Monday, May 16, 2005

George Lucas, Pundit

There's a new Star Wars movie coming out.

Perhaps you've heard of it.

Apparently it contains a "political message" that is -- surprise! -- "relevant" for our times.
Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times.

Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith" — the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering — to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.

Two lines from the movie especially resonated:

"This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.
Oh, please.

Now, would that be a crusade, or a jihad? The terms aren't really synonymous, though to the mushy thinking of the "all religions threaten me equally, except for fundamentalist Christians who are the WORST" secular leftist, they are identical.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to discern the nuanced differences. But here's a hint: one of them is an eternal, ongoing duty to spread a doctrine by force; the other is a reaction to re-establish the status quo before the jihad ruined everything.

Oops, gave it away there.

Anway. So they're implying the GWOT is just a plot to make Bush an emperor, and our Democracy has died.

"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin — soon to become villain Darth Vader — tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
What is it with these people and their dislike of that line? They seem to quote it with disdain almost as much as the phrase "axis of evil."

Both are accurate statements. Bush was speaking directly to foreign governments. To not cooperate with our efforts is indeed to provide ahaven for terrorist gangs.
"That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush," said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. "Plus, you've got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war."

Though the plot was written years ago, "the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there," Engle said.
Ah, the brilliant Liam Engle speaks!

What's phony about it, Liam? So which is it: are you mentally deficient, or a terrorist sympathizer?

"As you go through history, I didn't think it was going to get quite this close. So it's just one of those recurring things," Lucas said at a Cannes news conference.
Well guess what, George, it hasn't.

Don't quit your day job, George.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm neither, actually ;o)

Liam Engle

5:08 PM, June 02, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

I am absolutely delighted to hear it! :)

But I am still puzzled then by how the Iraq war can be called phony (I'm assuming you're not claiming 9/11 was a CIA or Zionist plot or something).

I can accept that the Emperor's war is phony in Star Wars, but Bush's certainly isn't: even on the narrow question of what his personal motivation might be (as opposed to the actual concrete, larger strategic objectives being served by the war), to dismiss it as phony just repeats second-hand assertions about the reasons for war, and ignores the clearly stated plethora of reasons in a variety of Presidential addresses leading up to it.

Even were one to concede (which I do not) that a Halliburton-led cabal dreamed up this war to line their pockets somehow, vital strategic changes are moving forward.

To dismiss the Iraq war as phony (I presume) due to lack of finding massive stockpiles of WMD (ignoring the tons of enriched uranium we did find and remove, for example -- which doesn't "count", it seems, simply because the IAEA knew about it already), is much like arguing the American Civil War wasn't really about freeing slaves at all, but driven more by political power to preseve the Union, or by economic interests in the industrial North.

Some indeed make that claim. Though the Civil War meant many things to many people, it is undeniable that abolitionists certainly volunteered to fight for the purpose of freeing the slaves; and the concrete effect of the war was indeed to end slavery.

Similarly, there were many other stated reasons that make good sense for the Iraq war.

7:22 PM, June 02, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To know that the Administration clearly lied all along and used the fear of a "phantom menace" it contributed to build (just remember the good old days when Saddam was our "friend") is sufficient to draw a parallel with Palpatine's methods. But you should be debating this with Lucas, not with me ! He's the one who said it ! I just happen to agree with him...


12:02 PM, June 03, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Oh, I see, you aren't using the same definition of the word "lie" as it used to be commonly understood, as in to deliberately tell a known falsehood.

Because there's no evidence the administration ever did that.

And you seem to be taking the "he played on our fears" Gore line. The concerns about Hussein and his documented weapons programs are very real.

And as for the old canard of Hussein as our "friend", I don't understand what conclusion you're trying to draw other than to evoke cheap Schadenfreude -- should we have stayed his "friend", which is again an odd definition of the word you seem to be using, as we were forced to choose between him and Khomeini as our preferred ruler of Iraq's oil -- or should we have removed him, which we finally did now? What's your point? By the way, that we "armed" him is also a myth -- it was the Russians and French by far.

But on one thing you are correct, and that is I should not be debating this with you, as you seem to not understand the meanings of words and are not very well informed, so it's fruitless and I'll waste no more time on it.

10:39 PM, June 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you expect the Administration to ever come out and say "Okay, we lied." ? Until then, no, we probably won't have evidence.

One thing is for sure, they went to war without sufficient evidence... "Get me elected, I'll give you your war". They got it.

But weren't we supposed to be talking about STAR WARS ? Another thing I thought about was a line that sounds like a little reference to our current political climate. "Only a Sith deals in absolutes", says Obi-Wan... reminds me of Bush. "Axis of evil", etc... That good old black and white view of the world.

6:39 AM, June 04, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

Re: STAR WARS -- Yes, that's an excellent suggestion; I'm off to see it today!

P.S. sometimes shades of grey, when viewed closely, resolve themselves into distinct patches of black and white.

11:45 AM, June 04, 2005  

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