Saga Is Star Wars morality too black and white?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Polydroxol, May 28, 2014.

  1. Polydroxol Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2014
    star 2
    I've been wondering if viewing the Light side vs. Dark side, as strictly a good vs. evil thing is too concrete. It sometimes appears as if the only-moral dilemma or decision a force-sensitive has to face is if he or she is to use the force in a calm and detached way, or, in an angry and attached way. No grey area, just black or white, heads or tails. After the decision is made, the detached, calm person is somewhat of a saint, incapable of doing anything truly evil or malicious unless they fully "flip" sides. Vice versa, the attached, angry person is automatically condemned to be a black-hearted murderer and or calculating schemer for the rest of his or her existence. This is unless of course, he or she has a complete 360-degree epiphany and stops becoming angry or attached.

    Good people with good intentions make bad choices and do bad things. Bad people, or, people who lose control of themselves, can make good choices and become good or controlled people without becoming "saints" or being transformed completely. It's not based completely on if we let anger and fear influence how we act. We don't have to "lose control" to commit evil, and "saying under control" does not prevent us from making bad choices that harm ourselves and others. Some of the worst evil has been committed by people with the best, calm intentions to do "good."

    A person is not evil because he twirls his mustache and laughs an evil laugh. He is evil because he let his view of what is "good" become twisted by things such as over self-importance, poor self-control, outside influence, and utter disregard for other human life and suffering.

    The best example of this quandary in the Saga would be Count Dooku. Yes, Dooku killed people and started a war. However, his motives and justifications behind these murders and this war were to create a new Republic. This new government would contain perhaps more freedom and probably less corruption for millions of citizens living in the Republic so, were his actions really good or evil? Well, instead of allowing us to make this judgment, Dooku is labeled with a big fat "bad guy" title by having him "fall" or "flip" to the "dark" and "evil" side of the proverbial coin. This image is complete with a red lightsaber and force lightning. None of this "evil" image mind you, actually involves any of Dooku's actions or motives.

    Sometimes I wish Star Wars allowed "good'' characters to make truly bad choices while still striving to be good people. Or, "bad" characters really explain why they thought their actions were "good" without outside interferences deciding who is the hero and who is the villain for us. Everyday, we struggle with what is "good" and what is "bad". How do we know what is really right from wrong? That is a tough question. Unfortunately for us, people don't carry lightsabers around, color coded perfectly so we can clearly see if they belong to a "bad guy" or a "good guy." No, That difficult choice is one we have to decide for ourselves based on our own viewpoint and experience. It is rarely centered entirely in either end of the spectrum or on one side of the coin.
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  2. Kato Sai Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2014
    star 4
    Originally, yes it was very black and white. However, since the Prequels there has been a shift towards balance over black and white. Gray Jedi are becoming more popular and considered the true minded force users.
  3. rdhight Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2014
    star 3
    It's black and white, but not too black and white. In real life we have crooked businessmen and standup guys who are perhaps just a little to one side or another, but we also have heroes and monsters. Star Wars has exemplars of good and evil, but there are also characters like Han, Watto, and Jango who come across as one shade of gray or another.

    Real life isn't all black and white, but it isn't all gray either. Real life has its terrorists, Nazis, etc. just as Star Wars has its Sith. I don't feel like Star Wars is overdosed on black-and-white.
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  4. thejeditraitor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    it's not black an white at all. the pt shows the jedi fighting in a war they didn't even want. the whole point is showing that doing the right thing is sometimes ambiguous. dooku is the perfect example of making bad choices for what he felt were the right reasons. you have no argument. i suggest you go back and watch the films again.
    Last edited by thejeditraitor, May 28, 2014
  5. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4



    The saga did exactly what you had stated. This is the reason why there is so much debate regarding the choices and beliefs of the major characters - especially in the PT.
  6. bstnsx704 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    star 3
    Seeing as the prequels heavily feature the Jedi fighting alongside the future-Empire and the films' Separatist villains essentially plant the seeds for the heroic Rebellion of the original films, I'd hardly call anything too black and white.




    Anakin?

