Sunday, September 25, 2011

Darth Vader is the Good Guy?

My son and his father have been watching various Star Wars movies and television shows. They have not seen the newer movies, episodes 1-3, because my husband has a very real fear that Zane will decide that Jar Jar is totally awesome, and Larry loathes Jar Jar with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns. The two of them have also been watching The Clone Wars, and occasionally I catch part of the show.

The Star Wars movies, and the animated series The Clone Wars, are directly marketed to kids. Anakin Skywalker is the hero of the animated show, as far as I can tell. For those who are not acquainted with the story(or those who think that George Lucas should have stopped after the first three movies), Anakin Skywalker, Luke's daddy, becomes...Darth Vader. One of the archetypes of evil.

Yep. The biggest, baddest, evil-est dude in that galaxy far, far, a hero to millions of kids out there. Kids who haven't made the connection between the name Anakin and Darth Vader. What happens when they do make that connection?
This is a super-heavy concept, this idea of a holy warrior ultimately throwing everything away and killing everything in his path to embrace evil, aka the dark side. There is no true happy ending for Anakin. Even if he was ultimately redeemed by his son, Darth Vader spent his life doing many evil things, and he never had a second thought about it, at least not before Luke showed up.

The first three Star Wars movies delineated good and evil perfectly. Everyone knew who was on 'the Dark Side', and there was no doubt. The boundaries were clear--this was good, and this was bad. Darth Vader was very obviously on the bad side, and his very being exuded his evilness, even from the rows of a darkened movie theater.

We had moral certainty. Darth Vader=Evil

But that second trio of movies threw a hitch in there: it turns out that Darth Vader hadn't always been evil. No, Darth had started life as an adorable little blonde kid who grew up to be a Jedi, a hero. He wasn't really bad; he just became that way, at least as far as the movies were concerned.

Our moral certainty went out the window. It went out the window and made a horrific sound as it hit the pavement.

Yet, at some level, we understood the meaning, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Anakin's journey to the Dark Side began with his intentions of doing good things. Many of us out there have been faced with similar choices, minus the light sabers. Does that mean that we are evil? If so, can we be forgiven?

At some point, my son is going to make the connection, that Anakin=Darth Vader=Evil?. It may be a traumatic realization for him. Of course, I hope that my sweet boy doesn't have his epiphany until he is much, much older. I really don't know how I will answer his future questions; I haven't answered those questions satisfactorily for my self. I would like a little more time to find some answers that make sense.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm...point to ponder! I was a Staw Wars junkie as a kid, but have yet to see the next/first three movies. Our son saw the newer ones first, so I guess he is tracking how the evil evolved (but is much older than Zane). Again...interesting point to ponder! Now I might have to watch them all!


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