My problem with Evil in Star Wars

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My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:28 am

I think I have a problem with evil in Star Wars and I'm going to ask if someone else had similar thoughts or if the matter has already been discussed at lenght among fans (I'm not an expert on SW messageboards or sites even if I've always followed the Saga).
The problem to me was exacerbated by Kylo Ren in Episode 7 (not seen yet Episode 8 so please no spoilers). Unless there is some incredible revelation in episode 8 (but for the little discussions I've seen, I bet there isn't) he seems to have become evil by Force, i.e. by Magic, without a credible motivation. I mean your parents and your teacher are literally the coolest people in the Galaxy so what you are angry for? In my experience, and in the experience of psicologists and social workers worldwide, good or at least pretty decent people do not produce evil sons. You had to have really, really bad parents to become Evil, or no parents at all and be left to yourself in the cruel world. Unattentive or busy parents may produce jaded, spoiled childrens, but not evil ones.
I just cannot buy him, he defies my suspension of disbelief. I can believe he has magical powers, but not that he is Evil and willing to kill his own father.. with just a passing doubt. For what? To imitate a grandfather whom, anyway, had theorically achieved redemption at the end of Episode 6? It makes no sense.
Kylo IMO is worse, but Anakin too makes little sense to me. His descent to evil in Episode 3 also offends my suspension of disbelief. Ok, your mother is dead so I can understand the ethnic massacre and the sense of guilt, but a man who still has friends, a loving wife and incoming children goes all the way to the dark side and kills children in the temple? That happened before Palpatine told him he had killed Amidala, only because he "senses" that his wife could die and only Palpatine could save her? Come on, how stupid are you?
Also how it is possible anyway that a woman is likely to die in childbirth in a Galaxy with extremely advanced technology?
The Force is not a good explanation for everything in my mind.
Even worse that Anakin is shown at the end of Episode 6 happy and good with Obi-Wan.
That scene is disturbing only to me? I mean he killed children. He committed genocides. He destroyed a planet! Then he returns to the Light Side and all is forgotten and forgiven. So are we going to forgive Hitler after we are all dead? NOT a chance in Hell, if you ask me.

I still liked most of the movies, but also from a Role Playing Game POV the nature of Evil in Star Wars is problematic to me. It seems it is depicted like a sort of disease, and therefore people who falls into it are not really guilty, because the Dark Side.
This destroys any meaning of being Good and making Good choices. You are not Good, you are just lucky you did not catch the Dark Side.
I find this unacceptable. If I was Leia and my father killed my planet and my adoptive parents whom I had reason to love much more than my previously unknown true father once in the afterlife I'm not going to forgive him and dance with him because now he is good. I'm going to rip his d&%n dark heart from his rotting soul until there is no trace left of him :)

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Havard » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:41 pm

I agree with you that both of these examples are problematic.

1) Kylo Ren: Going with Ep VII alone, I don't think we get a proper explanation to why Kylo turned to the Dark Side. The realization that he was Darth Vader's grandson seems to have been a source of his crisis of identity, but the movie also suggests that "Supreme Leader Snoke" may have had something to do with this. During the movie, Kylo displays several moments of self doubt suggesting that he has not yet been completely turned to the Dark Side, at least not before the death of Han Solo. Taking Ep VIII into account, we know that Luke's blunder seems to have pushed him over the edge, but again the lies of Snoke must have been what clouded his judgement so completely.. Overall, I lean towards reserving my judgement of this storyline untill I have seen episode IX.

2) Anakin Skywalker: I will chalk this up to bad story execution by Lucas. The prequels failed to give us a decent understanding of how the kind and gentle Anakin fell to the Dark Side. I guess his fear of loosing Padme, his anger over losing his mother and his frustration with the Jedi Order were elements that pushed him over the edge, obviously helped by the machinations of Palpatine. Redemption is an important them in the Original Trilogy. Luke sensed that there was still good in Darth Vader. I think the scene of Anakin murdering the "younglings" was excessive, but we know from the Original films that Vader helped the Emperor kill the Jedi of old. Could someone be redeemed from any of that? Vader does kill the Emperor and he sacrifices his life to save Luke and ultimately the galaxy. Is that enough for him to regain balance with the Force? Remember that it was the Emperor who ordered the construction of the Death Star and it was he who was responsible for the destruction of Alderaan.

What does falling to the Dark Side mean? I don't think it is a disease as you say, but Force Sensitive individuals risk loosing their own free will to this aspect of the Force. The only way to avoid falling prey to the Dark Side is to avoid giving in to strong, dark emotions like hate and fear. Once you allow those feelings to control your actions, a Force User will permanently be a slave to the Dark Side. This puts Force Users in a very different position than non-Force users. I don't know if we can say that Force users hold no responsibility for the actions they commit after they have fallen, but it seems that what they need to be judged by is how well they fight against falling in the first place?

Interesting questions for sure!

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by rendclaw » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:30 am

It's a moral quandary like any other in film or fiction. Anakin fell because Palpatine worked on him for years, dropping little things here and there, finding out just what Anakin's weakness truly was (fear of loss combined with a need to control for what he thought was the greater good, but in the end it was *his* greater good) and picking away at it in the long term. Palpatine was an *extremely* manipulative mofo, a fact that cannot be understated as he alone engineered the Clone Wars over a very long period of time, and no one was the wiser until it was far too late.

Add to this that the Jedi had become victims of their own success to where they taking children who were force-sensitive from their homes and families to bolster their ranks, and had become so hidebound that they could not see what was coming until the majority of them got wiped out. On top of that, more and more resentment was building against the Jedi over the decades and centuries, but they were so insular they did not see *that* either. Obi-wan and Yoda more or less manipulating Luke into becoming an instrument to take down Vader and Palpatine (and would have failed outright if Anakin had not turned back to the light at the very end at the cost of his life) is a prime example of how the Jedi Order's methods failed at key points.

