, intense, and relatable in all its stages. The Rebels vs the Empire context, and saving the universe (twice) by blowing up a massive space station, and all the cool, exotic worlds to fight in, including the indigenous creatures and weather, are all the marks of the best stories in any medium. The non-Force characters (good guys) were ennobled when they got caught up in something bigger than themselves. Han learns faithfulness, Lando sticks his neck out, and…um, well, the others are pretty static, I guess. Except Luke. He’s a problem-child.

See, he breaks all the rules of the Jedi code, and gets away with it. Spoiled, impetuous punk. Just like his father…who also broke all the rules, and almost got away with it, then didn’t, then broke more rules, then, finally, destroys the Emperor/Darth Sidious, and…gets redeemed on his deathbed.

Everyone who’s supposed to be a good guy involved with the Force either becomes cruel and twisted from the Dark Side, or becomes stupid and impatient from the Good Side. Think about this: what Jedi ever became more patient, tolerant, and good-humored with age? Obi-Wan? Nope. His relationship with Anakin shows increasing impatience, frustration, and distance. Yoda? Don’t even get me started. The older he got, the worse he became at teaching anyone anything. He became the classic grumpy old man. He knew all the answers, would only do things his own way, and had very few encouraging words for anyone. Anyone else? Nah, they all died from a surprise attack by the forces they were leading against an uprising. Never mind that they have been the guardians of the universe for centuries; never mind that they have done battle with all kinds of evil. No, they just can’t seem to anticipate a political maneuver by Palpatine, or his double identity as a Sith Lord, despite his many apprentices and their disruptive terrorism. None of the Jedi can figure this out, and none of them see the game Palpatine plays with them until it’s too late. (sigh)

Notice, too, how Luke benefits from his Force skills until his time with Yoda. In the attack on the death star, on Hoth in the creature’s cave, and in his practice on the Millenium Falcon, he becomes more patient, more controlled, and more effective from his use of the Force. But after visiting Yoda on Degobah, he becomes cruel in Jabba’s palace, impatient in Cloud City, and confused on the death star as he battles the Emperor. He gets worse, not better, from his experiences…much like his father.

Part of the problem, of course, is that George Lucas had to write his prequels with a specific set of circumstances in mind for the end. But in making the characters fit the story, instead of the other way around, he has made the good Jedi short-sighted, impatient, and bitter as they age. Not a good selling point for the Padawan program, if you ask me. And the Sith become unbeatable, undiscernable, and irresistible until a sudden, unforeseen streak of sentiment at just the right moment causes the poster-child of Sithness to snap and give it all up.

Call me crazy, but I much prefer the rest of those movies: the space battles, the planets, the political issues in the Imperial Navy, the mechanical problems of the Millenium Falcon and the droids, the rescue of the princess (twice), the problem of frozen Han, Luke’s many injuries, and the noble courage of the Rebels. That’s fun to watch. The Force? I can’t figure it out, I can’t believe in it, and I can’t see that it’s even consistent in its own story.

And then come the prequels. Let’s examine the Jedi. Qui-Gon has to be made clumsy to be killed by Darth Maul; Obi-Wan has to be made impatient and frustrated with Anakin; and all the others have to be killed off by surprise because they’re stupid. Again, not a selling point for the Padawan program. And then the writers of all the stories between the prequels have to resurrect Darth Maul…(sigh) My suspension of disbelief has been permanently damaged. To bring back an ugly villain after the hero killed him most decisively is to admit that the story is no longer the goal; making a quick buck is the obvious goal here. I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt for the prequels, but this is too much.

Now my children are memorizing the names of characters from the years between episodes 3 and 4…which don’t need any stories, thanks. And then, there’s all the Legos…

Lego has shown us just how to be the most successful merchandising firm ever. Period. They are the best at what they do. The problem is that, like Star Wars story-lines, they are becoming so ubiquitous in so many story lines as to become annoying, to be avoided rather than sought after. This is dangerous territory; they should learn from the failures of Luke and Anakin. Don’t go messing with a good thing; learn what makes it good, and learn a little balance. Isn’t that what Yoda was always promoting? “ConcenTRAAAAATE!!”

I’ve decided to separate myself and my family from the Star Wars culture. It reminds me of the Death Star’s tractor beam, the Sarlac pit, and the Dark Side itself. So I’m punching in coordinates for a new rendezvous point with the faithful, and kicking in the hyperdrive. I’m blowing this thing so we can go home. And I will make it past the first marker, thank you. See you there.

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