Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My little Jedi, friendship is magic.

So there's a mutiny in The Last Jedi, and so there should be.  It's about time we stopped portraying Imperial officers as soulless wimps who will take anything for fear... what it's in the Rebellion Resistance?  WTF? 

Ok to understand why that is so utterly stupid imagine that you control a space military and that much of it's work is guerrilla warfare.  You deploy fighter squadrons and even individual fighters halfway across the galaxy and assume they will do their job, even though they could run at any time and there's no way to stop them.  You even send them on what most of them think is a futile attack against a battlestation with literally trillions of times their firepower.  None of them ever desert even though they believe the attack is probably futile suicide.  Only an naive farm-boy thinks he can make the shot, experienced combat pilots don't.  Sounds like a pretty loyal bunch right?  So why are they revolting and not the Imperials who god knows have just cause to throw their superiors down a reactor shaft?

Well simply because the new trilogy doesn't get the fundamental dynamic of Star Wars, which is expressed in two aphorisms.  Good people have good relationships that lead to good results.  Bad people have bad relationships that lead to bad results.

Think about how many times the main three characters in the original trilogy saved each other.  Luke and Han save Leia.  Han saves Luke and therefore allows him to destroy the Death Star, saving Leia.  Luke tries to save Han and Leia but has to be saved by Leia instead.  How this happens relates to the second aphorisms but more on that later. Luke and Leia team up to save Han.  Every single main character, and most of the minor ones on the good side, would be dead without the main three having each other's back.

So let's look at the other team, do they play well with others?  Well frankly no.  I've worked in some pretty dysfunctional organizations but I've never had the boss intervene to stop someone strangling someone in a business meeting.  Nor have I seen anyone provoke such behavior by openly mocking someone's religion.  But that's just the start of the dysfunction junction that is Imperial "leadership".  It's an open question whether Vader saying "This ones mine" gave Han the few extra seconds he needed to line up his attack run on Vader and the other two TIE fighters.  What we do know is that it could have, so Vader was endangering literally millions of lives,  trillions of credits worth of supplies and the most powerful military device in the galaxy to paint another icon on his fighter.  What a dick.  With Tarkin dead Vader seems to get off the leash, choking whoever he wants and punishing people for not knowing smuggler tactics that the Imperial academies obviously never trained anyone in.  The fact that Vader has no idea where Han and the Falcon went doesn't stop him from blaming his subordinates.  It really improved morale you can tell.

But Vader's real crowning achievement in relationship incompetence comes down to a simple sentence.  He has altered the deal you see and you should pray that he doesn't alter it any further.  Now this is a bad thing to say to anyone because it indicates that you're unilaterally abandoning your commitments, while still expecting others to honor theirs.  After all the deal is "altered" not abolished.  But who would it be really bad to say that to?  Perhaps someone who doesn't trust you or your organization to start with, only agreed to help you to protect those under him, has experience with people screwing them over and knows they always do it twice if you let them, is smart and tough.  You know like that Lando guy.  The guy who runs an illegal city and therefore obviously knows how to deal with people both in a good way and a "I've dealt with the guy who tried to back-stab us" way.

But doesn't take the award for bad interpersonal skills in the original trilogy.  The envelope please.  The winner is Emperor Palpatine for his performance as "The gloating moron" on the second Death Star.  Yes why just sit back and watch the most powerful light side force user turn when you can laugh about it and totally destroy your chance to win.  Yes behaving like a complete dick feels so good it's worth risking death and the destruction of your legacy.  Bonus points for turning your back on the guy whose impending death you just gloated about as you try to kill the son who expressed respect for him.

So why was there a constant theme of good gets relationships (mostly) right and bad gets them (constantly) wrong?  Because the good guys actually tried to build relationships.  Not always competently but they were always trying.  They did things for each other because they had a genuine wish to have a productive and happy relationship.  The bad guys didn't.  They did what they were told because the other guy had more power, for the moment.  They neither desired nor pursued an understanding with their superiors, their subordinates or their piers.  This is because they didn't want to give anyone the respect or trust necessary to do that because they were evil and only related to others via domination.  Star Wars was a story in part about these two approaches to other people and how they work out.  And I emphasize WAS.  The new trilogy is about Mary Sues and not bothering to give people a reason to like you.  Which is why I won't be watching it.  Well one of the reasons anyway.

The Jedi are childless weirdos and TLJ should have been about that.

Firstly I'd like to say there's nothing wrong with being childless or a weirdo, but there's a reason neither is the normal position.  Most people form good relationships by NOT being these.

I have been reading and listening to people talk about "The Last Jedi" the latest Star Wars flick.  In it there is a lot of talk about learning from failure, and absolutely no actual learning from failure.  For instance Yoda says that she has all the wisdom in the old books, not telling Luke that's because she has the books. Those would be the books that have the Jedi "wisdom" that is part of why they failed in the first place.  Luke is the only one who actually managed to beat the Sith, but he teaches her almost nothing because he failed and he's depressed.  So what should he have taught her?

Well he should have pointed out that the Sith were beaten by people with good relationships because they had good relationships. The Sith were bitter, angry, obsessive freaks with power, and so they stuffed up every relationship they ever had.  They were able to manipulate people but not handle a genuine relationship.  The only people worse at relationships were the Jedi, so don't listen to them about beating the Sith.  When a man talks about how he keeps getting prophetic dreams about his loved ones dying you don't tell him death is great and you should be glad when it happens.  Palapatine didn't win Anarkin's loyalty, the Jedi lost it.

A good argument could be made that Luke, not Anarkin brought balance to the force.  He went full berserker homicide mode on his dad and didn't fall to the dark side.  He brought himself back from being absolutely full of hate, something the Jedi can't really do.  Could he have done this if he had abandoned his friends who were suffering because of him?   I don't know but probably not.  Luke is about hope and loyalty, and not going to his friends would have split his soul in a critical way.  Long story short, following Yoda's advice would have got Luke and possibly even Leia turned to the dark side.  Against the dark side you really need to know who you are, "I am a Jedi like my father before me.".  Bear in mind that Luke barely came back from the dark side as it is.  Without his friends...

But Luke forgets that's how he won.  He listens to Yoda.  Why?  Yoda is the old thinking that got the Jedi defeated.  Luke is the new thinking that destroyed the Sith (or at least those Sith that were visible).TLJ should have been about the power of normal relationships that aren't based on monkish obsession.  But SJWs hate normal relationships so that was never going to happen.