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Author Topic: the last jedi [grumpy warning]  (Read 875 times)

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Offline Iaera

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the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« on: 10/10/17, 11:43:46 PM »
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so as everyone surely knows the trailer just came out and everyone's all aflutter. i have various and sundry thoughts on it, but a lot of those are wrapped up in Force Awakens and Disney and whatnot. then i saw this article:

http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/10/pros-cons-breakdown-new-star-wars-trailer/

sorry @Cordae i have a new spirit animal now.

my absolute FAVOURITE quote, which articulates a pet peeve i've long had with how moral storytelling is so often treated:
Quote
Rick Grimes may be a more three-dimensional character than Luke Skywalker. But let’s admit what nihilistic TV shows like “The Walking Dead” have made clear. We don’t love antiheroes and moral complexity because we’re grownups now. We love them because we are a miserable, godless people so syphilitic with bad consciences that we will no longer permit our heroes to be more righteous than we are. Sadly, “The Last Jedi’s” trailer provides ample evidence that Johnson will spare fans the purity we can no longer appreciate to feed us the cynical storytelling we so tragically desire.

grumpy / non-grumpy thoughts on the trailer? does it entice you? does it excite you? or does it torment the wretched shell of your being and make the blackened husk you inhabit writhe in existential agony? discuss
"For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic." - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Fiat justitia ruat cælum

Iaera Farworlder - Jedi Master, lightsaber instructor, Jedi Custodum
Sibyl-ko Tanaji - ex-punk, fighter pilot, Argent Squadron
also many alts i never play ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Offline recoveringgeek

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #1 on: 10/11/17, 12:00:10 AM »
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my absolute FAVOURITE quote, which articulates a pet peeve i've long had with how moral storytelling is so often treated:
Quote
Sadly, “The Last Jedi’s” trailer provides ample evidence that Johnson will spare fans the purity we can no longer appreciate to feed us the cynical storytelling we so tragically desire.

Quote
“I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’”

- Mark Hamill to Rian Johnson

I like some of Luke's intensity in the trailer, however the trailer for The Force Awakens did cure me of my unbridled optimism due to the misdirects it contained. The Rogue One trailer just flat out used scenes that don't even appear in the final cut of the movie!

However, Rogue One's commercial success, critical reviews, and fan response (in that order, kids) may have served to tell Disney we need more Scoundrels in our lives.

Han Solo got to steal the show in The Force Awakens as we expected. I don't know if Luke Skywalker will be given the same stage to shine if he is as much an obstacle to Rey as he is a Mentor. Now, perhaps he'll be proven right if we see Kylo Ren slipping fully to the Dark Side of the Force, however that could be just another red herring to throw us off.

It doesn't help things when they show us what appears to be a Hoth-esque battle between speeders and 'Walkers either. The homage to A New Hope was enough.

I don't want a redux of the entire Original Trilogy.
I knew some of the Palace history, but not the bit about Jaade crashing that barge. That's good lore, right there.  :grin:

Offline Noth

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #2 on: 10/11/17, 12:45:23 AM »
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I will be honest... all the publicity so far for The Last Jedi has not only killed my interest in the movie, but my interest in participating in the franchise and the fandom going forward. Star Wars is about hope. And the various "The Jedi were evil and bad and need to be replaced!" things that they've been pushing and encouraging with their current TLJ publicity is further killing my interest in where they want to take the franchise.

A Star Wars where the Jedi Purge is painted as what was meant to happen and a good thing, and the hero emblematic of resurrecting that Order being shown as endorsing this opinion (therefore bringing his whole journey in the original trilogy to... nothing), just isn't the Star Wars that I enjoy or want. Feels like a weird, grimdark AU, and cheapens if not completely erases the movies that went before it and the struggles of the characters in them.

If it doesn't turn out to be publicity fakeout I imagine I will just stick to the TOR community and the old EU materials and pretend the new stuff doesn't exist.

I am kinda excited about the loth-wolf appearance. That's about it.
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Mourne

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #3 on: 10/11/17, 01:28:44 AM »
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Non-grumpy.

@Iaera, that quote was profound.

@Recoveringgeek, I agree. One homage was enough. Lucas is out of the picture, and it's time to move on.

@Noth, I think folks are interpreting the trailers too literally. The visual clues I've seen seem to suggest that Luke (and others) are coming to a Revanite realization in that neither the Dark side nor the Light side are the correct paths of the Force. Both are equally flawed, and both perpetuate the struggle that has consumed the galaxy for millennia.

Wouldn't it be cool if this latest installment of the saga delved into that gray area where few have gone before, and those that have emerged stronger for it, not just in power, but in perspective? I remain optimistic that it won't suck the joy from the franchise. Have faith in the Almighty Mouse (Disney)!
« Last Edit: 10/11/17, 01:45:43 AM by Mourne »

Offline LVT

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/17, 02:29:36 AM »
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my absolute FAVOURITE quote, which articulates a pet peeve i've long had with how moral storytelling is so often treated:
Quote
Sadly, “The Last Jedi’s” trailer provides ample evidence that Johnson will spare fans the purity we can no longer appreciate to feed us the cynical storytelling we so tragically desire.

Quote
“I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’”

- Mark Hamill to Rian Johnson

I like some of Luke's intensity in the trailer, however the trailer for The Force Awakens did cure me of my unbridled optimism due to the misdirects it contained. The Rogue One trailer just flat out used scenes that don't even appear in the final cut of the movie!