As to the storytelling, Lucas was more concerned about either repeating his successes in the 70s and 80s, or focusing more on the children, or obsessing over the latest technology to where he was making the actors look bad in executing their roles in the movies. Its arguable that Sam Jackson and Liam Neeson rose above what they were given to work with, but just barely. Natalie Portman is a great actress, and Hayden Christensen does not deserve the level of hate fans give him for his portrayal of Anakin, but from everything I have read (which admittedly is not even close to the level of some people who frequent thee boards), aside from Natalie and Hayden not having very much in the way of chemistry Lucas instructed them to act in the way that came across as so wooden on screen. Only in Revenge of the Sith (where Lucas got other directors to help) did it redeem the prequels somewhat.

As to Episode VII, as much as I liked it at some points, it was missing that special something that was in the original trilogy. Kylo Ren was like Chucky the first time I saw Child's Play in the theatre; a villain who is unintentionally funny. His uncontrolled fits of rage and lack of emotional control was laughable and was what allowed an untrained force user to kick his ass. Never mind the going back to the well of the Death Star again, or Harrison Ford agreeing to reprise Han Solo (the role that catapulted him into stardom) just so he can be killed off.

I still have not seen Episode VIII as of yet, but from what I have heard about it (as much as I could without reading spoilers aside from one thing), its even less special than VII. I am trying to reserve judgment until I have seen it with my own four eyes, but it is hard.
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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by JamesMishler » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:46 am

Regarding Anakin's fall, you get a much, much better take on that in the Clone Wars animated series (the second computer-animated series, not the first, traditional-animated one). His corruption is shown in much better detail; the Anakin portrayed there is MUCH more in the vein of Darth Vader than the whiny Anakin of the prequels.

RE: Kylo Ren, it comes down to the simple thirst for power. He's not a true psychopath, as such; it is nurture rather than nature. As the old saying goes, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. He had great power, Snoke whispered dark ideas into his head; he grew up during the Resistance against the First Order, in a time of societal anomie, at the same time his parent's relationship was strained, at the best. Then Luke failed in being a Jedi teacher; this is not surprising, given that Luke had all of what, two weeks of Jedi training himself, counting time with Force Ghosts?

It doesn't take much to corrupt people; and when that person already has awesome cosmic powers, and all the reason in the galaxy to wield them to make his world "perfect" and under his own control, it must be even easier to fall, if your moral and ethical training are already lax...

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:41 am

The concepts of "Good" and "Evil" in Star Wars movies (and, arguably, the larger canon) is pretty simplistic, at least in its execution on-screen and in-script.
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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:40 am

I hear and appreciate all the opinions above. Probably the fall of Anakin could have been shown better in the movie. Still is most the Redemption part which appears in the original trilogy which bothers me. Or at least it's the final scene with the "good ghost" of Anakin which bothers me.
Should he have survived the war and been arrested, even with the final murder of the Emperor, would a Galaxy Tribunal have forgiven him? I do not think so, as his crime were too extensive. He would have get the death penalty in Nuremberg and a life sentence without parole in the modern International War Crimes Court. I don't think that mass criminal could or should be forgiven. "I was just there when they destroyed Alderaan" could not be a valid defense in any court :)
About Kylo, I think thirst for power is not enough. Remember that the First Order is depicted as a true nazi-like organization and the heir of the Empire, bent on continuying its crimes, and making them even worse. I cannot believe that Han and Leia were so terrible parents that they failed to warn their son about that. It is possible that a mother who has seen the destruction of her planet would not tell her son about it? And it is possible that a grown son will do the same thing which was presented to him as a child as the most terrible crime ever, becoming the major enemy of his mother? It makes absolutely no sense in basic human psicology, no matter which is the angle you look at it. Unless Leia was an abusive mother off-screen, but that conflicts with the whole presentation of the character in all the movies. For a son to actively fight against her mother and father, uncaring parents are not enough, you need abusive parents. It takes years of abuse and cruelty to turn someone who naturally loves you (a son) to someone who actively hates you and wants to kill you. Teenage rebellion fantasies are not the same as really wanting to murder your parents. The first one happens to many for many different reasons, the second one happen to very few for very specific reasons.
So the movie basically is saying to us that Han and Leia, while before always presented as good people, are in truth orrible persons who made an evil son.
This or Snoke brainwashed him, turning Kylo to something contrary to his original nature. Therefore the Dark Side is purely magical, and morality or personal choices have no meaning in all the Star Wars saga.
Frankly I see no way to rationalize this to make it right. It is just horrible screenplay without excuses.

Then from the RPG point of view, should I be a referee in a game, I would feel the need to develop better stories to explain Anakin and Kylo, and ultimately the nature of Evil in the game. Star Wars is supposedly inspired by many fantasy works but most of them, from Burroghs to Tolkien, have much better explanations for Evil. Indeed this quite fundamental part of Star Wars is pretty simplistic, quite too much for my taste.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:45 pm

Sturm wrote:I think I have a problem with evil in Star Wars and I'm going to ask if someone else had similar thoughts or if the matter has already been discussed at lenght among fans (I'm not an expert on SW messageboards or sites even if I've always followed the Saga).
I have issues with this too. I think that they actually explain it, but one of the problems with Star Wars is that they make this stuff up as they go along and they tend to pull out scenes that are slowing down the plot. So I think they actually removed a lot of references that were helping to explain the path.
Sturm wrote:The problem to me was exacerbated by Kylo Ren in Episode 7 (not seen yet Episode 8 so please no spoilers). Unless there is some incredible revelation in episode 8 (but for the little discussions I've seen, I bet there isn't) he seems to have become evil by Force, i.e. by Magic, without a credible motivation. I mean your parents and your teacher are literally the coolest people in the Galaxy so what you are angry for? In my experience, and in the experience of psicologists and social workers worldwide, good or at least pretty decent people do not produce evil sons. You had to have really, really bad parents to become Evil, or no parents at all and be left to yourself in the cruel world. Unattentive or busy parents may produce jaded, spoiled childrens, but not evil ones.
There actually is some further development with Kylo Ren (and with Ray and Luke too) that might help explain this to you. But...it might also be stuff you find harder to buy into. The Last Jedi is certainly a leap into new territory. I'm not going to say anything, as you have not seen it, except: "Go and watch The Last Jedi", have a think about it, maybe watch it a second time, and see if you think it helps you or not.

