Fictional Politics

Given that it is Saturday night, let’s set aside any more serious discussions and ponder the idiocy that is the political machinations of the Jedi Knights.

As I mentioned at my place earlier today, my two oldest boys are sick and so we took advantage of Cinemax’s Star Wars marathon. Hence, I have had my memory of Episodes I-III refreshed today. All it did was remind me how poorly plotted and poorly written those episodes were.

Here are Some general observations about the stupidity of the Jedi Knights, all of which makes you wonder how in the world that they were able to keep peace in justice in the Old Republic for as long as they did.

So, you are trying to hide he who might be the only hope for the return of Jedi Knights and you let him keep his actual last name and hide him on the planet of his father’s birth with his father’s step-brother?

Yep, that there is strategery.

Of course, Obi-wan isn’t exactly a genius in hiding his own bad self: he wears the same clothes that he did back when he was training Anakin and he adopts the clever alias of “Ben” Kenobi. Certainly that will help keep the Sith confused.

While they did think to change Leia’s last name, was it the smartest move to hide her in the home of a Senator? And what was Bail Organa thinking, letting her become a Senator herself so that she can cavort with Vader himself?

Of course, the Jedi were the guys who took possession of and used an army of clone warriors whose origins were questionable.

Mace Windu was a real brainiac as well. Faced with evidence that Palpatine is a Sith Lord he chooses to confront him by himself. Yup, that’s smart. (Correction: he did take, as has been pointed out, a couple of Jedi with him. Still, I question the wisdom of the move–dealing with a Sith Lord has “Powell Doctrine” written all over it).

Yoda doesn’t comport himself too well either. With the fate of the Republic hanging in the balance he decides to go into exile and allow the Sith to take control after he almost beat Sidious? Brilliant.

Why not muster his forces and take out the Sith before they can take over?

Of course, the honest to gosh truth is that much of the setup in the episodes I-III makes little sense.

The Sith themselves aren’t all that impressive: they never figure out who Leia is until Luke let’s it slight in Jedi. And Vader seems remarkably nonchalant about the fact that Leia dumps the droids on the planet of his birth.

FILED UNDER: Movie Reviews, Popular Culture, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. David Nick says:

    Where were you when Lucas was drafting this?

    It certainly would have been easier to swallow the highly implausible if you’d have been there 😉

  2. Anderson says:

    Mace Windu was a real brainiac as well. Faced with evidence that Palpatine is a Sith Lord he chooses to confront him by himself. Yup, that’s smart.

    Well, actually he took 2 or 3 guys with him (who looked competent enough, in the Clone Wars animated serial), but Sidious killed them so fast, you may have missed it if you were looking into the popcorn bag.

    Otherwise, all correct … tho I wonder if Vader won’t go on Tatooine itself b/c of painful memories?

  3. Now that you say that about Mace, I do remember something to that effect. Today I was tending to the kids, so wasn’t paying 100% attention.

    Still, to me: Sith Lord = go in with massive force.

  4. just me says:

    I know at least Kit Fistu (the guy with the snake hair) was with him, and a couple of others. If my son was awake he could probably name all of them.

    And Mace was actually winning until Anakin showed up and gave Mace a shove.

  5. I watched a few minutes and had to roll my eyes at the idea of a space battle that looked more like an 18th century sea battle with two ships of the line firing broadsides at each other than anything that might really happen in space. heck, even today here on earth most battles are conducted over the horizon.

    And then there’s Greedo firing first. I don’t think I could bear to be lectured again by Mr. Lucas on the evils of smoking.

  6. PT says:

    hy-larious

    I could barely sit through the new flicks the first time through. Blind, the Jedi counsel was. Impossible to swallow, the plot is.

  7. Blind, the Jedi counsel was. Impossible to swallow, the plot is.

    Yup.

  8. Sheila says:

    The biggest problems in the first three episodes are the stiff, wooden lead characters speaking trite dialog. I just don’t care about them, no matter how often they make goo-goo eyes at each other.

    Even when Luke announces enthusiastically to the Princess that “I’m here to rescue you,” he’s kinda charming, not wooden.

    And let’s not start with Jar-Jar.

  9. Alan Kellogg says:

    It fits its genre, boys’ adventure stories. More plot holes than a cemetary.

  10. Stormy70 says:

    Also, the Clone Wars. Why not actually show the war, instead of the endless, crappy politics of the Old Republic. Show the action, not the trite love story between two misdirected actors. I thought Hayden did a good job in Shattered Glass, and Natalie has done well in other films. George Lucas is a bad director.

    The cleansing of the Temple should have been a huge action sequence instead of an afterthought.

    Sheesh. Stupid Lucas.

  11. C.E. Petit says:

    Lemmas:
    * The approximate number of fully utilized brain cells in a humanoid will remain constant, with only minor variation, within that species.
    * Because The Force is directed by the intellect, it resides in the frontal lobes (or equivalent).
    * Brain cells may be devoted to either The Force or The Intellect. That is, brain cells are specialized.

    Conclusion:
    * Increased ability with The Force inherently results in decreased ability with The Intellect.
    * With the exception of one of the six films, the scriptwriters were “strong with The Force.”

  12. Anderson says:

    heck, even today here on earth most battles are conducted over the horizon.

    You can arc a ballistic projectile in gravity, but I’m not sure how you do that with a laser bolt, which, however little we know about it, would seem to be a straight-line kinda thing.

  13. jack says:

    Anderson, not if you slingshot it around a blackhole. Or something like that.

