Saturday, May 21, 2005

Try Sith On For Size

Now that Revenge Of The Sith is out and kicking butt at the box office, there's a sideshow developing about its politics. A number of critics, right and left, claim George Lucas sticks it to another George. However, after having seen it, the anti-Bush claims seem vastly exaggerated.

At heart, the Star Wars saga has always been about good versus evil which, if anything, supports the (allegedly simplistic) views of Bush as opposed to his critics, who believe in looking at the positive side of flying planes into buildings.

Sith is no different. There are a few lines that can be seen as digs. When Chancellor Palpatine fools the Senate into voting him great power, Amidala notes this is how liberty dies--to thunderous applause. (By the way, in the ancient Roman republic, whenever a war started and they needed ruthless efficiency in government, they would vote for one man to take charge--literally known as a "dictator.") And when Anakin says people are either with him or his enemies, Obi-Wan replies that only a Sith see things in absolutes (an absolute statement worthy of a Sith).

But, in general, the plot and dialogue go directly against this drift. In what is the heart of the movie, Palpatine and Anakin have a long talk about how the world works. Palpatine, who represents pure evil, tries to convince Anakin to join his side using relativistic logic--the Jedi and the Sith are simply two sides of the same coin, both believing they're right and both willing to fight for it. Near the end, after Obi-Wan complains that only Sith believe in absolutes, Anakin says to his way of looking at things, the Sith are in the right. Obi-Wan won't have it--forgetting what he said about ten second before, he explains that the Sith Lord is evil. (But then we know from his lies to Luke in A New Hope that Kenobi believes in situational ethics.)

Lucas may have done it unintentionally, but he's made a pro-Bush film.

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