The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

I’m Sick and Tired of the Jedi Cult

anakin skywalker dark side yellow eyes

Marge, I think I hate the Jedi.

The second to last episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” just cemented it. Spoilers: At the end, Luke Skywalker offers Grogu (Baby Yoda) a choice. Choose the lightsaber (something Jedis aren’t supposed to get until later in their training) and become a great Jedi. Or choose the little chainmail shirt that the Mandalorian dropped off as a gift (he wasn’t allowed to see Grogu — that would interfere with his “training”) and leave, forsaking the Jedi training.

What kind of sick organization says “either stay and dedicate yourself to me and never see any family or friends or I kick you out”? A cult that’s who. What was it Obi-Wan Kenobi said? “Only a Sith deals in absolutes?”

Didn’t Luke learn anything from Episodes 4, 5, and 6? He couldn’t have survived without his friends. Han Solo saved his ass in the Death Star trench, saved his ass again on Hoth, saved his ass on the bottom of Cloud City, the list goes on. And it was Vader’s attachment to his son which led him to betray the emperor.

And Luke did the same thing — he stopped his Jedi training with Yoda (sacrificing it really) so he could zip to Cloud City and save his friends. And it didn’t seem to hurt his training at all.

I’m glad Luke is a hermit in The Last Jedi. He deserves it. He screwed over Grogu, he screwed over Ben Solo. It’s the only way to make sense of the sorry state of the Jedi. Some people are great learners but terrible teachers and that’s Luke. The Jedi should die out with him.

Attachments are what make life worth living. It’s literally the moral of It’s a Wonderful Life and Casablanca and Citizen Kane. The Jedis’ downfall in Revenge of the Sith was inevitable. They made their bed and lied in it while Order 66 was executed. That’s what happens when you carelessly recruit an army of mindless drones.

And that’s what happened in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. The purpose of those movies was to show what happens after the good guys win. When they run out of enemies to fight and get (metaphorically) fat and lazy in their ivory tower. They spent millennia fighting the Sith, but with no competition to force them to think and innovate they became conservative, parochial, and unwilling to change, handing forth edicts from up on high that did not connect to their fellow man (sound familiar? Like life imitating art?)

Case in point, Qui-Gon Jinn asks to train Anakin Skywalker. They say no because he is “too old”. (Too old?! His voice hasn’t even broken yet.) Then Qui-Gon dies and they suddenly change their minds. They don’t let him get married. They don’t make him a Jedi Master. Why? They don’t say. They refuse to say. They’re not to be questioned. They’re the council.

They always think they’re right about everything. When Ahsoka was framed for murder, the Jedi Council threw her in jail without a trial. It led to her leaving the Jedi forever. When Qui-Gon was forbidden from teaching Anakin the ways of the Force, he did it anyway. It seems like the only way to get things done is the break the rules and go behind the council’s back.

Maybe it’s because they were afraid of the darkness within him. Well, gee, war does that to a person. It’s what happens when you let peacekeepers be used as soldiers in a galaxy-wide conflict. But instead of trying to fix that, they just handed down arbitrary rules and raised their chins. They enforce their own laws and values and then stick their nose into government business. It’s like they don’t want the actual job of ruling the galaxy but they all think they can do better.

Anakin gave everything to them and they screwed him over. No wonder he sided with Palpatine. That’s where the love is. It’s how people get drawn into hate groups.

BTW, what does “bring balance to the Force” mean? The Jedi believe “balance” means elements at each extreme. Without the Sith, they were out of balance. But balance should mean a meeting in the middle, at the fulcrum. This is why I like the idea of “gray Jedis”–Jedis that walk the twilight path between good and bad. It’s what I think should have happened to Rey in Episode 9. The key there is that people must use the dark side and the light side of the Force together. Because it’s all in how you use it.

But if you want to be part of the Jedi, you have to join the no-fun club. You can’t use your powers for anything but defense, like a martial artist. They take children from families, split up siblings, don’t let them visit loved ones, don’t let them get married or have children. Doesn’t sound very compassionate. It’s brainwashing. I mean, they literally have mind control powers.

I don’t get why fans want to be Jedis. Maybe it’s for incels and losers who want to feel special because they can be part of an exclusive club. Admittedly it’s a club for people who have godlike powers, but from a fan POV, it feels culty. Everyone wants to feel special and cults are experts at that. And they’re experts in acting like bullies to anyone who isn’t in their exclusive club. They’re insufferably self-righteous. And they believe their way is the only way. At least a Sith will tell you the truth.

The Jedi are better when they’re wandering gunfighters or samurai ronin. (Example: Star Wars: Visions on Disney+) Not when they’re enforcing their values onto others because they can control the Force. Which, admittedly, is a godlike power, but you don’t have to be a snob about it. Absolute power corrupts.

They should just be rogue space wizards or solitary monks. It seems like a lot of the Jedi is about a teacher-student relationship. The Clone Wars, the prequels, Star Wars: Rebels. I know the Jedi kinda have to be heavy on recruitment these days or they die out. But I’m sick of seeing that story over and over. I liked them better when they were vagabond knights, able to have emotions and relationships.

Also, if you’re a Jedi, you’re probably going to get your hand chopped off.

Late to the Game: The Clone Wars

clone wars star wars cast

Okay, so it’s not a game, but it’s on Disney Plus and it’s got all these characters I’m apparently supposed to know. They show up in other movies and shows and everyone freaks out and I’m supposed to know what it means. Who is Asaaj Ventress? Ahsoka? What is the “Bad Batch”? Bad batch of what? Brownies? So basically, I’m binge-watching to catch up on Star Wars lore.

It’s… it’s not very good. The animation is cheesy and crappy. I’m not a fan of the character designs, from Ahsoka’s flat chin to Palpatine’s raisin skin. Everyone looks like an action figure. Which I suppose is expected, since that’s always been Star Wars’s biggest money-maker.

The serial format is cute. Reminds me of the old-timey WWII films the original Star Wars was inspired by. But it also seems like fight-fight-fight. No plot, no character development. Just blasters and lightsabers flying back and forth with stories as thin as paper. Most of the series is story arcs of 2-4 episodes. The problem is, not all of these have anything to do with the mythology, which is what I’m here for.

