I've recently re-watched Stars Wars Episodes I-III for the first time since seeing them in the theater. While Phantom Menace is still cringe-inducing in parts, I did and still do like Episodes II and III. (Mostly due to young Obi-Wan Kenobi and his awesome lightsaber fights!)
George Lucas, as flawed a filmmaker as he is, was extremely prescient, and I could not help but think about the parallels between the fall of the "Old Republic" and where we are at today in America.
Episodes II and III came out after 9/11, and were probably in part responding to the implementation of the Patriot Act and fomenting of the second Iraq War. It's funny, but at the time, I was very much afraid that George W. Bush would be suspending elections and become dictator for life. Conspiracy theorists have turned their fears about Bush towards Obama, and in retrospect, Bush seems like a harmless presidential version of Roscoe P. Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazzard.
But "Darth Barack," as I might call him, is probably not Darth Sidious. He is not poised to become Emperor. He's more like Count Dooku, the Emperor's patsy who gets his head chopped off when he's no longer useful.
Beyond the somewhat heavy-handed examples of a military false flag being used to take down the Republic, the Star Wars prequels inadvertently show us why it was allowed to happen.
While a lot of people complain about Hayden Christenson in his role as the young Darth Vadar, I've come to believe that the biggest problem in the Star Wars prequels is not Hayden (who, in my feminine eyes, is perfect as the brooding, smoldering, emotional and dense young man who turns to the dark side). Rather, it's the absence of Han Solo and particularly Princess Leia.
Instead of Princess Leia, we get Padmé Amidala, played by Natalie Portman, and while she's beautiful, she does not have the spark and sass of young Carrie Fisher. Natalie Portman spends most of the three movies looking either like a China doll or a deer caught in the headlights.
We're not told why Naboo elected a teenage "queen" to run their entire planet, but let's extrapolate and presume that, despite their fabulous Romanesque architecture and fancy clothing, the people of Naboo are shallow, image-driven people who choose their leaders based on their youth and good looks instead of wisdom. Queen Amidala's replacement looks almost exactly like her, complete with ridiculous make-up and the vacant eyes of a Vogue model.
No wonder the Old Republic fell - if this was how they chose their leaders.
Padmé herself seems to spend most of her time in a haze as if she were on a cocktail of psychotropic medications. Anakin, clearly tortured and filled with pain, tells her all sorts of crazy things, and what does do? She stares blankly and then hugs him.
Anakin: "Honey, I'm home!
Padmé: "That's nice, dear, what did you do today?"
Anakin: "I went to the Sand People and just slaughtered all of them, including the children, like animals. It was really awful, but I kinda liked it!"
Padmé (staring blankly): "Awww. Sounds like you had a bad day." (hug)
Now, it's not that Padmé is completely unaware. For example, when Palpatine finally takes full control of the Senate and the Republic, Padmé utters her famous line: "So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause."
But that's it. She says it while sitting in her chair, leaning forward as if she's watching a football game. Does she stand up and yell: "YOU LIAR!!!" Does she protest? No. She just comments to her friends and meekly goes along with it.
Can you imagine Princess Leia just sitting there docilely while a dictator took the throne? She would have thrown something at him, at least.
When Padmé does take action, such as when she and Anakin went to "rescue" Obi-Wan Kenobi, she runs in without any sort of plan and ends up getting captured. Sure, she can save herself with her magic hairpins, but her daughter, Princess Leia, would have never been that stupid in the first place. (One has to wonder where Leia got her brains from, because Luke Skywalker, the annoying, whiny idiot that he was, clearly took after both his parents).
Is it any wonder then (SPOILER ALERT!) that Padmé ultimately dies not because of Darth Vadar's death hold, but because she just gave up on life?
In this respect, Padmé Amidala is the perfect character, in that she is an extremely poignant example of the lack of fighting spirit among most Americans today.
Whether George Lucas intended to or not (and likely, it was a complete accident), he actually gave us a really good snapshot of how and why liberty fails. It's not just that good people do nothing. It's that good people have become passive, complacent, and reactionary.
And let's not let the Jedi off the hook here - they became soft, arrogant, and too blind to see the truth right in front of them. And when the time came to act, they also barreled in like a bunch of drunken teenagers looking for a fight, instead of actually sitting down to craft a strategy.
Evil has a plan. It actually takes the time to plot out its next moves. It purposefully tries to keep the side of good off-balance and in reactionary mode.
Meanwhile, the people who live in the Republic have gotten soft and comfortable. They are subdued by media, medication, and materialism. Or they are escaping reality through their "death sticks." When confronted with some uncomfortable truths, they go into denial. They become passive and reactionary, instead of bold and proactive.
Of course, there is "A New Hope." By the time the people finally wake up after 20 years of being beaten down by a repressive regime, they've realized they can't stay soft. They can't just sit on the sidelines. And they can't just go in half-cocked all the time. They need a plan. (The plans to the Death Star, that is.) And through careful coordination and commitment, good can triumph.
But it doesn't just happen automatically. Good won't triumph if you just sit there passively and keep your mouth shut while the Emperor takes his throne.
Now, I realize life isn't like Star Wars. We don't have cool Jedi Knights running around having amazing lightsaber duels. However, I'm struck more and more by the defeatism I see among people who are concerned about our liberties. Whether you believe elites are engaging in a full New World Order-style plot to take over the planet, or a more pragmatic belief in simple government corruption and collusion with the "banking cartel," responding like Padmé Amidala is not going to get us anywhere.
Time and again you'll hear discussion about how all the events happening around us are "planned":
- Border immigration crisis - "planned" to overwhelm and take down the system
- Manipulation of metals - "planned" to push individual people out of metals so the elites can take control of them
- Banker bailouts - "planned" to take taxpayer money for the banking cartel
- Iraq crisis - "planned" to create another crisis point to create "order out of chaos"
- Ukraine - "planned" overthrow of government to increase Western hegemony
Etc. etc. But what are the "plans" of the opposition?
I don't see any. What I see is a lot of hand-wringing at best and blank stares at worst.
Is this it? Are we really so helpless that we have to just sit back and watch liberty die (with applause)? Or can we find the plans to the Death Star and fire some fatal shots to turn the tide here?
I can't honestly say I have the answers, but I think a good starting place would be to at least begin to think more strategically. If there's one thing we can learn from movies like Star Wars, it is that evil gets arrogant, and once in power, it makes mistakes. That leaves openings.
Darth Barack, for example, recently backtracked a bit on his talks about amnesty for immigrants. He also completely miscalculated the reaction to the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. The situation in Iraq is actually making people on both sides of the political spectrum unhappy. Whether Darth Barack sends in more troops or drones to the conflict, the region is probably so destabilized at this point as to be beyond the control of the Western elites.
They played their hand a bit too aggressively, and are now reaping the blow-back.
So what now? Well, that's up to you. Right now, you might be acting like the recalcitrant Han Solo at the beginning of "A New Hope," just watching your own back and saying to hell with everyone else. The price of that cynicism, however, is isolation and a lack of purpose. But you, too, can be a hero, if you choose.