There’s a great article about Darth Vader’s appeal on MSNBC.com. What explains why he is the most enduring favorite character of the Star Wars series? Why do I, for instance, have a tiny Lego Darth on my keychain, and not a tiny Lego Luke?
O.k. That’s a bad example – Luke was a whiny little bitch, that’s why. Anyway. Lots of good observations — for instance:
Why did Darth Vader appeal so much? In a time of detente, of nuance, there was a purity about “Star Wars,” and no one was more pure than Darth Vader. He was the biggest baddest man on the biggest baddest ship in the galaxy. He wore black. He was evil, but a cool kind of evil, not like the other men of the Empire, pasty white British guys with bad haircuts and flared nostrils who bickered needlessly and couldn’t pronounce “sorcerer’s ways” correctly. No, Darth got it. The movie was about spirituality over technology, but only three people were really aware of this spirituality enough to control it, and one was wise but old (Obi-wan Kenobi), and one was idealistic but young (Luke Skywalker), while the third, Darth, was just right.
It’s a great article right until the author suddenly, unexpectedly, inexplicably, goes completely off the rails:
The rumor throughout the 1980s — as much as I cared to listen — was that Lucas was done. Three and out. Game over. “Star Wars” became less a film series than a missile defense program proposed by an actor-president to protect us from “The Evil Empire.” Even as Reagan borrowed Hollywood’s language his subordinates trashed the place, eventually branding Hollywood as “the left coast”; yet whenever they held the White House, Washington D.C. became “the right coast,” a new kind of dream factory that played on our need for good guys and bad guys, that played on our ever-growing wish for purity. Sad when George Lucas is more of an adult than the President.
Uh. Wha-Wha-WHAT? You really have to read it in context to understand how mind-bendingly out of context that paragraph is.
First of all, since when did the Reagan White House, of all administrations, bash Hollywood? That contention is beyond absurd. Second, we were the good guys and the “Evil Empire” was the bad guy. There was no grey. Reagan adopted the Hollywood term because he was from Hollywood and because, well, because it WORKED! We bought into it, and more importantly the Soviets bought into it, and it led to their demise. Reagan began the dismantling of a world superpower, and using the threat of “Star Wars” played no small part. Sounds pretty adult to me. And it has to be noted that Reagan wasn’t dealing in science fiction. The system he envisioned, though not remotely possible in the ’80′s, (it was in fact his “dream”) is being successfully tested today. That’s not fantasy, and it’s not child play. It’s Reagan’s very adult vision becoming reality. (And as an editorial aside, where in the article, much less the offending paragraph, does the author establish Lucas as an adult?)
And, for the record, the earliest reference to “the Left Coast” in Nexis is a July 1980 article (before RWR was elected) that appeared in the New York Times, and it did, in fact, refer to Hollywood. But the “brand” wasn’t applied by any Reagan “subordinates.” It was Willie Nelson.