This entry is part 10 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

I’m not a huge fan of major holidays, but for some reason I seem to love fake holidays that are only marked by a small niche crowd. You know, like “Bring Your Child to Work Day”, or “Hug a Teacher” day [Editor’s Note: this is NOT an actual thing]. We used to have a special day for secretaries back when I was in primary school, but I don’t think people like being called that anymore so now it’s “Administrative Assistant Day” … somehow it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I like to give gifts and bring snacks and make a small celebration because there’s something worth celebrating in every day, not just the four times a year your boss gives you the day off.

 

May 4th is “Star Wars Day” for me and many other fine folks; it also happens to fall on a Wednesday this year, which means I get to write a tie-in article. I’m always a little disappointed if I don’t get a March 14th article for Pi day, etc., so I’m going to make the most of this opportunity. Ready yourself for some of the best altered art and Star Wars-themed ranting you have ever seen!

 

Not Ready Are You

 

Artist credit: Tsuneosanda

 

Yoda is definitely my favorite character from the films. When we first saw him, he was goofy–a literal puppet–although that wasn’t all that uncommon in Star Wars. That being said, it was impossible to look at Yoda and not think of him as a badass. The character just had so much potential! After 900 years of schooling Jedi and combating the forces of evil, you know he has some incredible stories to tell. In this regard, the prequel films actually did a pretty good job. They made Yoda out to be a total badass, even if they had some questionable uses of CGI animated backflips.

 

We’re looking in on Yoda at perhaps the lowest point in his life. His vision of the future is clouded and uncertain and he’s watching the Jedi order and the galactic Republic, which he’s sworn to uphold, crumble around him. Even amidst all that, we see both Count Dooku and Darth Sidious try to run away rather than defeat him in a lightsaber duel. Minor quips of dialogue in those films confirm that neither Anakin, nor any other living Jedi, could best him in combat. Pretty impressive for a character that has so much in common with Kermit the Frog.

 

George Lucas even made that joke himself in a DVD extra for Episode II: Attack of the Clones called “Puppets to Pixels.” Lucas said in jest that the concept for Yoda was the “illegitimate love child of Mrs. Piggy and Kermit the Frog.”

 

Fun fact: Yoda is not the only known member of his species! A few characters have appeared over the years, but they’re still so rare in the universe that the species’ name isn’t even known. There used to be several spread across different series in the Star Wars expanded universe; however, as of the release of Episode VII, all of those stories have been deemed not canon. So now, the only other known member of Yoda’s species appeared in Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Yaddle. Essentially a female Yoda, she served as a member of the Jedi High Council on Coruscant during the years leading up to the war with the Galactic Trade Federation. She is seen on screen for about three seconds, never speaks, and is never heard from again. In expanded universe sources, she is confirmed to have died on the planet Mawan during a mission with Obi-Wan Kenobi and his then padawan, Anakin Skywalker. She uses her Force powers to absorb a massive explosion, saving the residents of a nearby city from certain death, but sacrificing herself in the process. Her spot on the Jedi council is then filled by Shaak Ti. Neat!

 

The Living Force

 

Artist Credit: Earl Grant T. De Leon

 

Force of Will is a badass card, especially when you cast it for free. You get to take part in the legacy of brokenness that has been keeping eternal tournament formats fair and incredibly overpriced since 1996.

 

The Force in Star Wars is free. At least, I’m not aware of anyone who has been able to buy more of it. The Force is anything but fair, though. Whether or not you have enough power to control it seems to be hereditary to some degree and it favors certain species over others. In the grand scheme of the genetic lottery, a particular conscious mind being born into both a race and a family that is strong in the Force is pretty much dumb luck. And then you have to be in position to run into another Force sensitive individual who takes notice and decides you are worth training. The Skywalker clan seems to be a swirling vortex of favorable circumstances in this regard. What’s more, they have an inexplicable ability to harness the Force with little training or concentration.

 

In the scene depicted above, which I’m assuming is a highly stylized depiction of Luke’s duel with Darth Vader in the sublevels of Cloud City, we see Vader handily defeat Luke using a technique known as the “Cho Mai.” Jedi are trained to kill only in self-defense. If a Jedi cannot nonviolently disarm and apprehend his opponent, the standard procedure is to sever his weapon hand, which is preferable to killing them outright. Generally, the crippling pain and the lack of a weapon is enough to stop all but the toughest opponents

 

What is the Force?

 

Artist Credit: Blackwing Studio

 

There are a number of obvious inconsistencies in the plot of every Star Wars film. This fact is beyond dispute, although there are sometimes interesting fan theories that can explain the apparent narrative dissonance. For years, people have questioned how Luke can get utterly crushed in his first fight against Vader and then inexplicably gain enough skill and power to defeat him in their second battle only a short time later. Anakin had decades of training from some of the most powerful and skilled Jedi the history of the Order. Over his long struggle with the dark side of the Force, he kills dozens or hundreds of Jedi. In what world could Luke possibly scrape together a victory? Many have postulated of course, that Vader simply lets him win, albeit in convincing fashion. My personal favorite explanation is that he is just old and decrepit. Perhaps the machinery in his suit is failing in its ability to preserve his damaged body.

