Entries in Darth Vader (9)
My wife's friend posted this amazing shot on Facebook. It's a hot air balloon flying over High River, Alberta. It's there all this weekend, apparently.
Has the whole world forgotten that Darth Vader is a bad guy? Like murder-everyone-on-your-planet-including-the-animals-and-plants bad? (Answer: Yes.)
Another instance of high journalism from The Sun (UK):
But it was attacker Ikbal Hare who ended up feeling a disturbance in the Force - as he was slapped with an 18-month-community order by Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Vader changed his name from Mark Noakes to that of the Star Wars baddie in to coincide with the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999.On September 20 this year Hare confronted him at the Black Country council estate where they both live, convinced Vader had been been wooing his partner Kerry Campbell with Jedi mind tricks.
Furious Hare, 35, swung a punch at his 42-year-old neighbour Darth but missed and instead hit Darth's wife, Suzanne Vader.
Gamasutra's Steve Fulton has a wonderful blog post--complete with photographs--about a visit by Darth Vader, Chewbacca, a stormtrooper and Geoffrey Giraffe (?) to the Torrance, California Toys R Us in September 1977. Here's an excerpt but you really need to follow the link and read the post in full:
In this era news for kids existed only in the pages of publications like Boy's Life and Dynamite, magazines with lead times of 6 months or more. Recent news about products for kids or toys was virtually non-existent. Furthermore, what would they haved talked about anyway? Even video games were still an experimental fad: in September 1977, the Atari 2600 was still a couple months from release.
So when my brother and I read in the Daily Breeze that Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Storm Troopers would be traipsing through the local Toys R Us to announce the new line of toys based on Star Wars, we HAD to go, and our dad decided to take us.
We got up really early that morning. Well, my dad got up. My brother and I never went to sleep the night before. How could we? We were going to meet the guys from Star Wars! When we slipped outside at the crack of dawn to get going, my dad snapped this photo of my brother and I (below). I'm the guy on the left looking glum. I have no idea why I look so upset. My wife says I was probably trying to put on my best Han Solo face. I think she's right. My twin brother is the moisture farm boy on the right. Our brand-new '76 Datsun 710 Millenium Falcon is just behind us.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Darth Vader had died in 2012 in Portland, Oregon? Me neither, but Glen Goland did:
When I see the Star Wars movies now, I know I am getting old because I start asking questions like, “Did someone have to administer Vader’s estate?”, “How much did Vader get paid”, and “what sort of property would a guy like that have in his estate?” In this blog post, I’ll take a look at what administering Vader’s estate may have looked like.
Follow the link for more. While there's a bit too much prequel nonsense in this post for my taste, it's still a notable effort. In a future post, Mr Goland will consider the likely composition of Vader's assets at his time of death. Seriously.
Here's another story involving petty acts of criminality perpetrated by men in Star Wars disguises. From NorthWestOhio.com:
TOLEDO -- The FBI and Toledo Police are investigating a Wednesday afternoon bank robbery at the Huntington Bank on Monroe Street in Toledo.
The lone gunman walked into the bank around 3 p.m., wearing a plastic Darth Vader mask, when he demanded money from victim tellers.
After getting an undisclosed amount of money,he fled the scene using a dark colored BMX bike.
Authorities describe the man as black, about 5’10” to 6’ tall, weighing around 170 pounds, and approximately 20 to 25 years of age.
In addition to the mask, the suspect was wearing a black zippered hoody, black sweat pants, was carrying a black backpack, and was armed with a black semi-automatic pistol.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the FBI at 419-243-6122 or Toledo Police Crime Stopper Program at 419-255-1111.
- News.com.au: German police stop drunken 'Yoda' at wheel
- Mail Online: 'I'm not the driver you're looking for': Police arrest 'Obiwan Kenobi' after hit-and-run crash
- KGW.com: Hillsboro man arrested for light saber attack
Former US vice-president, torture afficianado and rotten hunter Dick Cheney has recently said (not for the first time) that he likes, and is even honoured by, the nickname "Darth Cheney" given to him by some opponents.