What motivation does anyone have for turning evil?

Have you heard of something (a real world thing) called "automatic thoughts"? We get a ton of these all the time. There is a type called "negative automatic thoughts" that could help explain how would be Jedi Knights turn to the dark side. And they could explain it, not just for Kylo Ren, but also for Anakin Skywalker. They could probably also explain it for Count Dukoo. Darth Maul is a totally two dimensional evil mook dude, but if I was going to flesh him out, I'd probably throw something like this into his character.

The basic thing with negative automatic thoughts is that bad thoughts pop into our head and we end up giving them weight and being swayed by them.

Even Luke shows negative automatic thoughs in The Empire Strikes Back, where he tells Yoda that he can't lift an X-Wing because it is too big and that it is impossible.

The Dark Side of the force is said to be easier than the Light Side. And it is said to be more seductive. So it doesn't take a great leap to have someone who is struggling with force training (or someone who has a poor quality mentor) to stumble again and again and get tempted to reach out to the Dark Side to get a bit of a boost.

We know that the Force listens to force users, but also feeds back and dictates their actions. So part of connecting up to the Light Side of the force is to give the force user automatic reflexes that will kick in and stop them dying. It's easy to assume that the same happens with Dark Side users.

If the path to the Light Side of the force involves relaxation, mediation and getting in touch with peaceful feelings, the path to the Dark Side hooks into anger, rage and - more importantly your sense of inadequacy and low self esteem.

Look at Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Luke says that he knows there is still good inside him and that he has not turned totally to the dark side. Darth Vader tells Luke that he would die without the Dark Side. He means it. He believes it. And when he turns to the Light Side, it does appear to kill him.
Sturm wrote:I just cannot buy him, he defies my suspension of disbelief. I can believe he has magical powers, but not that he is Evil and willing to kill his own father.. with just a passing doubt. For what? To imitate a grandfather whom, anyway, had theorically achieved redemption at the end of Episode 6? It makes no sense.
The dude is being brainwashed by Snoke. Snoke is his mentor and is trying to push him into throwing away anything that could turn him back to the Light Side.

And Kylo Ren (who has rejected his real name and who has put on a stupid helmet in order to disassociate himself with his real-self) is doing anything he can to try to increase his Dark Side power.

What is the difference between murdering some people and murdering someone else? It's all bad.
Sturm wrote:Kylo IMO is worse, but Anakin too makes little sense to me. His descent to evil in Episode 3 also offends my suspension of disbelief. Ok, your mother is dead so I can understand the ethnic massacre and the sense of guilt, but a man who still has friends, a loving wife and incoming children goes all the way to the dark side and kills children in the temple? That happened before Palpatine told him he had killed Amidala, only because he "senses" that his wife could die and only Palpatine could save her? Come on, how stupid are you?
Do you remember when Anakin killed Count Dooku? Palpatine stabbed Count Dooku in the back and got Anakin to murder him in cold blood. Then, at the end of the Battle of Yarvin, he tried to get Luke to murder Anakin in cold blood and repeat the cycle. Palpatine failed with Luke (who really should have instantly cut down Palpatine, but decided to toss away his light sabre instead). Anakin was no fool. He had turned to evil and served Palpatine, but he had been with him long enough to work out that he was doing the same thing that Count Dooku and Darth Maul were doing. And he realised that Palpatine would stab him in the back without a moment's hesitation.

Padme tried to save Anakin (and got killed by him). Obi-Wan tried to save him, but gave up and tried to kill him instead (and did a poor-quality job). Luke had another go and got through to what was left of Anakin. He got through to the Light Side that was left in Anakin.
Sturm wrote:Also how it is possible anyway that a woman is likely to die in childbirth in a Galaxy with extremely advanced technology?
Childbirth is actually a very dangerous thing. And it would be very easy for Padme to have been rendered brain-dead by Anakin's attack. They didn't really show this very well (and it conflicted with the canon of Leia telling Luke that she had vague memories of her mother). I'd chalk this up to bad film making, but it's quite easy for women to be on life support, to keep babies alive in the womb, and then to die when the life-support is turned off.
Sturm wrote:The Force is not a good explanation for everything in my mind.
Even worse that Anakin is shown at the end of Episode 6 happy and good with Obi-Wan.
That scene is disturbing only to me? I mean he killed children. He committed genocides. He destroyed a planet! Then he returns to the Light Side and all is forgotten and forgiven. So are we going to forgive Hitler after we are all dead? NOT a chance in Hell, if you ask me.
Anakin Skywalker is not Hitler. And the Star Wars universe doesn't need to comply with our concepts of good and evil.

From the point of view of the Star Wars universe, it's enough for Anakin to think he has redeemed himself, for him to be able to come back as a force ghost. Does that mean that everything is forgiven? No. But it means that - as a Jedi - he can try to do some sort of good. Maybe he had a chat with Luke and told Luke how to avoid being tempted by the Dark Side. They never filmed it, so we won't know (unless Haden Christian turns up as a force ghost in a future Star Wars movie! :P ).
Sturm wrote:I still liked most of the movies, but also from a Role Playing Game POV the nature of Evil in Star Wars is problematic to me. It seems it is depicted like a sort of disease, and therefore people who falls into it are not really guilty, because the Dark Side.
Guilt and innocence are not something that applies to the force. The Jedi teachers talk about the Light Side and the Dark Side and what pulls people to either of those.
Sturm wrote:This destroys any meaning of being Good and making Good choices. You are not Good, you are just lucky you did not catch the Dark Side.
I find this unacceptable. If I was Leia and my father killed my planet and my adoptive parents whom I had reason to love much more than my previously unknown true father once in the afterlife I'm not going to forgive him and dance with him because now he is good. I'm going to rip his d&%n dark heart from his rotting soul until there is no trace left of him :)
Actually, there is a theme in The Last Jedi that explores this sort of concept. I'm not going to tell you about it though (as I'm not posting spoilers). Go watch the movie. You will either love this theme and think that it explains everything or you will be all "Meh!" about it. ;)

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:10 pm

Big Mac wrote: Anakin Skywalker is not Hitler. And the Star Wars universe doesn't need to comply with our concepts of good and evil.

