It is pretty widely accepted that Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord, is the main villain in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. However, I would like to take a more critical look at the hero of the movie, Luke Skywalker, to discuss his role in story events. I would like to pose the argument that, when you change perspective, Luke Skywalker is actually the biggest villain (at least the biggest antagonist/jerk) in the first installment of the Star Wars series.
1. In the movie the only family that Luke has ever known is his Aunt Beru and his Uncle Owen. They raised him and taught him valuable skills, while working on their moisture farm, that he channels throughout the rest of the series.
Luke repays his Aunt and Uncle with constant pressure to send him away to "the academy" so he can join the Rebels. Ignoring the fact that Beru and Owen are both of advancing age and obviously need help running their farm- Luke's request is akin to a modern day teenager asking their parents to join Isis.
It gets a little worse, though. Luke goes on a trip to Mos Eisley with Obi-Wan Kenobi and, when he returns, he finds his Aunt and Uncle dead. Their farm is burning to ashes and Luke is sad... for about thirty seconds. He uses his new freedom to jump on board the Millennium Falcon and never mention his dead family members again.
2. When Luke finally does meet up with the Rebels, and they are making plans to attack the Death Star, he gets a warning about the difficulty of the situation. Luke is told about the narrow corridor where he will be flying, the small opening he needs to fire through, and the amount of time he has to get out of before the resulting explosion consumes his ship.
"I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters."
Great, Luke! Your hobby back home was, what, murder? I am not an expert on this type of thing but I'm pretty sure killing animals is one of the biggest red flags that a child will grow up to be a serial killer.
3. Luke destroys the Death Star in an act of terrorist rebellion. The Death Star was a space station that had just been built by a legitimately elected government- and was housing thousands of innocent people who worked on board.
Luke gives no thought to the countless government workers, independent contractors, and maintenance crews that were killed in the blast. Instead, he and all of his team let out cheers of excitement.
They cheer for mass murder and, actually, so does the audience.
- Opponents to my claims will argue that the government contractors onboard the Death Star were not innocent. However, in the real world, how often do we actually know the intentions of our governing bodies? Would a mechanic or someone working in the canteen be given the same access to information as a top tier officer? If the answer is no, and it obviously is, then why is it acceptable for the rebels to condemn everyone on board the space station to die? Have they all committed the same crime- and should that crime actually be punishable by death?
Is it possible, instead, that the workers on The Death Star were just normal people who landed some pretty sweet government jobs?
Further, If the Rebels do overthrow the Empire, who is going to follow them? The simple act of destroying the Death Star diminishes the credibility of the Rebel Alliance as a governing body and stains their hands just as red as the the Empire's.
- I'm sure that people, thinking critically, will question why the Empire's space station was named The Death Star to begin with. I think that it was built as a weaponized space station, and given an intimidating name, as a show of power to the rising Rebel threat. This is just speculation/opinion but I do think that citizens of any place want to believe that their government is strong enough to protect them.
- My final thought on the matter deals with Alderaan. I have heard it said before that Alderaan was a planet full of innocent people- but it was also the home of Princess Leia and many other Rebel sympathizers. It is important, in order to put things in perspective, that we think critically about the implications of harboring terrorists. Claiming that Alderaan is totally innocent is the same as saying Pakistan is totally innocent for harboring Bin Ladin. You know, someone had to know what was going on.
The photos in this post come from Google, and the videos from Youtube; but because this post is Star Wars related it is important for me to also credit George Lukas and Disney.