Darth Vader is No Model of Perseverance, Palpatine is the Man

I want to prefix this by saying that I like Star Wars but it’s not as if I think about it all the time. I’ve watched the Plinkett reviews a stupid amount of times but that’s really my only above average act of devotion to the series for a person who likes films. That being said I do have the power to Accurately Recall What Happened In The Films and regularly have to wade through a lot of guff on Facebook to get to the good stuff (you know, posts about how people are going to events, like a live performance of pottery making or something, that are nowhere near me, that kind of gold). There’s one 9gag post in particular (here it is here, if there’s an original source I couldn’t find it) that I’m going to go on about because, well, I haven’t posted anything in a week. If you too have the power to Accurately Recall What Happened In The Films then perhaps you’ll agree that this image makes no damn sense at all.

9gag wtf Vader

I’m going to start with the problem that 90% (this statistic is a complete fabrication) of comments pointed out. I’m not a jedi, as a matter of fact no-one is, and in addition I’ve not been chosen by fate, at least not to my knowledge. Had Anakin not been sweating midichlorians and happened to work at the one shop in the area that sold the part Qui-Gon needed (unless Qui-Gon’s incredibly gullible) he’d probably still be a slave until his mother met, married and was freed by Lars.

The next thing that really confused me is the line “[he] lost… his wife.” Man, that poor guy. Cruel fate took his wife away, that is after he drove her away with his wild eyed, frothing at the mouth, “a god am I” ramblings, nearly choked her to death leading to “lost the will to live” related complications in child birth.

But jeez, I mean he lost his kids right? That’s got to be tough. Then when he was busy being a decent lad and having a prisoner tortured, little did he know that prisoner was his daughter, tragic really, could happen to anyone. Fortunately Saint Vader catches a break and has a chance to meet his son much later on. Time to start building bridges. Time to start healing the hurt. Time to catch up on decades of father son moments and a lifetime of parenting. As the post said, Vader never met his father (because apparently he never existed), although he had a tonne of father figures (the rather gender skewed Jedi order is overflowing with them), what would he have liked to have heard as he was growing up?

“The force is with you young Skywalker,” hmm, little cold, might have at least called him Luke, you know, his name.

“But you are not a Jedi yet,” alright, going in with the harsh truths, it’s a tough stance on parenting but who am I to judge.

At this point, Luke the scamp, pulls out his lightsaber and a fight ensues. I’m going to give Vader the once grieving father now reunited with his son the benefit of the doubt and say that he was holding back and not aiming to hurt or kill his son here, he’s a pro after all.

“You have learned much young one,” that’s more like it, some positive reinforcement!

“Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker” again with the Skywalker. It seems like he’s circling the key point, –I’m yer da, I’m still alive, but yer ma’s still dead. Here’s a card with me number on it. Maybe, one day if ya wanna give me a call, we could I dunno get coffee some day, catch up. I’m not expecting anything big or quick but you’re me son and that kind of thing- but he seems reluctant to outright say it. He then tries to shake Luke’s trust in Obi-Wan, Luke’s other father figure, which is a risky move.

At this point ace Jedi Luke stumbles into the pit behind him and Vader tries to freeze him in carbonite. Dr. Phil never says “if yer havin’ problems with yer sun, ya gotta sit him down and then instantly freeze him in carbon-aigh” does he? Well maybe. Parenting isn’t all too easy man, it’s hard work. It’s not about quick fix, quick freeze solutions. You can call him “impressive” all you like, compliments aren’t going to paper over the carbonite thing. Trying to freeze someone is a dick move.

Vader then goes on to encourage his son to “release [his] anger” which is hardly responsible advice.

Father of the year Darth Vader then goes on to chuck heavy objects at Luke in what is either serious parental indifference or an extreme attempt to toughen him up. This results in Luke getting sucked out the window to what is very nearly his death. At this point it’s getting harder and harder to view Vader as a man who was deeply affected by the loss of children but we’ll see how the rest of the scene played out.