I watched it expecting to have all this lore explained. A whole war takes place between Episode II and III. Clone Wars should have been the unnecessary-but-nice-to-have side story that describes what took place. Why does Anakin have a scar? What happens that causes the Jedi’s council not to give him master rank? Who is Ahsoka? Where did she come from? Why does she have two different colored lightsabers? (Several bad guys have two, but it’s uncharacteristic for Jedi to have anything but the single basic model.)

Where did General Grievous come from? What’s his rivalry with Obi-Wan Kenobi? But nope, Anakin starts the series with his scar. Ahsoka just shows up and is assigned as Anakin’s padawan. And suddenly, in season two, she has a second lightsaber. Did they just want to sell more toys?

Anakin suddenly has a student of his own? Is he no longer under Obi-Wan’s tutelage? He’s barely out of Jedi diapers himself. Is that appropriate during a war? I thought his apprenticeship ended at the beginning of Episode III, where Palpatine appoints him his personal envoy. What’s the point of having a canon if they never explain these Chekhov’s guns? That’s why I’m watching–to see the origin of these little touches.

The dialogue is trite and useless, like filler. Someone is always telling someone else “be careful”, “stay sharp”, “proceed with caution” before doing something dangerous. Like are they ever going to do otherwise? They’re constantly doing dangerous stuff. Are they ever going to say “go in riding a dewback, guns blazing, looking like you have googly eyes.” It’s not like anyone of importance can die. Grievous, Dooku, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Palpatine, Windu, Yoda. We know they all live to Episode III, so there’s no tension. Plus, the episodes with Jar-Jar prove going in with no caution or heed works just as well.

The only one that can experience any consequences is Ahsoka, but she can’t because she’s the main character. She’s the audience surrogate–the one who gets expositioned to and closest in target age. The hand-chosen kid who gets to wield a lightsaber and learn under Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker. I like Ahsoka’s character. Even if she starts out whiny (“but we’re not supposed to!”, “but we should follow orders!” “But that’s not what the general said!”) she has the most character development. She actually learns her lessons. Her transition is subtle and earned. And now that I’ve seen more seasons, I see where her appeal lies.

But it feels like there’s no imagination in the stories. The content feels like something Mike Teavee would be into–lots of explosions and people dying (robots and clones) and guns blasting.

Speaking of blasters, the funniest part is how incompetent everyone is. I’d love to see a percentage of “Number of blaster shots fired” over “Actual targeted object hit”. I bet it’s something like .001%. Star Wars has always had a tradition of never hitting anything. But Clone Wars takes it to a whole new level. There’s one scene where Ahsoka is trapped in a four-way corridor with twenty clones and droids on either side. And no one’s getting hit, least of all Ahsoka. She doesn’t even move or do Jedi gymnastics to avoid it.

It’s like Cobra Kai–everyone has marshmallow punches, no one ever gets tired, no ever draws blood. Are the guns designed to act this way? I guess the cost for having infinite ammo is that your accuracy goes down to zero. Likewise, the armor does jackshit. I saw a clone trooper wearing a helmet get punched out. If that can happen, your helmet sucks.

Speaking of badly designed technology, these droids are the worst. You would think an army full of disposable soldiers without the trappings of human error would be a windfall. But they’re terrible. I have more confidence in my off-brand Roomba killing someone, and it’s constantly getting stuck. They’re robots–they should be intelligent and rational like Data or Hal 9000. That would be an unstoppable army. Instead the strategy seems to be overwhelming numbers of replaceable, recyclable troops. Because they can’t hit anything, can’t take a hit themselves, aren’t strong, aren’t dextrous, have neither insight nor intelligence, and no superhuman abilities like reaction time or flight. These guys, a Jedi jumps between them. “Hey… you… shouldn’t… be… here…” Slash.

All in all, the only gap Clone Wars fills out is how significant they were in Star Wars lore. It’s just a throwaway line in “A New Hope”, but here we see what a war hero Anakin Skywalker, how it makes his name. And how meaningful his downfall is–from hero of the Republic to blackguard of the empire. But I wish I had watched just the mythology episodes. My dream of Clone Wars redeeming the prequel trilogy did not come to fruition.

And fuck Jar-Jar Binks. He still sucks.

Robots vs. Fairies

robots vs fairies close

So last month I read “Robots vs. Fairies”, a collection of short stories. I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t so much “versus” as “here’s robots and now here’s fairies” (except for one story at the end). But at the end of each story, the author declared whether they were “Team Robot” or “Team Fairy” and why. Even though the split is even, it felt like Team Fairy came out the winner. But I thought it’d be fun to declare my allegiance, even though I’m not part of the book. (They didn’t even *ask* me! *sniffle*)

Even though I probably read and produce more fantasy than science fiction, I play for Team Robot. This could be because of my unyielding loyalty to Johnny 5. It’s been demonstrated by my unyielding criticism of any other robot media because I know how computers work and how robots shouldn’t. I like computers, I like autonomous devices, I like the droids in Star Wars. I’m harsh because I care so much, like Anton Ego in Ratatouille.

anton ego robot

Stories with fairies are intrinsically lacking cohesion because it’s magic. Rules change from one book to the next. And sometimes they aren’t even consistent in their own universe. This is because fairies are tricksters and shapeshifters. The fey realm is unpredictable, emotional, and quick to react. In Magic: The Gathering, most of the fairy creatures are blue, the color of trickery and manipulation.

Of course, this is not a sufficient reason for taking one side over the other. I love fantasy and there are more stories with fairies that I like than ones that I don’t.

But here’s the thing. Stories about fairies and the fey realm are about how people in power treat us. It makes for good story fodder: a chosen hero, antagonist with impossible powers, mystery, vibrant settings. But stories about robots are about how we treat those under our power. (Ladies, this is why you always you should always go out with a guy who has a pet or grew up with pets. That way he knows how to care for something other than himself.)

Asimov’s “I, Robot” did it first and did it well, if you want an example. It kinda started the baseline theme for many robot stories, which is “where do you draw the line between tool and living being?” We’ve seen the results of slavery, we all know it’s terrible. But are you allowed to use slaves that aren’t human? That only differ in how they were created? How should we act towards those we hold absolute power over? The best novels provide questions, not answers.

