Why is technology Such a Villain in Star Wars? Isn't it Ironic?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Community' started by BenMacky, Dec 5, 2002.

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  1. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Even the Main Bad Guy, Darth Vader, is more Machine than Man. The rebels have to win the day by blowing up the great technological weapon, the Death Star. Anakin had to blow up a smaller version of the same thing in Ep 1. Clones seem to save the day, but are an ultimate weapon against the Republic in Ep 2. Meanwhile, the heroes are generally ascetic monks or low tech rebels or pre tech societies like the Ewoks. The point seems to be that human spirit is more powerful than technology. But why does Lucas put such a negative spin on technology itself? It seems as if anything man made is dangerous to him.

    I think it's pretty ironic that this should be a theme of the films since Lucas, as a filmmaker, constantly harps on having been constrained in his storytelling abilities by limited cinematic technologies. And he has ultimately come to the forefront of a digital revolution which is altering the way films are made and images are created and manipulated. Film in any form can be used as a powerful tool of technology.

    I suppose that's why so many people point out that that is why it is ironic that Lucas has built his own "Empire" using technology in the form of Lucasfilms.
  2. varza Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2002
    star 4
    never saw it that way and stil don't. Technology is no the villan in the films, IMHO, since the rebels use technology to combat it-um... so its not the villan. Its the use of technology in a negative aspect such as for mass destruction such as the death star and what not. And I never saw that the suit vader was wearing was evil its still the person inside who is the villan.

    maybe I am missunderstanding what you are saying but personnaly I think you are looking too deep into the meaning behind the story.



  3. Plo_Koen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2001
    star 4
    The human spirit prevailing over technology is certainly one of the main themes of SW.
  4. Darth-Horax Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2001
    star 6
    I think so too.

    It's an age old mythological twist that features a half man/half monster (machine) against a young, untested hero.

    If you look at Greek Mythology, and especially the story of the Minotaur and the Golden Fleece, they all parallel the story of Ep. VI's climactic conclusion...the fight in front of the Emperor, guarded by the half-man/half machine(monster) Vader. The Death Star is the labrynth, and Luke is the hero...
    We could go on for hours here, but I choose not to.

    PS-Cooked snails are good!
  5. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    The Death Star is a perfect example of this. It is many things:

    The Dragon to be slain.
    A maze.
    And a symbol of the corrupt values of the Empire.
  6. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Thanks for replying. I'll try to clarify, but I wanted to make a broad statement in case somebody wanted to go off on the topic.

    Some media theorists like Mumford, Mcluhan and Lipmann, each have different views on technologies as simple as the printing press. Admittedly this tool can be used for good, but some feel that we become slaves to technology, that we become their reproductive organs.

    Jefferson and Adams had entirely different views about the freedom of the press and democracy, but both were reacting to the possibilities of the distribution of the printed word and its impact.

    Of course the rebels in SW have space ships and lasers and technology and the like. That's part of the tapestry of Lucas' fantasy. But I don't think I am reading to much into it to recognize that Vader is an embodiment of technology overtaking the human element of man. In a corporeal form, he is presented as "more machine than man." The ultimate victory of the rebels is in defeating the greatest weapon, a technological marvel, in the various Death Stars which threaten to giv ultimate power to a corrupt government. We see that fear in our own societies as we wory about which governments, including our own, have weapons of mass destruction, and how they may be used.

    Lucas has often commented on his inclusion of the Ewoks to reflect his thoughts on the Vietnam struggles of a low tech society defeating a powerful enemy who has a great may technological advantages.

    Does Lucas tend to use technology to connote evil? It seems so. The heroes are usually New Agey spiritualists in the SW films, who only win the day by "trusting feelings" and turning off computers.

    The allegory may be useful in creating a story about human nature and potential in the face of all odds. Perhaps that is why Lucas kind of villifies technology, as a tool which belongs to the corrupt. It seems Lucas is suggesting that people in possession of technology get swayed by the power it enables only to do bad things.

    Any thoughts?
  7. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Cooked snails are indeed good.

    Very good.


