Archive for Yoda

Favorite Yoda Quotation

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 10 July 2014 by Megan

I don’t think I can do this. Yoda is not my favorite zombified toad — he taints everything he comes in contact with. Sort of like Thomas Jefferson, he’s a hypocritical old bat with a few highly quotable catchphrases. People get caught up on the Yoda train without thinking about it: he’s cast as the wise mentor, Obi-Wan bounces out a recommendation his way, and our minds (trained by generations of fairytales) accept him in spite of the fact that he never demonstrates the wisdom that we supposedly admire him for.

An entire generation misled

An entire generation misled

In the prequels, Yoda is like the worst boss ever. It’s not noticeable in Episode I because he doesn’t do much at all, but in Episode II, he twice goads Obi-Wan into speaking before promptly rebuking him saying anything! He would have done well to take his own advice about the trap of arrogance, because in Episode III, after encouraging Anakin not to care when others die, he insists on keeping the more glorious mission to himself. Even though Obi-Wan is better matched against Palpatine and Yoda could kill Anakin in a heartbeat — Anakin, whom Obi-Wan is incapable of killing — Yoda insists on going against the Emperor himself. When he fails, he arrogantly decides that killing the Emperor is impossible, dusts the fate of the galaxy off his hands, and hops on the speed train to exile. This in spite of the fact that there is no conceivable reason why Obi-Wan couldn’t make another attempt himself, thus preventing Palpatine from saving Anakin in the first place!

(Also — not really against Yoda, but it drives me nuts at the end of E2 when he mutters, “Begun the Clone War has.” How can he possibly know the name of the war? This is like English Prime Minister Lloyd George reading about Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination and saying, “I guess that’s the start of World War I!”)

In the trilogy, Yoda is at his most tolerable in Empire as he amusingly harasses Luke. However, everything he does in that movie is pointless and dumb. I know, I thought it was mystical and cool, too, until I really thought about it. He wastes Luke’s time for about a week, berating him for not being able to use the Force to lift an X-wing fighter out of the swamp after a mere couple days’ training, and continually throwing his faults and failures back at him. I know I learn best when constantly being rubbed with, “Hey, remember how you didn’t do that right? Remember how you did it WRONG?” He even tries to recreate Vader by telling Luke he should sacrifice the lives of his friends for the sake of his training.

No, shut up, or shut up!

No, shut up, or shut up!

The famous

Do or do not. There is no try

is probably the most-quoted line from Star Wars, and probably what the majority of people answer this question with. But this line has troubled me since day one.

First of all, I know this looks good on a bumper sticker, but there’s a reason we say “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Repeated efforts increase the chance of success. If Yoda had simply answered “Okay” to Luke’s “I’ll give it a try,” Luke would have continued working at lifting the ship until he did it. But because Yoda said you can only succeed or fail, Luke couldn’t do it on the first try and opted for failure. Yoda then berates him and shows him up, resulting in obvious discouragement and huge setbacks in his training. Imagine if this is how your parents taught you to tie your shoes! This is a terrible way to teach anybody to do anything. (Honestly I think Yoda was less trying to produce a new line of Jedi and more trying to set Luke up for ultimate failure in order to prove that if he couldn’t defeat Palpatine, nobody could.)

Secondly, I proved in my high school logic class that this statement is itself a logical fallacy. I actually took this quote and used it as the basis of my final paper. I don’t have the paper anymore, or I’d quote it. Suffice it to say, it’s a fallacy.

I’m sorry, I tried to think of any line from him that could qualify as a favorite, but he just made me so mad, I can’t do it. See also: A Character Everybody Else Loves That You Hate.

A Character Everybody Else Loves That You Hate

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 11 April 2013 by Megan

And this is why I went with Mace Windu for my least favorite male character. Because I can contentedly hate him all on my own, but for this one, everyone else’s love contributes to my bafflement, which adds to my hate. I’m talking about . . .

I hate this muppet's stupid face

I hate this muppet’s stupid face

Yes, you aren’t interpreting that wrong. You’re on a Star Wars blog, dedicated to the love of Star Wars, and the blogger is here to tell you that Yoda is a despicable pimple on the face of the whole franchise, and I’d love to squeeze the pus right out of him.

I don’t understand where his reputation comes from. I don’t know why he is considered “literally the wisest being in the universe” (I read that on a blog recently), or beloved, or a great teacher, a great warrior, great anything, or any of the other things that people find him.