Guilt and innocence are not something that applies to the force. The Jedi teachers talk about the Light Side and the Dark Side and what pulls people to either of those.
Well yes and no, IMO. Yes, if the Star Wars universe was real then good and evil could work differently.
But no because it's a series of movies done for us, hence they have to make sense to us. Writers cannot say to us they have actually seen the future and they are just reporting it as an excuse for their bad screenplay :)

Again I'm thinking here mostly from a role playing point of view. If the Dark Side is actually a magical force that can pull you, this could explain both Anakin and Kylo. Players could accept that and the game should contain mechanics which could turn a good PC into an evil PC. I don't know, maybe some SW rpg had such mechanism.
But if the Dark Side is just the choice of Evil, then the movies does not make much sense in the way they depict the characters.
Certainly the fact that the Force actually exist in the SW universe could change things quite a bit, but not as much as it seems in the movies. I mean should I or any normal people get extensive magical powers today that person could certainly be tempted to abuse this power in many ways, but will not become a completely different person.
So if Anakin can be partially justified, it seems impossible with Kylo. Snoke is enough only if you assume the Dark Side is something that can transform you even without your full knowledge and agreement. This could be typical for example in horror rpg, but takes some player agency away...
Basically the Force as depicted in the movies seems something which can overcome free will.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by shesheyan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:13 pm

I agree with you that SW offers a very simplistic view of good and evil. But it never pretended to be anything else than that.

Part of the problem imho is that SW was never a novel to start with. Lucas created the SAGA as he went along, changing his focus for the Force between sagas. In the first (4-6) its a mystical taoists/christian fusion based in part on Dune's psionicists. In the prequels, we learn that now its a living organism with a will of its own called metachlorines that can be tested in the blood... With Disney I don't know what the Force is anymore. The old books and tree lead me to believe they have returned to the New Hope definition. On the other hand these books could be seen as Force spells books.

Its unfair to compare Lucas with accomplished authors like Burroughs, and Tolkien who took decades to (re)write his LOTR before it was published. Star Wars is just a post-modern collage of pulp stories and matinee movies. It is flawed because not enough ground work was established before the script was written.

As for your argument that it takes years of abuse to create a monster I don't buy it. The science says otherwise. From my readings and socio-patholgy class, some people are born psycho/socio/paths because of some chemical imbalance and/or brain atrophy*. They don't care about other people. They can't care. They live in a perverted form of solipsism** in which others exist for the sole purpose of serving their needs. The most dangerous, are the ones who realize this very young and hide it, thus go undetected for years until they reveal themselves or make a mistake and get caught.

[edit]* Just to be clear, I'm not talking about intellectually handicapped people. I had a uncle who was and agree with you. What I'm talking about is people with atrophied «agression control centre» of the brain. Its a well documented scientific fact, whether you choose to believe it or not. Parents, good or bad, divorced or not, have no control over this type of children. Most of them quickly become delinquents and end up in prison. Others are clever enough to go undetected. [edit]

**Solipsism (/ˈsɒlɪpsɪzəm/ (About this sound listen); from Latin solus, meaning 'alone', and ipse, meaning 'self')[1] is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.
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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:25 pm

Agree with the first part, disagree absolutely with the second. Not the place to start a debate about that, but I reject and refuse any form of biological determinism and in my personal experience, people with brain deficencies of various kind are always much less prone to "evil" of any kind than people considered "normal" by others, unless society and culture strongly lead them to "evil", for example with an education based on hatred and religious prejiudices.
To return to Kylo, even if he was somehow brain damaged this does not explain at all his desire to damage his parents and their cause.

However the depiction of the Force in the movies it is indeed a form of determinism and that is exactly what I cannot accept. Determinism is a dangerous belief that if taken to extreme consequences, eliminates free will, freedom and the whole point of living or making any effort to any end. It would however fit as an ideology of the Empire and the First Order. In fact such an explanation, with the Dark Side having a secret way to control minds, could almost be the only way to save the script of the new movies, and probably of episodes 1-3 too.
But unfortunately this hardly fits with the reaction of the other characters. In Ep 7 for example Han and Leia seems resigned to the fact that Kylo fight for the Dark Side, as if it was somehow a logical reaction. If they would be incredulous, amazed and desperate I think it would have make much more sense and also enhance the dramatic meaning of the movie..

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by shesheyan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:21 pm

Sturm wrote:Agree with the first part, disagree absolutely with the second. Not the place to start a debate about that, but I reject and refuse any form of biological determinism and in my personal experience, people with brain deficencies of various kind are always much less prone to "evil" of any kind than people considered "normal" by others, unless society and culture strongly lead them to "evil", for example with an education based on hatred and religious prejiudices.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about intellectually handicapped people. I had a uncle who was and agree with you. What I'm talking about is people with atrophied «agression control centre» of the brain. Its a well documented scientific fact, whether you choose to believe it or not. Parents, good or bad, divorced or not, have no control over this type of children. Most of them quickly become delinquents and end up in prison. Others are clever enough to go undetected.
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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:31 pm

Not the place to start a medical debate but I still think the environment is much more important than any physical reasons. Crime has dropped dramatically in all countries where birth control is permitted and possible, because unwanted children are less common, and wanted children are (on average) treated better by their parents than unwanted ones.
What I mean is, even should I admit that Kylo had some sort of brain damage that led him to an unability to control his emotions and aggression, there are still three gigantic problems:
- The movie does not say any such thing.
- The movie does not explain how it is possible that Leia and Solo are such unattentive or careless parents to have raised a monster.
- Ending up in prison for some aggressive behaviour is not the same as committing multiple murders or genocides. You can easily enter in the first case if you are just rebellious, but to do the second you need to be really damaged, and it takes years of abuse to become so.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by shesheyan » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:42 pm

