Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith, part 2

In today's Dallas Morning News critics Philip Wuntch & Chris Vognar are talking about the commercial appeal of Star Wars and bemoaning the talk about breaking money records. Vognar complains that such a focus "is a cancer for serious moviegoing." Why should moviegoing be serious at all? It's only a movie! I'd thought it was only the people who "stood" in line for weeks in advance who had too much time (and money?) on their hands. Now I think the critics do also.

Back to the movie itself. A couple more observations:
1. While fighting and revolution are going on in Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, guess what the populace is doing? As far as we can tell, they're oblivious to the whole thing. The skies are full of constant traffic all the time, before, during, and after. We see no effect whatsoever on the broader culture of the Republic. Do they even have a culture? Do they have books, tv, movies, radio, news organizations? We know the people of Naboo wear fancy clothes. Is that it?
2. Do they have an education system? The Jedi educational system is the only one we see, and that only in glimpses. The Jedi seem to specialize in training for using power - but do they tell stories? Do they have a historical sense? This is one of the weaknesses of the Harry Potter world also. The magical world there is all about learning how to be powerful. Hermione takes some history courses, and a few study Muggles. But where are the humanities? Where do Jedi (and Hogwartians) learn to be human? But no - who needs to be human when power is everything? (Or are humans merely an arbitrary, ever shifting bundle of conflicting willings?)For the Sith, power is for oneself; for the Jedi, power is to do good; in the Harry Potter universe good & evil wizards seek power over each other. Is power all there is? I'm sure the reduction of everything to power was part of the reason for the total societal decay evident in Revenge of the Sith.
3. In the Jedi attachment to detachment and the Sith attachment to power, abstractions rule. Problem is, abstractions don't work over the long haul. Making abstractions is a powerful intellectual tool. But abstractions are idealizations of reality, not reality itself. As followers of Jesus we don't follow an abstraction (however much some might want to reduce Christianity to a set of basic principles) - we follow Jesus, a person.

Update: Mark Byron has a good discussion also.


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