However, Rogue One's commercial success, critical reviews, and fan response (in that order, kids) may have served to tell Disney we need more Scoundrels in our lives.

Han Solo got to steal the show in The Force Awakens as we expected. I don't know if Luke Skywalker will be given the same stage to shine if he is as much an obstacle to Rey as he is a Mentor. Now, perhaps he'll be proven right if we see Kylo Ren slipping fully to the Dark Side of the Force, however that could be just another red herring to throw us off.

It doesn't help things when they show us what appears to be a Hoth-esque battle between speeders and 'Walkers either. The homage to A New Hope was enough.

I don't want a redux of the entire Original Trilogy.

I for one find Rogue one among my favorite SW films, and would welcome even more non-force centric SW films!
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Freya Merril (?, ???)

Offline SquigglyV

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #5 on: 10/11/17, 05:53:01 AM »
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I agree with this, though I admit I haven't been keeping up with any TLJ stuff because modern promotional material tends to spoil bloody everything and also overhypes bloody everything.

The visual clues I've seen seem to suggest that Luke (and others) are coming to a Revanite realization in that neither the Dark side nor the Light side are the correct paths of the Force. Both are equally flawed, and both perpetuate the struggle that has consumed the galaxy for millennia.

Wouldn't it be cool if this latest installment of the saga delved into that gray area where few have gone before, and those that have emerged stronger for it, not just in power, but in perspective?

Honestly I always hated this idea about the force being grey at heart, if the new movie is about that then it will probably ruin it for me. :/ The light side should be good and the dark side should be horribly corruptive, none of that morally gritty crap that seems to invade everything these days (and misses the whole point of the setting imo). Star Wars is supposed to be a fun black and white space opera where good defeats evil or the other way around, I do not want the series to head towards being yet another depressing and morally in-depth movie.

Offline Orell

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #6 on: 10/11/17, 11:20:24 AM »
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It looks like a film I am going to go see.

.......I do kinda love how Finn and Poe each were just kinda thrown in there, maybe them not wanting to give away spoilers, maybe they're just not as prominent in the film. It is nice that they don't feel a need to give away things.

I fully expect the film to be dark and end on a depressing note, because that's what you do with the middle film of a trilogy, donchaknow. But I don't think it's going to go all "Jedi were right to be nearly wiped out" either.

Here's the problem that we have when it comes to the Star Wars films: The Prequel Trilogy is about the fall of the Republic and the failure of the Jedi to prevent it, partly due to their inflexibility. The Original Trilogy is, among other things, about how the Jedi are needed, and the seductive corruption of the Dark Side.

But it ended before the Jedi could be rebuilt. It got rebuilt in EU stuff, sure, but for Joanne and Cletus, the average filmgoers who think Star Wars EU means dubbed versions of the films for France and Germany and shit, that's not going to really work.

My hope is that they realized that the franchise kinda needs to deal with baggage from the Prequels and creating a good Jedi Order, one that won't fail the Republic.

Oh, and this aspect?

The visual clues I've seen seem to suggest that Luke (and others) are coming to a Revanite realization in that neither the Dark side nor the Light side are the correct paths of the Force. Both are equally flawed, and both perpetuate the struggle that has consumed the galaxy for millennia.

Wouldn't it be cool if this latest installment of the saga delved into that gray area where few have gone before, and those that have emerged stronger for it, not just in power, but in perspective?

Noooooope.

I'm not against shades of gray in Star Wars, not by a long shot. There's a reason I love KOTOR 2 so much, and Quarasha is basically a gray Sith at this point.

But Dark and Light sides are *not* equally flawed. One does not "both sides" protecting innocents versus burning down cathar orphanages for the lols. If Group A wants to fight, and Group B does not want to fight, they're going to fight, because it takes both sides to agree to peace, but only one side to start a war.

Remember the Treaty of Courscant? Sith invite Jedi to peace talks. Jedi are suspicious, but give the Sith a chance. Sith launch a surprise attack during peace talks to gain leverage, killing a shitton of people in the process.

And not to put too fine a point on it? The First Order are Space Nazis. Like, cartoonishly over the top at times.

That doesn't mean that any trace of Dark Side is a bad thing in a Jedi. But the "proper balance" (which arguably would vary person to person) is more like 99% Light Side, 1% Dark Side than it is 50/50.

It's like the yeast used to make bread, you're adding in a touch to give it flavor and fluffiness, the proper balance isn't half dough, half yeast...
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Mourne

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #7 on: 10/11/17, 12:25:26 PM »
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Noooooope.

I'm not against shades of gray in Star Wars, not by a long shot. There's a reason I love KOTOR 2 so much, and Quarasha is basically a gray Sith at this point.

But Dark and Light sides are *not* equally flawed. One does not "both sides" protecting innocents versus burning down cathar orphanages for the lols. If Group A wants to fight, and Group B does not want to fight, they're going to fight, because it takes both sides to agree to peace, but only one side to start a war.

Remember the Treaty of Courscant? Sith invite Jedi to peace talks. Jedi are suspicious, but give the Sith a chance. Sith launch a surprise attack during peace talks to gain leverage, killing a shitton of people in the process.

And not to put too fine a point on it? The First Order are Space Nazis. Like, cartoonishly over the top at times.

