June 17, 2005

On Sith, Specifically Those Seeking Revenge...

Ok, look, I know everyone and his dog (note "everyone" is singular, not plural) are posting in their blogs (one + dog = plural, now) about this whole Sith thing. So, it's not exactly original to talk about it, thus I'm going to try to be brief.

But there's a major point a lot of people I know have missed, and frankly, I'm tired of hearing people dis my man Lucas. Here it is:

The actual words that the emperor says to Anakin are not what turns Anakin to the Dark Side. They're simply a distraction he uses while he's working his Force magic on Anakin; if he just sat and stared silently at Anakin it'd be a lot more obvious what he was doing (and make the movie kind of duller).

The Force is like hypnosis; it's not my telling you that you're a chicken that makes you a chicken, it's that I've lured you into a highly suggestible state and then told you you're a chicken. To an outside observer who didn't understand hypnosis (or didn't believe), it'd look totally fake: "Oh, yah, he just told that guy he's a chicken, and he starts clucking? That's soooo believable!"

Remember Ben Kenobi: "These aren't the droids you're looking for." [Spending all that time in the cave negatively affected his grammar.] Nobody thought that it was just that Ben said this So Darn Convincingly that the storm trooper agreed; it was clear that the words were just giving the trooper a way to consciously justify what his mind was suddenly telling him to do, so that he didn't later snap out of it and realize he'd been had.

So, in summary, if you didn't believe that the emperor's speeches to Anakin were enough to turn him to the Dark Side, you're right. You can't see the force, but it's all around us, yo.


Next week: I explain how Soldier actually is the most intellectual movie released in the last decade.


Blogger Mike Lee said...

I especially liked last week's rant about the Shakespearean underpinnings of "Crossroads," and how they relate to the Kurosawan anti-hero.

June 17, 2005 7:37 PM

Anonymous Joe Ego said...

I'll hear your argument, though for now I've got to say:

"I do not agree, sir."

June 17, 2005 8:00 PM

Anonymous fetjuel said...

Ending a sentence with a preposition is just fine. "These aren't the droids for which you're looking" sounds crappy and adds no clarity. Check the Chicago Manual of Style.

June 19, 2005 6:38 AM

Anonymous Dath Sidious said...

It's just that a position was made opened and since Mr. Skywalker was the reason of this situation, he didn't really have the choice.

You screw it, you fixed it.

Ok, at one point, we also felt that we were no more in good hands with our previous employee who was suffering from a sporadic headache.

June 21, 2005 4:03 PM

Anonymous THF2 said...

Your implausible explanation does not save the movie: if the rationalization is that Sidious used Jedi mind tricks on one of the most powerful Jedis of all time up to that point (Jedi mind tricks that a common Tatooine merchant could resist in Episode I), that's just dramatically uninteresting, because it means Anakin never made a conscious choice to go to the Dark Side, and there's no visible conflict for the protagonist.

June 21, 2005 11:19 PM

Anonymous brady said...

Anakin's cross to the dark side happened differently in the book. The movie version is what you would call a bad edit.

June 23, 2005 6:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I ran the universe, from now on, whenever a new movie comes out on DVD, it would include an outtake in the extras, in which the actors, in character, do something ending in a really stiff and unconvincing "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" about something trivial that makes sense in the scene.

(ie, Nicole Kidman, in Bewitched, spills something on Will Ferrell. "Nooo!" Patrick Stewart, in XMen 3, gets his wheelchair stuck."Nooo!" Johnny Depp, in a Victorian-era period flick, gets splashed with mud in the streets of London. "Nooo!")

June 23, 2005 6:47 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

thf2: Some races are immune to Jedi mind tricks. Hutts, and Denubians. Those worm-things from the books. That doesn't mean they aren't poweful.

I don't think the tricks work on you unless you are susceptible. I think Anakin gave in because of his flaws, I'm just saying the dialog wasn't the important part. We saw the flaws that were leading towards his being tempted to the Dark Side. The actual dialog wasn't important.

Also, note that although Anakin had a high chlorine count in his blood, the Light Jedi council had complained of the Force being weaker recently. The problem was, in fact, that Light and Dark balance each other out, and there were really only one or two Dark Jedi in the entire galaxy. So, in effect, the emperor had power equivalent to the whole dang council. Hence the irony of the prophecy: Anakin did bring balance to the Force, because he gave brought strength back to the Dark Side to oppose the prevailing Light Side. Sometimes balance isn't a good thing (cf, half of America being dull-witted Bush-lubbers).

Also note that mind tricks are more a Dark art anyways, and the emperor's research into power was not constrained by any ethics or morality. He was an absolute master of mind tricks.

Hard to see, the Dark Side is.

