Monday, March 12, 2012

Why I’m a fan of the Empire

Star Wars is a series of books and movies that is supposed to tell us a story about good and evil in very black and white terms.  A small force of good guys are taking on the evil and powerful establishment and the plucky underdogs somehow win.  The prequels aren’t that at all, as a matter of fact, I don’t really think about the prequels at all, because Episode 1 and 3 both offend me so badly, and Episode 2 only survives on its merit of having a great battle scene at the end.

But if you look at the prequels, you can start to see exactly why I’m such a supporter of the Empire.  Throughout the original trilogy the Empire is presented as having been a force of subjugation and evil and racism across the whole universe.  They don’t do anything good and they only exist for the power of the Emperor and his entire support structure, staff and confidants are all humans.

You’d think that the Empire is entirely evil based on the racism and complete executive control by the moffs over their sectors.  I’d argue that, while the racism thing is bad, although it can’t be too bad, aliens just don’t seem to serve in the military, the executive control thing is a point in their favor.  Now, I think I might be repeating something other people have said here, but when you have 70 million worlds, parliamentary procedure really doesn’t work.  So, okay, yes, complete, tyrannical control in the hands of a small number of individuals is probably a bad idea.  It is, however, a damn sight better than legislative gridlock on a whole new scale of asinine.

On the note about regulation and the apparent racism, yeah, like I said, outside of Thrawn and maybe just a handful of other aliens, only humans seem to have positions in the government and military.  Yeah, that blows.  On the other hand, we are also presented with aliens that are large scale merchants, business men and crime lords.

Aside from that particular issue, what else have we seen about the Empire?  Okay, they hunt and kill Jedi, but Jedi don’t recognize their authority and are actively undermining the sovereignty of the legitimate government.  A government, which because of the prequels, we know that it is also a popularly elected government!  Sigh, whatever.  Jedi are essentially outlaws and terrorists.

So, you would also expect that, in the case of their low level authorities, police actions, soldiers, et cetera, would be really bad about working with the general population, right?  Roughing people up, shaking people down, barging into residences or businesses without cause or warrant, executing captives?

Here are examples from just Episode 4.  We see stormtroopers attacking the Tantive IV, a ship which is being pursued for the espionage that it was carrying.  They burst through the airlock, march through the ship in a running gun battle in which many of both sides are killed in the initial conflict.  So, you’d expect them to execute everyone, right?  Nope, instead they are seen marching captives out.

Beyond that, we know that they’re hunting someone in particular, right?  They’re given instructions to take them alive, so they set their weapons to stun and take Princess Leia without hurting her at all.  Oh yeah, and her reaction to, “There’s one, set for stun,” was to shoot the stormtrooper and kill him straight up.  Just so we’re clear on this, the Princess and her peace loving streak even makes an appearance in a novel set between ANH and ESB called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.  She massacres these stormtroopers, aiming for heads and faces, blasting out eyes.  So, yeah, peaceful.

That’s a good mark, here’s a bad one (I’m trying to be honest here), they do kill Owen and Beru and the jawas.  Yeah, that was dickly.  We can assume that the pair was not… cooperating.  Yeah, again, evil.

We didn’t see that happen, I’m just trying to stick to what was on screen but I’m going to give this one up.  The next time we see the Imperial troops, they’re in Mos Eisley, a hive of scum and villainy, the kind of place you’d expect them to be at their worst, right?  In the process of searching for the droids in town, R2 and 3PO hide behind a door and lock it.  When the troops come by, they check the door, maybe knock and say, out loud, “If it’s locked, move on to the next one.”

Now, I want everyone here to remember that I’m not arguing that entire Empire isn’t evil, but their leadership is.  They blow up Alderaan, a relatively innocent, if politically difficult, planet.  That’s downright evil, but it’s done by one of the highest ranking officers in the Empire, Grand Moff Tarkin.  When Leia is interrogated and drugged, that’s done by Vader.

            Now, if you want to argue about how they’re dealing with the Rebellion, I’m game for that.  The Rebels, freedom fighters that they are, are terrorists.  I don’t even mean in the technical sense or in the strictest sense, they are in every meaning of the phrasing, terrorists!  They’re trying to assassinate the leadership of the Empire, they’re making attacks against Imperial facilities, whether they be civilian or military.  

            Seriously, how many people do you think were killed on the Death Star?  It’s a space station the size of a small moon with a full crew and garrison.  So, if I had to guess at a number for that it would probably be in the hundreds of thousands or millions.  Reason to celebrate right?

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