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Does the Empire Have a Specific Ideology?

 
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Does the Empire Have a Specific Ideology?
 PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:12 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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So the recent controversy over the tweets by Rogue One writers comparing the Empire to a "a white supremacist (human) organization" that is being "opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women." Basically a not too subtle link from Rogue One to current politics.

It got me thinking about what ideology the Empire actually has and my conclusion is that I guess I always saw the Empire as having a non-specific ideology. It could be far right fascism or far left totalitarianism. Star Wars should be universal. Just as people of all religious affiliations can find spiritual relevance in Star Wars, people of all political affiliations should find political relevance - if they choose - in the Rebellion's fight against the Empire. We all dislike oppression - even if it's just perceived oppression - regardless of the source and so we all unite against the Empire. When making Star Wars, George Lucas was interested in the ideas that unite humanity across cultures and time and that is, I believe, why Star Wars has found such a large audience and has such an enduring legacy.

It distresses me to see the writers of Rogue One being partisan and using Star Wars as just another means of dividing us when a Star Wars movie should be uniting us. And, heck, Star Wars should also be timeless! The Original Trilogy didn't feel like the 70s and 80s - it felt like a galaxy far, far away, but with universal human truths - and Rogue One shouldn't feel like 2016.

I'm not saying it will. Obviously, this was just a tweet (though the fact that it was written by the writers of the movie makes me a little concerned) and is probably not reflective of the movie. I still remain optimistic about this movie.

Anyway, I guess this turned into a rant. What are your thoughts?
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 PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:35 pm Reply with quote  
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  Mara Jade Skywalker
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Just get out of politics. Get out. Star Wars has always been an escape for me, and now they're trying to make statements relevant to current events? This is so frustrating. I am trying so hard to hold on to what attracted me to this universe in the first place, and it's slipping away.
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 PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:06 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Politics has affected fandom in general. Sad

I see so many people using their fandoms as a soapbox to speak about their political opinions and, while I suppose that's fine in moderation, it's gotten way out of hand. I feel like in the past few years, so many people who used to be pretty apolitical - or were at least pretty silent about their views - have suddenly become vitriolic ideologues. I swear modern fandom cares more about whether or not a movie, TV show, book etc. are or are not pushing a given agenda than about the actual stories themselves. Gone are the days of discussing characters (aside from superficial details like their race, gender, sexuality etc.), themes, plot, special effects, music, cinematography etc. Now it's just "This movie is SJW propaganda!" or "This movie reinforces traditional gender stereotypes!". I feel alienated from my generation for just wanting to experience and talk about stories.

I just unfollowed Mark Hamill on Twitter. I used to enjoy his anecdotes on Star Wars and voice acting, but lately 90% of his tweets have just been about bashing Trump. I just don't want to hear it, and I definitely don't want to hear it when I'm trying to head off to a galaxy far, far away as an escape.

I was so excited for Rogue One and I'm still trying to hold onto my optimism, but now I have a nagging feeling this film is going to get preachy. If it was one of the actors who had tweeted those things, I don't think I would be worrying. The fact that it was the screenwriters concerns me. I want Lucas back. Say what you want about his directing style, he was the heart of Star Wars.

This election has reminded me why I labeled myself a "political agnostic". Kark politics. I follow Obi-Wan Kenobi in saying I'm not brave enough for them.
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 PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:29 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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Episode 1 and the prequels were very much representative of the political climate of the time, which a lot of people found just as annoying then as you do now.

The OT was never really political, but it did go against conventional story telling in some ways. One of the big appeals of SW is that it had heroic women, which made it very inspirational to girls and yes, did defy gender roles. A little less celebrated, but it also had black heroes like Lando and Mace Windu.

In other words "diversity" was always a part of SW. It's really dumb to complain about it. It's just that the promotion of it didn't focus on that and use annoying buzz words. That's really what you are against, but it's a good thing about star wars.

The Empire is clearly a Nazi analogy. Human supremacy and that being a rallying point for the mixed species Rebellion was a part of it, at least in the EU material.
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 PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:24 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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See, the thing that annoys me is that I plugged my ears every time someone said that TFA or later Rogue One was SJW propaganda. I stand by my opinion that the races or genders of characters doesn't matter. I feel like we need to take that stance or every time there's too many white male characters in leading roles people will be crying out "Privilege!" and "Patriarchy!" and on the other hand when there are women or non-white characters in leading roles people will cry out "SJW propaganda!" All of that nonsense makes me want to bang my head against my desk. I don't care if there's an all white Star Wars movie, an all black Star Wars movie, an all Asian Star Wars movie, an all male Star Wars movie, an all female Star Wars movie, or a mix like Rogue One. Plot, characters, action, music, cinematography - that stuff matters to me. The amount of melanin or the type of genitalia the actors playing the characters have is negligible.

That's why I wanted to give Disney et al. the benefit of the doubt. Shut up Alt-Righters - they can cast this movie however they want and all of the actors look fantastic. I didn't want to to believe their anti-white conspiracy theories! But how are the screen writer's attitudes not anti-white? They're basically saying, "Look at us! We wrote a story with white people as our villains!" If they took that attitude with any other race they'd be derided as a racist - and rightfully so.

It annoys me that this crazy obsession over such a superficial thing as race has to carry over into a galaxy far, far away. I liked to think that white supremacy was never a thing there. I didn't mind the anti-alien thing in the EU because it made the subject of racism be present without feeling preachy. Then again, maybe it's just the fact that it's 2016. I'm just so sick of the current political climate and the two shrill political cults we have in the West and I wish I had Star Wars as an escape (i.e. a healthy dose of sanity). And I very well might still. I don't think the screenwriters political views are going to apparent in the movie and, if they aren't, I'll forget all about it.

I'm not sure that the parallels with current events in the Prequels was intentional though. If it was, Lucas went out of his way to hide it. Here's a quote from Lucas:

George Lucas wrote:
I love history, so while the psychological basis of "Star Wars" is mythological, the political and social bases are historical. I like to take things and strip them down, then use the model and build a different story on it. You can put in a motif of Saturday-afternoon serials to make it relevant to kids of today, but the political situation of the Empire and the Republic -- that's a scenario that's been played out thousands of times over the years and that never seems to change much.

I had an interesting discussion when I was doing publicity in Europe for the final "Star Wars" movie. I was sitting around with a dozen reporters, and the Russian correspondents all thought the film was about Russian politics, and the Americans all thought it was about Bush. And I said, "Well, it's really based on Rome. And on the French Revolution and Bonaparte." It's shocking that these things get repeated through history. The same mistakes get made and the tension between democracy and tyranny is always the same. And we haven't figured out any way around it.


Even the Empire, while having clear Nazi influences, also had influences from the Soviet Union, and communism is at the opposite end of the political spectrum compared to fascism. For example, the arrangement of the Imperial troops when Palpatine arrived at the second Death Star was modeled after a May Day Parade in the Soviet Union. (Source: Lucas's commentary on the RotJ DVD). History has shown that both the left and the right, when taken to extremes, lead to tyranny. As someone who generally holds moderate political views, I liked that Lucas kept it vague. Heck, I've heard staunch supporters of the left and the right convinced that Star Wars is a parable told from their perspective. Razz

Star Wars is a universal story that breaks barriers between time and cultures and I don't like seeing it co-opted to a very specific and very current political ideology. Politically, the original six Star Wars films are very pro-democracy, but that's about it.
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Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.


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