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January 30, 2011

It’s just a flesh wound

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January 25, 2011

Who’s your mommy?

How could George Lucas have screwed up Leia’s backstory so badly? In Return of the Jedi, Leia can remember having been with Padme, but in Revenge of the Sith Padme dies mere moments after Leia is born.

"Do you remember your mother? Your real mother... you know, the one that croaked."

Many hardcore Star Wars geeks left the theaters after seeing the births at the end of Sith wondering if George Lucas had just committed the most glaring and unforgivable retcon in the history of cinema. (Also, some of them left wondering how exactly a baby gets into a lady’s tummy in the first place, but we’ll leave that for another post entirely.)

At first glance, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. In Jedi, Leia appears to be perfectly aware of who her mother was and even briefly describes her when prompted by Luke during their discussion in Ewokopolis. How could any of that make any sense if Padme had been dead this whole time?

Such a Jabba-sized paradox was unthinkable and a lot of pants-wetting explanations spilled out across Internet discussion forums afterward. Some tried to explain it as Leia confusing memories of Padme with those of her adopted mother. Others insisted that the newborn infant Leia was able to take away memories of her dying mother. Still others claimed her adopted father Bail Organa must have passed along stories and vacation snapshots of Padme to the young Leia. None of those explanations make any sense, however, and most create more questions than they answer.

The whole issue has since gone on to become one of the most contentious topics on Star Wars discussion forums with comments veering from admirable but ham-handed attempts to defend George Lucas’ decision to outright calls for his head on a silver platter. But believe it or not, there is a perfectly good explanation that involves no re-writing of Jedi and makes sense in the context of the movies.

The Shameless Star Wars Apologist believes Lucas’ intention with the birth scene in Sith was to cast that scene in Jedi in a new light. And the only explanation that makes sense is that Leia had (as a child) tapped into the latent force abilities to which Luke alludes in that very scene. Yes, you read right. Leia gathered memories and mental images of Padme through the force… without even knowing it. She has no other explanation for that other than to assume they are memories.

You don’t buy it, do you?

Well, let’s first look at how much support there is that Leia actually knew Padme in the flesh. She doesn’t outrightly say so in Jedi.

Do you remember your mother, your real mother?

Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.

What do you remember?

Just images, really. Feelings.

Tell me.

She was very beautiful. Kind but… sad. Oh, and she was crazy hot too. I mean, instantly-increase-the-sperm-count-in-legions-of-fanboys hot.

So, no recollections of long strolls on the Alderaanian beaches. No lazy afternoons frolicking in the parks. No shopping trips to Naboo. Just images and feelings, exactly the kind of things Force users can tap into.

There is nothing in the movies that contradicts the possibility of Leia sensing who Padme was through her latent force abilities. In fact, there’s actually a lot there that supports it.

We know that children with a high midichlorian count can unknowingly access Force powers. Qui-Gonn refers to children doing that inadvertently when he talks to Anakin’s mother in The Phantom Menace, and we also learn in the other movies that family members have a special bond (e.g., Vader sensing Luke in Jedi when the Emperor could not; both Vader and Luke figuring out Leia’s real identity; Luke and Leia establishing that spontaneous mental contact at the end of Empire; Luke and Leia swapping spittle in Empire… er, wait… that’s a whole other type of family bonding we’re not going to touch right now; etc.)

We know force users can sense friends and loved ones, future and past. Yoda himself says in Empire that “Through the force, things you will see, other places, the future, the past… old friends long gone.”

So there it is. Lucas re-cast Leia’s memories in Jedi as force-induced. She likely dreamed of Padme as a child (as Anakin dreamt of his mother’s fate) and mistakes those as memories in her adulthood.

Still not buying it, are you?

Part of the problem here is that many of us saw Jedi in the 80s and walked out with assumptions about Leia’s apparent memories of Padme. But, as you can see from the quoted dialog, those were just assumptions. There’s no solid evidence that Leia actually knew Padme in person. The ending of Sith challenges us to let go of those original assumptions about that scene and try to view it in a new way.

Inevitably, some will reject this explanation. But all in all, it’s a richer and more interesting explanation for Leia’s memories than seeing Revenge of the Sith end with Padme and Leia walking off hand-in-hand into the twin sunsets. This new angle adds a dimension to Leia’s character and makes that scene in Jedi a little more cohesive, given that Luke is trying to explain her latent force powers to her as well as that moment where she seems suddenly to understand. (“I know. Somehow, I’ve always known.”)

So anyway, for some it’s a terrible plot hole gaping where their childhood memories used to be. For others, it’s a new facet to a scene we thought was very straightforward when we first saw it.

January 20, 2011

Not so tough now, are ya, Vader?

"You can kiss the dark side of my ass, Vader."

Darth Vader is so lame in Jedi. At the end of the movie, he provokes Luke into attacking him but then is overpowered by Luke swinging his lightsaber around like a lunatic and leaving himself wide open.

That’s true. Vader misses several opportunities to slash Luke into two whiny halves at that moment, but let’s remember what Vader is really trying to accomplish at that point. Is he trying to kill Luke? No.

During their duel in Empire, Vader tells Luke that together they can defeat the Emperor and rule as father and son. At that point in Jedi, Vader is ostensibly carrying out the wishes of the Emperor in trying to goad Luke to enough anger that he’ll slip over to the dark side. But secretly, he’s planning to overthrow his master and intall himself in the Emperor’s sit-n-spin with Little Luke by his side.

The Shameless Star Wars Apologist maintains that Vader was overcome by the intensity of Luke’s anger which, combined with an effort to not hurt Luke, led to his fall.

This, by the way, is not such a farfetched theory. Think carefully about what Palpatine does when Luke successfully batters Vader to the floor and ginsus off his robotic hand. Is the Emperor upset? No, he’s absolutely giddy and, convinced that Luke has gone over to the dark side, reveals his true plan, to kill off Vader and take on Luke as his new apprentice. (“Strike him down and take your father’s place by my side.”)

The whole let’s-get-Luke-to-join-our-club thing was a ruse. The Emperor was planning to kill Vader, exactly the same way Vader had planned to kill his master.

So, yes, it’s partly right that Vader foregoes opportunities to cut Luke down, but that was intentional.

January 27, 2010

A haiku for Symantec

Symantec, you suck!
You are the new Adobe.
Shit-bloated software.

Install this!

Why is it installing or uninstalling an application on a Mac is a matter of dragging-and-dropping a single application icon whereas doing the same on Windows feels like a form of black magic the complexities of which I doubt I’ll ever fully master? The most powerful software company on the planet couldn’t come up with anything better than this convoluted crap?

January 18, 2010

Crapp store

So, you think anyone in the Android sphere is rethinking that whole open-to-everyone app store approach yet?

Cell phone plan comparison

And Billshrink proves my pet theory that all cell phone companies suck equally.

All your memes are belong to us!

allyourbaseFinally, an exhaustive list of Internet memes has been assembled for those of us who want to take an amusing, and possibly embarrassing, walk down the Internet’s memory lane. (Warning: some of the links on the page above may contain objectionable content… and by that, I’m not referring to just the Rick Roll link!)

January 7, 2010

Sharing the hate for Internet Explorer

Screw you, Internet Explorer. Your CSS rendering sucks in ways that even God Himself could not have foreseen. You have become a force of suckage that puts all other forces in the Universe to shame. You are the software equivalent of that printer in Office Space and someday we Web developers are going to gather around you and pummel your worthless bits into digital oblivion.

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