That doesn't mean that any trace of Dark Side is a bad thing in a Jedi. But the "proper balance" (which arguably would vary person to person) is more like 99% Light Side, 1% Dark Side than it is 50/50.

It's like the yeast used to make bread, you're adding in a touch to give it flavor and fluffiness, the proper balance isn't half dough, half yeast...

At the risk of getting into a philosophical debate, I was referring more to the "Unifying Force" concept. I don't think you can simplify Light vs Dark as good vs evil - it's just not that black and white and is much more complicated than that - and if you take the Expanded Universe and Lucas cannon as a whole, both sides are indeed very flawed. However, you only need to look to our own game to see examples of Dark side characters making Light side decisions (and vice versa) in the Eternal Empire story which united Sith and Jedi in a common cause.

You obviously don't have to agree with me, but if you have a few minutes, read this article: https://www.tor.com/2012/09/12/the-qtrue-nature-of-the-force-is-way-more-complicated-than-you-think/ .
It was written about 5 years ago, but it remains one of my favorite articles on Star Wars ideology because it does a fantastic job of exploring the "true nature of the Force".

Offline Orell

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/17, 01:35:19 PM »
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I'm not against the Unifying Force concept in general. The notion that the Prequel Jedi Order, interpreted as pure Order and too stodgy and inflexible and repressive, isn't a bad one. It fits what we saw there and makes their destruction a lot more complex and interesting.

The problem is there are basically two Dark Sides, as portrayed in Star Wars material: The good one, representing love, creativity, freedom, basically just taking pleasure in life, and the bad one, which is all the killing and the burning and the conquering and the why would you remove someone's organs alphabetically?

The Dark Side being corrupting, almost infectious, and seeping into locations so greatly they can inflict horrifying visions? That goes back to Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The Emperor in RotJ gets a lot of shit for being a little too speechifying, but he was clearly getting through to Luke, tempting him to fall.

That view of it doesn't really mesh with a "balance in the Unifying Force" sense, because balance with something that's inherently corruptive and despoiling doesn't really work. Especially since there's never really been a sense of "Light Side Corruption" in the franchise.

It's why I use the Yeast analogy: In large amounts, it's pretty much awful, but it can make the bread better too, and it doesn't take much of it to be in balance with the dough...
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline Noth

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #9 on: 10/11/17, 02:09:24 PM »
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@Noth, I think folks are interpreting the trailers too literally. The visual clues I've seen seem to suggest that Luke (and others) are coming to a Revanite realization in that neither the Dark side nor the Light side are the correct paths of the Force. Both are equally flawed, and both perpetuate the struggle that has consumed the galaxy for millennia.
This is, unfortunately, exactly the take on Star Wars lore that I disagree with and can't stand, and the same thing... as... the Jedi vanishing. If the Light Side is not the goal, then it erases everything the characters have striven for over the previous movies, it invalidates the death and pain and struggles of the prequels, etc. Luke wasn't this strident figure in the old EU, but his attitude towards the Force was still "We follow the Light, and we understand that techniques themselves do not have alignments, we cultivate that alignment in ourselves instead."

Again, if the message this new material wants to push is "You must commit evil to be good" then I don't want to be involved in it.

I am with Squiggly on this. The Dark Side is not something that, in this setting, you can or should cultivate, and it isn't something that belongs in Jedi philosophy. It just... isn't. The last time anyone tried that (ex. the Je'daii, the Bendu, etc.) it ended in a lot of bad and the realization that neutrality isn't the way to go. It ends in Falls. It ends in suffering. It ends in Order 66's (even though the Jedi were not all aware they were being led into this "necessary evil" mentality via Sith manipulation despite some very prominent Falls). That's always been the in-universe result of that sort of thing.

If you look at the prequel stories and don't realize that the plot is "The Jedi are turned away from their principles through manipulation by the Dark Side" and instead take away "The Jedi need to embrace the Dark Side" then you've pretty fundamentally misread the plot and setting. I'm just worried that the Story Group made the same misreading.

Luke's realization about the Force is not that the Dark Side involves love and attachment and delight in life and should be followed. It is that these things are of the Light and always have been.
« Last Edit: 10/11/17, 02:19:06 PM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Karmic

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #10 on: 10/11/17, 07:15:56 PM »
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But Luke is also "human" and flawed.  Just because Luke may (or may not) make decisions/opinions about the Force and the Universe he's in -doesn't mean he's right, or that you have to agree with him.

For myself, now that I'm "grown up" (ha), I actually get far more out of characters who aren't black/white - all good/all bad.  Because they are so UNrealistic.  It does become cartoony.  Ridiculous.  It becomes a rewrite of the first trilogy's because if "The heroes are always right and good" and "the bad guys are always wrong and bad" then there's no (to me) tension in the plot.  There's no growth.  Its just a wash, rinse, repeat - as so much in media is these days.  I get bored with predictable plots in tv, and certainly in movies.

Not that I think any of the Star Wars movies have ever been NOT predictable - but there's at least some tension when there might be a chance that the White Knight might *actually* fall (even if he doesn't) this time because it actually becomes more believable when the hero actually questions what good means, then just blindly fulfills justice and everything turns out fine because "good wins because plot armor."

The fact that Luke may actually have a moment of doubt in his faith - makes him to me a richer, more identifiable, more personable, realistic, character. 

Whether I would like it if he *actually* fell - I don't really know.  I'd have to see how they carry it off to know whether I'd like it or felt it was purposeful for the plot.  I can't say for sure I'd hate it - for me it would have to make "sense."