    Does anyone else think that Anakin should have really been a navigator on a spice freighter, sort of like Uncle Owen said in the original? I mean, if the prequels had started with him working on a spice freighter, first of all we get some interesting footage of flying the Kessel Run (with black holes and all, plus the nerdly debates that follow), plus he doesn’t have to be a 9-year-old wooing a “14”-year-old.

    And a trade blockade of some backwater demonocracy (democracy + monarchy) seems like a stupid premise to start with, considering you need to end up with galactic civil war.

  14. Jack:

    Yup.

    It would have been far more interesting for Anakin to have been an adult (and an impressive pilot, as Obi-wan describes him in IV).

    Further, it would have been interesting for the first movies to have started in the middle of Clone Wars with the Jedi seeking new recruits to help them out, hence the recruitment of Anakin.

    Indeed, I would have preferred that the Sith have been an entire anti-Jedi sect and had that been the nexus of the Clone Wars with the war ending in both sides being essentially destroyed, leaving only Yoda, Obi-Wan, Vader and Sidious as wounded remnants of that war, rather than having Yoda essentially conceding defeat after one fight.

    And instead of the Clones being a bunch of Jango Fett’s it would have been far cooler for the Sith to have been trying to clone their own Dark Side enabled clones as a means of taking over the Republic.

    And there has to be a better reason for Anakin to go to the Dark Side aside from the fact that he was a brooding sort who wanted to save his wife from a bad pregnancy.

    I was hoping for a true seduction by power–perhas he thought that he could control the Dark Side and use it to defeat the Sith, yep found that such led to his losing his soul to that power.

  15. just me says:

    I agree that Anakin’s reason for going to the dark side was dumb.

    And it isn’t so much that Lucas is a bad director, he is a crappy screenplay writer. I sometimes think Lucas would have done better with the prequels to have just outlined his ideas and had a real screenwriter or two go to town.

    I know Empire-which is still my favorite of the 6 was directed by somebody other than Lucas, and it showed. I also think Lucas overly relied on computer graphics, sometimes it is nice to see stuff that is real, and not a computer.

  16. Yup.

  17. Kent G. Budge says:

    I think the fundamental problem, aside from sheer directorial and screenwriting inadequacy, is that Lucas decided to create a mythology from whole cloth. He appears to have very superficially examined existing mythology and then gone off on completely bizarre tangents at odds with whatever psychological archetypes underlie real mythology.*

    Whereas Tolkien (for example) was thoroughly steeped in real mythologies and was true to the archetypes in his retelling of The Great Story.

    ————————————————
    *Yes, I’m aware of the seeming oxymoron. If you don’t get what I mean, I probably can’t explain it to you.

  18. Even worse, he didn’t think through his own mythology very well.

    For example, if the “Force is strong in families” yet Jedi are not allowed to marry, doesn’t that create a problem for easily finding more Jedi?

    I think that he ignored that part for a mere plot point that would allow Anakin to have a “forbidden” love affair.

    Additionally, in IV and V the Force is more mystical, and then in I it is about some things living in your bloodstream.

  19. just me says:

    I think that he ignored that part for a mere plot point that would allow Anakin to have a “forbidden” love affair.

    I agree, although there were other ways to create the “forbidden” love affair without resorting to a prohibition on Jedi getting married.

    As a mom I also admit that I can’t imagine just turning my kid over to some guys with lightsabers, because they said he had a high level of some midi things in his blood. Nope as a mom, I am keeping my baby and Jedi be damned.

    Additionally, in IV and V the Force is more mystical, and then in I it is about some things living in your bloodstream.

    I liked it better when it was more mystical-and I can’t help but think some mad scientist somewhere didnt take it upon himself to try to develop synthetic midi whatevers to make a sort of Jedu vaccine. Once again I think there were ways for the Jedi to figure out the kid had the force without the blood test.

    Basically-Lucas a movie technology guru really needed a good screen writer-especially so he could make the cannon consistent.

    And while we are at it, Obi-Wan seemed older in the first trilogy than he would have been if you just aged him from the end of the last prequel. Maybe Lucas can blame it on hermit style desert living.

  20. Good point about Old Obi-wan.

    Time was screwed up in general. Why did it take 18 years between III and IV for the Death Star to be operational, yet they had a new one almost finished by VI after the one in IV was nuked?

    Maybe it was already under construction, but they still seemed able to take up to operational in a hurry.

  21. Anderson says:

    Why did it take 18 years between III and IV for the Death Star to be operational, yet they had a new one almost finished by VI after the one in IV was nuked?

    Because once the Imperial Senate was dissolved in IV, the labor unions went shortly thereafter?

  22. You missed another stupid tactical move: rather than Yoda and Obi-Wan teaming up to take out Sidious and Vader, they split up.

  23. Add that one to the list.

    Indeed, a lot of I-III were simply making sure that all the parts were where they were supposed to be for IV-VI, logic be darned.

  24. ech says:

    A good takedown of the entire Jedi is by sf writer David Brin. He argues that Lucas is a fan of sel-selected elitists.

  25. Matt says:

    I didn’t have Cinemax, so I couldn’t watch the marathon, but I did see that the episodes were available in HD off On Demand. I watched eps 3,4,5 in a row (maybe the best ones in ascending order).

    My girlfriend thought I was crazy for watching these (though she already knows how fanatical I am about the show). I had to then show her that there are people even more committed to Star Wars. When I searched around for Star Wars fan videos, I came across some videos linked to this contest from Ziddio.

    http://www.ziddio.com/contest.zd?dispatch=landing&contest=2

    They’ll probably have tons of crazy submissions.