Vader attempts a stealth attack with his lethal energy sword and threatens to destroy Luke.  Then he cut’s off Luke’s hand. This does not play well. At this point he tries to build up the kid’s self esteem by telling him how he doesn’t “realise [his] importance” but Luke’s quite preoccupied with not falling to his death which is made all the more difficult because Vader just chopped off his hand, so this message and the offer to join him doesn’t really hit home. Having recently mutilated Luke, Vader decides that now is the time to tell him that he is in fact Luke’s father. Perhaps earlier on this could have been a touching moment but after amputating Luke’s hand it’s too little too late. Vader’s been raving about power for much of this little heart to heart, as he did with Padmé and despite the fact that that conversation did not go well he starts talking about planning to kill Palpatine just like he did then. Once again, this does not have the desired effect. Luke’s response to this onslaught of physical assault and psychological trauma is to fall into the tunnel below, likely to his death. While it is difficult to tell how he feels because of the helmet, Vader’s body language suggests he’s mildly disappointed with this turn of events as you and I would be if we nearly but didn’t stop a glass rolling off a table and smashing. And the glass was empty. Not the kind of behaviour you’d associate with a man who was haunted for years by the loss of his kids.

The image caption goes on to mention that Vader was badly burned and wears a respirator, the result of a deadly cocktail of arrogance, lava and jumping. At no point does Vader seem to be in pain, the suit seems to take care of that. I’m sure the breathing sound must have done his nut in at times but it’s not as if these things were a barrier in his chosen career of fanatical murderer. That’s the thing about the Galactic Empire, it’s not what you know, it’s whether or not you’re the chosen one of an ancient religion. Sit beside one old man at a weird opera and you’ve a job for life. Don’t believe me? Vader kills his own lieutenants as much as he kills his enemies, which isn’t good for any organisation, without so much as a cut to his damn dental plan. In addition, casually murdering your colleagues is a pretty good way to keep people from mocking your appearance. Of course for some people, living your life encased in a suit of armour all day might make you feel a bit distant from people but based on the in the prequels did Anakin ever enjoy interacting with people other than Padmé? I’m not getting a Quasimodo vibe from Vader. I mean he chokes people when he’s done talking to them. A p45 would suffice.

(In fact based on the prequels did any of the characters except Obi-Wan and that diner guy enjoy interacting with other people? A question for another day.)

What I’ve being trying to get at up to this point is that Vader, specifically Vader as he appears in Episode IV  and Episode V as this far superior piece discusses, was very much at peace with himself. He was the larger than life bad guy, casting waves of intimidation and fear around with gay abandon, cutting down friend and foe alike and enjoying every minute being on the dark side. Lack of planning means that Padmé is never mentioned, but there aren’t even vague references to a mother of any kind. If Vader was carrying these memories and wounds like a millstone around his neck the guy hid it incredibly well with his theatrics, devotion to the Empire and religious zeal.

Which brings me on to one of the most glaring inaccuracies of the post “YET, HE CONQUERED THE GALAXY”. Do you remember the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Darth Vader tells the clone troopers to execute order 66? Or when he anoints himself Galactic Empire? Or those scenes in the original trilogy when Darth Vader has a giant steel plated killer with breathing problems grovelling to him and obeying his every whim. No? Because all of those things happened to Palpatine! Vader didn’t conquer anything. All he ever did was inadvertently kill his wife, slaughter children and mutilate his son.

In fact, if there’s any inspirational story in Star Wars, it’s that of Palpatine. You may be thinking, now hang on, Palpatine grew up on Naboo, his family might have been well off for all we know, in fact if we check the Expanded Universe I’m sure we- and that’s when I’d stop listening. But you’d still have a point. Naboo couldn’t ever be as bad as growing up on a slave on Tatooine and I’m not about to dispute that. But think about Naboo. Eventually you’ll probably come up with the words “idyllic” or “pastoral” which sure do sound nice on the surface. However, deep down we all know that these are just sales person speak for “dull”, “monotonous” “possibly not yet electrified” and “you can’t get a coffee anywhere”. Naboo is the intergalactic equivalent of Donegal and you don’t know where that is do you? Naboo is the intergalactic equivalent of Wisconsin.