To note - I've not even seen the trailer.  Not once.  I've not read a lick more about what this movie is suppose to be about than what you guys have talked about here.  I don't prewatch anything - I never have.  When I catch it on movie theater previews or when I catch it as a regular tv commercial - I'll see it then. 

But its *only* a trailer.  I'm not going to see or not see a movie based just on the trailer - certainly not Star Wars.  If I see it and its stupid and his "fall" is poorly done (if it is done) then booooo...  if I see it and he doesn't fall and its a good story - yeaaa.  If I see it and he does fall and its done well and is a good story - yeaaa.    Because its also not the end; its the middle of a trilogy - and those are always the "down points" in the story.  Darkest before the Dawn, etc.  I expect this to be a "bummer" ending because its the middle movie - and that's the pattern.

THat's how these trilogies work.  If Luke doesn't appear to fall/question morality/etc. then he can't have his great save/awakening/etc. in the final reel.  (If that is what happens...).  If there is no push/pull or tension in the plotline with the characters (and it won't be created by the overall plot because we all know at the end of all this the good side will win...this isn't GoT or even TWD lol) then the story goes nowhere at all and there's no reason for a third. 

I entirely disagree with that quote Iaera as well.  I don't believe that the reason we like Rick Grimes "nihilistic" storytelling (if you want to call it that) is because we're all cynical and want everyone to be as miserable as we are.  Not at all.

Its because people may look up/aspire to be the Ideal (i.e. Superman let's say), but they identify with the Human With Flaws.  They see who they hope to be in the Ideal, they see who they would really be in the Human With Flaws.  Rick Grimes is more human.  He makes mistakes.  His judgement is affected by emotions.  He loses people.  He saves people.  Just like anyone "would." He isn't protected by plot armor that dictates no matter how the show goes - whatever his decision was will be "right and work out."  Because its more *real* that way.  Whether you see it as a pro or a con - it makes it more realistic.  It makes the characters more directly relatable and identifiable when they aren't perfect.  Makes the plots more engaging.  Makes people side with various characters because they see themselves acting how Rick or Michonne or Carol act.  They see themselves, making mistakes, being hurt, trying again, forgiving themselves, etc.  They see the *journey* these characters have gone through to actually evolve and change.

I often have gotten into this...argumentative discussion ...with other playres here -  about how *bad* I find the "morality" or "charaterization" of Star Wars when it comes to our RP Life and creating characters.  Not in the story itself.  I love Star Wars and always will.  But *because* the characters are SO black/white - the universe is so one dimensional - they become unplayable for our own purposes because we can't play them as "real."

If all Sith characters can only be evil baby slaughtering cannibals who go mad - then we really have no where to go with this as far as "growth of characters in plot."  If all Jedi are only old-lady helping good guys who never think a wrong thought, then again - there's no growth.  There's no development.  There's no where to go because they're already perfect and have figured themselves out perfectly. We can't RP characters that one dimensional - all of our Imperials and Sith can't just go around being the bad guys all the Jedi players have to kill.  We can't all RP going mad after XYZ number of years.  Its very boring RP. And pretty soon there would be no Sith, because people would be bored of being one dimensionally the evil villian coming up with plot after plot that the good guy Jedi foils.  "You Darn kids!!"

But people don't work that way. People question.  People doubt.  Its so intrinsic to our nature that we have Creation stories that explain why we were "cursed" to doubt and question.

As for Jedi vanishing and all that - I just don't think that's where this is going.  That would be a dead end to their storytelling and Disney's not that stupid.  Its great hype to get people to see the movie - and you can call the movie whatever you want (Watched the entire "No Country for Old Men" and not once did they say that - disappointed!) to make people question and wonder - so they get you in the theater.

But I don't think Disney is going to make "All Sith All the Time" galaxy coming out of this - that's not what sells.  That's not what the franchise has lasted 50 years with; so that's not what they are going to do.  They may make it LOOK like it - but no, in the final movie, at the end of it all - The Good Will Win (whatever side we feel we are on is the good one...) and the Balance will be maintained. (Whatever That Means)

I think its going to all look like LUke's questioning "hey maybe balance is 50/50...maybe you need both..blahblahblah..." and then in the end, "Naw...that's not right...its the Light!" *save* :)



~~
*For the Record though, not all Sith went mad.  They didn't all try to overthrow their Masters.*

History Posts:  Her Backstory , Darth-Hood

Offline Karmic

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #11 on: 10/11/17, 07:22:55 PM »
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Also wanted to briefly make the point:

They redeemed Vadar.  They took the most evil, baddest, horrible Villian in the movies - and entirely turned him around to be saved by the Light at the end.

One of the major themes of Star Wars is Redemption.

Luke (or Rey, or Fin, or whomever)may very well "fall" or embrace some type of weird "new age balance" (ha  :grin:) with the 2nd movie.

But that's only cuz they gotta have someone to be redeemed in the 3rd.

History Posts:  Her Backstory , Darth-Hood

Offline Niarra

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #12 on: 10/11/17, 07:34:02 PM »
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At the risk of getting into a philosophical debate

In a den of RPers, playing in a written word medium, and especially when dealing with those geeky enough to have wanted to delve into playing Jedi specifically, you are going to find that an invite to philosophical debate is like catnip.  :grin: Or at least it is for me! Hence everything that is about to follow (which is possibly waaaaaay more insanely nerdy than what you were looking for as part of this conversation, heh). So I just want to intro it by saying that for me debate is its own reward, and I always appreciate the chance to do it. I hope passionate responses like this one and the others you've gotten don't dissuade you from contributing to more fun discussion of this nature!

