Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Premature Star Wars Post [UPDATED]
I haven't, of course, seen Episode 3 yet, but I'm amused by Republican whining that the plot amounts to a political indictment of President Bush. The Star Wars films are notable for their embrace of classic, even ancient, narrative themes of the true hero: sacrifice for others, resisting the temptation of power in favor of humanity, following your true self and calling in the face of an imposed system. As Joseph Campbell said in his interview with Bill Moyers:
Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes? How do you relate to the system so that you are not compulsively serving it? It doesn't help to try to change it to accord with your system of thought. The momentum of history behind it is too great for anything really significant to evolve from that kind of action. The thing to do is learn to live in your period of history as a human being. That's something else, and it can be done...[b]y holding to your own ideals for yourself and, like Luke Skywalker, rejecting the system's impersonal claims on you."
The dark side - like the dark sides of all great narratives of good and evil - values vengeance over love, imposition over understanding, force over diplomacy, victory over honesty, and it falls ultimately of its own hubris, having forsaken its own humanity. If Republicans see their leader in those timeless depictions of evil, George Lucas is hardly to blame. It is the oldest story in the history of the world, and for good reason. If our President has become a caricature on the wrong side of that tale, it is for him to answer.

[UPDATE: Before everyone latches on to the "you're with us or you're with the enemy" line in assigning Lucas present-day political intentions, Matt Yglesias reminds that George Bush didn't exactly make that up.]

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