Even when Palpatine escaped the planet where they haven’t even gotten around to sorting things out with the Gungas he still had to endure the awfulness of the Senate. The democracy of the Star Wars Universe exists alongside laser swords, discusses wars with robots and parliamentary process is carried out using floating platforms and it still manages to look duller than its real world equivalent. Another cruel twist of fate is that Jar Jar Binks and Padmé (a woman whose defining character traits are a love of democracy and peace, which must be frustrating for a man who loves totalitarianism and violence) were thrust into my man Palpy’s political circle but he took it like a champ! To achieve his goals Palpatine was willing to work with the Neimoidians and put the hours in holding their hands throughout every stage of the plan. Palpatine invested a lot of time and energy into this Skywalker kid, only for him to get himself all burned up on what was basically his first day on the job! Imagine that. You, as Palpatine, have just convinced everyone to appoint you Emperor, your childhood dream, you’ve wiped out the Jedi, you’ve just survived a fight to the death with one of the most revered Jedi in the universe, your second such fight in the last few days, you’ve just sat down and are about to crack open the champagne, maybe rub some anti-wrinkle cream on your newly wrinkled face. Then I guess that blue horned guy walks in and tells you your greatest achievement, Darth Vader, has fared significantly worse in his fight to the death with that guy from Trainspotting and that he needs you to help him out because he tried to jump up a hill and screwed up. Now you gotta put the celebrations on hold and fly over there to fish his sorry ass out of the lava yourself. I bet Palpatine paid for Vader’s treatment as well, there’s no way you’d get seen to that quickly on the GHS.

My main man Palpatron
This one’ll be my ticket to the big leagues, I can tell.

That wasn’t to be the end of Palpatine’s problems with his greatest apprentice however, who over the years proved himself to be talented only in the field of killing his own allies and children. The poor man had to endure decades of creepy deep breathing over the phone only for it to turn out to be Darth Vader. Much more importantly, Vader would once again cramp his master’s style on what could have been the day of Palpatine’s victory over the rebellion and the corruption of Luke Skywalker with no potentially problematic pools of lava in sight. Instead of doing something useful like encouraging Luke to kill him thus completing Luke’s crossover to the dark side or maybe trying to stop the station from exploding, Vader scores an own goal for the Empire by throwing Palpatine down a hole, killing him.

That’s actually my final point. The 9gag post said that Vader conquered the galaxy completely ignoring the fact that by the end of Episode 6 he regretted his actions up to that point. Saying Vader “conquered the galaxy, be like him” is completely inaccurate but more importantly misses the whole point of his character arc and ignores that the Empire was A Bad Thing. I don’t think it’s too much to say that one of the basic foundations of the story of the original trilogy is that the Empire is bad news. The protagonists want to defeat it, the antagonists all side with it, they’re made to resemble Nazis and a lot of them sound English which is cinematic shorthand for evil. Saying Vader conquered the galaxy (in actuality he ran errands for the guy that conquered the galaxy) is akin to saying saying “J. Robert Oppenheimer helped developed the atomic bomb, what’s your excuse”, “Judas Iscariot used his entrepreneurial nous to get himself thirty pieces of silver, so you get off your ass”. This is the obvious stuff that the 320,000 people who liked the post on Facebook and the few who said “well actually, Vader lost both arms” seemed to have missed.

Now I know complaining about what people like on 9gag is nothing new. People, like myself, who need to validate their sense of superiority and their distance from the teeming masses have been doing it for years. Equally it’s not particularly novel to point out how people will like or purchase seemingly anything that includes some kind of Star Wars related imagery. It’s just that, by writing this post I’m hoping that people will see that….. I said the words Star Wars a bunch of times and I’ve a picture of Vader on the top and like and share it with their friends in spite of the actual content or quality, gotta get that traffic somehow!

Bye!

The blog hasn’t been updated for a week. The problem is I’ve a couple of ideas jockeying for attention and so none of them have actually been finished. This was supposed to be a quick filler piece but actually probably took as long as it would have taken to finish any of the other stuff. Oh well. Also there’s a spelling mistake in the URL which I can’t change and I’m very sorry for any distress it may cause in those who really care about spelling.

Move it chowder head!
My “new blog” page at the moment. Uploaded by this guy

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