This is, of course, just a bit of politicking by a politician. But it illustrates a phenomenon that is starting to drive me nuts. Ever since the prequels, or at least since the last of them, Darth Vader has been moving in the popular imagination from what he really was--a genocidal maniac who experienced a rather unconvincing last-minute change of heart--into some sort of hero.
I doubt whether comparisons to Darth Vader would have been so readily embraced by a politician in 1977, 1980, 1983 or even 1999. In the course of the original three films we see Darth Vader torture a princess, participate (at least as an accessory) in the complete destruction of an entire planet, murder an old man (although Kenobi admittedly let him do it), sufficate several underlings (usually to death), torture a man without even asking him any questions, cut off his own son's hand, cavort around the galaxy in transports bearing names like "Death Star" and "Star Destroyer", and repeatedly do things he consciously knows to be wrong in the name of "the power of the Dark Side of the Force". He is about as bad as a movie villain gets in a film that can legally be shown to a six-year-old.
How, then, has Darth Vader now become an acceptable, and even adorable, way for Germans (of all people) to sell Volkswagens to the world?
The answer cannot lie in the last fifteen minutes of Return of the Jedi alone. It is all very nice that Luke finally got to see his father's pale and scary face before he died. But what would have happened had he not died? What would Luke have done with him after dragging him onto that imperial shuttle? He could hardly take him to Endor for the Ewok barbeque. "Hey everyone, this is my dad. He's been blowing up planets and trying to kill you for years, but it's cool, he's good now. Could someone get him a beer?" If the rebels were saints, they would arrest him and put him on trial for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against just about every other species in the galaxy. More likely the film would end rather like it did--with Vader's body burning, but alive.
Vader's death-bed confession was the least convincing part of the original trilogy. (A close second was Obi-Wan's explanation to Luke that he had not really lied about his father, he had in fact told him the truth "from a certain point of view". Dicky-Wan Kenobi might be as appropriate a nickname for the former vice-president and his WMD-imagining pals in the Bush Jr White House.) Had Joseph Stalin shown affection for a long-lost child in the last 30 minutes of his life, he would still have fully deserved to go down in history as a murderous thug. But at least Lucas did not dwell on this implausible bit of happyendingism: the final scene between Luke and Vader, which is admittedly dramatic and even somewhat touching, ends quickly enough not to give the viewer time to start questioning whether it makes any sense.
Then come the prequels. Now Lucas tells us the entire concept of Star Wars from the very begining was that it would tell the tale of Darth Vader's fall and redemption. Of all the many mistakes one can find in the prequel trilogy, this is pre-eminent. The prequels should not have revolved around Anakin Skywalker. The tragic hero of the prequels ought to have been Obi-Wan Kenobi--an immensely talented but arrogant young man who allows his ambition and self-confidence to delude him into taking on as a pupil a younger man (not a five-year-old, not a teenager) whom he was incapable of properly preparing for the demands of life as a jedi. Kenobi's vanity not only ruins the life of Anakin Skywalker--whose flawed training from Kenobi proves wholly inadequate to the task of controlling his immense innate powers--but leads directly to the fall of the entire republic and the coming of the Galactic Empire.
I did not invent that storyline. George Lucas did. It is what he told us happened between Obi-Wan and Anakin in the original trilogy. But then he decided he wanted Liam Neeson.
The rest of the story is too drearily familiar to state in any detail. The prequels are awful and Vader is recast as an object of pity. Nobody capable of tying his own shoes is persuaded by this, but there are enough children and morons in the world to make it almost true. And Lucas is more than happy to encourage woolly thinking about Darth Vader, partly in a desperate bid to depict the prequels as having actually had some sort of satisfactory plot, but mostly because Asian electronic companies will pay him large licensing fees to use Vader's likeness on telephones and Vader's voice on GPS navigation systems.
In short, the Dark Side is looking sunnier, and more banal, all the time. Dick Cheney is right: Darth has become a compliment.