Here’s what Yoda is: a great deceiver. And this is not a sentiment that requires acceptance of the prequels as canon; in fact, ESB taken by itself will bear this out. All the films together create a great tapestry of the unbearable troll. But I’ll start with his performance in Empire. It is likely that Yoda caused Luke’s instruments to malfunction so he would crash in the swamp on purpose; what kind of teacher has to take advanced measures to make sure his prospective pupil can’t get away from him? Particularly when said pupil was seeking him out with every intention to stay and do whatever he was told? You can say it was a test, but here’s the thing about tests — they are to establish possessed knowledge. Since Luke’s training had not even begun, what exactly was it meant to test him in? Frankly, everything about Yoda’s initial interactions with Luke are designed to frustrating and exasperate him — a dismal teaching method.

Because the next thing Yoda does is assume a fake identity (talking about himself in the third person with intent to confuse) and harass, tease, and harry Luke until his frayed nerves give out, and then, revealing himself to be the object of Luke’s quest, he belittles and derides him for the outburst he himself provoked. He has done everything in his power to make sure Luke has the worst day ever, criticizes his having feelings, and then ventriloquizes Obi-Wan’s voice to have an argument about how he’s not going to train Luke, to further draw out his would-be pupil’s supposed weaknesses to taunt them. (No, I don’t really think that’s actually Obi-Wan talking to Yoda in ESB. I think Yoda is doing all that himself to manipulate Luke.) Also, what is with Yoda’s “this one, a long time have I watched”? Creepy. Finally, after making Luke apologize for living and defend his every decision — most of these accusations aren’t even true, such as “all his life has he looked away to the horizon,” which Luke has clearly not been doing for the last three years as an innovative commander in the rebel alliance — Yoda acts badgered into agreeing to train Luke. And the last thing he says is the distinctly unjedi assurance that Luke will be afraid.

“Training” consists of him making Luke carry him all over Dagobah, while barking and snapping in his ear the entire time and telling him shallow, zen-sounding things about the Force. Luke, who can’t have been on Dagobah more than 72 hours at this point, dares to ask a question, at which Yoda outbursts in an impatient fury, “There is no why! Clear your mind of questions! Nothing more will I teach you today.” Frankly, he never seems to have taught him anything. Then he sends his as-good-as-untrained pupil into the Dagobah death cave, where Luke fails some unstated, unexplained, and incomprehensible test. Yoda is pleased to constantly remind Luke of his “failures,” deriding him when he makes more mistakes, and chewing him out completely over his game attempt to lift a multi-ton spaceship out of a swamp. “There is no try” is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard anyone say — because if he’d let Luke try, Luke would’ve stood there until he got it right. As it is, it’s no one’s favorite method of teaching to be mocked into doing something, fail, and have the teacher show you up.

Despite all of this, Yoda remains some sort of a beloved figure. The smartest thing Luke does is escape this supposed “training” and run to help his friends on Cloud City. Yoda does not think anyone should have friends, of course, and wants Luke to let them die. He also tells Luke pointedly that because he failed the unspecified test in the cave, he will die on Cloud City. A teacher with no confidence in his pupil is a touching thing to see. Luke goes anyway — it is his triumph that he learns Vader is his father, not his failure (as Yoda posits in the next film). Yoda would have kept Luke ignorant and tricked him into killing his own father out of sheer arrogance: this is where the weight of the prequels has bearing. Yoda believes that because he was unable to destroy the Emperor, no one can.

In Episode III, Yoda refuses to send Obi-Wan to face off against Palpatine, even though Obi-Wan is the greatest warrior in the Order. (The novelizations consistently have conflict between Yoda and Obi-Wan’s greatness, warring to accommodate them both, when only Obi-Wan’s is really demonstrated.) Instead, Yoda sends Obi-Wan after the less glorious prize — the rogue Jedi he didn’t want to admit into the Order in the first place. Obi-Wan, unable to kill Anakin — and having told Yoda he couldn’t do it — allows for the creation of Darth Vader. Yoda, by refusing to take Anakin out himself, creates the Empire, Darth Vader, and all the rest, and concludes that because he couldn’t stop it, it is unstoppable. His arrogance is shocking.

