The Force is my Ally – Why I Love Star Wars
It’s no secret that Geekout South-West is the domain of Trekkies, but I thought it would be cool to come in and bring balance to The Force. Yep, while the good lads here are Trek fans, I’m with the Republic, with Star Wars. Couple of weeks ago I dedicated five days to talking about some of the cooler stuff of the now unofficial Expanded Universe, the collection of media that well, expanded the Star Wars saga.
Now I’m here for something completely different: to talk about why I love Star Wars so much. There are a few reasons, and no, Jar Jar is not one of them. Sorry to disappoint you Binks lovers, all two or three of you!
The first reason is a matter of genre. My favourite genre is Fantasy and Star Wars, while labeled Science Fiction, has always been closer to Fantasy than Sci-Fi to me. Yes, there are elements usually seen in Science Fiction, from starships and lasers to telekinesis and psychic abilities. But there are also ghosts, and mysticism and everything else the Force has going for it that doesn’t fit into the Sci-Fi box. To me, Star Wars is part of what I call the Holy Grail of genres: Sci-Fantasy.
Star Wars is at its best when its writers don’t bother explaining. We all groaned when George Lucas came with the Midichlorians. No one wanted or needed an explanation to the Force and the one he gave was weak. The little symbiotic organisms really don’t explain much and if you look carefully, everybody pretty much ignored them in their works—because they realised how pointless it all was.
But I digress. My point was on the lack of explanations. It’s important for me because it gives Star Wars the freedom to go big and weird. There are insect people, a race of brains in jars, another of Force sensitive and sentient Crystals that need robots to go around. With its species and technology, Star Wars goes to weird places, some not even in the realms of feasibility. Take the Star Forge. Powered by a sun but driven by the Dark Side of the Force. The space station was a malevolent entity in itself that drove its masters to ruin the more they used it. That’s as far as explanations go and that’s fine.
Speaking of malevolent entities, it’s the other thing I love about Star Wars. There’s the Light side and Dark side of the Force but they’re not straightforward black & white. It’s not clear-cut. Sure there are instances in which it is, but most of the time you’re dealing with shades of gray, and more than fifty of them. What makes the Dark Side so interesting and makes the universe so attractive to me is that the fall to the Dark Side isn’t a simple jump down the super-fun-slide of evil, but a gradual process that turns the person into a mockery of everything they once were. Their values shift and become twisted, their affection for those they love becomes possessive. Their trust turns into paranoia. Their desire for closeness, for love, becomes fear of loneliness and in turn hatred for those who have left them. And in their minds it feels so natural they don’t question it. By the time they revel in the Darkness and begin to enjoy the suffering they cause, they’re no longer the people they once were.
But there’s always a way back. Good and evil in the Star Wars universe aren’t set in stone. A person can change from one to the other and then back again. It takes hard work and other people most of the time, but a return to the light or a fall to the darkness can happen any time.
Even the Light Side isn’t simple. Take the Jedi, the guardians of Peace in the Galaxy and the champions of light. Yet, their leaders are a band of hypocrites. Protect life, but no, kill that dangerous guy. We care for everyone, but you can’t fall in love with that one person. We guard the peace…by waving the most destructive personal weapons in the galaxy in your face. We’re neutral in negotiations, unless you’re against The Republic, then we’re taking their side.
Beyond the issues the Jedi have, watching them or reading about them always makes me wonder how much self-control do you need to wave a lightsaber around and not abuse it. It’s the most powerful personal weapon in the galaxy as I’ve just mentioned above, and it can cut through most materials in the universe. One swing and you maim or kill someone. Imagine having that on your hands. Could you resist the urge to use it for personal reasons? Hell, how about The Force? Even a simple Mind-trick can lead to tremendous abuse.
Another reason is how silly and ridiculous the Star Wars universe can be. The base unit for time measurement in Star Wars are millennia. Everything is thousands of years old. The Republic is 25.000 years old, with the same government system. The Jedi have existed for over 35.000 years with only a few reforms. The Rakata Infinite Empire predates the Republic by a ton of thousand more years and the Celestials before them for who knows how long. If you think about it, it’s ludicrous that such things survive for so long, with such a diverse number of cultures and without really changing much, but they do in the Star Wars universe. It’s completely silly but they play it straight and somehow make it work.
Then there’s the Unknown Regions, a simple term to mean, “from here we’ll pull all kinds of crazy stuff that probably makes no sense but is ultimately AWESOME,” such as the Yuuzhan Vong and the True Sith Empire.
Also, The Force. When Star Wars goes really big and weird with The Force, it does so in style. From force powers that kill off entire planets, Sith lords escaping their bodies and jumping to others or staying trapped in structures and even a guy whose hatred keeps him alive no matter how many injuries he receives. The moment in The Force Unleashed when Garen Malek brings down a Star Destroyer with the Force is one of the most spectacular and ludicrous moments in the history of the franchise. But it’s awesome!
Even at its stupidest, Star Wars is just awesome!
Above all though, what I love the most about the Star Wars universe are the characters. From Han and Luke and Chewie to Darman and Niner from Omega Squad, passing by Kyle Katarn and Jaina Solo, the Star Wars universe has so many good characters, all with tremendous depth, with issues and motivations that keep them real and grounded and make them feel as people you could meet for drinks in the local pub. Would you go out for a night with Han Solo? I definitely would! I wouldn’t bring Anakin though…can you imagine how whiny he’d be drunk?