Keep Politics in Star Wars

Mel Brooks stand up philosopher in the Star Wars Republic Senate

There’s a movement in many fandoms, a vocal, but I hope small, group of people are screaming to get politics out of their favorite stories. Some threaten boycotting the franchise. The most recent call has been from the Star Wars fandom with the release of Solo.

Whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, politics has always been part of Star Wars. From the moment that it was released in 1977, political messages have been just below the surface in the epic battle between the light side and dark side of the force.

People get out of experiences what they bring into them

Perhaps people today don’t realize it because they don’t bring their politics with them. Wait, wasn’t there a whole scene in Empire Strikes Back about getting out of things what you bring into it? Anyway, the vast majority of Star wars fans were not politically motivated when they saw the movie for the first time. Even the people who saw the movie in the theaters in 1977 were mostly high school age. They went into the movie wanting a fun time, and that’s what they got out of it. That’s my theory anyway.

What you cannot do is claim that these politics have been injected into the story.

Today, in 2018, we are yet again in a politically charged climate. This time, star wars fans are in the thick of it. We are sitting on opposite sides of vast wall, viewing the same story but projected in mirror image. Some people see themselves reflected in a more diverse cast fighting for political ideals they agree with. Others see an SJW agenda ruining a good story. They see the stories through their own tinted glasses.

You can agree with the politics. You can disagree with them. What you cannot do is claim that these politics have been injected into the story. It’s always been there, you just weren’t looking for it. Let’s go back to the original trilogy and examine it a little closer.

Nixon resigned in 1974, partly over concerns that he was trying to take too much power as president. We had fought a world war against fascism. We were engaged in a cold war against a power seeking to control people and governments through nuclear weapons, a destructive force so great that it was, and is, practically unimaginable. Then along comes Star Wars, an epic space fantasy where an evil empire has dissolved the senate and has a space weapon powerful enough to destroy planets.

Here is a government where the military rules the populace through fear.

A notable named leader of this empire? Governor Tarkin. Not admiral, not General, governor. A civilian title. Except he’s wearing a military uniform and is obviously a military leader, not a civilian. In a time of civil unrest, where many countries across the world were experiencing military coups, here is a government where the military rules the populace through fear. How Machiavellian.

The troops of this empire? Stormtroopers. They were literally soldiers in white armor called stormtroopers. The leaders? White, male, humans. In fact, I can’t recall a single imperial in the original trilogy that wasn’t a white male. Even Darth Vader is revealed to be white, becoming fodder for one of Kevin Smith’s funniest scenes. While the original films lacked diversity in general, it seems all the nonhumans were rebels.

I could go on exploring the connections to governments torturing citizens, negotiating with private entities in bad faith, etc. but I think I’ve made my point. Star wars has always been political. It’s not new. It’s just different, reflecting the politics of the time. Imagine how boring these stories would be if it was just another don’t be Hitler allegory?

Tim Greenshields

Tim Greenshields is the founder of Sci Fi Cadre. He has always loved science fiction and even as a baby would refuse to go to bed until Star Trek was on TV. When he isn't reading or watching genre fiction you can find him at Southern California conventions

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