    Dooku?
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  7. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9

    That's an EU creation. Nothing has changed about what a Jedi is and what a Sith Lord is. Balance wasn't about how they used the Force, but about undoing the damage Palpatine caused.
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  8. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    Huh?:confused:
  9. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 28, 2001
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    Kato was referring to the idea of Gray Jedi, like those in the "Legacy" EU. The ones that serve under Emperor Ronan Fel who were good, but used aggression to fight. I was saying that balance wasn't the fact that it is okay to use fear, anger and hate to get the job done. That part didn't change.
  10. Kato Sai Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2014
    star 4
    According to the canon films, The Chosen One was suppose to bring Balance to the Force. While Kenobi says, "and destroy the Sith," Balance in its full context is for the Ashla (The Light Side) and Bogan (The Dark Side) to be in balance like Yin and Yang. Originally, in the OT the Dark Side was seen as weaker and evil, Yoda says in response to Luke's question if the Dark Side is strong, "No quicker, more seductive." In the Original Trilogy, there was sense that Good will always triumph over evil and that the Jedi are good and the Sith are evil. In the Prequels this is maintained, but the Balance Philosophy is added and thus muddles up the main theme of the Force in the OT.
  11. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    No it hasn't. Balance is once again having the Yin and Yang.

    "As evil begins to take over, it pushes the Force out of balance."

    --George Lucas, AOTC DVD Commentary.

    "It's not that they can't see the dark side coming, it's just that the dark side begins to envelop everything. It's like walking into a fog. The Jedi's ability to see lessens as the sark side grows."

    --George Lucas

    "I wanted to have this mythological footing because I was basing the films on the idea that the Force has two sides, the good side, the evil side, and they both need to be there. Most religions are built on that, whether it's called yin and yang, God and the devil—everything is built on the push-pull tension created by two sides of the equation. Right from the very beginning, that was the key issue in Star Wars."

    --George Lucas, “The Mythology of Star Wars,” Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth DVD, 2001

    "If good and evil are mixed things become blurred - there is nothing between good and evil, everything is gray. In each of us we to have balance these emotions, and in the Star Wars saga the most important point is balance, balance between everything. It is dangerous to lose this. In The Phantom Menace one of the Jedi Council already knows the balance of the Force is starting to slip, and will slip further. It is obvious to this person that the Sith are going to destroy this balance. On the other hand a prediction which is referred to states someone will replace the balance in the future. At the right time a balance may again be created, but presently it is being eroded by dark forces."

    --George Lucas, Time Magazine article, 2002

    The dark side is weaker because the true power of the Force is in knowledge and wisdom, which is different from wanting the physical power to do unnatural things. That's why Qui-gon told Yoda that the ability to defy oblivion is something that cannot be achieved except for yourself and it requires being totally and completely selfless. Something that the Sith cannot do, because it goes against their beliefs and especially with their desire to maintain a foothold in the corporeal world.

    In general, the story is very black and white because of the morality tale that it's supposed to be.

    "The film is ultimately about the dark side and the light side, and those sides are designed around compassion and greed. The issue of greed, of getting things and owning things and having things and not being able to let go of things, is the opposite of compassion—of not thinking of yourself all the time. These are the two sides—the good force and the bad force. They're the simplest parts of a complex cosmic construction."

    --George Lucas


    "The dark side is always there. It is experienced daily by people. It is like a huge cancer, alive, festering--both a reminder of a moral state and, at the same time, symptom and symbol of a very sick society."

    --George Lucas, "The Mythology of Star Wars, " Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth DVD, 2001.


    "One of the issues in all of this is the bad guys think they’re good and Lord Sidious thinks he’s bringing peace to the galaxy because there is so much corruption and confusion and chaos going on and now he’s going to be able to straighten everything out which maybe true but the price the galaxy is going to have to pay for it is way too much."

    --George Lucas, ROTS DVD Commentary.


    "What drove me to make these movies is that this is a really interesting story about how people go bad. In this particular case, the premise is: Nobody thinks they're bad. They simply have different points of view. This is about a kid that's really wonderful. He has some flaws - and those flaws ultimately do him in."