    But, one more thing on the topic....You guys make an interesting point about the mythological foundations of Star Wars. Maybe technology is just the new face for our fears and monsters. At least in this day and age of great leaps in technology, maybe that's what speaks to us and is why the SW films are modern myths. I was talking to someone else about that and started a post on Campbell and Myths in todays films. Seems like we have an awful lot of movies harkening back to mystical heroes like the Jedi these days. SW, Potter and LOTR are huge figures of these times, it seems. And all of them are about the power inside of the individual.
  8. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    In a sense, technology is a Pandora's Box.

    In the PT, the technology is peacefull, life is easier, they get around the galaxy etc.

    The Emperor takes this technology and twists it into a war machine.
  9. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    A Pandora's Box is a great way of putting it. It seems like there is this underlying fear in the prequels of how good things go bad, whether it is a person or the use of technology. And once you start using things for evil, it opens up possibilities for more evil. Is thatwhat you're saing.

    I should also say that I think it's strange that technology is viwed this way in SW, but I understand that technology gives the bad guys an upper hand so the good guys can truly beat the odds. Me, I'm kind of a fan of technology. I love my cell phone and my laptop. Hey, it even lets me visits sites like this and communicate with people I'd never meet in my day to day life.

    Can even my "man on the street" technologies be used for evil? Sure, I mean people do bad things with whatever means available. that doesn't mean that technology is bad. It's people, as someone stated earlier, who use technology to bad ends.

    It just seems to me that Lucas uses technological superiority to connote evil.

    Now, why do I have a craving for snails?

  10. Darth-Horax Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2001
    star 6
    They kind of taste like chicken, you know...
  11. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    I guess it would be the other way around, not technology connotating evil, but what evil will do with that technology.

    I don't need to know Palpatine's past, if GL never reveals it thats ok, it keeps Palps mysterious. However...

    There is a piece of tech that GL has kept out of the films called a Jedi Holocron which is a powerful storage device about the size(And sometimes the shape) of a Rubix Cube. They are filled with Jedi and/or Sith teachings(And sometimes the essence of the teacher...).

    If I were to make a history for Palpatine it would be as a normal person who is on his way into politics, basically a good person, but very corruptable. He comes across(Or is given by a dying Jedi who recovered it) a Sith Holocron. He learns (Or is warned) that danger resides within and he must not open it. But like Pandora his curiosity gets the best of him and he opens it and is forever changed by what he discovers within.

  12. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Hey VadersLament-

    That's interesting you shoudl define Palps as being corruptable in order for the Pandora's box metaphor to apply. So would you have to have a character who is inherently flawed in order to be corrupted by that technology? Are people either inherently flawed or they aren't? It would seem the, that all it would take would be for a tool to be useful for that person to do with it what was inherent to their nature.
  13. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    And that is what would define the hero vs the villain.
    ANYONE could be corruptable, it is when they are confronted with that 'choice' that there true nature will be revealed.

    You have probably heard a saying like this:

    "A man looks in the abyss, it's at that moment man finds his character. And that's what keeps him from falling into the abyss."

    Or, I should add, what makes him jump in.
  14. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    YOu know, I Do prefer the original trilogy, partly because I amamazed at how a few cobbled-together model kits on a few ping pong tables, can actually make me believe in the Death Star. This kind of inventive, low tech filmmaking amazes me.

    On the other hand, without all of the advancement in filmmaking technology, I wouldn't have had the chance to see Yoda fighting in the way that Clones delivered.

    When people complain about Lucas' Empire overtaking his stories, I tend to see both sides. Technology isn't only in the stories, its in how the stories are made.
  15. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    VadersLament-

    That's a good quote. Isn't there another about the abyss looking back? Who said that anyway?

    Nice point about ANYONE'S ability to be corrupted. You have to wonder if a trial brings out a true nature that was always there or if that's when your true nature was born. kind of a "free will" debate cropping up here, I guess.

    sorry if i'm getting too heady. the good thing about these films is that they make you think.
  16. varza Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2002
    star 4
    Seems like we have an awful lot of movies harkening back to mystical heroes like the Jedi these days. SW, Potter and LOTR are huge figures of these times, it seems. And all of them are about the power inside of the individual.


