My problem with Clone Wars, in less than 700 words

Part of the real problem I have with the Clone Wars series concept is making the good guys out of the clone troopers —”today we fight for all our brothers back home,” and all that shit. It’s like doing an origin story on the actual stormtroopers and making an animated kids series that says, hey, the Gestapo wasn’t so bad. They had pals and feelings too. No, sometimes evil is evil. Or rather, an interesting series could be made to show there is more to it than that (well, not the Gestapo angle) and the duality of man and that “Jungian thing,” to quote Private Joker, and all that. And if there is, it could make for a rather interesting series; but it takes a hell of a lot better storyteller than the 21st century George Lucas to pull that off.

No, it’s easier to market a bunch of Clone Troopers™ talking helmets and lunchboxes and toy guns and color-accented white armor. Sure, every once in a while Yoda will say something sage or Yogi Berra-like, such as “fight for us now they do, but always in motion is the future,” and “go to that restaurant, no one does; too crowded it is.” Still, that hasn’t slowed down the sales of Clone Trooper toys and gear and Halloween costumes and shit. Everytime I see a kid with this stuff in Target I want to tell them, um, son, these are the guys that will later burn Luke’s aunt and uncle to death.

I get that Lucas wanted to show that Luke Skywalker’s daddy was a fallen knight who was a great fighter but had poor control of his temper and even poorer judgement in aging supreme chancellors. I understand Lucas’ overarching theme that “the film is about human frailties; it’s not about monsters,” as he noted regarding Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi in the 1985 documentary “From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga.” But I fear the Clone Wars revision goes too far in making Anakin out to be a good (and marketable) guy with just a few minor problems that can be fixed with some psychological and pharmacological help and, oh, what’s that? He cut off Mace Windu’s arm, killed a bunch of children, and then choked his wife? Well, I guess he’s a rotten guy after all. I think it’s a bit of a bridge too far, and it’s too tough a nut for Lucas to crack, especially for what he has insisted is a kids’ saga. If you’re talking Sméagol and Gollum, well, now you’re onto something, and something perhaps intended for more mature fantasy-saga audiences. But no one is out buying build-your-own Gollum’s lightsabres for their 7-year-old at Toys Я Us (well, that might be something I might buy). Anakin’s much more marketable as a lovable, James Dean-ish good guy with a dark streak rather than as, say, Hitler Jr.

It’s all so much revisionist (fictional, of course) history. It amazes me how much of the original trilogy isn’t in the new trilogy. Hell, it amazes me how much of the Phantom Menace isn’t in the other two flicks in that half-saga, though, I’m not complaining about the sudden diminished Gungan/Jar Jar Binks factor (though I wince every time I am reminded of the Clone Wars series’ Ahsoka character — is there really a major character in that series nicknamed “Snips”?). It’s like, every once in a while I need to hiccuup and go, oh, yeah, Liam Neeson was in that, and five years after an amazing performance as Oskar Schindler, no less.

I imagine, in 30 years or so, a cryogenically prolonged George Lucas will come out with a prequel to the prequels to show that Emperor Palpatine really wasn’t such a bad guy when he began, that he was just a humble politician that wanted to serve one term and save the Galaxy from some fascist socialist politician spending his children’s future away on Valorumcare, but got too caught up in his own Second Amendment Remedies, and then once he met Darth Plagueis, watch out.

(This started out as a screed in less than 400 words, but I digress.)



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