Stepping backward, he is also responsible for the creation of Vader because he tells Anakin not to care when people die. This is great advice for a would-be psychopath. In Episode II, he criticizes Obi-Wan for faults more evident in himself than in the younger master (like when he accuses Obi-Wan of arrogance), criticizes Obi-Wan for answering questions Mace Windu put to him, screws up his own dialect a lot, and makes an eerily strange comment about, “Begun the Clone War has,” when he can’t possibly have known it was going to be called the Clone War. That’s like someone seeing Archduke Ferdinand get shot and remarking, “There’s the beginning of World War I!”

He’s intolerable in Episode I, too, in case you were wondering. Affection for Yoda seems to come out of his mismatched speech and meaningless zen statements. His vague empty-headedness is camouflaged by the fact that he never says anything real, and he strikes me as an intense liar. His fight scene in Episode II is embarrassing, as I’ve mentioned before. And the way everyone hypes him up with nothing to back it up is just plain offensive.

Oh, Luke, hold me!!

Oh, Luke, hold me!!

In short, the only reason to endure Yoda’s yammering in the original trilogy is . . . Luke’s biceps. Holy freaking cow.

Something You Wished Would Happen But Never Did

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , , , on 21 March 2013 by Megan

What I really lament are all the missed opportunities for really integrating the films. They can really be extremely separate, and yet there’s no reason for this. Lucas put together a puzzle, but left off all the edge pieces. I wish, before writing the Prequels, that he had sat down with the Original Trilogy and a notebook, and written down everything everyone ever says about pre-ANH happenings, dates, ages, events, and then referenced or incorporated it in the scripts for E2 and E3. This is where the OT filmography is clearly more masterful, because there are moments in ANH that clearly wink at E3, which hadn’t even been made yet! It would be so easy for E3 to reference ANH, but it doesn’t! The absolute, bare bones, cement floor least Lucas could’ve done was establish a sensible timeline of minimum 22 years between E3 and ANH. As it is, he simply demonstrates he has no idea how aging works.

Missed opportunities between the prequel and original trilogy are rife, such as the relationship between Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi (“years ago you served with my father during the Clone Wars); the hint that Luke and Leia were born on Dagobah (“something familiar about this place — I feel like –” [I’ve been here before?]); and even Obi-Wan’s reputation, as Tarkin knows the name, and Vader’s hardly the reminisce-over-beers kind of guy. But they’re not the only missed opportunities I mourn.

The most glaring of all these missed opportunities is the relationship between Episode II and Episode III. E2 is universally accepted as the weak stepchild of the series, but so much of that is caused directly by things that never take place in E3! Attack of the Clones really didn’t unravel until the next film refused to pick up the threads. The weak places in both could have been negated if they had been approached as the same film split in two instead of as two separate films. Unfortunately, what we’re left with is a lot of untapped potential.

As the most obvious example, I present the huge mystery set up in E2 about who deleted Kamino from the Jedi Archives.

“Clear your minds” is Lucas’ mantra for a reason.

OBI-WAN: Master Yoda, who could delete information from the Jedi Archives? That’s impossible, isn’t it?

YODA: Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Removed the data, someone must have, but who and why? Meditate upon this, I will.

— ten minutes earlier —

JOCOSTA NU: I hate to say it, but it appears that the system you’re looking for doesn’t exist. If an item does not appear in our records, it doesn’t exist!

Yes, who? The suspense is killing us! Ahem. I thought about and discussed this aspect of the movie for three years, only to find it was utterly forgotten and never addressed in Episode III, despite the enormous implications. Probably this forgotten plotline is one of my biggest regrets for things-that-didn’t-happen. Jocasta Nu’s over-quick denial, unhelpful demeanor, and (omitted) crush on Count Dooku all suggested that she was on the Separatist’s side. (While archivists are generally unhelpful even in real life — I learned that in library school — she’s over the top.) There is a lot to unpack in this whole thread, and I wish Lucas had taken it there. Even her name, Jocasta, after the wife-mother of Oedipus? There could have been so much more!

Episode III just starts too in medias res, you just can’t grasp what’s going on. I mean, I love the beginning of that movie, I really love it, but the prequels are so individualized, nothing draws them together or with the OT. The missed opportunities are pretty sad, things Lucas forgot, but I didn’t. George, I don’t forget. It makes for a lot of chaos, but the overall strength of the films make up for their obvious weaknesses — which is also true about the original trilogy, though that’s something the fanboys don’t like to notice.

Something You Wish Hadn’t Happened

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 14 March 2013 by Megan

When it comes to Star Wars, there’s kind of a lot I wish I could’ve prevented. But if there was some kind of genie that granted wishes that applied only to entertainment franchises you loved deeply enough to inspire the intervention of a genie, well, these would be my three things I would wish out of the Star Wars universe.