 

This brings up a larger question of one’s ability to control the Force and how that changes over time. In many cases, it seems like their power only grows through time as they are able to learn and experience more. More years of contemplative meditation benefits many powerful Force users like Yoda and Count Dooku, both of whom had admittedly soft lives. They went decades without the constant conflict of an active Jedi knight or the grueling training of a young padawan. For others though, it seems like time greatly diminishes their abilities. Old-age Obi-Wan is a shell of his former self.

 

Yoda is an interesting case. During the Clone Wars he appears to be in top form, but just a few years later he struggles a bit to pull Luke’s X-Wing from the swamp on Dagobah, while Vader’s young apprentice Starkiller effortlessly crashes a Star Destroyer into a planet. That twenty years is only 2% of Yoda’s life and it would appear that his powers are greatly diminished.To be fair, though, I’d hardly call this conclusive. Great feats of telekinesis aren’t exactly rare in Star Wars and there is no real way to compare separate events. Mace Windu rips out the rivets from battledroids and then fires them like a rain of bullets at other droids. That is both finesse and incredible concentration, but not necessarily brute force. Some argue that you can use the transitive property to determine who is the strongest of them all in the Star Wars universe. In my opinion, this doesn’t hold up. Obi-Wan defeats Anakin. Anakin singlehandedly defeats Dooku. But both times that Obi-Wan attempts to go after Dooku he gets crushed (literally) in seconds. It just isn’t that simple.

 

An Elegant Weapon For A More Civilized Age

 

Artist Credit: Sandeline

 

When facing Yoda on Geonosis, Dooku famously says that they can’t decide who’s greater by their knowledge of the Force, but instead only their skill with a lightsaber. Setting aside the idea that this is a flat out lie, this is the type of thing that you would want to say if you were trying to goad your opponent into a lightsaber fight. Dooku had just tested out his fancy new dark side powers, trying to fry Yoda with lightning. Yoda of course absorbs the lightning in a Force void and is even cheeky enough to throw it back at him. After admonishing Dooku that he still has much to learn of the Force, Dooku might justifiably want to transition this conflict into a realm where he isn’t so obviously outmatched.

 

There are many different areas where a Force user might apply his efforts and training. Just because they can do one thing incredibly well, doesn’t mean they are suddenly the master of the entire Force. Not all of them exhibit the ability to use the same powers. Yoda and Anakin can both see into the near future. Although Palpatine was capable of countering their ability to do so, he doesn’t show that he can do it himself. Obi-Wan wasn’t even a full Jedi when he travelled to Naboo. Qui-gon was his master and clearly the wiser in the ways of the Force. Darth Maul ends up killing Qui-gon and being killed by Kenobi. Is Kenobi demonstrated to be stronger than both, or simply the best lightsaber duelist? Apples to oranges my friends.

 

I liken the ability to use the Force to convincing people. Yoda claims that lifting a rock and lifting an X-Wing are no different, implying that the difficulty of moving an object doesn’t depend on the object’s size or mass. The perceived increase in difficulty only exists in Luke’s doubtful mind. Lifting something heavy might be impossible for one, but trivial if he can rally help from others. The challenge doesn’t seem to be pushing harder with your mind, but reaching out further to ask for help from more of the Force around you.

 

Artist Credit: Bentistic

 

Luke drops Vader’s original lightsaber into the abyss below Cloud City, only for it to reappear decades later in Episode VII. When Luke surrenders to Vader in Episode VI, he has built himself a new one, but we never see where or when he acquires the knowledge to make lightsabers. A young Anakin seems incredibly attuned to the problems of the machines around him, being able to pilot or repair nearly anything without much effort. Perhaps intuition and quick learning are Force powers that the Skywalker tribe has mastered easily, but are not capable of being taught to others. I’m sure Han would like to know what the hell is going wrong with his rust bucket of a ship all the time.

 

That’s all I have to say about Star Wars for now. I hope you enjoyed this playful jaunt into a galaxy far far away. Before I go, I want to point out that May 4th isn’t only special to Star Wars fans. There is one troubled family in particular who enjoy a good celebration on this exact day…

I’m assuming you love Star Wars and/or Arrested Development. Tell us about it in the comments, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and be sure to support Commandercast.com on Patreon.

 

-GG

“In General” is the place where I share my ideas on unconventional topics that are often only tangentially related to Magic. This column is a mixed bag where I collect and present ideas that don’t have a home anywhere else. If you want a column about strategy, psychology, design, economics, philosophy, internet culture, and referential humor, you have come to the right place.

 

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