This is kind of random, but this morning my wife and I were discussing this and so I thought it would make a good post. I don’t remember specifically how this came up, but we were discussing how the Star Wars prequels are absolutely hated by some, and don’t seem to be very good to a lot of people. And I guess the following would also apply to the sequels to a certain extent too, though I don’t think it’s necessary.
Without further ado, here is one way you can love the prequels, mentally let them fit within the Star Wars universe, and still think they don’t necessarily match with the original trilogy:
- Everything looks shiny and new, not like a lived in universe
- Jar Jar Binks
So let’s take a look at these in a moment. I first want to talk about how our actual history books, biographies, and folk tales speak about history here on Earth in our time.
In the past, American text books taught that the Native Americans were nothing but savages who were made civilized by the European settlers. We know now, and I suggest they probably knew then, that many times settlers came in and took and swindled the land from the tribes. Sometimes even worse was done.
And while I won’t go into the atrocities of the past, I just thought of the above as an example of one case, and only one of many, which very much shows that our view of history can change, based on who is doing the telling. Children in the early 1900s may have grown up thinking all native people were no more than evil savages, that the cowboys had rode in and saved the day and protected the poor settlers. Now, maybe children are taught a different view.
So has history changed? Of course it hasn’t. Have the events that have occurred in these two wildly different versions of history not happened? Some have–many have–but may be reported from a completely different point of view.
Which brings me to one theory that will let me, and maybe others, square the Star Wars prequels with the later films: They were being told from a different point of view. This explains away almost all, if not all, of the problems I noted above. So let me discuss those items one by one and see if I can explain this better.
Everything is too shiny and new looking. Well, yes. Say you go to any major city in the world and you ask someone living in a poor neighborhood to describe things. They may describe how hard it is to find jobs, how their neighborhood is messy and houses are falling down, how there are so many people who want nothing more than to take away their ability to just survive day to day. Ask someone living in a very wealthy neighborhood and they may describe the sports venues, the nice parks, the great restaurants, the wealth of entertainment options. They are telling about the same city, but from their own point of view.
Jar Jar Binks. I have to admit, this one is more difficult to fit into this theory. But I came up with two ways.
One possibility is that many events took place that seemed very random, and whoever wrote this particular view of history ascribed them all to one person, Jar Jar Binks. There have been cases in history of people being credited for a lot of things they did not do, only because they got a reputation for something. So maybe in this case, Jar Jar was a goofy weirdo who was very lucky, so all the weird stuff got assigned to him.
Another theory is that there was one person who was there for many of these same, strange things that Jar Jar was, did the things he did, but that the person doing the telling didn’t like that historical person, so sought to either downplay him or make him look a fool. This, also, has happened in the past. Or the present.
Midichlorians. This one seems to me to be the one most likely to fit into this theory.
Look at it like an eclipse. In the past it was thought by many societies that an eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry. Some societies thought it was some kind of evil omen. We know now that it is just a typical astronomical event, easily explained by intelligent scientists, and even by school children now.
So what is different from now to what it was then? Point of view. We now have the advantage of an acquired knowledge base that has been accrued over the centuries. Back then they did not, so they looked to what they knew and understood to explain what was going on in the world. Midichlorians are just the attempt by the person giving their report of history (the prequels era), and their attempt to describe how the force works. This is just like the way these ancient societies attempted to describe an eclipse.
So, one way to look at all of this is the way I look at older history books, and that is: sometimes they can be entertaining and informative, but perspective matters. I don’t look at the history books I had in school as the definitive way things actually happened. They were one point of view that is being given in one book with the given amount of information available at the time it was written.
I know that we know more now about electronics and medicine now, for example, than we did even when I was a kid. So is it unfair to completely ignore everything that was in a text book when I was young? No. Just because my textbooks in school didn’t give a complete description of human DNA, it doesn’t mean that what we did learn about it wasn’t, at least in some ways, accurate from the perspective of the time. Now we may know more.
Star Wars is like that, given that the prequels were written by someone with a completely different set of knowledge and different circumstance than the original trilogy. So maybe the prequels were written by someone who was wealth and lived on Naboo, and maybe the original trilogy was written by a survivor from Aleraan. These people would necessarily have a different perspective.
Have a good weekend!