Robots are basically slaves. It’s a paradigm you simply can’t avoid. And you shouldn’t avoid it. It’s something that needs to be reconciled. Think about the droids in Star Wars. They’re clearly intelligent, aware of their self as a separate entity from others, and respond to stimuli. Yet they are constructed, not born and grown over time. I think if we created autonomous intelligent robots, we’d treat them the way they do in Star Wars. Kinda like disposable pets. You can talk to them, but don’t get too sad if they explode, and you have no qualms using them as a meat/metal shield. Droids may be invaluable and expensive, but Luke’s not above using them as tools for getting into Jabba’s palace. C-3P0 and R2-D2 could have been easily destroyed without ever setting foot off the sand. And even Poe Dameron treats BB-8 like a puppy.

poe dameron bb-8 star wars

He even scratches his belly. Who does that with a robot? What does that accomplish. I think, even as much as I love robots, I can’t treat them different than a tamagotchi. Those stupid little eggs were meant to mimic a living creature — something that needs food, attention, and sleep. If not, it dies. But none of it’s anything more the programming. And the only way it can “die” is to be beyond repair. Does that do something to empathy? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure what the point of this post was. Anyway, here’s a robot and a kitten.

robot and kitten cat

The Books I Read: January – February 2018

bookshelf books

The Elven by Bernhard Hennen

It took me two months of dedicated reading to complete this. Of course, I took breaks along the way, but still, I feel stories can wear out their welcome. We’re not in the era of television-less-ness anymore. We don’t need War and Peace to keep us occupied. And this is a callback to those kinds of books. It’s a saga rooted in high fantasy and Norse/Germanic myths (like elves and dwarves).

We’ve got three main characters. Two are elves who have been rivals for a girl elf’s love for whatever thousands of years elves live. The last is a viking who gets treated like the comic relief throughout the book. Seriously, you think he’s going to be a badass, but the elves treat him like Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies. Every place they go, the elves cluck their tongues at him for drinking, fighting, and being crude (although no more than any normal viking) and go “look at this boorish human, ha ha”. They’re like Legolas in every way–eagle vision, can do magic, nimble, skilled warrior, and so on. Very few female parts that don’t involve a queen or someone more important’s daughter, so don’t look here for any diversity.

It is well-written, it’s just so damn long. You forget who characters are, what places are. There’s a map in the beginning but it only covers a small portion of the world. Maybe I’m a dummy, but if you’re going to make a novel this big and sprawling, add a few cheat sheets in there.

And as a result, I don’t think I can recommend this book. It’s good enough for a normal size novel, but not for something this long. It took me eighteen hours–I could have read three or four other books in that time. I can’t help but think I’d have been better off continuing The Expanse.

futuristic violence and fancy suits david wong

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

I found a few books recommended for people who liked “Ready Player One”. And I needed it after finishing some long fantasy sagas. I wanted something funny and contemporary. I’d read David Wong before and liked it so I thought this would hit the spot.

And it did. Wong’s not good at titles (or is he too good?) but it’s exactly what’s on the tin–fast action and men-in-black doing gratuitous violence. It’s a big that stew that combines cyberassasins, superheroes, horror movies, anime, future dystopia. Much of them reflect (but aren’t directly coded as) eighties weirdness like “Rock and Rule” and MTV’s bizarro years.

It’s not a story that holds up to scrutiny. The plot moves so fast you don’t have much chance to learn character backstories or reflect on anything. You’re onto something new before you can digest the old. Characters turncoat from bad to good without explanation. Plot coupons come from nowhere. Chapters are short and action-packed. The character is dragged through events by the seat of her pants, rather than making decisions for herself. And none of the cast is likable. It’s like a Jason Statham movie.

So this should only be used for amusement and entertainment. It won’t give you anything profound. It won’t be taught in high school. But it is a great book for a reader who likes Marvel movies and video games. It’s a trip and a joke and an action movie.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

This is the story of a twelve-year-old girl coming to terms with the absence of her mom. It’s told in two parallel narratives. One is in present-time, on a road trip with her grandparents. The other is the story she tells to her grandparents that involve her mom and what happened with her and her dad after she left.

The classic trifecta ensues: 1) they move somewhere she doesn’t like 2) Dad starts seeing another woman 3) No one in school likes her. In the process, she befriends another girl, and HER mother leaves. This is the interesting part, as our main character gets a taste of what a pill she was, having to console someone in the same situation.

It’s a good story, especially if you know what a broken home is like. And the style, full of odd quaint country expressions and quirky humor. It’s not a cheesy Hallmark story. It reminds me of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie or “Holes” by Louis Sachar or “I Am the Cheese” by Robert Cormier. All of these have an unreliable narrator and implication of something sinister going on below the surface.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I was nervous about reading this at first. John Green highly recommended it, dedicated a whole vlog to it. But in the past, he’d recommended Kendra by Coe Booth, which I didn’t like. And The Boy in the Black Suit was only so-so. So I thought this genre wasn’t for me, because I couldn’t be more white and it’s a big leap to sympathize with… what are we calling them now? Underprivileged minorities? Then I saw it on a bunch of Year End Top Ten lists and thought I’d give it a try.

Days later, I was still thinking about it. Yes, it’s an “issue” book, but it’s more about the aftermath of what someone goes through. Other issue books miss the point entirely, skipping over roots & causes and capitalizing on a hot button to sell books (like 13 Reasons Why or This Is Where It Ends).

Our main character is split between two worlds. By day she goes to school in a white neighborhood full of preppies, thanks to a school voucher. By night, she’s back in the ghetto, with her family of half-siblings and Dad who’s done time and now runs a grocery store. She never lets either side know of her other life because she’d be called a traitor or ostracized for some other reason.

That all changes when she witnesses a cop shoot her friend and can’t toe the line anymore. But it’s more about what her neighborhood goes through, how they react, from gang leaders to barbers, and the whites & lawyers reactions. It’s about what it means to be “ghetto” when that’s your life, not just a thirty-minute sitcom. Even when you live among gangs and broken families, a young black teenage girl can still want daddy snuggles. No one is a one-note or ghetto caricature. It’s modern life and helps a great deal with empathizing and sympathizing and, most of all, understanding the POV of “Black Lives Matter”.

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

It’s a solid C. The main character lacks a “Save the Cat” moment, so he’s not very sympathetic. And women won’t find anything for themselves here. The only female in the book is the person the main character is trying to ask out. She’s a prize to be won. Also there’s no plot, no bad guy, no goal (either inner or outer) besides “learn a thing”. So it’s a little like Disney’s The Sword in the Stone in that way. But at least in that movie, Merlin was grooming Arthur to be king. Here, the wizards’ objective is to live easy bachelor lives, geek wish fulfillment, and to conjure burritos whenever they want.