Sturm wrote:Not the place to start a medical debate but I still think the environment is much more important than any physical reasons. Crime has dropped dramatically in all countries where birth control is permitted and possible, because unwanted children are less common, and wanted children are (on average) treated better by their parents than unwanted ones.
What I mean is, even should I admit that Kylo had some sort of brain damage that led him to an unability to control his emotions and aggression, there are still three gigantic problems:
- The movie does not say any such thing.
- The movie does not explain how it is possible that Leia and Solo are such unattentive or careless parents to have raised a monster.
- Ending up in prison for some aggressive behaviour is not the same as committing multiple murders or genocides. You can easily enter in the first case if you are just rebellious, but to do the second you need to be really damaged, and it takes years of abuse to become so.
I never said Kylo was brain damaged. I just pointed out that physical brain health can also explain some (but not all monsters). They are predators, natural born killers. Nothing is ever black or white, except in Star Wars... but even then things get blurry depending on your point of view ! ;)

The problem with Kylo (Han & Leia) is that we simply don't know enough. We are left with our own flawed interpretations. The Force Awakens saga should have been a tv series with as much character development as current narrative standards.

My narrative :

1) Kylo may have been a troubled and difficult child to control (culture or nature? we don't know. A bit of both maybe). This could have strained Han's and Leia's relation. The divorce could have been perceived in a toxic way by Kylo. Maybe he feels responsible for it or he saw it as a betrayal, abandonment. Some children react very badly to divorce launching them onto destructive paths.

2) Kylo is the son of heroes of the Galaxy. Larger than life people. Some children have the need to surpass their parents to prove they are not worthless. That stance can put a lot of psychological strain on someone. Being part of the Skywalker family helps Kylo to create a self-fulfilling destiny of grandeur. A well known trait of narcism.

3) Do we know when the divorce happened ? Did it happen before or after his training with Luke. Maybe he was sent to Luke and his school of Jedis as a way to help Kylo control his anger. His parents couldn't handle him anymore. One of the two parents was opposed to this decision. The outcome provoques the divorce.

4) The perceived betrayal by Luke, hero of the republic, trying to kill him in the middle of the night must have been a traumatic experience. I would be psychologically damaged if such a thing happened. Post-traumatic certainly.

5) Betrayed by his parents and Luke, Kylo turns to another member of his family as an anchor point. Darth Vader. Vader cannot fail him because he is dead. Kylo develops a cult of personality with Vader. He wants to become greater than his grand-father (not fail him - like he failed his parents and jedi master? ).

6) Betrayed by everyone Kylo is recruited by Sknokes. Like all young men Kylo must become his own man. He must distance himself from his father. Strained between what he wants to achieve (his delusions of grandeur fuelled by Snokes) and family reconciliation he chooses the later by killing Han, his father. He definitely turns dark side.

7) As per cannon all Dark Side Jedi kill their masters IIRC. Kylo, like Vader, kills his master Snokes, but for selfish reasons and self-fulfill his own «destiny».

It may no be very realistic in clinical terms but it works as a narrative. The stressor points are all there. The accumulation is enough to turn any character to evil in a pulp novel or commercial cinematic narrative. Now we can only wait for the third movie they see if Disney will fill the blanks because at this juncture I feel the movies are very weak in terms of story telling...

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by agathokles » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:20 am

Sturm wrote:[...]Anakin too makes little sense to me. His descent to evil in Episode 3 also offends my suspension of disbelief. Ok, your mother is dead so I can understand the ethnic massacre and the sense of guilt, but a man who still has friends, a loving wife and incoming children goes all the way to the dark side and kills children in the temple? That happened before Palpatine told him he had killed Amidala, only because he "senses" that his wife could die and only Palpatine could save her? Come on, how stupid are you?
Also how it is possible anyway that a woman is likely to die in childbirth in a Galaxy with extremely advanced technology?
The Force is not a good explanation for everything in my mind.
Even worse that Anakin is shown at the end of Episode 6 happy and good with Obi-Wan.
That scene is disturbing only to me? I mean he killed children. He committed genocides. He destroyed a planet! Then he returns to the Light Side and all is forgotten and forgiven. So are we going to forgive Hitler after we are all dead? NOT a chance in Hell, if you ask me.
[...]
I'll skip commenting on Kylo Ren, since I massively disliked Ep. VII and didn't even bother to watch Ep. VIII.

Regarding Anakin, we have to consider that this is not the real world. So, there's no need to call in Hitler. Morality in a fantasy world can work differently than in the real world.

Now, the relation between the Force User and the Force is of mutual control -- the Jedi control the Force as much as the Force controls the Jedi. The Force gives the Jedi strength, but this strength can only be gathered by a sort of feedback loop -- leading to either the ascetic behaviour of the Jedi, or the extremes of the Sith... the way of harnessing the force of the Sith is that of extreme emotional states (not a moral position, thus, but merely a state of emotional excitement or calm is what distinguishes Sith from Jedi; indeed, many Jedi appear at times callous and calculating, readily ignoring the suffering of individuals while keeping their focus on the greater patterns). Thus, a Sith becomes stronger as his hatred grows, and he can easily go completely out of control. This is also the reason why the old Siths failed -- with many of them, there was always a number of uncontrollable ones.

Regarding Padmé's death, it is pretty clear that it is engineered by Palpatine, so she wasn't saved on purpose -- the technology level has nothing to do with it. Anakin was at that point already committed to the Dark Side, which clouded his normal ability to think.

I also think you undervalue the importance of Anakin's mother's death. Remember that the Jedi decided not to free her in Episode I, and not allowed him to do anything to help even later, which eventually led to her death. Anakin killed the Sandpeople, but he clearly attributed the death of his mother to the Jedi rules of non-inteference and of detachment from loved ones (the reason for which Jedi are only selected at a much younger age). Essentially, that resentment against the Jedi was hugely amplified by Anakin's transition to the Dark Side, which was a years long process -- Palpatine had a lot of time to turn Anakin.

