Monday, December 22, 2008

The Clone Wars

For the record, I detest blogs about a persons favorite TV shows. It’s down right pathetic. People will analyze every word of dialogue and the meaning behind the placement of props. All these blogs do is loudly and clearly inform the reader that the writer has a life lacking in meaning.
This is my blog about a TV show.
I know. I know. It’s a bad one too. The Clone Wars on Cartoon network. In my defense I am a huge Star Wars fan. I have to watch. Not only to see the missing chapter in the Star Wars saga filled in, but to catalogue just how bad the show can be sometimes. It really can be awful. It can also be really good when they get away from the childish slapstick. The stories range from dark morality tales to light hearted adventures. The Spaceships, aliens and cities all look beautiful. Digitally rendered in bright detail, it is only when the human characters are on screen that it looks bad. While everything else is gorgeous, the people look like puppets missing their strings. They move with an awkward motion when they should be graceful. The battle droids are positively moronic in their speech and capabilities at fighting off Jedi. But the thing that really ruins it for me is a major problem in the philosophy. I know. I know. It’s just a show. Well, it is and it isn’t.
The impact Star Wars had on me as a kid growing up in the flat pampered suburbs of Chicago in the late 70’s is impossible to explain. That first movie was an accidental masterpiece. Truly. At the heart of the movie was The Force. A religion, way of life or maybe even a philosophy-no one really knew. The mystery only increased my hunger for meaning in my own life. As silly as it sounds Star Wars was the first tangible hint that I lived in a much larger world with forces all around me I didn’t have to be blind to.
Then came the Ewoks.
Then came the Prequels with massive plot holes.
Worst of all; Jar Jar Binks. A completely digital creation that seemed made just to annoy the faithful. Lucas seems to have struggled with his franchise. Was it a kids movie or a fable for adults? The second you added puppets was the second it got hard to take seriously.

Its fair to say that I drifted away from Star Wars for many years. The new movies were crap. Painfully acted from a script that held all the excitement of ice fishing, I had been let down enough from something that was so important in my childhood. Then came the clone wars. You have to understand just how mysterious those two words are. In the original movie, Obi-Wan makes reference to a time before the Empire. A time best known to all in the Galaxy as the clone wars. That was it. From that tiny bit of back-story my brother and I managed to spend countless hours awake wondering out loud exactly what happened in that missing era. That’s why the announcement of the new movies subject matter was greeted with such excitement. Finally we would know the story of how the Empire came to be! Finally we would get to see the events of the clone wars!
Then the movies came out.
The entire clone wars turned out to be a single order spoken into a wrist mounted communication device by the Emperor. There was no chase across the Galaxy of valiant Jedi. There was no hunting down or dramatic battles. The clones simply received the order, turned on the Jedi and young Vader to be went from being a mass murder of Sand People to killing children.
That was it? That was the missing piece of the puzzle I waited a lifetime for?

Maybe Lucas knows he fucked up. Maybe someone broke from the pack of yes men that must surround him to tell him how ripped off a lot of fans felt. Where was the epic? Where was the subtle lure of the dark side and young Vader’s slow eventual fall into evil? What we got was a whinny teen in love. What we got was about five minuets of screen time for the clone wars.
Where was the story we had been promised since childhood?

When the Cartoon network announced a new series based on the Clone Wars, I was cautiously optimistic. I started watching. I could ignore the stupid dialogue for the battle droids. I could overlook the crudely drawn people against meticulously created backdrops. But then one night something occurred to me. Something that upset the balance of these myths. The flaw in the Star Wars philosophy was about to be revealed.
The “bad guys” fight their war with droids. The “good guys” are fighting their war with clones. Does that make sense to you? If the Jedi really were a group of warrior monks who protected and worshiped life in all its forms, why would they create a race of living beings for the sole purpose of war? Are the bad guys really so bad when they appear to be more humane than the Jedi?
I know. I know. The fans will remind me that the clones were made in secret from the Jedi. It was all part of a grand master plan to destroy the Jedi. OK. But does that make it better? Are we to believe that after learning of the clones existence the Jedi simply said, lets use this fighting force of human beings anyway? Didn’t anyone on the much-celebrated Jedi council even suggest this might not be in keeping with their teachings? Better yet, didn’t someone say, it’s a little weird that someone made an army for us at just the right time, ha guys?
Its just a TV show. I know. But it wasn’t always.