So, what went wrong with Star Wars?
Let me first say that Rouge One was actually a pretty decent movie. But of course that is an offshoot. I’m particularly talking about the main story line of Star Wars movies, from episode 1 up to 7 (for now).
As many of you may know, episodes 4,5 and 6 were made ages before 1,2,3 and especially 7. These constitute the ‘original trilogy’ with Mark (did you know he’s the voice actor for ‘skips’ on regular show?) Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher.
Now I am sure that many of you die hard Star Wars fans walked out of Episode 1 in 1999 thinking………”Really?….”
You may have been leaping uncontrollably for joy in 2015 when ‘The Force Awakens’ came out. Then you went and saw it, possibly queuing up at midnight in your ridiculous Kylo Wren costume. But I’ll bet you a fiver, that when you walked out of it, you were like:
“Hmmm, well it’s definitely better than the prequels…but there’s still something not quite right.” I’ll also, bet you slightly less that the more times you have seen it since, the more that you’ve had to come to terms with the disturbing truth….that it’s just not that great.
By and large, Star Wars has lost something that cannot be put down to mere writing, casting, an over emphasis on special effects or even Jar Jar Binks. (I totally think he’s supreme leader Snoke by the way.)
Not to mix metaphors too much, but like the proverbial Morpheus before your Neo I ask: “Would you like to know what it is?” Ok, I’ll tell you.
In fact I can pin-point the precise moment when the magic of Star Wars died. It is, ironically, in the Jedi temple scene in Star Wars episode one, where there is a committee discussion about whether or not Anakin Skywalker is to be trained or not. This is where the concept of the prophecy of some ‘chosen one’ is brought up and unpacked in more serious detail. But it is in this scene where we realise that there has been a….cosmic…shift in the Star Wars mythology as compared with the original movies. And I quote:
“You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it’s this…boy?“―Mace Windu to Qui-Gon Jinn, referring to Anakin Skywalker
The key word in here that is completely foreign to the heart and soul of the original movies is the word: balance. If you watch the newer movies carefully, you’d be amazed how often this word pops up.
Think about it, the original movies were a struggle between good and evil, only one could win and only one would. The victory of the one would guarantee the destruction of the other. Any idea of a the ‘chosen one’ was bound up in the destruction of evil and that’s where ‘Return of the Jedi’ ends. But now in the ‘Post-modern’ version of star wars, the language of victory got replaced with the language of balance. That is key:
The language of victory got replaced with the language of balance.
Why, because the first trilogy was written in a time when by and large, western society had roughly biblical interpretation of reality. Therefore, like the other great 20th Century western mythology; Lord of the Rings, the overarching task and hence ending was the destruction of evil, centred around an unlikely hero.
Now we have the post-modern version of Star Wars, which is all about balancing the force. In other words; yin and yang. This concept only gains more steam in ‘The Force Awakens’ especially in the bar scene with the old chick with super thick glasses.
The reality is, the biggest problem, the real enemy in Star wars is now….the Force itself. Seriously, if someone just got rid of the force (maybe develop a drug to kill all the midiclorians in people?) the struggle would be over. But as long as the force exists, the entire universe is doomed to eternal struggle.
And that, folks is the way many people view reality. Tim Keller mentions in his book ‘Kings Cross’ “We have arrived at the first point in history where to have a happy ending in any literature is looked down upon as being childish and naive.”
So that is what is wrong with Star Wars. That is the real reason why it is no longer really a satisfying story. (And I’m a Star Wars Fan mind you, I’m even wearing my Star Wars hat as I type this.)
When it comes to good verses evil, in spite of what a plethora of worldviews try to tell us; when it affects them, everyone deep down knows:
It sucks because, it also implies that evil is as eternal as good. That is, the concept of balance guarantees the eternal existence of evil. That is what sucks.
That is what is killing us, mentally, spiritually and emotionally because it is that belief that ultimately extinguishes hope.
Let’s get real; hope can only exist if truth, justice and righteousness ultimately wins. If it doesn’t, if we’re doomed to eternal balance and hope is an illusion. You can already get the sense of how depressing this is when you realise that where we’re heading in Star Wars is a little like where the Matrix movies finished up; some awkward and totally unsatisfying truce between good and evil.
It’s unsatisfying because no one ever says: “Gee, I’m so glad there’s people being slaughtered in Syria, everything was beginning to get a little unevenly rosy for a minute there.” I’m not making light of this, I’m simply unmasking the reality of where the ‘balancing of the moral forces’ ideology takes us.
Now in the post-modern Star Wars, the ‘First Order’ (Empire mk2) actually has just as much right to exist as the Resistance (Rebel Alliance mk2) does. And that is deeply unsatisfying because we all know that’s……..wrong.
This leaves the force itself. It becomes some deistic, impersonal and disinterested spiritual…force that is more than happy leaving everyone to struggle and suffer endlessly.
Funnily enough, that is how many folks in the 21st century west view God. Maybe also why the same company (Disney) that now owns the franchise also produces kids movies with the central message: believe in…yourself.
But I am here to tell you that there’s a new hope (see what I did there?) There is a narrative that these days seems like it really is from another universe because it says that yes, there is a God, but he’s not detached and care-less, but involved and care-ful to the point where he has set about the destruction of evil right before the watching eyes of humanity in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
The best news is God has no interest in bringing balance but rather bringing about a new creation. That is the only source of hope there is.
But what a hope.