Finally, how can be the return of Anakin from the Dark Side explained? Well, that has nothing to do with "forgiveness" or "justice". Simply put, it is the state of mind of the Force User that matters: Anakin turns to the Dark Side when his mind is dominated by fear (of losing Padmé) and hatred (for the Jedi who allowed the death of his mother, and did nothing to save the Republic). Then, he delved into the Dark Side with the usual pattern (trying to kill and replace his master whom at some point he must know had betrayed him -- but note that he tried to recruit Luke to do so, as he clearly feared Palpatine). Finally, he sacrificed himself to safe Luke (and in doing so also the Jedi Order, since Luke was at that point the last of the Jedi, or nearly so), and doing so recovered a degree of detachment from emotion -- he was at peace. It was therefore his final state of mind that mattered in creating the Force ghost (which is basically an impression of the personality and thoughts of the Force User on the Force itself). Of course other people may still not forgive Anakin/Darth Vader for what he did, and he likely did not forgive himself, but was not dominated by grief or any other emotion.

GP

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:02 pm

You both have written really good explanations, indeed much better than what the scripts actually showed in the movies. Several more scenes would have been needed to properly explain the fall of Anakin and a whole trilogy probably to explain Kylo. In the latter case I doubt however I could ever find him believable, even if the movie was named Episode 10 instead of 7 :-)
Anyway should I ever had to create a campaign or adventure in SW your explanations could make Anakin and Kylo, and the reasons why they fell, much more believable!

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Big Mac » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:27 pm

agathokles wrote:I also think you undervalue the importance of Anakin's mother's death. Remember that the Jedi decided not to free her in Episode I, and not allowed him to do anything to help even later, which eventually led to her death. Anakin killed the Sandpeople, but he clearly attributed the death of his mother to the Jedi rules of non-inteference and of detachment from loved ones (the reason for which Jedi are only selected at a much younger age). Essentially, that resentment against the Jedi was hugely amplified by Anakin's transition to the Dark Side, which was a years long process -- Palpatine had a lot of time to turn Anakin.
Wow! I never thought of that that way.
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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:05 pm

Resuming ths thread because I finally saw The Last Jedi and I have to say I found it less bad than I expected. Kylo makes a bit more sense, mostly because Luke's failings play a relevant part in his story. Still I do not like much how this reflects on Han and Leia, who are apparently depicted in the movies as good people, but must necessarily be bad parents in my mind because they clearly raised a damaged son. And this still hurts my suspension of disbelief because I am quite positive that only seriously faulty and violent parents produce murderers, not simply messy ones.
But I appreciated some ideas of the movie, there is still hope for the next one :)

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by willpell » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:45 pm

The Dark Side has never been presented realistically. Star Wars has the morality of a Saturday Morning cartoon; the purpose of the Darkness is to give the Light something to battle. I can imagine what Kylo's motivation should have been, but it doesn't match the way the universe actually works at all.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by willpell » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:43 pm

Sturm wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:28 am
Unattentive or busy parents may produce jaded, spoiled childrens, but not evil ones.
The difference between "jaded and spoiled" and "evil" is a thin line, and a slippery slope. Personally, I see nothing wrong with the idea of "good" parents producing "evil" children; it's similar to the cycle by which hard-working parents produce lazy, entitled children, which is well-documented in economic history. If you're raised in an environment filled with love, then love is cheap and meaningless to you, and you grow to crave danger, to respect strength, to be contemptuous of people's desire for dignity and respect, etc. It might not always happen that way, but it doesn't always happen the other way either.
His descent to evil in Episode 3 also offends my suspension of disbelief. Ok, your mother is dead so I can understand the ethnic massacre and the sense of guilt, but a man who still has friends, a loving wife and incoming children goes all the way to the dark side and kills children in the temple?
Lucas has gone on record saying that the prequel trilogy was about how the arrogance of the Jedi led to their own downfall; they tried to prohibit people from succumbing to human nature (forbidding emotion, even love), and thereby they mismanaged their most powerful upcoming member so badly that, with a well-timed shove from their enemy, he became willing to annihilate the entire order over what were objectively fairly small grievances, just because he couldn't take it anymore and saw no other options.
Also how it is possible anyway that a woman is likely to die in childbirth in a Galaxy with extremely advanced technology?
That was the one thing about the entire prequel trilogy which I regarded as completely forced and unjustifiable, being that way only so that the "sequel" would turn out the way it was supposed to. Padme had to die, or else we'd always be asking where she was during ANH-ROTJ. So they just said "she dies because plot" and didn't even try to make it make sense. I was willing to forgive this, because ROTS was otherwise such a drastic improvement over AOTC (which in turn was so much better than TPM) that I could let one or two glaring flaws go unchallenged.
Even worse that Anakin is shown at the end of Episode 6 happy and good with Obi-Wan.
Love conquers all, or such is the message of this franchise.
That scene is disturbing only to me? I mean he killed children.
Who live forever in the Force.
He destroyed a planet!
Which lives forever in the Force (maybe).
So are we going to forgive Hitler after we are all dead? NOT a chance in Hell, if you ask me.
If all the Jews definitely, provably went to Heaven, then maybe Hitler would have the right to go to Heaven too. If Eternity is a real thing, then ultimately everything that happens in the mortal realm could be ultimately inconsequential. If you're going to have some made-up magical thing like the Force in your universe, everything is arbitrary and up for grabs.
I still liked most of the movies, but also from a Role Playing Game POV the nature of Evil in Star Wars is problematic to me. It seems it is depicted like a sort of disease, and therefore people who falls into it are not really guilty, because the Dark Side.
This is a somewhat valid interpretation, but a better way to spin it is to say that the Dark Side is a disease, and people who choose to succumb to the disease, instead of fighting it with all their strength and finally sacrificing themselves in order to ensure it is defeated within them, those people are bad, because they made the cowardly and isolationist choice to survive as an unwholesome, destructive individual, when they could have surrendered their ego and unified with the Force. Not a moral I agree with, but a cohesively constructed one if you want to believe in it.
I'm going to rip his d&%n dark heart from his rotting soul until there is no trace left of him :)
That is an "Evil" attitude, which does not become less "Evil" when the only targets you use it against are "Evil" ones. "Good" forgives the pain that others have caused it, rather than repaying pain with pain. Two wrongs don't make a right; grace comes only from choosing yourself to be the one who suffers, so that others don't. Again, I don't agree with this attitude, but it is the one that most people who talk about "Good" have in mind.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by willpell » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:56 pm