After that, you’d think I’d give it a low rating. But despite its flaws, I realized, halfway through, that I still wanted to know how it ended. This is what I wanted Wizard’s Bane to be–a computer programmer in medieval times using programming to do magic.

This is a book for people who like comic strips, not characters. It’s light-hearted, fun, and humorous. But keep in mind that means the plot is going to be held by shoestrings. So don’t come in with expectations of Harry Potter.

Also, the cover is bupkiss. There’s no video games here.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

This was way better than I thought it would be. King’s known for horror, not high fantasy. Before this point, the only other fantasy he wrote (if you don’t count The Gunslinger, which goes beyond genres) was The Talisman. And after this point, he didn’t go back to it for a long time. So I thought it would be a disaster. When an author writes outside their wheelhouse, you get wary. But it was also written in 1987, around the same time as It, Misery, and Skeleton Crew. And before he got sober.

The whole book has a fun storyteller vibe, like an old man in a tavern telling you the saga of King What’s-his-face. And since it’s a secondary world, you don’t have to worry about those Stephen King cliches.

However, the weird thing is the story never seems to start. It keeps describing characters, giving anecdotes, showing the history of the kingdom, etc. but you’re halfway through the book and the inciting incident hasn’t occurred. The narration consistently feels like it’s building towards something all throughout, which is disconcerting.

But overall, yes, I recommend it. It’s a good book even for the non-Stephen King fan and I plan on reading the sequel.

John Dies at the End by David Wong
(re-read)

I remember reading this when it was free online, many many years ago. At the time, it felt like a life-changing work. So many books consist of dull introspective characters, plodding plots. This was a story for the MTV generation, with creative monsters, gross-out moments, and complete rejection of post-modern literary crap.

But it’s a flawed narrative. Many scenes take up space and reflect what you’d see in a movie. They don’t drive plot, reveal character, or restate theme. Also, all the events happen without being tied together, so it gets long and boring when the characters don’t want anything except to survive.

It’s like a Transformers movie: every scene is framed as MAXIMUM importance… which means nothing is important.Things happen, but you don’t care. It’s not a character-based story, it’s event, then event, then event. There’s no quiet scenes where we get a chance to absorb the impact. There’s sort of a beginning but there’s no middle or ending. The imagery provides information that isn’t necessary, like reading a book while listening to a different one. It’s all spectacle and no information.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View by various authors

This is an anthology of short stories that tells the story of Star Wars, but from the point-of-view of all the little characters that don’t matter. Like the Jawa that finds R2-D2, the Tusken Raider that cold-cocks Luke, various droids and rebels, even the stormtrooper that bonks his head on the doorway. All the parts that didn’t even earn scale.

It’s actually one of the better short story collections I’ve read. Maybe because A) there’s one unifying element tying them all together and leading to a conclusion and B) it’s Star Wars. It was enjoyable, but not pull-you-in enjoyable. There is a LOT of time spent on Tatooine. I think there’s a story for every character in Mos Eisley. If you like Star Wars, this is definitely worth looking into.

The Dark Side is Not an Evil Side (Obligatory “Two Sides to Every Schwartz” joke)

One of the things I wish Star Wars would do with its storytelling is to resolve that the Dark Side is not evil. Nothing is inherently evil in this world. Only humans (and some well-evolved animals) can be evil. It takes a good brain to be evil, because evil is gaining pleasure from the pain of others.

So not spiders or guns or poison or magic or anything is evil. It’s what you do with those powers that determines your fate. It’s why I feel bad for Slytherin house. They all get painted with the same brush. You get sorted into Slytherin, it’s a death sentence for your social life. But there’s nothing evil about ambition or resourcefulness or determination or self-preservation.

It’s the same thing with the Force, which is essentially magic. It’s just that people who use the Dark Side of the Force keep using them for evil. But there’s nothing that says they have to hurt people. That’s why I like Kylo Ren as a character, and why I’m holding out for his redemption.

There are force-neutral powers, like telekinesis, jumping, persuasion, telepathy, and force concealment, (which is like “masking your scent”. I guess other force-sensitives can tell what side of the coin you land on so there’s a way to cover that up. Who knew?) But these powers can be used for good and evil. You can read someone’s mind and invade their privacy. Deceiving others about the nature of your powers seems like it should be on the Dark Side, but it’s not. And Persuasion is basically like mind-rape. I can’t believe there’s not more controversy about this–I guess it’s okay to force your will on someone else as long as you have a wispy beard.

star wars force infographic
Source

Midichlorian Manipulation – Create, maintain, or save life by “influencing midichlorians”. This was how Anakin believed he could stop Padme from dying. Of course, no one knows what midichlorians are or how they work, so I don’t know how this can be called good or evil. In fact, this might be all bupkiss, made up by Palpatine. And isn’t healing others a good thing? The Light Side has healing, detoxification, revitalization, but if someone’s not breathing, you just stop?

Force Rage – Tap into fears, pain, and hate, turning them into rage that can increase speed, strength, and ferocity. Well, isn’t that what normal anger does? Anger isn’t an evil emotion. Anger over an injustice can lead to a greater good. If your kid is trapped under a car, fear and anger lets you lift that F150 off the ground.

Force Choke/Crush/Grip – This is just telekinesis. We always see Dark Siders doing it–lifting someone and choking them or throwing them around. They’re just focused on specific body parts. But it’s no different than anything the Light Side can do.

Force Drain – Tap into the strengths of an organic target, exhausting it immediately. Can be used to affect a wide area, depending on how mastered in the technique.This seems to be the inverse of the Force Heal (though it’s not clear if the life and vitality is transferred to the user or it just dissipates). Most of the time you see a “drain” spell, it’s in the context of magic meant to harm. Final Fantasy does this. Magic: The Gathering does this. Vampires do this. Not many arguments that removing health from someone in order to gain isn’t inherently evil, but there are examples.

