This may seem like an odd thing to say, but I’ve always been a huge fan of the Star Wars universe, if not the Star Wars films. I saw all of the first three films when they came out as a kid and, of course, had all the action figures, the ships, the playsets, the comic books, etc.
Frankly, I’ve never thought the films held up as good science fiction except for the singular moment in the first film when Han Solo disses Luke for relying on something as craptacular as the force — “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Still, they were enjoyable space opera. I liked the films in the same way I appreciate the Buster Crabbe “Flash Gordon” serials.
But then Lucas went and totally ruined the films forever for me this week. Everyone’s focused on Episode III’s slap at George W. Bush, but its Lucas’ latest claim that Star Wars is an allegory about Vietnam that really wreck the films for me.
CNN reports that at Cannes, Lucas said,
“In terms of evil, one of the original concepts was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship,” Lucas told a news conference at Cannes, where his final episode had its world premiere.
“The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.
“On the personal level it was how does a good person turn into a bad person, and part of the observation of that is that most bad people think they are good people, they are doing it for the right reasons.”
As Arthur Chrenkoff notes this turns the original films into little more than additional left wing propaganda defending and ideological system that murdered upwards of 100 million people in the 20th century.
Chrenkoff, who grew up in Communist Poland, notes that Star Wars was very popular in Eastern Europe where people simply assumed that Star Wars was a commentary on the evils of Communism, with Vader and the Empire representing the Eastern European dictatorships. But,
Yes, we were very wrong indeed – to you, the Empire was the United States of America, and if that’s the case, then the brave rebels could only be all those people around the world fighting the American Empire – the Castros, Che Guevaras, Ho Chi Minhs, Pol Pots, and by extension, the Brezhnevs and the Mao Tse Tungs of this world. You, of course, live in the Free World, and as such you have the right to believe that your country is the most powerful force for evil operating in the world. But just for the sake of completeness and historical accuracy, can I just mention that whatever the sins of the United States – and I certainly understand well enough that no country is perfect – your rebels, both when fighting for power and when finally in power, ended up being responsible for the death of tens of millions and enslavement of hundreds of millions; the Luke Skywalkers and Han Solos of the last century gave us gulags and re-education camps, terror famines and political prisons; they institutionalized cults of personality, stifled every human freedom and impoverished whole nations.
May I also add that whatever your thoughts about the United States and its supposed descent from a democracy into empire, had the Rebels won, you would have never had a chance to film a critical allegory on your own government. At best, your artistic output would have consisted of short features about the 150% increase in the wheat harvest, and at worst – if you had stayed true to your conscience – you would be dreaming your “Star Wars” trilogy from behind bars.
Over the course of the last three years, the United States and her allies have managed to depose two truly despicable regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and today are trying to bring the gift of freedom and democracy – things that you enjoy every day probably without giving them much thought – to tens of millions of people who have never known them before. You might well think that Anakin Skywalker’s painful transformation into Darth Vader is somehow a perfect analogy for the political journey of George W Bush, but I have a sneaking suspicion that movie fans in Baghdad will have already recognized Darth Vader as one of their own – with a moustache rather than a black helmet. He, too, had two children, although they didn’t turn up quite as cute as Luke and Leia. They names were Uday and Qusay.
To be honest, Lucas’ sudden claims about Vietnam and Bush are the sort of marketing nonsense he’s always done for the Star Wars films — everything after Episode IV was done for the money, not for any grand vision or because he was emulating this or that Kurosawa film. Still, like the main antagonist in Star Wars, Lucas just keeps sinking lower and lower with these explanations until he’s reached the point where he feels comfortable declaring the entire series to be a defense of Communist dictatorship.
Perhaps that’s why he makes films in which detached asceticism is proclaimed to be pure, and love corrupt, debased and the path to darkness. That’s certainly about as condensed a version of Communism as anything else I’ve seen.