    --George Lucas, The Making Of ROTS; Page 53.
    Last edited by darth-sinister, May 28, 2014
  12. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Well, the OT is certainly too morally black and white for me, nowadays. At least it is, on its own. The PT has a nice ambiguity about it, and that helps deepen the sometimes simplistic tone of the OT in retrospect.
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  13. thejeditraitor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    the ot has han, lando (who are smugglers and gamblers) and bounty hunters. i'd say those are pretty gray areas of morality.
    Last edited by thejeditraitor, May 28, 2014
  14. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Another Saga & CT Manager

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    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    I think the complaint is that the dark side seems to have an inherent (negative) morality assigned to it.

    One can argue over whether this is or is not present in the OT, and to what degree that does or does not change in the PT. Personally, I took a slightly less Manichean reading from the OT, but that doesn't seem to be the intention of GL.
    Last edited by Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn, May 28, 2014
  15. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Han and Lando have enough gray to make for single film arcs, but after that they're pretty unambiguously good guys. And they're never really tested in major ways-- we never see an Imperial officer offer Han more money to betray Luke and Leia, for example. Even Lando's betrayal of Han is rooted in the higher priority of protecting the people of Cloud City. There's a case to be made, but nobody's ever really tested with the same circumstances as the PT.

    As for Bounty Hunters-- do we see any of them who aren't working for bad guys? The closest is Leia going undercover in Jabba's palace, and that doesn't really count.
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  16. rdhight Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2014
    star 3

    In the Clone Wars. After being demoted from assassin to bounty hunter, Ventress joins young Boba Fett's crew, and they have a disagreement about the morality of their mission, with Ventress getting the better of the argument and selling a kidnapped "bride" back to her family instead of to their original employer. Bounty hunter Ventress also plays a not-altogether-villainous role in the Season 5 final arc. Hondo also helps the good guys out a few times.

    It's certainly more "good business" than "good." And the bad guys seem to place a lot more bounties than our heroes. But the actions of the bounty hunters themselves do fall into a category more gray than black.
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  17. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4

    Good. It needed to be muddled.

    I believe there is some moral ambiguity in the OT - especially in TESB. But the level of moral ambiguity seems to be a lot higher in the PT.
    Last edited by DRush76, May 29, 2014
  18. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    They try to force a black and white view while at the same time presenting everyone grey. I do think it's time to end the false presentation, yes.
  19. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    It wouldn't be a dark side otherwise.




    Which is in the films. Anakin becomes an evil person because he let fear cloud his judgment and was fueled by anger and hatred at the thought of losing that which he prided most in his life. That in turn grew out of a selfish need to not be alone and his obsessive need for keeping those he loved from harm. Ignoring the tenants of life which is death comes to everyone.



    Dooku doesn't want a new Republic. He and Palpatine both want the Empire that emerges in ROTS. Where freedoms are traded for security and to maintain that security, a super weapon is created to keep people in line. Which in turn is a major issue the real world, which is giving up too many freedoms for security. Look no further than that last dozen years at the US government. Hell, more recently with Edward Snowden exposing government secrets regarding wire tapping on allies, which caused a major outrage.



    When it comes to good and evil, you have to listen to yourself. That is what Yoda says to Luke when he asks that important question in TESB.

    LUKE: "But how I will know the good from the bad?"

    YODA: "You will know, when you are calm. At peace. Passive."

    You are your own judge on what is good and evil. Right from wrong. Anakin was a poor judge of that because he believed that the only solution to his problem was to commit evil acts, thinking that he was doing good by it.
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  20. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Another Saga & CT Manager

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    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    Sure it could. Light and dark, one and many, up and down, female and male, blue and orange... there are lots of 'oppositions' that are not inherently moralistic.

    If the dark side is inherently evil, doesn't that make it so that 'you' are actually not the judge (in those instances)?

    EDIT. I have no idea why the formatting of this post is so strange, but I think it's still readable.
    Last edited by Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn, May 29, 2014
  21. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9


    Some are. Especially when we define it as how we see it and with Lucas, how it is viewed in society through the people and in terms of religion.


