Friday, March 18, 2016

I may have been wrong about some Star Wars.

I tweeted about this the other day, but felt I wanted to play with the concept a little more in depth.  Let me start out by saying that I don’t hate Episodes I-III the way a lot of my generation does.  When I say my generation, I am talking about people who saw at least one Episode of the OT first run in a theater.  We have a tendency to express a lot of displeasure with the Prequels.  Though I enjoy them, I recognize issues (though, don’t forget there are plenty of issues with the OT), and one of the ones I hated the most was the absolutely horrendous performances by Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman in portraying Anakin and Padme’s relationship.  Bad dialogue, cardboard performances; I even recently posited they should do a cut of II and III where they actually replace the live-action Anakin with the animated version from The Clone Wars.
More believable.

But, I had a thought the other day that makes me wonder if perhaps I—and many other critics—have missed the point all along.  There might be something much deeper going on that makes both the dialogue and the performances exactly what they should be, and improve the quality of the prequels in its acceptance. 

And if there are younger other fans out there saying, “well of course!” please pardon my ignorance and allow me to proselytize to others.

Let’s take a look at Anakin Skywalker.  Here’s a kid who was a slave.  The only person he was ever really able to get close to was his Mother, and though granted certain autonomy, lives under the constant threat of a violent death if he displeases his exploitative master.  From this socially isolated environment, he is taken in by a group of Warrior Monks where he spends the majority of his time in meditation, combat training. Add to this he is constantly reminded by people around him that he’s different for starting the training late, only around because Yoda wanted to help Obi-Wan fulfill a promise, and oh MIGHT be the person who will fulfill some ambiguous prophecy from the distant past.  Aside from his friendship with Obi-Wan, the only person who has really shown him true kindness aside from his month and Qui-Gon is Padme.  However, the Jedi have spend a decade telling him he CANNOT have that connection, that those links and relationships are forbidden. 

How could he possibly pursue romance like a normal human being?  He must be emotionally stunted, completely unpracticed in dealing with the opposite gender, and still fixated on this one girl who was a pre-pubescent crush who over a decade has probably been promoted in his mind to an impossible reality.  Of course he’s awkward, wooden, obsessive, and immature.  He has no idea how to be anything else.

Then there’s Padme.  Here’s a girl who when she should have been finishing an education and hanging out at the local Naboo Boy-Band Concerts was actually in a position requiring her to rule a planet.  Ruling a planet that was already suffering racial discord (humans versus gunguns) and then suffers invasion and war.  After liberating her world, she becomes a Senator to the Republic, likely to replace that nice Senator Palpatine who is now Chancellor.  She never has a childhood.  She’s spent her life a target enough to need look-alike hand maidens who act as secret service and decoys.  Those would be the people with whom she is closest, virtual twins who she sees die in her place periodically.  What does she know about actually carrying on a romance?  Ascension guns up the side of Theed Palace do not prepare a 15 year old girl for having a normal relationship. 

Along comes Anakin, and Padme sees he’s clumsy in his approach to her, and here finally is someone she does not have to put on airs for, or act like a Senator, Queen, or Liberator.  She can just be Padme, and even she isn’t really sure who that is. 

Finally in Episode III, they know it must all come to an end.  Padme is pregnant, and huge gowns and clever waistlines will not hide that fact forever.  Eventually someone is going to ask who the other parent is.  Eventually, either Padme or Anakin are going to have to give up everything they have and are and make a choice.  And that terrifying change is gestating in Padme with every minute.

So, Padme and Anakin’s conversations and romance are clumsy and poorly worded.  Their love seems to be aping what real romance would be; perfect, that is perhaps exactly what it should be.  How else should we really expect two people who must be completely socially retarded (in the literal, clinical sense) to be?

Maybe this was exactly right all along.

And I don't think I can blame Lucas for this Lazer Boner.

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