You obviously don't have to agree with me, but if you have a few minutes, read this article: https://www.tor.com/2012/09/12/the-qtrue-nature-of-the-force-is-way-more-complicated-than-you-think/ .
It was written about 5 years ago, but it remains one of my favorite articles on Star Wars ideology because it does a fantastic job of exploring the "true nature of the Force".

This is an interesting article, and it presents a common argument that I've seen circulated through the fanon for years. I would argue, however, that the article, and the position it adopts, is an exploration of the argument itself, as a concept, and not an analysis of the fullness of the actual canon. I will elaborate on what I mean, occasionally taking quotes from the article itself.

Quote
" But you know what? Balance is not good triumphing over evil. Balance is balance. The seesaw doesn’t tip in either direction here, so… what does that mean for Star Wars? Well for one, it may be time to reevaluate everything that we know—or think we know—about the nature of that galaxy far, far away.

While George Lucas may have based the general outline of Star Wars on western mythology, the Force itself resembles faiths and spiritual ideas from all over the world from Zen Buddhism and Taoism to audio fragments from an Arthur Lipsett film in 1963. These inspirations lead to a phrase that we hear often in Star Wars canon—“so-and-so will bring balance to the Force.” Yet we’re not encouraged to actually explore what that might entail."

From one paragraph to the next, we already stumble into a contradiction, and an assertion of personal interpretation as canon. The idea that "balance" as Lucas was using it in Star Wars necessarily means a 50/50 split of anything is not in fact supported by canon; it is, rather, a personal definition of what balance means to the author. 

Further, Lucas has been quite explicit in stating that he deliberately incorporated Buddhist, Taoist, and other traditions often considered "Oriental" in origin, so I would argue that it is important to consider those influences as deliberate rather than coincidental and unexplored add-ons to a Western philosophy. With that in consideration, it's pivotal to note what those traditions consider to be balance. In none of those traditions is balance considered to be equal parts destructive behavior vs. constructive behavior, nor even equal parts selfishness vs. altruism, an analysis which the author later invites by saying: 

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"Rather than anger and hate, it would be more correct to say that the dark side is predicated on selfish pursuits, or more interestingly on emotions at large."

Rather, in traditions like Buddhism and Taoism, balance is explicitly defined as a state of being in which one accepts that the nature of the universe is creative or transformative (rather than destructive or motivated by confrontation), and that harmony with the universe means letting go of selfish impulses that would otherwise prevent you from perceiving the true nature of things because you are too much focused inward. They posit that balance is to be found when one ceases to attempt to enforce change in service of one's self-motivated pursuits, and instead seeks to live in harmony with the energies of the universe. By the author's own interpretation of what the Sith position entails, this already disqualifies the "Dark Side" from being one half of any balance equation:

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"Sith seek to gain status and control their surroundings, while the Jedi seek to use their powers for the benefit of others and attain peace in place of emotion."

(We'll get to that "in place of emotion" bit later.)

All of the preceding goes to say: the author is beginning their argument on thin ice first by incorrectly asserting that similarities to Buddhism or Taoism were coincidental or unexplored by the author (as Lucas' own testimony asserts they were neither), and second by inaccurately using them as a launching off point to suggest that an interpretation of balance should be equal parts good and evil, or even equal parts selfishness and altruism.

Other portions of the article argue that the canon is not clear in presenting what the "correct" philosophies or interpretations of the Force should be, and additionally brings into the debate the ever-popular question of what the prophecy of the Chosen One was meant to explain or predict. However, I would argue that in fact the canon is fairly clear on these questions and more.

To dig to the kernel of truth in canon, however, we must first contend with the thorny issue of the EU. The new Lucasfilm story group realized the EU's convoluted and frequently outright contradictory contributions from its myriad contributors was an issue (granted they were motivated by concerns other than philosophical debate). When it comes to attempting to understand what the Force was "meant to be" I think it behooves us to go straight back to the source: George Lucas. It is worth noting that before the Disney take-over, the Lucasfilm stance on what should be considered true canon was always that the visual media in which Lucas played a direct part was canon, and anything from the EU that contradicted it was not. (Witness: the furor created when The Clone Wars series invalidated much of what Karen Traviss' books had created about Mandalore and Mandalorians.)

Which brings us to another contribution to any discussion of canon that is too often overlooked, and that is The Clone Wars series itself. George Lucas played a direct hand in The Clone Wars, at nearly every level of its production for its entire run, and that means that in fact we have much more to go on when trying to understand the Force and the Jedi and the Sith, and what the universe's creator meant them to be, than just the six movies he spear-headed. While The Clone Wars was not without its own messiness (some arcs bore the clear stamp of their non-Lucas authors and occasionally strained "canon" into new shapes and territory), it's still important to remember that The Clone Wars gave Lucas the opportunity to explore other aspects of his universe in ways the movies didn't allow him to do.