    The dark side is temptation. It is power. It is corruption. It is all the negative traits that exist. We all have the capacity to be greater than we are, or become one of the worst beings in existence. The dark side of the Force is that the Force is a power than can achieve many things, but it is fueled by emotions. Negative emotions. Having these negative emotions within yourself grants you greater power than you would have without it. But, that doesn't mean that there isn't great power when one isn't fueled by the negative emotions.

    Yoda is a powerful Force user due to his having gained mastery over his emotions and thus isn't ruled by them. Thus we see him do the things he did in the films and in the animated series. But his true strength lies in his passing on his knowledge to other Jedi, thus keeping the whole thing going. Palpatine is a powerful Force user due to his having loads of anger and hatred and mastery over the fear that exists deep down. The greater the negative emotions, the greater his power is. This then takes us to Anakin and Luke. Neither one was born to be evil, nor good. They became who they were based on how they were raised and how they were taught the lessons that they learned. Anakin falls because he took the wrong conclusions from the lessons he learned. He knows the dangers that exist in the decisions that he makes, but chooses to ignore them because he is too emotional a person. He makes his decisions based on emotion rather than from a place of logic and reason. And so because he feels the Force growing within him from the negative aspects of himself, he becomes that which destroys. Luke doesn't fall because even though he is like his father in many ways, he also knows deep down that he does not want to be like he is now. Luke accepts that he cannot control the fate of others. That people will come and go in his life and that the feelings of not being sufficient enough to protect Leia, are only a manifestation of his fears. By accepting that and then letting go, does he finally become a Jedi.

    In our world, we are not masters of a mystical and mysterious power that fuels our endeavors. We know what is right and what is wrong, because of our moral views growing up and what our heart and conscience tells us. We choose to do what we do based on that. Sometimes the lines do blur between what is right and wrong. And other times, the lines are clear but we lie to ourselves saying, "This the only thing that makes sense". Then there are the people who don't see a moral view between right and wrong. Someone who will do horrible things and not think of anything other than, "I could do it." Those people are incapable of seeing right and wrong in the same sense as others.

    It's like that discussion the other day with Cushing's Admirer about lying. He has a strong stance that all lying is wrong, while others like myself can see the benefits of lying. Not every instance of lying is wrong, but some lies are damning. In that regard, morality is gray. The morality that is not gray is where we will go too far. That's where we forego our principles in pursuit of a personal gain. We know it's wrong, but we do it anyway.
    Last edited by darth-sinister, May 29, 2014
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  22. ObiAlKenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2012
    star 2
    A very intriguing topic (and an escape from "which film had the best fights?" LOL).

    Count Dooku was one of my favorite characters from the prequels. I think there were missed opportunities with his character. I did not view him as being "totally evil" as we would, say Darth Maul. I believe he was doing what he thought was right for the good of the galaxy and the inept dogma of the Jedi order restraining him. Not saying that evil people do not justify their actions. They do. But, I would have liked to see more scenes with Dooku and a bit of his vision for the Galaxy, decision to leave the Jedi explained further, etc. I do believe, from the way he was portrayed, Dooku sometimes stepped into the "gray area" from the Dark Side from time to time. Christopher Lee did a wonderful job as always.
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  23. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4

    Anything that is "dark" is evil or bad?
    Last edited by DRush76, May 30, 2014
  24. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    Yes, all things "dark" is evil. :rolleyes:

    The dark side means that there is a side of the Force that has consequences. That it can be abused and misused by the Jedi and results in bad things happening which is where the Sith were born from. In general, it can be used in all kinds of facets. There's a dark side to fame. There's a dark side to politics. There's a dark side to sports. Are you going to argue that it is somehow racist?
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  25. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    I don't even see Dooku as Dark, never have. I think he's simply seen as 'dark' because he dared leave the Jedi. Which I think is *awesome*. The Jedi aren't always right and Dooku had the discernment to see this. He is grey as is every character in SW but a much more intellectual and classy nuanced shade than Maul.

    Likewise, I heartily disagree that 'dark' is the same as 'evil'. Not always.