While following a link in a comment thread at Slacktivist, I ran across a post by writer Kit Whitfield on her blog about plausibility in fictional worlds, and it got me thinking about a major reason I do not find the Star Wars movies (which I saw again over the holiday weekend) nearly as interesting as I did when I was seventeen. Bear with me -- I am pretty sure my gripes are not in the least new or novel.

A major source of my discontent can be clearly seen in one scene in "A New Hope" (what we oldtimers simply called Star Wars). Luke and Leia are on board the Millennium Falcon, having escaped from the Death Star and Leia comforts Luke over the loss of Obi-Wan.

Note: not over the brutal murders of the people who had raised him since he was an infant. Other than a stoic turning away, not once do we see him mourn for them. But he's devastated (or at least as grief-stricken as anyone is allowed to become in the Star Wars universe) over a man whom he met for the first time a few days earlier .

And she comforts him -- when her grief, which we never see either, should be at least as significant as his: her family, friends, home, hell, her planet have been reduced to a pile of interstellar rubble. Other than a brief moment after their destruction, we never see any significant moment of loss or pain on her part.

Another moment: after the destruction of the Death Star, nothing is shown but jubilation, not concern or pain for those who have been lost. It might almost be the aftermath of a galactic football game.

There is little psychological reality here. People don't act like that -- they mourn the loss of those they love. Or maybe they don't in that galaxy far, far away: what is psychological reality there may be very different from what it is here. Which would be fine, except that we are asked to buy into their plight at all times, to identify with them as heroes. How can we do that unless we embrace their vision of reality, psychological or otherwise?

A reality in which the only people* who seem to count are warriors, and people are not mourned unless they are Jedi Knights** is not one I find particularly interesting.***


*or sentient aliens who seem to act like people, e.g., the ewoks.

**Yes, I know Anakin mourned his mother: he reacted by killing all the sandpeople in the camp, which was shown as a sign of how close he was to being driven to the Dark Side. Also, it was a slightly -- only slightly -- more psychologically nuanced universe is Episodes I, II, III, even though the dialogue was far clunkier.

*** A lot of action movies I have seen have similar issues to this, which may be why I don't like them -- Iron Man excepted.

From: [identity profile] anotheranon.livejournal.com


Now that you mention it, Leia's stoicism is remarkable - upon arriving on Yavin IV she immediately tells the general that they "don't have time for their sorrows" or some such. Unrealistic plot hole you can drive a truck through...

I say this as someone who loves the original Star Wars too...

From: [identity profile] patgreene.livejournal.com


I hated it when she said that -- it made her sound so callous.

From: [identity profile] wordweaverlynn.livejournal.com


I definitely agree. One reason I can watch Pulp Fiction despite the violence is that the movie gives violence its due moral weight. But when the "good guys" are blasting people right and left with no apparent remorse, I have a hard time seeing them as good.
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From: [identity profile] aquaeri.livejournal.com


I can't even begin to think of the characters in Star Wars as real enough people to notice issues like that. It's a mythological tale, to me.
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