steelcaver (steelcaver) wrote,

The Dawn Of Understanding

     As a child, I saw the Star Wars films for the first time around the same time that I saw Star Trek for the first time. 

     However, the Star Wars franchise didn't leave an indelible impression on my mind as being of great cultural significance: to be honest, a year after seeing them the only thing I remembered clearly were the explosions, Artoo Deetoo, the Ewoks, and some more explosions. 

, on the other hand, gave me characters I could look up to in the persons of Spock and Tasha Yar, mission statements that were deeper than a two-dimensional war opera, and enemies that truly frightened me (apologies to the Star Wars dweebs reading this, but the Borg were creepier than Vader, Jabba, and Sidious combined).  Consequently, I've always identified myself as a Trekker when asked about my genre alignment among the major sci-fi franchises (although an honourable mention goes to Dr. Who, which wasn't as deep as Trek but which was just as fun to watch). 

     However, it wasn't until recently that I could pinpoint exactly what it was about Star Wars that prevented it from winning my favour.  Suddenly, this morning, it occurred to me.

     It was the infamous "Luke, I'm your father" scene (which can be seen here but, is far more fun to watch here) in The Empire Strikes Back that did it.  Darth Vader confronts the plucky young hero with the news that rather than being dead, Luke's father is in fact facing him that very moment.  Luke rejects this, to which Vader replies "Search your feelings - you know it to be true!" ... at which point Luke screams like a stuck pig with a throat infection.

     Wait, hang on a second...  that's it?  He "knew" it was true just by searching his feelings?  No demands for a paternity test, or even checking to see if Vader knew his mother's name?  It would have been hilarious if Luke had bought that weak case and then found out that Vader was lying to him to prevent Luke from trying to kill him - or better yet, if Vader was telling what he really thought was the truth, and then found out otherwise later.

How The Empire Strikes Back Should Have Ended

     Now, I know that the Force was supposed to be "heard" through one's emotions in the Star Wars universe, but the Force was really just magic by another name, a convenient plot device for allowing characters to fly by the seat of their pants for the entire trilogy.  And that was what made Star Wars a square peg in my mind: I was a pretty sensitive kid, but even I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of a universe in which characters could find their way around entirely by their feelings.

     I've always held emotions to be of lesser importance.  Nice to have, yes, but they're luxury, not a necessity, for a sapient, sentient species that can find its way by rational thinking, inductive logic, observation, deduction, and reason. 

     To build a story on the idea of characters being able to gut-instinct their way through things without thinking things through first...  that just asks for way too much suspension of disbelief (please note that I couldn't accept Catholicism for the same reason). 

     All of my issues with Star Wars stem from that.  Starting from the idea that emotions were tied into the ebb and flow of the universe, everyone in the Star Wars universe seemed to have had it written into their characters that they be motivated by their emotions:  simple greed on the part of Jabba The Hutt;  fear and lust for power on the part of Darth Vader;  desire for revenge on the part of most of the Rebel Alliance;  religious fanaticism on the part of all Sith and Jedi;  the possible insanity suffered by Luke Skywalker after he had "one bad day".

     Meanwhile, even the most emotional of Star Trek's characters worked on rational thinking as much as they could (within the bounds of that universe, of course), and high-minded principles.  The passionate and rowdy Klingons, far from being maniacs, had the idea that warfare and death were necessary aspects of life that they may as well enjoy while they were at it.  The species who turned out to be the most emotionally-volatile race in the Trek universe, the Vulcans, went even farther.  They are most famous in-universe for having learned to master the regulation and outright suppression of their emotions.  The classic series episode "Amok Time" showed the savage side of Vulcan emotional-regulation disciplines emotions with the lid off.  The episode "Fusion" from Enterprise went even further:  Vulcans who had given up their emotional-regulation discipline permanently were shown to be potentially violent, as one committed a pair of assaults against the crew;  that episode ended with a human saying, of the practice of emotional-regulation, "I think I finally understand why."

     This is a viewpoint that I have come to appreciate more and more as I've gotten older, but even as a child the idea of running on straight-up emotional reactions didn't sit well with me, and I was pretty emotional as a kid.

     Sorry, Star Wars dweebs.  I know some of you don't like the idea that your chosen franchise doesn't appeal to some people, but George Lucas screwed up any chance of me looking fondly on Star Wars from the moment he dreamed up The Force.  Gene Roddenberry got me hooked as soon as he created the Vulcans.

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