All right, fine, I’m writing about Star Wars every day, now. (Yes, nine-year-old me, dreams do come true! Stay in school!)
But what of it? I have an excuse. Candidates are now talking about Star Wars, and they are wrong.
Marco Rubio said Wednesday that he was not sure if he still hated Darth Vader, after hearing what he had been through. “I used to hate Darth Vader, but now I kind of feel a little bit sorry for him knowing what he went through to get to that point.” Rubio called him “probably the most fascinating character in the whole movie, because he started out as this individual with a lot of talent and promise, then something went wrong, something went really bad, he went dark, he went nasty.”
Here he is wrong. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie reminded me on Twitter yesterday, if you pay any attention to anything Anakin says in Episodes II and III — ostensibly BEFORE he turns evil — you cease to regard him as a Promising Man Who Turned — and begin to consider him as a bad seed, about whose ultimate fate there was never any doubt. (“Clone Wars,” as usual, gets around this more adeptly than the prequels do.)
Here is just some of that typical Anakin before he turns evil.
Here he is, discussing politics with a senator:
“We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem … agree what’s in the best interest of all people … and then do it.”
“That’s exactly what we do,” the senator replies. “The trouble is that people don’t always agree.”
“Well,” he suggests, “then they should be made to.”
When she counters that this “Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me,” he replies, “Well, if it works” and the music becomes very ominous.
Or: “You’re asking me to be rational. I know that is something I cannot do.”
“You’re not all-powerful, Ani,” someone tells him. He responds, “Well, I should be.”
If your neighbor told you any of the above, then hideously slaughtered a group of schoolchildren, you would not say, “Well, he was quiet and kept to himself and we never saw this coming,” or “I feel awful for him. He had such promise.” You would say, “Something was clearly the matter with this guy from the get-go.”
Here’s another memorable remark from before he turns to the dark side: “I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I HATE THEM!”
That’s a war crime, Anakin! That’s what most people do AFTER they turn to the Dark Side.
What is he waiting for? Frankly, at that point, turning to the Dark Side is a mere technicality. If you’ve already committed mass slaughter, you don’t have to wait until your Murderers Guild membership card arrives in the mail. The fact that anyone is still willing to tolerate him and list him on the Good Side after he admits to murdering children is… testimony to everything else around him that is wrong.
So much for the promising, talented Jedi Rubio feels so sorry for.
But perhaps maybe he’s right to consider Darth Vader a sympathetic figure.
Darth Vader is, after all, a religious conservative who lives out his convictions, even when they make his co-workers uncomfortable. He wears his faith openly in the workplace (“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force”) despite his co-workers’ mockery. (“Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader.”)
In fact, what turned him to the Dark Side in the first place was concern over an unborn child — though, to be fair, he was mainly worried about saving the life of the mother. That might put him on his own.