While I’m on this nerdy Star Wars kick, I want to point out this pretty awesome parody article for the satirical, Galactic Empire Times (a web site apparently created just for this article). Titled, “Obi-Wan Kenobi is Dead, Vader Says”, the piece reads as though the name “Obi Wan Kenobi” is substituted for Osama bin Laden, “Darth Vader” for President Obama, and “the Empire” for the United States, etc.
You really should go read the whole thing (the comments are pretty funny too). It’s a great piece of humor. The particular reason I like it so much is it points to a couple things that are conspicuously absent from movies like Star Wars (note, with these writings about Star Wars, I generally am referring to the original trilogy, not the rather muddled mess that are the prequels).
The first of these absent things is any kind of subjectivity when it comes to discerning the good guys from the bad. It’s all laid out in black and white (well yellow on black, but, ya know) from the rebels’ perspective in the opening crawl of Star Wars Episode IV: The Empire is evil. The good Rebel Alliance seeks to restore freedom to the galaxy. You’ll get no argument from me on those two points of course. But things are rarely so cut-and-dried in the real world; or at least, the cut-and-dried ways in which such situations appear “depend greatly on our own point of view.” One person’s evil Empire is another person’s great protector of peace and stability; Likewise, one person’s revolutionary freedom fighter is another’s traitorous criminal / terrorist.
Of course, there are important distinctions here: e.g., we obviously wouldn’t like the Rebel Alliance so much if they, in fact, engaged in actual acts of terrorism; The Empire is clearly loathsome, in part, because they do in fact engage in acts of terror. But the big point here is that, in reality, such distinctions would probably be blurred by heavy doses of propaganda.
And it’s that propaganda that is the second missing thing. I get that by the time period in Episode IV, the Empire is set on ruling the galaxy with a frightening mechanical iron fist, casually blowing up entire planets just to show everybody they mean business and all. But you’d still think we’d see some kind of ‘winning hearts and minds’, ‘winning the war against rebel terrorism’, ‘war is peace’ propaganda campaigns. Sure, the Empire might have the foot soldier thing covered with an endless supply of clone troopers I guess. But they still need construction workers, desk clerks, spies, and a continually fresh supply of military officers (whom Vader loves to choke to death at the drop of a hat), all willing to put their lives at risk in this conflict for some reason. There must be one hell of an Imperial benefits package at least.