This first one, I feel so strongly about and have felt so strongly for so long that I wrote a poem about it.

What I Would Change

Yoda would not fight in Episode II!
That’s no thing to put us through.
He looks so stupid I can’t even watch–
I’d like to kick him in his dumb crotch.

He should not fight with a lightsaber,
He should not fight with his next-door neighbor.
He should not fight with Force lightning,
He should not fight, dive, jump, or swing.
He should not fight with Count Dooku.
That whole segment makes George seem cuckoo.

I’d erase this scene so flipping fast,
And replace it with something unsurpassed.
In short, that’s the thing I’d change:
No Yoda-on-smack in sight range.
Obi-Wan would fight LIKE. A. BOSS.
And Yoda his cookies would probably toss.

I wish that the canon hadn’t bloated over the end date prescribed by Timothy Zahn in Vision of the Future — that is, I wish the New Jedi Order had never been conceived of. This has bothered me longer than the Yoda thing, mostly because that’s only been around since 2002, and NJO started torturing my sensibilities long before that. I can’t even read the other books about the Solo children now because it turns my stomach the senseless stuff the shock authors wrote, just to garner sales! In the face of decency, logic, character development — everything that makes sense — they would still do that! Oh, it’s disgusting, and I will not admit it as canon. I wish it never existed so that I wouldn’t have to argue its canonicity with people who do not understand character.

And lastly, my final wish, I wish that the Lucasfilm-Disney merger, resulting in the threat of three new, uncanonical, undesirable films, had never happened. I call these films Geriatric Wars 7: The Search for More Money as a tribute to Spaceballs and also to the fact that the returning cast are all over the age of 60. I can ignore the idiot TV shows and CGI action movies — whatever, those have always existed, like The Holiday Special — shameful little bumps easily ignored and not taken up by anyone much. But last month, I came extremely, extremely close to shutting down this blog because I absolutely could not bear for another second to have this ghastly “third trilogy” thrown in my face. It makes Star Wars into a despicable farce, and the people I find being excited about it confuse me to proportions so epic, I actually get a migraine. How can you stand there and hate every movie made since 1983 and still get excited? Can you comprehend you will also hate these? “Disney Backed Star Wars” was churning everyone’s stomachs not that long ago, and suddenly it’s all forgotten in the frantic excitement of a new movie. It’s disgusting. It makes my stomach turn. I did decide to delete this blog — got embarrassed about taking my purse in public, because people wouldn’t stop saying, “Have you heard they’re making new films?” — got rid of my Star Wars backgrounds on the computer for the first time in four years — but then I decided I am not going to back off. I am keeping this blog. Sooner or later, people will see what I see — a film backed by the people who gave us Pochahontas and starring a 72-year-old Han Solo is a travesty and an insult. I will hold this blog as a bastion of Star Wars sanity.
For the first time, I understand the point and appeal of owning the shirt that says “Show Us on the Trilogy Where George Hurt You.” (Formerly available from Hijinks Ensue, a webcomic that I do not actually endorse.)
Edit. Because I’m so proud of my work here, I have to share another “poem”! This is a satire on a speech from Coriolanus (3.1), accompanied by a picture of Tom Hiddleston rehearsing for that role with a lightsaber.
Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus

Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus

       O good but most unwise fanboys! Why, you
       Geeky but traitorous Star Warriors, have you thus
       Approved Lucas here to choose a successor,
5   That with this peremptory “Seven” — being but
       The method and madness of the money machine —
       Lacks not the means to pick your pocket of wealth
       And spoil your heroes for you? If enough’s not
       Ever enough, then ready your nerves. If not,
10 Wake up, you fools! If you are truly fans,
       Be not as Trekkies are! If you are not,
       Let Disney ruin it for us. You are DizGeeks
       If they be Star Wars fans: and they are no less,
       When “Nine” after “Eight” produced, the bitter taste
15  Of your disappointment deters them not.
       Lucas sold his empire to such a thing
       That turns this popular “Seven” into wealth
       For themselves only and to rancor for us.
       It makes the Skywalkers base! And my soul aches
20 To know, when offensive new films are pitched,
In spite of the past, how eager my fandom is
       To moon and pine over what they’ll instant hate
       A Disneyfied, Trekkie, Abrams-backed nightmare.