18 may 2005

fisking Lucas's moral universe, part I

SO GEORGE LUCAS BELIEVES that he has made a political parable (more here). What he has unwittingly revealed instead is just how conventional a thinker he really is. True visionaries transcend their times: but Lucas cannot even manage to see beyond the hermetic confines of Hollywood groupthink, in which dire predictions of rising fascism in W's America are as hackneyed as they are de rigueur.

It's all just so 2004.

But this post isn't about politics; Arthur Chrenkoff, Stephen Bainbridge, and Patrick Ruffini have that covered (the latter most memorably). Beginning here, and continuing over the next few days, I'll examine a few moral aspects of the Star Wars universe. Not from a Christian point of view, except when Lucas openly invites such comparison—which he does, most notably, by making Anakin Skywalker the product of something very much like the Virgin Birth—but rather by examining things like inherent plausibility and internal consistency.

And what better way to begin than by talking about sex?

The relationship between Anakin and Padmé is secret—not because the Queen-turned-Senator is ashamed to be seen publicly with such an inveterate whiner, but because marriage among the Jedi is simply verboten. And not just marriage: all manner of strong commitments, including familial, are discouraged.

It's worth noting that these strictures are in the end dispensable. As we learn in the literature [cough] of the officially-sanctioned Expanded Universe, in the New Republic marriage among the Jedi is common, if not encouraged. After all, Luke Skywalker's father exterminated three generations of the Knights; hence the son pretty much needed the few remaining Force-sensitives to make like rabbits to populate the revived Order. Luke himself married the smokin' redhead Mara Jade.

But in the prequels, all love is forbidden love. One might then reasonably conclude that the Jedi of the Old Republic were celibate. But one would be wrong.

Star Wars director George Lucas says Jedi Knights are allowed to have sex, despite their monk-like existence.

He says the light sabre-wielding warriors aren't celibate.

No Jedi Knight has yet been seen with a partner in any of the five Star Wars movies.

But at a press conference to mark the launch of the fifth film Attack Of The Clones, which premiered in London last night, Lucas said: “Jedi Knights aren't celibate - the thing that is forbidden is attachments - and possessive relationships.

Or as I seem to recall Jonah Goldberg commenting at the time: “Bootie call yes, commitment no.” (Google fails to turn up that quote, unfortunately.)

aayla_secura_sm.jpg

Aayla Secura: Probably not like a nun

It might be worth unpacking the ramifications of Lucas's remarks. If you're a young Jedi looking for some action, what do you do? Best not consider other members of the Order: might make working together a tad awkward, and there's that pesky prohibition on emotional attachments. Can't have a fling with someone from high society—it just isn't good form for the Republic's guardians to be seen in the gossip rags. Singles bars? Likely there's rules against that, too, as you might end up with a spy from the nasty capitalist Trade Federation, or somesuch.

So what's left? Groupies? A prostitute from an officially-sanctioned brothel (or Companion's Guild, to borrow from Joss Whedon's Firefly)? Concubines contracted not to individual Jedi, but rather to the Order?

The question here isn't one of internal consistency, but instead plausibility. Is Lucas trying to create a believable world, or is he instead trying to conjure up the ultimate fanboy wish fulfillment? Really: what could possibly be cooler to a fourteen-year-old than the allure of preternatural skills, combat with the single awesomest weapon ever, and license to score chicks without any of that commitment crap?

If nothing else, this might tell us something about what kind of fourteen-year-old George Lucas once was. Just a guess: dateless.

 

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