    Time magazine just did an article on why fantasy is becoming so big right now- stories missing the large technology of today-and actually Star Wars was mentioned that it is not included in the genre. It has to do with being able to see and understand the battle between good and evil.Here is the article: Feeding on Fantasy

  17. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    The quote comes from Friedrich Nietzsche(The popular Conan quote, 'That which does not kill me, makes me stronger' comes from him):

    "He who fights monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

    The line I gave above with the "finds his character" part I know I read somewhere BESIDES the movie Wall Street 8-}

    As I looked for the quote I saw the same lines with differant wording, so it may be lost somewhere and I just can't find it.

    EDIT: It also may be just someone else's twist on that quote.
  18. Ret Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 1999
    star 6
    Maybe he stole some ideas from the Uninbomber. :)
  19. Delance Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 15, 2002
    star 3
    Haha, the most technological charachter in Star Wars is not Darth Vader. The Darth Vader costume is a black suite, with a plastic helmet and some blinking lines on a box on his chest. Jar Jar, in the other hand, is all technology.

    It's odd to see high-tech gungans using very high-tech 3D-made primitive equipment.
  20. Kazkid8 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2002
    star 3
    HUUUMMMM.......


    I think ben is on to something......
  21. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    you're on to something about Jar Jar. In a literal sense, he does exemplify technology at the heart of modern movie making. He is also a villain to many bashers and critics of the film.

    In a less literal way, but within the framework of the movies, Vader represents technology overshadowing humanity, as he is kept alive only by machination. This is part of the fabric of the story, whereas Jar Jar's technological implications are referential to thr real world, I'd say.

    An aside- Thanks for that link to Time Magazine. That's a really interesting article and very much so about what I was getting at in some parts of this thread.

    It's funny that Star wars should be cropping up again after all of these years, at precisely a time when myth is hitting it big again. A symptom or a cause? Any thoughts?

  22. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    The book, "Star Wars The Magic Of Myth" has a very good defintion of dystopia, which is what the struggles in the OT are about(Among many other things).

    "Technology is an extension of humanity's power to control and manipulate itself and the world; in a dystopia humans use it as a malevolent instrument, to pervert the natural order of human life and subvert our highest longings and values."

    "The Death Star is the ultimate killing machine; it logically, if horribly, removes that which does not fit into the Empire's plan for complete obediance."

    "In the crafting of Luke's victory over the Death Star, Lucas brought back the human based powers of the hero; it is Luke, not his machine, who defeats the terror."

    "Still, technology has it's bright and dark sides; after all, the Rebel Alliance uses technology too, but in the service of life, not death."

    GL's movie THX1138 is also depicts a dystopia.
  23. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    VadersLament-

    Excellent post. Those quotes are great, I'm glad you hunted them down.

    It's also worth noting that technology, that of filmmaking itself, is what allows for these films to reestablish mythology in our mass cultural consciousness. This is an example of technology's usefulness. But anyone who studies film also knows the power of such a huge propaganda vehicle. Nazi propaganda films of Leni Reifensthal paint a glowing picture of Nazi germany and Hitler. Did they represent the truth any more than any purported Allied Forces propaganda film? Film technology is a bit like the Death Star, if you'll let me reach out on a limb here- in that it can shape the perceptions of a viewer and obliterate other truths through its lack of objectivity. Like the powerful machine of the Death Star, cultural consumerism and film, whenj tied together, can "logically if horribly" be used for evil or evil, depending on who's telling the story.

  24. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Good point, I was going to try a film analogy to this but couldn't put the words together yet. :)

    Vader himself is consumed by the system, he is literaly losing his humanity. His own creation C3P0, suffers from dismemberement throughout the films as well.

    Boba suffers from the idea of humanity over technolgy as well. Much like Luke switching off his targeting computer to defeat the Death Star, Solo has to trust his own instincts as well when he hits Fett after a blind swing and sends the technologically sheathed villain to his death.
  25. BenMacky Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2002
    hmm, i'd never really put that together.

    yeah, Solo has a bit of that "trust your feelings" sory going on, too.

    Actually, Han Solo goes through a Hero's Journey, too. Unlike Luke, who's story is so much more obviously spiritual, about using the Force, Solo has to look into the abyss in a less obvious way, when deciding to stay and help his new found friends. Here, he's trusting his feelings over anything else. Turning off his auto pilot, in a way.
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