Sturm wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:10 pm
Again I'm thinking here mostly from a role playing point of view. If the Dark Side is actually a magical force that can pull you, this could explain both Anakin and Kylo. Players could accept that and the game should contain mechanics which could turn a good PC into an evil PC. I don't know, maybe some SW rpg had such mechanism.
It doesn't work remotely the same way, but the Taint mechanic described in Heroes of Horror is an example of how you can have a mechanic which represents the heroes being slowly corrupted by mere contact with the forces of Evil.
Basically the Force as depicted in the movies seems something which can overcome free will.
It's more like the opposite of that, actually. The idea is that the force makes it so that just one thought, freely thunkded, is all it takes to magically make yourself an all-powerful evil badass. You hated that guy, just for a second? The force is there like a gun suddenly appearing in your hand, with a laser sight fixing itself on the back of that guy's head, and an intense itch in your trigger finger just begging you to twitch. It takes ironclad self-control to resist that temptation when it actually comes, which is why the old Jedi order was so big on never letting you get that far down the road in the first place.
Sturm wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:25 pm
However the depiction of the Force in the movies it is indeed a form of determinism and that is exactly what I cannot accept. Determinism is a dangerous belief that if taken to extreme consequences, eliminates free will, freedom and the whole point of living or making any effort to any end. It would however fit as an ideology of the Empire and the First Order.
Furthermore, if you take determinism as being the philosophy of the First Order, it must be a credible philosophy with substantial evidence seeming to prove its truthfulness, or else the Order would be idiots for believing it.

In conclusion, Sturm, I disagree entirely with your belief that good parents always produce good children. In addition to the reasons I've already stated for opposing this viewpoint, I will add one more personal one - if good parents always produce good children, then bad parents probably always produce bad children, and I had bad parents. I'd rather not believe I'm entirely doomed by the accident of my birth, thank you very much.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:33 am

There are very complicate graduations of bad parents so it's hard to debate about this as it's hard to be clear on the premise. But in my experience both from real life (and journalism, as I worked in it) murderers never came out from good parents, absent parents, messy parents or slightly bad parents. Murderers come from people who are very seriously bad, even if neighbours may not be aware of it at all, i.e. people who seriously harm their children not with simple neglect, but with violence, not necessarily physical violence but certainly a considerable amount of psicological violence. Also the child needs to learn that violence is an acceptable and useful mean to obtain something, a concept which is both wrong and stupid, and also the reason why males are disproportionately those who commit violent crimes, because females may be subject of violence too, but to them it is almost never taught that using violence is acceptable.
So it could be impossible to persuade anyone of this using a few words because you and others do not know my experiences, but I have extensively studied the topic and never found any proof of a murderer coming from an average or even only slightly bad background. They always come from terribly bad backgrounds. If they have no parents, other relatives, foster care or orphanages could be very bad as well.
In fact there was a US study some time ago which proved birth control, on average, decreased crime dramatically over the decades because less unwanted and unloved children, less criminals. This also included petty crimes like theft, but I found it quite significative.
In the contest of Star Wars, Anakin and Kylo Ren descent into Evil may superficially make sense with the Dark Side and all, but if you look closer, it does not make any sense.
Because a man who had a loving mother and has a loving wife will not commit mass murder, even in dire circumstances. It is true he could blame the jedi for his mother's death, but he went overboard before his wife died. A revenge against individual jedi would have make sense, but extermination of jedi children does not.
Same is true for Kylo, even considering he could have been partially neglected, developed great powers and was intoxicated by them, and so on.
Because a man who was loved and learned to love develops empathy, and empathy is normally enough to stop him from murdering others. Even if he may have reason to kill someone for some serious wrong he suffered, he will not go completely overboard and exterminate people indiscriminately, as Darth Vader and Kylo Ren did. Only a person raises by mad people will become completely mad, and showing otherwise in a movie has a negative influence on viewer, it is a completely wrong message.
Children are not born evil, they are made so by adults, by the messages adults feed them and by the environment adults build around them. This is important, and any kind of negation of this it is generally an excuse from parents, relatives, society or authorities which prefer to avoid taking responsibility for their faults. It is Evil Because God, Because Fate, Because The Force, Because Whatever. But these things do not exist. Violence exists and it is Violence that creates more Violence.
The problem with many movies, not only Star Wars, is that they want to have villains but often the authors have no real understanding of the nature of evil, so they are incapable of depicting it in a credible way. Indeed if people and society had a clearer understanding of the nature of evil, they could prevent it, but unfortunately only a minority of people understand, and often they are not decision makers.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:54 am

Lets try to keep this related to Star Wars and not to the nature of evil in the real world or other real world issues.

Star Wars is not the real world.

It is worth noting that the Dark Side of the Force works differently with Force users than regular people.

Once you begin Jedi training (or similar development), you become much more vulnerable to the Dark Side than if you were not. Some people are naturally Force Sensitive, but even those people would rarely fall under the control of the Dark Side from that alone.

Once you have received training however, the Dark Side can exploit your personal weaknesses. Yoda stated that Control was the most important lesson for the Jedi (paraphrasing). If you do not learn to control your emotions, then the Dark Side would use those emotions to control you.

