Pop-culture is a fascinating thing. Look at what the people are celebrating, chattering about and sharing with one another and you get a sense of what their passions and peeves are. I love my fellows, messy, frustrating lot that we are and I assure you it is genuine concern that prompts me to object to a recent cultural phenomenon. This photo appeared in my Facebook feed a short while ago:
Imagine if you will, a wee one’s nursery all done up in black and white. On the floor, a rug in the image of the Death Star, on the wall, an image Darth Vader, head held at a heroic angle and framed in Victorian frill. Near the black crib, a teddy bear wearing Vader’s mask, storm troopers on the trash can etc. You might just dismiss this as stuff and nonsense, naught to be concerned about. I mean after all, there’s the economy, atrocities to the east, and Trump to occupy our worries. But this image points to the core of our confusion in a terribly succinct way, and it is out of love that I want to persuade my fellow citizens of the twenty-first century that:
Darth Vader is NOT a Hero
I know; I was there the day he showed up in our world. I was eleven years old and I remember there had never been a villain like him before. I was there the day the storm troopers boarded the ship and took the Princess hostage. Have you forgotten how he killed people at whim, with a simple projection of his will? I haven’t. And I was there when a small team of men and women looked upon the Death Star and recognized it for the Evil weapon that it was. They pledged their lives and yes, DIED trying to stop an empire and a machine that would rule the galaxy via Terror.
Evil and terror are real things people. Have you not looked beyond our safe little American nest and seen that Real humans really do hold whole populations hostage via terror? Have you no sense of the reality of these images represent?! Men and women die every day trying to stop the wickedness that runs amok on this planet.
What is it about the black from head to toe, the mechanically affected breathing and voice, the eyes un-seeable, that is not communicating to you: Here is a soul Enslaved and near consumed by evil? Yoda is quoted on the wall in this nursery (illustrating the stager’s confusion still further) did he not teach you that evil eats and destroys the person who lets it in? Did we not watch Anakin indulge in hate and anger again and again until he was consumed? Is this what you want for your children? Shall this tortured soul who then became the torturer be your child’s hero?
You think I’m taking this way to seriously. But I tell you, if you do not take your stories seriously, especially those that focus on the great and most important themes of Good and Evil, Heroes and Villains, then you do not take your Life seriously! What do you think you are? Are you not a being of both material and spiritual power whose choices will and do increase either Goodness or Evil upon this earth? You ARE Exactly that! “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter” sayeth Yoda.
Likewise your infant, who will grow to be a child, who will grow to be a man or a woman and whose choices will bring forth either Evil or Good into this world. You sow seeds confusion about good and evil as he is growing up, you can expect to reap grief when he achieves his full strength.
I don’t care if Vader provides a “cooler” graphic than all the other characters. He is Not the Hero and you do Not want your child to emulate him. Anakin/Vader is a tragedy, he is Attila the Hun, Mao Zedong, Hitler. Will their images adorn the walls of your home next?
Our children deserve real heroes, figures that will inspire them to stand up and take action to protect the innocent, role models who will confirm their consciences in the good and the true, images –be they human or alien – of virtue.
I too loved the Star Wars trilogy but I loved it precisely because it painted reality so clearly. Lucas gave us the most obvious and inhuman villain who ever darkened the silver screen. There should be no confusion. If the man inside the mask was redeemed by his last-moment decision to save his son, the mask and all the Imperial imagery never-the-less symbolize evil and tyranny and they have no place in the peaceful refuge of a tiny earthling.
May the force of all that is Good and True and Beautiful be with you always.