In Blade, the female protagonist lets the hero drink her blood to regain his strength. I think Buffy does the same thing with Angel at some point. Rogue is an X-Man X-woman X-menman X-person superhero with power-draining powers. Metroids can drain and inject energy, and we all remember the tragic ending of Super Metroid. And in real life, there are many blood-drinking insects and animals, but they’re so small that they don’t individually do significant harm (unless they transmit a disease). And here’s a fun fact: Male garter snakes will emit and act like a female garter snake when rising from hibernation. This gets other male garter snakes to cluster and coil around them, transferring body heat and helping them wake up.(See also definition 3 of trap)

Force Slow – Cloud the target’s mind, slowing them down mentally and physically. This is a weird one, but I can see instances where it doesn’t need to be considered harmful. Like if you’re a cop and you’ve got to handle some whacked-out PCP meth-head brandishing a sword at an intersection. And Zack Morris could have used it to deal with Jessie Spano.

Force Corrupt – Temporarily manipulate the mind of another sentient being to make him/her serve your own cause. Isn’t this just Force Persuasion? And that was labeled as a core power. Moving on.

Force Lightning – This is just the collection and projection of energy. I consider it to be Force concentrated, like how electricity is concentrated fire (like all good science, this is based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not actual science). We only ever see Sith use it, and only ever to harm others, but that doesn’t mean it has to. Why not repower that Moisture Reclamator and help a farmer out.

Transfer Essence – Basically, you switch bodies, or transfer your soul into an inanimate object. (Does that mean anything? Like a rock? Or a droid? Or a ship? Is this where Emperor Snoke came from? I have a fan theory that Snoke is really Palpatine, who survived the fall and Death Star II explosion using his strong connection to the Force, but that’s why he’s all scarred and weird looking.) As long as you can’t “Project: Genesis” someone, this doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, Hollywood has taught us that the results are always hilarious, like in Freaky Friday and Shrek the Third, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

It seems like the most distinguishing characteristic of dark Force powers is avoidance of death. The Light Side has no defense against that, except for being a Force Ghost. Not to mention we’ve seen Luke using some of these Dark Side powers (in ROTJ, he chokes some moblins in Jabba’s palace).

The best thing about Kylo Ren is how conflicted he is. He has a huge legacy to live up to. His loved ones betrayed him (Mom and Dad got divorced, Uncle/teacher tried to kill him). Everyone’s always talking about his “raw” power, but no one tells him what to do with it. He’s just a puppy looking for a master. His best strengths are telekinesis (holding blaster bolts) and telepathy, both neutral powers. And he can shrug off a bowcaster blast, something that sent a dozen stormtroopers into the sky.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to him in the future. And I hope that it ties with how the force works in the context of Light Side vs. Dark Side.

What is the Point of the Sith?

hot sith woman star wars

What is the point of the Sith? They don’t seem to have a goal that their reaching towards, except for opposing the Jedi. Meaning they seem to be one-dimensional villains that only exist for the purpose of the story.

They act as a counterpart to the Jedi. In fact their credo exactly mirrors all their traits. No empathy, just ambition and power and victory. But to what end? What do they want? Keep in mind Sith is not the Galactic Empire. The empire wants control over all planets in the galaxy so they can have power/unity/order. Or so other planets with a resource can’t just say “mine, you can’t have”.

But the Sith is a philosophy/martial arts discipline, like being a Jedi. It has a credo, it has a beliefs, deities, temples, artifacts. Its main idea is obtaining of strength and power through the “dark side of the force”, meaning greed, hate, anger, and fear. It’s a very Klingon way of life–focus on fighting, victory, and passion. 

The thing about the Sith is that, instead of the Jedi who teach in collections and have a widespread population, there are only ever two Sith at one time. In the whole galaxy. Somehow they lasted a thousand years doing this, but this seems a real flawed way to establish a dominating force. You can’t exactly take over the galaxy with two people*. Not to mention that once you become a Sith, you’re either an apprentice scheming how to kill your master (which means your teaching will always end prematurely) or a master always worrying about when your apprentice is going to kill you. That’s no basis for a system of government.

*Yes, I know that Palpatine essentially did that, but he used political influence and minions in addition. He could have done that without being a Sith. I’m talking about the Sith as an entity in itself.

The Jedi have actual goals–peace and prosperity in the galaxy. But the Sith don’t seem to have goals. Or their goals are personal to the character, which still means the Sith simple exist to oppose the Jedi.

At first I was going to rant about Sith just being a one-dimensional villain. But maybe

I thought it was rather stupid to have an entity that exists solely to oppose the other party. Seems a wasteful life if your purpose is just to be the antithesis of this other guy. Then I heard about the “steak dinner”.

It’s the meeting that leaders of the Republican party had when Obama got elected in 2008. I mean, like, the day he was inaugurated. The oval office chair wasn’t even warmed yet, Obama was party-hopping, and they were making their counter-battle plan. What was that plan? To do the opposite of whatever Obama wanted.

For the sake of “their side” they had to be a united front and fight him on everything. Didn’t matter whether it made sense or not, whether it was good or not, if Obama wanted it, they didn’t that was the policy. They didn’t want to raise America up, they didn’t have an issue to push, they didn’t have a different morality to live by. They just wanted to oppose Barack Obama. If he said yes, they said no.

And the key was being united among all the party members on this. Everyone had to be in on it. For the sake of their team, every Republican had to click that “no” button when the president said “yes”. Their goal had nothing to do with America or the country or any political issue. It had to do with hurting the other guy. You didn’t win, so make it as hard for the other team as possible, no matter how petty it gets.

In other words, I thought portraying the Sith as simply opposing the Jedi was unrealistic… until I saw this. I guess it’s more plausible than I thought.

Screw Your Misery Over The Last Jedi

star wars last jedi

That’s it. I’ve had all I can stands, I can’t stands no more. I’m sick of these entitled crybabies whining about “The Last Jedi”. They’re making fan-edits to cater to their own “vision”, they’re making Change.org petitions to remove it from canon. And yet they can’t come up with one good objective reason for this hate. Complaining that’s not how the Force works? Go ahead, make that argument. You do realize that the Force does not exist, right? That it’s a construction of imagination and, therefore, it can do anything the writer wants? You’re all a bunch of fucking entitled, obsessive morons who had every opportunity to succeed in life but failed. Stories belong to their readers, but that doesn’t mean you can change what they are. 

But I want to talk about the biggest hot take–Luke isn’t acting like I want him to I think he should Luke.

I think these people complaining see too much of themselves in Luke. They’ve grown old and bitter, fatigued with how the creators treat their “mythology” as a business, too influenced by MST3K and South Park, like it’s cool to deconstruct everything to feel important. Finding the flaws in everything makes you feel superior. But like they say in Ratatouille, the critic who decries a work of art for being mediocre isn’t half as important as the creator who made it so.

