“She’s a politician Anakin, they are not to be trusted”
Obi Wan Kenobi
I loved Star Wars as a kid. Still do. As a kid I didn’t really know anything about politics. Guess what though? I intuitively got Star Wars. It was about good and evil. It still is.
Now I have postgraduate qualifications in politics. My work at that time centered on conflict resolution. I can see the politics in Star Wars; but I view it as a sophisticated outworking of good vs evil in a fictional mythologized work.
Over the last year I have become increasingly despondent seeing “real world” political views ascribed to Star Wars. There has occasionally been a very well written piece in this area (mainly on Retrozap), but they are rare. Instead I mainly see parallels drawn that don’t really make sense. Remember also that Palpatine was supposed to be from the “good side” of the political argument in Star Wars. So that sinks most of the terribly crude parallels for starters.
Also, guess what? If anything the Star Wars Prequels were a parallel for George W. Bush era politics, at least according to George Lucas. He said so himself pretty clearly. He also shook Dubya’s hand. Guess he must have seen some good in him. At the very least he knew how to behave civilly to someone he disagreed with.
By way of contrast, for over a year now I have seen a Star Wars Twitter community online descend into a horrible place, where politics or at least political allegiance is used as an excuse for awful conduct by some. It’s like the tone of US political discourse has simply pervaded all forms of communication. Or more accurately to quote the opening crawl from Revenge of the Sith, “there are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.”. The political discourse has also crept into non-political discussion. It’s turned into a less welcoming place.
A major insider Star Wars network that specializes in “leaks” and spoilers has led the way in bringing discourse to a new low, routinely descending into sweary rants on Twitter and hunting in packs. It’s not just them though – even people writing quasi-officially for Star Wars behave in an exclusionary way. There’s no space for that in my fan experience…I’ve hit the big unfollow button. I’ll follow people who celebrate Star Wars, people who actually know a little something about how politics works (or doesn’t) and/or people who simply have some nuance in their thinking.
It’s coming up to a year since the US General Election results. I’ve let people have enough time to get the venom out of their system. I’m going back to enjoying Star Wars in it’s widest, most inclusive form, and hope to see people starting talk to each other again with a little compassion and empathy. Regardless of any real-world parallels, you can simply see Star Wars as one world, and real life as another. It might be a recipe for a happier life…it is for me.
May the Force be with you.