Saturday, May 11, 2013

Only A Sith Deals In Absolutes

One of my absolute favorite podcasts is Rebel Force Radio, hosted by Jason Swank and Jimmy Mac (former hosts of The ForceCast). If there's one thing I greatly dislike about the show, however, it's the hosts' (mostly Jason's) tendency to be very aggressive towards anyone who is not a diehard George Lucas follower or who dislikes the prequel films. More recently, they've gone after Patton Oswalt, who is famous in Star Wars fandom for two things:

Firstly, this is part of his stand-up routine (caution, harsh language after 0:35).
Secondly, he made this cameo on Parks and Recreation recently:

Since Oswalt has now become a minor Star Wars celebrity in response to this cameo, RFR decided to remind Star Wars fandom just how apparently-evil he is by labeling him "Patton 'frickin'' Oswalt," much as they did for Simon Pegg, who has repeatedly spoken out about his intense dislike for the prequel films. Essentially, RFR decided to get their fanbase riled up for a Dathomiri witch hunt. They asked their fans for opinions on whether or not Oswalt deserved the "frickin" title; this was my emailed response:

Patton Oswalt does not deserve "frickin'" status.

One of the things that has consistently confused and dismayed me about Star Wars fandom is its tendency to be at war with itself and with other fandoms. Yes, other fandoms can be hostile as well, but since Star Wars fandom is so large, it tends to be farther-reaching. There've been times where I actually pulled out of Star Wars fandom entirely simply because of all the internal conflict. (the "Karentraversy", the Prequel-haters, et cetera) It doesn't matter to me if you're a die-hard George Lucas follower or a Prequel-critic, I do not want to see my closest friends at war like that. It just makes Star Wars not fun anymore.

How many times have you heard something completely offensive in a comedian's stand-up routine, but didn't let it bother you because you knew it was only meant for an innocent laugh? Why are we now holding Patton Oswalt to a different standard? Sometimes I think Star Wars fans sound as irrational as those groups that insist Harry Potter teaches children witchcraft and video games mold you into a serial murderer. CHILL OUT, PEOPLE. Hope the prequel-critics come around someday, but in the meantime don't make enemies of them. That's only going to make the conflict worse.

And here's the thing: with all the conflict, we are completely missing the point of Star Wars. Let's think back to the endings of Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi.

Anakin: "If you're not with me, you're my enemy!"
Obi-Wan: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

Is absolutist black-and-white thinking not precisely the sin that we fans commit when we label one another "Prequel-haters," "kooks," or "people who give Star Wars an F"? Should we not instead follow Luke's example?
Luke chose not to strike down Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith though he was. Instead, he chose to throw aside his saber in an act of selfless love. Yes, it meant putting himself at risk, but it was the right thing to do.

Don't strike down Simon Pegg, Patton Oswalt, or anyone else in anger. Instead, throw aside your lightsaber and invite them to join the light.

May the Force be with you, always.

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