I totally believe Luke would become jaded and bitter and cynical about Jedi. Maybe, after seeing everything that had happened, he believed the Jedi’s time had passed. Like Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park, the Jedi had their shot, and the universe evolved out of them. Let me give you three reasons why this makes perfect sense to me.

1. The Far Past

Let’s assume that Luke learned the history of the Jedi he didn’t have time for because he was fighting a war. A reasonable assumption, given that, as sole representative of all Jedi and teacher of the new generation, he’d want to know his legacy. There might not be many records left (authoritarian empires like to rewrite history) but the force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin were all there. They could give him an oral history (Yoda’s certainly old enough). In other words, Luke watches the prequels.

And he learns the Jedi went from noble peacekeepers of the galaxy to a council of snooty politicians sitting in a room, handing out decisions about trade routes for places they had never seen. The High Council was more concerned about midichlorians, rules about marriage, and who gets into their little inner circle than actual philosophy. Maybe ten thousand years ago they were the galaxy’s guardians–noble warriors using might for right–but ten thousand years of peace makes people complacent.

That brings us to…

2. The Near Past

So in learning about the Jedi Council, you have to include their downfall, brought about by a small boy. He would have seen all of Anakin Skywalker’s history, what turned him to the Dark Side. Of course, Luke would want to know this–he’d want to know A) how a Jedi turned to the Dark Side, in order to prevent it from happening again and B) what the Jedi Council did in reaction, paranoid, hunting the Emperor down, the one guy who gave Anakin the time of day. Mace Windu viciously attacked Palpatine, causing the hatred that fuels Vader. Morally wrong, but justified in-character. I might do the same thing in his place.

Anakin Skywalker did everything he could to stop the thing he feared the most, the loss of his loved ones. But in the end, it happened all the same. The Jedi way forced him down the Dark Side to prevent it. So what else was there for him at the end but to embrace it totally. Especially since he’s living in constant pain from what Obi-Wan did to him.

And maybe Luke sees this and wonders, if the Jedi, ten thousand strong, could have been destroyed by one man, how great and powerful were they really?

3. The Immediate Past

Luke sees all the things Darth Vader did. All the horrible deaths, torture, genocide, child murder, planet devastation, done by a single wreck of a human. For nineteen years, he cut through anyone in his way with the fire of a thousand suns, like Sherman’s March. He came in like Aegon Targareyn the First, landing on Westeros and forcing the nine houses to bend the knee. He eliminated traitors with prejudice, tortured P.O.W.s, made deals with criminals. There was no moral code stopping him from victory.

But in its context, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker was one man. One aberrancy after eons of peace and prosperity. Like a mutation. A black plague. A fluke. He may have almost wiped everything out, but there’s that word–almost. It’s been tough times, but the war is over. Now is the time to rebuild. The threat of the empire is over. We’ve learned from our mistakes, instituted prevention. For another Darth Vader to come along would take ten thousand more years.

Enter Ben Solo.

How would it feel if, after defeating the strongest dark lord, the most powerful Jedi ever seen, you find out your nephew is the same. He’s been putting up Sith posters, talking about how great the empire used to be (“at least they made the Star Destroyers run on time”). You sacrificed so much to defeat Darth Vader, and here you are raising another one. It’d be like if you were the one to kill Hitler, and then you find out your grandson is a Neo-Nazi.

It doesn’t matter whether Luke knew Snoke had already gotten to him or not, the damage was done. There’s another potential Sith Lord in your bunk bed. Wouldn’t you want to just chuck it all and say “what’s the point?” Wouldn’t you say “this Jedi stuff is bullshit, if it’s just going to keep creating Darth Vaders”. Luke may have begun to think that the force is too powerful for anyone to handle. If you have a powerful weapon, better to destroy it than let it fall into the wrong hands.

Conclusion

I think Luke is acting completely in character, just like how Anakin Skywalker would have been a whiny, self-centered brat, using arrogance to hide his fear that this could all go away. Your complaints didn’t change anything then, they won’t change anything now. Luke’s been living with failure for twenty years. The whole point of the movie is that failure is not bad. Failure should not be run away from. You learn from it, use it to teach others. Luke is this movie’s protagonist, not Rey. He’s the one that learns something. He’s the one that changed.

Besides, how seriously can I take you when “your kind” releases a fan edit that removes all people of a certain gender from a movie. Taking out Jar-Jar is one thing–he’s comic relief with no impact on plot. But you can’t digitally remove 50% of the cast. What are you expecting? Is this supposed to be a statement? Satire? That someone burnt calories on such a bad idea blows my mind.

MRAs are complaining that the events in Last Jedi are against canon. Where’s the evidence? I don’t see anything that contradicts established canon. There are things that establish new canon, but point out something that says “in Episode X, someone explicitly says they can’t do Y, but they do Y in this movie”. Show me where that happens, where it’s not conjecture or supposition.

And it can’t be a “well blah blah blah wouldn’t-” No! Character errors are not errors. You don’t know what Luke’s been through from the Battle of Yavin to now, so you can’t tell me what he would and wouldn’t do. People change. People’s minds change. Their motivations and beliefs change. So don’t tell me Luke is the same wide-eyed farm boy turned hero from Return of the Jedi, especially after having his father die in his arms. Tell me that wouldn’t change a person.

 

I think the people complaining are the ones who ate a steady diet of expanded universe novels between 1980 and 2015. Their Luke is the one that continued having adventures, fighting General Thrawn, falling in love with Mara Jade, established a New Jedi Order, ended several wars, including a second Civil War, etc. But this ain’t that universe. The novels were “the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker”, like the legends of King Arthur or Greek myths. On-going stories, mixing and adding characters, all attuned to the time they were written.

This ain’t that world anymore. This is Star Wars: The Next Generation. This is a new set of characters with their own trials to get through, and the world of Episode 4/5/6 is in the past. The universe has moved on from that point. There is a new order. And since events have transpired in a different way than the EU, yeah, characters aren’t going to act the way you think they should. Because the fact is, those novels were written in a different time. Just think of the presidents that have passed through office since 1983. 

Don’t watch the movies to find the next clutch of settings and characters for fan art. It’s not a newsletter–Updates from a Fictional Galaxy. Don’t watch it to see the same thing that made you happy thirty years ago.