June 24, 2005 3:30 AM

Blogger Mike Lee said...

OK that interpretation of the prophecy is tight like you momma ain't, but that doesn't change the fact that Skywalker fell to his own hubris. Sure, he was duped, and his personality defects led to his being dupable, but there's no magic there. There's no hypnotism there. That's just good old fashioned someone seeing you on a slippery slope and telling you what you want to hear so you can finally justify sliding off. He brought himself to the dark side, and Palpatine used that, but in the conventional way.

June 25, 2005 9:01 AM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Ryu, you know as well as I do that you can't draw a bright line between what people do with The Force and what the do "conventionally." The Force is all around us, it influences our actions and is influenced by them. It binds us.

Saying that Anakin was seduced the old-fashioned way is like saying, "Anakin fell in love with Padme because of her great personality, it's idiotic to think he might have thought she was cute, too!" It's all part of the same package.

June 26, 2005 5:33 AM

Blogger Mike Lee said...

I don't think you can have it both ways. If everyone is caught helplessly in the unstoppable torrent of the mighty river that is the force, then how could Palpatine be using the force (in the sense of the Jedi mind trick) to brink Anakin to his sorry fate? If this was his destiny, then Palpatine was himself merely a pawn in the machinations of Calvinistic predetermination.

It's like two men fighting while being swept down a river. Sure, the one might have his hands around the other's throat, but the fact they're being swept toward a waterfall pretty well makes that moot.

Literary tradition holds that the hero has the ability to give up the fight and swim for shore, but that his own pride keeps him in the current. How can you then say that the villain is responsible for the hero's ultimate fate?

The force as an instrument of fall and ultimate redemption? Sure, but this was no mind trick.

June 27, 2005 12:20 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

You're twisting my words and you know it, you evil dragon. The Force isn't inevitable, it's just a natural part of life. The Hero fell because of his own hubris, but he fell do to the seduction of the Dark Side.

Jedi mind trick is NOT about convincing the target of something they don't want to believe. It's about telling them a half-truth that it's easy for them to believe. Just because it involves the Force (and isn't entirely spoken) doesn't mean it violates all literary convention.

June 27, 2005 3:45 PM

Blogger Mike Lee said...

"These are not the droids you're looking for" doesn't sound like a half-truth to me.

I maintain that the jedi mind trick is a rather low-rent way to dupe the weak of mind, not a long-term hypnosis that transforms a powerful jedi's curiosity and hubris into a near-lifetime fall to the Dark Side.

June 27, 2005 7:45 PM

Anonymous JaxCrazy said...

Sometimes, it is best described by the source:


June 27, 2005 9:29 PM

Anonymous Sea Dragons said...

It's half-true that "these aren't the droids you're looking for", in that once they decided the droids weren't the ones they wanted to detain, it became true ... the other half of course is that they *were* the droids the clones were ordered to find, which is slightly but subtly different.

While it is inevitable that I will eventually see the revenge movie, the first two were so badly in need of the script doctors that rescued the original trilogy that I am not exactly storming the gates to get in.

I saw a clip from a screen test with Hammil and harrison Ford using an (obviously very) early script. The snippet was from the Cantina scene. Han Solo was saying, "Alderan? None dare go near the planet Alderan!" It was shockingly bad, and if it had not been fixed and had carried through the whole film as has been permitted in the recent ones, I daresay the special effects could not have saved the film from a horrific barrage of criticism.

I wish "yo boy Lucas" had kept near him the people who made his work delicious. His current crop of cooks don't present anything worth ever ordering again. Bleh.

July 12, 2005 1:22 PM

Anonymous Sea Dragons said...

Why do they call it the Jedi Mind Trick if the Sith are its masters?

I beg to differ. Well, maybe not. I will just differ, with or without permission!

July 12, 2005 1:24 PM

Blogger Wil Shipley said...

The tricks are available to Sith and Jedi alike -- the fact that Jedi use the trick is actually pretty strange to me, and I think points to some hypocrisy on the part of the Jedi order.

Essentially, the Jedi have a ton of power, but try very, very hard never to wield it, because they know that wielding power is incredibly corrupting and it creates resentment in everyone you've wielded it over.

The Sith feel that if they gather enough power they can single-handedly force everyone to be good. They get to the point where any horrible power seems worth learning because, you know, one of their enemies might have it!

Every dictator tells himself he is going to clean things up and make everything better for everyone.

July 13, 2005 4:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious. I also heard that "it's the responsibility of the init method to release the object if it's going to return nil". What is up with that? They provided example code (ugly imo):

- (id)init
if (nil != (self = [super init]))
if (..whatever you want to check..) {.. init your stuff..}
else {
[self release];
self = nil;
return self;

July 20, 2005 12:27 PM


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