In an interview about The Clone Wars, regular series writer Christian Taylor said:

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"It’s funny, when we came in George said there are three things: “There’s the father, the son and the holy ghost.” He said “There’s the father, who’s me, there’s the son who is through licensing and then there’s the holy ghost.”  So when it’s authorized by George Lucas it’s canon. When it’s by “the son” — that’s the whole load of things made by the machine — and there is a lot of creativity there but it’s just not authored by George. The holy ghost is what fans provide and expect. So for us, we really have only one master to answer to. You’re not going to answer to the fans and nor would they want that, really."

In my arguments to follow, I will lean on the movies and The Clone Wars almost exclusively, but there is one source that strays a little into possible EU territory that I will also cite - namely, the books The Jedi Path and Book of the Sith. These are (beautifully put together) books that present themselves as in-universe collections of philosophy and history of these two sects. They were published in 2011 and 2013 respectively, and include references to material from the movies and The Clone wars, and to the EU where the EU doesn't contradict the movies or The Clone Wars. They are therefore as close to an "authorized" version of the canon view on these philosophies (pre the Disney wipe of canon in 2014) as we are likely to get. And since the author of the article I am arguing against wrote that article in 2012, I think it's fair to discuss in this context.

One of the more interesting aspects of The Jedi Path and the Book of the Sith is that they are deliberately written "in character" - meaning they are written with the in-universe biases of the fictional authors fully present. That gives the reader insight into what both the Jedi and the Sith believed themselves to be, and as a fan attempting to parse them for the "truth" of canon I think one of the most interesting exercises is to compare and contrast what the two books say. When you do that, one of the most interesting tidbits to pop out at you is this bit from the Book of the Sith, written by one of the universe's first Sith Lords, Sorzus Syn:

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"I know the Jedi myth of Mortis, of a Chosen One who will destroy the dark side and bring balance to the Force."

This idea that "balance" was to be restored by defeating the manifestation of the dark side in the form of the Sith is fairly prevalent throughout canon, or at least in what the canon characters in-character believed it to mean. The author of the "True Nature of the Force" article is essentially making the argument that maybe all of these characters' interpretation of the prophecy was incorrect, and that in fact the core principles of the Jedi way and their interpretations of the Force were "wrong" and not true representations of what the Force is supposed to be. But since it's important to talk about the Force as it exists in the universe of Star Wars, and not in the real world interpretations of the fans, why don't we just turn straight to George Lucas for an answer to that question:

George Lucas on the Force. (It's important to note that he is free-form speaking here, and you need to get all the way through his speech to get the fullness of what he's saying and not be hung up on specific words; for example, he aborts a sentence half-way through in the beginning that makes it sound like he's saying the "core" of the Force is a balance between darkness and light, but when you get to minute 2:25 you get the conclusion to the thought which is his describing what the "core" of the definitions of dark side and light side are, not the core of what balance is.)

Another very important line from Lucas's talk there is: "You're allowed to love people, but you're not allowed to possess them." This jives with quotes from Lucas at many other points, where he explains that Jedi aren't required to be celibate, only that they are required to not form attachments. (Also with Anakin's own lines in Attack of the Clones: "Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion... is central to a Jedi's life.")

And all of this jives with all of the canon interpretations of what the Jedi Code is supposed to mean, specifically the first line: "There is no emotion, there is peace." It's worth noting that even the wiki entry the author of "The Nature of the Force" article links to cites that an alternate (and Jedi-accepted) version of the Code is "Emotion, yet peace." The book The Jedi Path (again, written from the point of view of the Jedi themselves) says this line means: "This principle guides all meditations and interactions with all others. It reaffirms the Jedi ideal to act without recklessness, and to view the actions of others through the pure lens o the Unifying Force." There is in fact no canon-sourced (again, referring to things under Lucas's control) piece of lore that attempts to say that the Jedi prohibit the experiencing of emotions (which is a wild misinterpretation that EU authors like Karen Traviss ran with to an egregious degree in order to demonize the Jedi).

So, coming back to the question of balance and prophecy and the nature of the Force: The author of the "True Nature of the Force" article posits that maybe we should believe it is Luke who was the Chosen One of prophecy, since it is only because of Luke that Anakin chooses to kill Palpatine, and further that Anakin's role in destroying the old Jedi Order may also disqualify him - but that argument stops short of the ultimate finish line, which is not the day that Order 66 is carried out, but rather the day that Palpatine falls down the shaft. The author also attempts to argue that what comes after Anakin's choice, namely Luke's building of a reformed/revised Jedi Order, is the new "balance" that needed to be achieved. Setting aside the dubious canonicity (again using strict Lucas-authored criteria) of anything Luke did in the EU, this argument makes the mistake of disregarding a key piece: that the destruction of the Sith was required in order to open the way for anything new to be built at all.

And when considering any argument that attempts to undermine Anakin's role as the Chosen One of prophecy it is important to remember that Anakin's choice to kill Palpatine also amounts to a choice to commit suicide. In one move, he eliminates both Sith - all Sith. The state of "balance" he achieves for the galaxy thereby is to eliminate those Force-users who lean on the Dark Side. It's not the end result of: "Hey, now it's me and my son, ready to teach the next generation of Force-users that there are two sides to this coin and they need to make sure to include Dark Side 101 and Light Side 101 in their curriculum in order to get their degree."

The author of the "True Nature of the Force" article concludes their article with the following lines:

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"It’s entirely possible that the light side and the dark side don’t matter as much as we’re led to believe. It’s possible that the galaxy is a little more complicated than that.