Anyway, when it doesn’t go the way you want, just tell yourself a wizard did it.

The Books I Read: July – August 2016

bookshelf books

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this book. The closest I can call it is a modern fairy tale, but that word gets thrown around so much it’s become meaningless. I’ve never used it until now (I think). It felt like a combination of Stardust and Holes. Jacob Grimm has become a ghost and, after traveling the ethereal plane, attaches to the only boy who can hear him. A lonely boy struggling with a single Dad with a failing business.

The thing keeping this good book from being a great book is that nothing happens until about 66% through. The first fifteen percent, the exposition phase, is good then the rest is filler. It’s kids hanging out, a plot thread about a trivia game that never comes back, and other junk. It’s a wide boring lawn where the author drops Easter eggs for the third act. Character motivation is lacking too. Why does the girl take any sort of interest in the main boy? Why is she at all interested in him? It reduces her to a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, like Bridge to Terabithia.

Also, I don’t know where or when it’s set, and that bothers me. It’s a small town, apparently in America, but you have to strain to decipher that because the people and setting is so weird. One of the people uses “zounds” and not in an ironic way. The bakery is the teen hangout spot, where his special cakes are the thing to get, like ramen in Japan. They’re still in school but walk (not drive) places. No one has a smart phone. It has the feel of a book that was translated (maybe that was the intention, since Jacob Grimm is the narrator). And the dad’s sole source of income is a bookstore that sells one book. How does that kind of business stay open past two weeks?

So the line between fantasy and reality gets a little blurry. But if you can get past some of that minor stuff, it’s a recommended book.

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
(unfinished)

I have never read a Star Wars book before, so keep in mind I’m coming in fresh. I don’t believe in any homosexual agenda. I have no opinion of Chuck Wendig and never read one of his stories.

I didn’t like this and didn’t finish it. I’m not sure how much of the content was dictated by Disney or Wendig’s own, but there were some fundamental problems with the narrative I couldn’t get past. It read like Stephen King’s “The Stand” — tons of characters and storylines — none of which tie in to anything between Episode Six and Seven. It’s just floating out there. I don’t know anyone’s back story. Every character is a pastiche of an existing one — the bounty hunter (Boba Fett), the smuggler (Han Solo), the young hero (Luke Skywalker), etc. And it’s all action. No one thinks or reflects. At one-third of the way through, the story was still introducing new characters, preparing for a long haul.

Maybe these books are for diehard fans — I had to keep looking up terms in the Wookiepedia. Maybe it was the foreign names and races, but I couldn’t keep track of anything. The text has no problem with style or tense, at least not for me. The “cute points” were the best. At one point a character plays Star Wars Settlers of Catan with a droid (instead of something cliche like chess or that holographic game Chewie and Threepio play.

Other than that, I was bored. I didn’t know the characters and there was never anything to make me care or sympathize. They were shallow action figures doing things that translate better in film.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I read one-quarter of it in a day.

The title and B&W cover make it look like it’s a bit snooty and removed from reality, like A.A. Milne or Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton edition). But it in fact, it reads just like any YA novel and takes place in a firm, explained setting with a flawed protagonist. In the first chapter he demonstrates his jerk streak to much delight. And he’s American and interesting and interesting things happen to him and he goes out to do interesting things (which sounds like par for the course, but you’d be surprised how many books lack this).

The story is built around these odd photos his dead grandfather had — ones that might have used old-timey trick photography (e.g. two reflections in a pond where just one girl is standing). But these happen to be the peculiar children (i.e., they’re basically X-Men — one’s super strong, one’s invisible, one can grow plants, etc.) We find this out when he goes to England where this home supposedly is, though it was destroyed in World War II.

The anticipation of the movie (also by Tim Burton, what can you do?) prompted me to give this a try. I’ll be reading the next two books, so I have a good feeling about the movie.

The Third Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen

It’s worse than the first two. It’s tedious. It leaves big gaps between books. Explanations are left on the floor in favor of vapid philosophical questions. It’s got nothing to do with the cool swords. It brings up some topics relating to gods and mortals that might have been interesting in the eighties, but are old hat now. The plot focuses more on ideas than engaging characters. And it all ends with a big confusing war where characters die and I just don’t care, because I don’t remember them. There’s nothing resolved with the swords or the gods at the end. It’s better as a premise than a book.

Emily Fox-Seton or The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I read this as research for a book I might be writing. The BBC made-for-TV movie is better, and I could only watch that drunk. The book is just so damn tame. The bad guy confesses everything without provocation then leaves peacefully. Then dies accidentally. The women are all so weak. The littlest things throw them into an emotional tizzy. Arranged marriages and racism are the least of this story’s problems.

Everything happens through hearsay and after-the-fact conversations. People talk about things, they don’t do them. There’s always the threat of things happening, never actual things happening. Sure the book’s a hundred years old, but you only get so much leeway.

Hero-Type by Barry Lyga

The promises at the beginning of the book don’t match the content. The main character is a town hero after saving a girl in his class from a rapist. And as the reader finds, it wasn’t just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. However, no one knows this, and no one’s going to know, because that isn’t the meat of the book.

The meat is that he gets a ton of flak for taking some “Support the Troops” magnetic ribbons off his car, ones he didn’t put on in the first place, and is forced to take off by his Dad. All of a sudden, this makes him the town pariah. It gets worse as he rolls with it, defending the non-decision as it relates to the first amendment. And it all snowballs into discussions on politics and free speech.

One of these stories interests me. One of them doesn’t. Guess which is which (hint: the stalker angle interests me and the political one doesn’t). I could make a case for why one fits into the other. But the two themes just don’t seem to fit with each other. 

A big chunk of plotline is the character holding the idiot ball. Problems that could easily be solved if someone just explained what happened instead of being cryptic or obstinate. He took the ribbons was because his dad freaked out (he has PTSD from the Iraq War). But the main character doesn’t, because then there’d be no story. The dad doesn’t tell anyone the reason he was dishonorably discharged from the army, which turns out to be a because he was a whistleblower. The school administrator allows not one but TWO student-run student-organized debates about this “controversy” which devolve into chaos. (I swear, Barry Lyga’s fictional school has the most inept administration since Lawndale High).

I thought this book would be about what it means to be a hero. But the plot overstates to the point of melodrama, which makes this my least favorite Lyga book.