Anakin and Kylo are different characters, but they both paid the price of the Dark Side. The price is loss of free will.

Do the Star Wars prequels do a good job of explaining why Anakin fell to the Dark Side? I personally don't think so. But that is more about George Lucas' storytelling. The elements were there though. Absent mother. Background as a slave. Surrounded by war. Manipulations from Palpatine. It is not surprising that he fell to the Dark Side. Anakin's murder of the Jedi younglings* still feels incredibly wrong though, since the movie doesn't show us the build up towards it. But from an RPG setting perspective, I assume there was a build up, starting with his massacre of the Sand People. By the time he would murder children without any motivation at all, I would think he would have already been a complete slave to the Dark Side.

As to Kylo, his story has not been completed yet. But from what we know Leia was already worried about him when she sent him to Luke. Had Kylo already been contacted by Snoke at this time? How did learning that he was the grandson of Darth Vader affect him at a young age?

But I don't think either of these stories need to be super realistic since we are talking about Force Sensitive characters who don't follow the same rules as the rest of us.



*=man, I hate the idea of Jedi children training with lightsabers. I don't think that scene ought to have been in the movie. I really wanted to see Vader hunt down and kill the Jedi. Instead the Jedi are killed by Clone Troopers making the Jedi look weak and pathetic.


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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Sturm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:18 am

Sorry but I cannot accept the objection "It is not the real world". Obviously is not, but it has to be internally consistent and it is not. If you do not start with a premise like "the people you'll see are not humans, they just look like them", I expect them to behave like humans.
Such a premise would be unacceptable anyway. If they are not humans, I do not want them to look like humans. We do not have other values beyond ours, nor we have another set of history, phylosophy and evolution to which we can compare. Therefore fantasy and sci-fi too have to be consistent with what we know of the behaviour of intelligent civilized beings, and we know only humans as intelligent civilized beings with writing and buildings (other Earth creatures may be intelligent in their own way, but they do not have a complex civilization).
Enslaved by the Dark Side just means Because God, Because The Force, Because Whatever. Just excuses for lazyness in writing. Instead of giving my villain good, solid motivations, it is Because. Sorry, but I find it stupid and also bad for children, because it gives them false, easy answers instead of complex, real ones. Not surprising obviously as this is typical of human societies and low level culture. It bothers me because with a bit more effort it could have been better culture, instead it is annoying.
That said, in the Last Jedi Kylo's motivations are a bit better. But still in the framework of "It is Star Wars so it makes sense only in Star Wars". I understand this, but I would have preferred something better.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:17 pm

Sturm wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:18 am
Sorry but I cannot accept the objection "It is not the real world". Obviously is not, but it has to be internally consistent and it is not. If you do not start with a premise like "the people you'll see are not humans, they just look like them", I expect them to behave like humans.
Such a premise would be unacceptable anyway. If they are not humans, I do not want them to look like humans. We do not have other values beyond ours, nor we have another set of history, phylosophy and evolution to which we can compare. Therefore fantasy and sci-fi too have to be consistent with what we know of the behaviour of intelligent civilized beings, and we know only humans as intelligent civilized beings with writing and buildings (other Earth creatures may be intelligent in their own way, but they do not have a complex civilization).
Enslaved by the Dark Side just means Because God, Because The Force, Because Whatever. Just excuses for lazyness in writing. Instead of giving my villain good, solid motivations, it is Because. Sorry, but I find it stupid and also bad for children, because it gives them false, easy answers instead of complex, real ones. Not surprising obviously as this is typical of human societies and low level culture. It bothers me because with a bit more effort it could have been better culture, instead it is annoying.
I agree with you about internal consistency.

It is not that the characters of Star Wars aren't human. But you also have to take into account genre. This isn't realistic sci fi. It is space opera. Emotions are grander. Things are more black and white than in real life.

However, I think our real disagreement here is how we see the Force. The Dark Side is a path. Starting on that path might be a matter of personal choice. However, once you begin to move down the path of the Dark Side, it begins to control you. Darth Vader is different from Tarkin in this respect. Tarkin gives the order to destroy Alderaan. But he is not controlled by the Dark Side. In many ways we could say this makes him a worse person than Vader. However the movies don't really explore how Tarkin became who he is.

I do think it is interesting to explore why many people support the Empire though. This is shown better in shows like Rebels. But the Prequels also did a "good" job of showing how the Old Republic didn't work. The Republic did not prevent corruption. It did not prevent the Hutts from practicing slavery. And ultimately it failed to keep the peace. By the time of Luke Skywalker's generation, many had forgotten that the Republic was once the symbol of civilized age Obi Wan talks about. To many stability under tyranny is preferable to freedom.

I think the story of Anakin should have been modeled after a story about a good man who sells his soul to the devil to protect the ones he loved. But once he sold his soul there is no going back. I don't think the prequels did a very good job of telling this story, but I think that is what they were trying to do.

The story of the original trilogy however is about redemption and according to George Lucas, how "a parent can been redeemed through his children".
That said, in the Last Jedi Kylo's motivations are a bit better. But still in the framework of "It is Star Wars so it makes sense only in Star Wars". I understand this, but I would have preferred something better.
I think you can have believable characters, but at the same time introduce supernatural elements that clearly follow different rules than in our real world. Kylo thought that Luke was trying to kill him. This obviously cannot be the only reason why he turned to the Dark Side. But we don't know everything about Kylo's background so whether it is believable or not depends on how we fill in the blanks. I also don't think Kylo's fall to the Dark Side is complete yet, but perhaps it is at the end of TLJ.

Is Kylo a more believable character than Anakin? Perhaps. But I think this is mostly due to poor storytelling in the prequels.

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Re: My problem with Evil in Star Wars

Post by agathokles » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:51 pm

I think you are underestimating, in the case of Anakin, the impact of war on the human psyche. What you says is definitely true for people committing murders within the boundaries of a more or less peaceful society, but being involved in a long war effort (and even more in a front line role) requires some level of de-humanisation of the enemy -- in some cases, a very high degree.

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