And considering that we occupy a pretty complicated world ourselves, it’s nice to see Star Wars reflect that — even if you have to do a little digging to make sense of it all."

Let's start with the last line and work backwards. This last line makes clear the implication that, by the author's own admission, their purpose here is what I stated at the beginning of this post: "...the article, and the position it adopts, is an exploration of the argument itself, as a concept, and not an analysis of the fullness of the actual canon." The author admits that in order to arrive at their conclusion "you have to do a little digging." Personally, I don't feel that digging is necessary; I think the canon is pretty clear. And I do wonder if the quote that Iaera linked to isn't indeed very relevant here:

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We love them because we are a miserable, godless people so syphilitic with bad consciences that we will no longer permit our heroes to be more righteous than we are. Sadly, “The Last Jedi’s” trailer provides ample evidence that Johnson will spare fans the purity we can no longer appreciate to feed us the cynical storytelling we so tragically desire.

Now working back to the penultimate closing line (of the light side and dark side not mattering as much), I would counter by saying that I feel that George Lucas's position on the universe he created is pretty clearly stated in his own words, and that his position is that the light side and the dark side are absolutely pivotal to what every person does. It is about their choices. It is about whether or not they act in harmony with the universe, or try to subvert the harmony of the universe by acting in selfishness and pursuing destruction.

We have to remember that Star Wars is its own universe, with its own "in-character" version of reality and truth. As such, if the creator of the universe points to the Jedi approach as being more right and true within the context of the universe, then it's important to consider it in that context, and not in the context of our own universe. That's not to say that the Jedi are perfect or without flaws, since the Jedi themselves admit to their own failings and wrong decisions; Yoda speaks of the flaw of Jedi grown arrogant, and the entire conceit of the Jedi role in the Clone Wars is the prime example of a tragically enormous error in Jedi judgment. Even the book The Jedi Path, written from the point of view of Jedi prior to the events of the prequels, ends with articulating the Jedi belief of that time in history that it is not possible for Force spirits to exist after death. Clearly, the Jedi make mistakes. But the fundamental core of their approach to the Force is validated by George Lucas's clearly stated intention for the universe.

Further, there are a lot of details within the movies themselves that both implicitly (by context and inference) and explicitly (by character statement or plot device) provide supporting evidence for the idea that the Dark Side is corruption, and not merely one half of the "human nature" coin. Characters who have succumbed to or are actively tapping into the Dark Side show physical changes to represent their corruption. The most common and obvious example represented by Anakin's eyes as he goes to slaughter the younglings and when he's fully succumbed to hate and pain on Mustafar (and of course "Dark Side eyes" and "Dark Side veins" are prevalent throughout Star Wars material). There is no countering example of physical transformation occurring when a character "strays too far" into the Light Side, if one is attempting to argue that too much in either direction is a bad thing. Character shown as firmly on the "good side" such as Yoda or Obi-Wan are just... themselves. In harmony with who they are and with their physical place in the universe. There's no negative feedback from the Force to work physical change on those people.

Examples of this are present all over the place in The Clone Wars series as well, which again was a piece of canon over which Lucas had considerable influence. But The Clone Wars offered even more than just additional examples of Dark Side eyes or physical corruption; it gave us many examples of Jedi who lost their way and ultimately ended up carrying out acts of destruction and harm, and always these characters ended up in that position when they attempted to justify adopting a position of "gray" moralism over adherence to those Buddhism/Taoism/etc-based philosophies calling for a person to refrain from attempting to enforce change in service of one's self-motivated pursuits. Look to characters like Krell, or even to the ultimate fate of someone like Barris - they internalized the grim realities of their situation and turned to the idea that compromise between "good" and "evil" was necessary. Within the context of the Star Wars canon, those characters raise important questions that other characters acknowledge need to be considered, but they are not presented as having tapped into a better truth. They are very clearly heroes who have fallen from grace.

However, you only need to look to our own game to see examples of Dark side characters making Light side decisions (and vice versa)

The concept and importance of free will and choice is fundamental to how the Force, and indeed the Jedi themselves, are presented in the canon. The Jedi Code and Jedi teachings are meant as a tool to help Jedi choose how they are going to interact with the universe and use their unique connection to the Force. And a common theme throughout Star Wars is the concept not only of choice, but of redemption, and of second chances. It is, after all, the entirety of Anakin/Vader's story arc, much as it is the crowning moment of Luke's: choice and redemption. Even a darker, grittier, more scoundrel-y focused contribution to the universe like Rogue One (which though not authored by Lucas was one that Lucas himself said he approved of) pivoted on this fundamental concept: That jaded, flawed characters like Cassian Andor could achieve a moment of redemption where he had the power to choose differently.

You can't have the delicious drama of stories of falls and redemptions without the freedom to have characters choose dark or light, good or evil - and to then either regret that choice and change it, or to follow that choice to the end of their ultimate path, doomed though it might be. That characters have that freedom to choose doesn't mean that both choices are equal, or that liberally mixing one half of one side with half of the other is the best path. After all, I have the choice of whether or not to murder Person A and of whether or not to murder Person B, but choosing to murder just Person A and let Person B live doesn't mean I've achieved goodness or balance; I'm still a murderer. The choice of goodness there is: Don't murder anyone.