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

I know what I said before, but I’m pretty sure this is the last Tiffany Aching book this time. It’s good. The easiest to follow of the five. I say this all the time, but it gives a fitting end to the Tiffany Aching saga, giving the main character a mantle from her mentors, passing on the torch.

What feels unusual is that it seems a little rushed. Wrapped up a little too quickly. The previous books’ antagonists like Wintersmith and The Cunning Man enveloped abstract concepts. The other books had more plot threads, interactions with different and new characters, and sundry subplots. But I suppose there was a reason for the rushedness — Terry Pratchett was suffering Alzheimer’s and he wanted to produce something before his mind or life had gone. I salute you Mr. Pratchett. Shall we all be as hardworking as you.

This Bloody Mary is the Last Thing I Own: A Journey to the End of Boxing by Jonathan Rendall
(unfinished)

John Green recommended this, but it was out of print and not to be found in any libraries. I finally decided to buy a used copy, because I like boxing.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that John Green’s favorites do not run parallel to my own. The writing style is too journalistic. It’s a memoir, but there’s not enough interesting things happening. The main character doesn’t come up against enough conflict. It’s basically “I saw boxing. I liked boxing. I went into boxing.” And then there’s a laundry list of celebrities and famous pugilists whom I don’t recognize. I’m sure it’s a fine book if you know boxing and/or sports history, but for everyone else… well, there’s a reason these books become unavailable.

Village of the Mermaids by Carlton Mellick III

Bizarro fiction, but less bizarro than others I’ve read. The plot is not so much a “monsters in the deep”, but a “Village of the Damned”/”Children of the Corn”. Our protagonist is a doctor with some kind of terminal medical condition where his skin turns to putty. He arrives at an island to figure out where the mermaids went and makes friends with a young girl. When the ferry sinks and there’s no way off the island, he keeps a cool head. There’s some gross sex stuff and people genetically-engineered to be delicious for mermaids.

I feel it needed more character development. It ended too early. The main character appeared to have changed, but I don’t know for what. It’s presented as a mystery novel, but the answers are in plain sight, not even hiding. The answer isn’t really found through deduction or mistakes of the enemy, but coincidence and luck. And then it ends in a gory, creepy mess. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing (I do), but doesn’t seem to fit the promises made in the beginning. The man’s condition has no bearing on the plot. Really, I just picked it up for the mermaids.

Poor Unfortunate Soul by Serena Valentino

So… Ursula is Cthulhu.

Oh, you didn’t know? Yes, apparently she can transform people into Deep Ones. Also, she was raised on land in a small village by a fisherman and can transform into a human at will, no magic needed. This was happening behind the movie the whole time and you didn’t know it. Isn’t it good to be informed?

The plot uses the non-canon lore that Ursula is Triton’s sister, but that’s what little of Ursula there is here. Again, this is more about the three witch sisters and Circe and Tulip and a bunch of other non-Disney characters who I don’t give two shits about it. If I hadn’t read “The Beast Within” I would have been totally lost (although you’d think I would have learned my lesson from that book). At least Valentino took the time to get the lines from the movie right this time.

The only reason I read this was the “The Little Mermaid” connection, and let me tell you, people, it’s not even worth that. There’s no character investment in anyone. And there’s less than forty percent of the page count dedicated to “The Little Mermaid” lore, let alone Ursula. It’s probably going to end up on my “worst books I read” of the year.

The Lure of the Dark Side

dark vader gangsta dark side

In 1989, Batman came out. The first to show a superhero living in a world that took things seriously. As serious as you can when a man falls in acid and can’t stop laughing.

Now what I didn’t get, being a sociopathically lawful good paladin, was why everybody loved the Joker so much. You can’t *like* a bad guy. That’s just not done. He kills people.

Over the years, I’ve learned the appeal of bad guys. It’s because giving into your dark side lets you release the frustrations and feelings that are not so good to do in real life. I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people claim the dark side of the force. It’s easy to see people giving into their impulses and say “I want to do that”. (Just as long as you don’t call it “magic”.)

That brings me to Kylo Ren. It seems the world is split in the opinion that he is either a emo white male with so much privilege that he has temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Or he’s a good kid raised in bad circumstances, and that if he had a loving mother and father and no force sensitivity, he’d be fine.

I, in particular, like Kylo Ren, maybe a little more than I think I should, because I identify with him the most of the new Star Wars characters. People expected great things of him, but things went wrong for one reason or another. Like all of us, we think we’re going to save the world, become president, do great things. No doubt Kylo Ren suffered from this. Saddled with being the son of not one but two of the galaxy’s saviors, and taught by the third because he was discovered to be proficient in the magic power that won the war in the first place. Talk about expectations.

Now I don’t know why Ren has an affinity for Vader, who was pretty much the Hitler of the rebel alliance. I believe that must have come after his turn to the dark side, but time will tell. In either case, that’s another legacy he’s got to live up to. Is it any wonder he feels entitled to rule the galaxy?

This is the person Anakin Skywalker should have been in the prequels. And he was, up to a point, but when the galaxy is clean and utopian, it just amplifies his whininess. Ren’s whininess is still there, but less annoying. Because he’s not a complainer, he’s a doer. Someone fires a blaster at you? Freeze it in mid-air. Someone’s not giving up information? Yank it out with the force. Woman you were interrogating escaped your torture chamber? Wreck the place with your unstable lightsaber.

We live in a world of moderation. You always have to be nice. You have to be civil. No tantrums. No killing anyone that annoys you. No drinking too much or too little. No going too fast or too slow. Everything’s gotta be just the right amount. Problems with your boss? You can’t just whack him upside the head and say “leave me alone, you idiot, just let me do my job”. You can’t shove moron cars out of your way with the Force.

Maybe that’s why so many Star Wars fans embrace the dark side powers and characters. It revolves around power and fear. Its effects tend toward the short term or immediate. Light side revolves around healing and knowledge. It takes time to figure out how to use it effectively, and what to do once you’ve used it. Kylo Ren satisfies our darker impulses. It works on a more personal level.

I can’t remember where I saw it, but each villain in the trilogies applies to our fears at the time. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 – a faceless dictator. Episodes 1, 2, 3 – a government plunging us into a distant war to gain power. For 7 (and presumably onward) an angry white male with a lot of power and entitlement issues.