So... what's my conclusion? Well, all of my preceding incredibly long ramble could probably be summarized, at least in part, by Orell's much more pithy commentary:

It's like the yeast used to make bread, you're adding in a touch to give it flavor and fluffiness, the proper balance isn't half dough, half yeast...

It's why I use the Yeast analogy: In large amounts, it's pretty much awful, but it can make the bread better too, and it doesn't take much of it to be in balance with the dough...

Emotion, yet peace.

The Jedi Order, as an institution, made mistakes both of belief and of action; that is clearly part of the story of the Order. But when the universe creator points to the core principles of their interpretation of the Force as being in keeping with the core nature of the Force, I feel it's important to, at the very least, take that into consideration in our fan interpretations.

To close, and to bring all of this more closely around to the speculation on The Last Jedi, I'll just quote Pablo Hidalgo, with whom I have serious bones to pick considering what the Story Group is currently doing after taking over from Lucas, but even he sums up the whole idea of "gray Jedi" the best: I don't get the 'gray Jedi' thing. You're either a Jedi or you're not. It's like being a 'gray vegetarian' who eats meat. (The great irony here of course will be his having said this if it turns out that The Last Jedi goes another way.)
« Last Edit: 10/11/17, 07:50:05 PM by Niarra »
Niarra Reymark, Jedi Master and Diplomat // Derrad Reymark, Starfighter Ace and Softie // Jheva, Padawan and Pattern Reader // Yatei, Jedi Knight // Zelek Arr, Corn Grower
Sivala, Sith Academy Overseer // Rannayel, Sith Lord and Museum Curator
Erran Veshkgalaar, Mandalorian Accountant // Caustrin Neyvor, Dangerous Puppeteer // Ariza Fey, Psycho and Pyro // Kettur Vaen, Semi-Spook

Offline Noth

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #13 on: 10/11/17, 07:50:29 PM »
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@Niarra your response here is a perfect breakdown of the meta and the Force, and everyone should go read it. I'd also like to add some stuff from new canon that further confirms it. In the new canon, everything is supposed to be main canon--from comics to movies to tv shows, etc.--rather than the old tiered EU. I want to point out some stuff from the comics Kanan: The Last Padawan, which according to the new approach to canon, is as canon as they come as regards the old Jedi Order.

In the comics, Depa Billaba has just returned to the Jedi after an extremely traumatizing battle that caused her serious injury and caused her to lose all the troopers under her command. The Jedi Council decides she needs to be tested, after her recovery, to assure her physical, mental, and spiritual wellness in the field. This check-up is paralleled in the comic with a very tiny Kanan (then Caleb) taking his Initiate Trials.





Depa Billaba is a Jedi Master, not confused in her understanding of Jedi orthodoxy, and the Council accepts this Code as a sign of her spiritual wellness. It is taught to Younglings as foundation. It isn't opposed to Jedi teachings!! What does this tell us? This tells us that the old "Emotion, yet peace" Code is not Grey, but current orthodoxy in the Lightside, mainstream Jedi Order. Even in the old EU, where there was the old Code and the revised Odan-Urr Code, the previous "Emotion, yet peace" Code was still created by the Jedi for the Jedi after they left the Je'daii behind them to become an explicitly Lightside Order. The actually "Grey" Je'daii Code was completely different. So no matter how you slice it, this is the Code which represents what the Light is about.



In Depa's explanation to Caleb, we see the interpretation of the Code. Jedi philosophy is built on foundations of moderation and impermanence, much like the religions it is based on. It is not about denial of emotions, attachments, or love. It is about being able to temper emotion with reason, ignorance with a willingness to learn and education, passion with selflessness and experience, chaos and pain with faith in the Force, and acknowledge that death is not the end. It's a religious order with religious teachings pulled from very real sources. See, the Three Poisons and their opposites.

The idea that the Jedi do not encourage this belief is blatantly false. It is the foundation of it.
« Last Edit: 10/11/17, 08:00:33 PM by Noth »
The Jedi: Bren (Archaeologist), Iirim (Healer), Zorru (Recruiter), Orans (Master), Aybekk (Padawan)
The Politicians: Varooth (Senator), Seirion (Aide/Spy), Ayrak (King)
The Mandos: Urziya (Rallymaster), Terr (Chieftain)
The Outlaws: Telen (Slicer), Majia (Pirate/Smuggler)
The Imperials: Athuuna (Agent), Zhekrazh (Lord), Z'ridia (Apprentice)

Offline Karmic

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Re: the last jedi [grumpy warning]
« Reply #14 on: 10/11/17, 09:51:06 PM »
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Yes, very awesome reading Niarra!  Well written and I came away understanding all this lore and the sides better!

As well as being glad I'm not the only person who writes long posts and now not even the longest post in this thread anymore! XD

And all I can say that's actually related to what you wrote...:

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There is no countering example of physical transformation occurring when a character "strays too far" into the Light Side, if one is attempting to argue that too much in either direction is a bad thing. Character shown as firmly on the "good side" such as Yoda or Obi-Wan are just... themselves.

I had the immediate idea/image of Yoda paralleling Smegal.  And then wondered, "Have we ever seen Yoda as a young child?  How do we KNOW it doesn't actually do something Smegal/The Ring like." XD  For all we know, Yoda's just so so very old and full of Light that he does physically manifest the effects of it all =D.  No one else got that far, so... can't say what they'd look like?

Just amusing ideas, if we one day found that out...  :grin: (Even though I realize it doesn't really work that way its a funny thought..)

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