Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jedi Lies?: Episode IV

Once again we turn the all-seeing eye of 1LR to the Star Wars movies to answer the question, "According to the Jedi code, is it okay for Jedi to lie?" In this installment we examine Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This is a critical episode because this is where we have a big jump forward in time and Obi-Wan starts telling Luke about his family's past. On to the lies!

  • Obi-Wan says to Luke that Luke's Uncle Owen, "Didn't hold with your father's ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved." Sure, Uncle Owen doesn't want LUKE to get involved, but Owen and Anakin only met once, when Anakin came looking for his mother. At that point, Anakin was already very, very "involved" in the Clone Wars. So is Uncle Owen's position that Anakin should have remained a slave the rest of his life instead of gaining freedom and becoming a Jedi Knight? Doubtful, hence, this is most likely a lie.
  • Perhaps the most egregious lie in this film is when Obi-Wan hands Luke his father's lightsaber and says, "Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough." Wha? Did I miss something? Was this before or after Anakin screams, "I HATE YOU!" as he burns next to the lava flow and Obi-Wan picks up Anakin's lightsaber? In any event, Anakin believes that Padme and the children died thanks to Palpatine telling Anakin that he killed her in his anger. How could Anakin want a son he doesn't even know about to have his lightsaber? Complete fabrication!
  • Now, I know this one is a point of contention. Obi-Wan also says, "A young Jedi named Darth Vader who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father." People who believe this is a version of the truth "from a certain point of view" will point to Yoda's quote in Ep. 3, "Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... Consumed by Darth Vader." To explain himself in Ep. 6, Obi-Wan says, "Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and "become" Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view." Now compare Obi-Wan's ep. 6 statement to his Ep. 3 statement. They aren't compatable. First of all, using his logic, Darth Vader was never his pupil, nor a Jedi. Even treating Darth Vader and Anakin as two separate beings, it's hard to justify stating that Darth Vader, "betrayed and killed" Anakin. Any way you cut it, Obi-Wan was trying to hide the truth from Luke so he could use Luke for his own ends - namely, the destruction of the Empire and the continuation of the Jedi. If this meant he had to twist the truth, Obi-Wan was willing to do so.
  • Last but not least, Obi-Wan uses the Jedi Mind Trick on a dumb Stormtrooper. As I discussed earlier, by its very nature, the Jedi Mind Trick implants false thoughts into the mind the of the victim. If the truth would suffice, why not simply use reason? First, he leads in with a lie, saying of R2D2 and C3P0, "They're up for sale if you want them." Then he starts planting the lies using the JMT, "You don't need to see his identification," and (most famously), "These aren't the droids you're looking for," and, "He can go about his business," and finally, "Move along." The most deceitful quote is the second one - clearly, a bold faced falsehood.
To be fair, Uncle Owen (not a Jedi, of course) does his fair share of lying to keep Luke on the farm. When asked about Obi-Wan Kenobi, Uncle Owen responds, "He died about the same time as your father." Perhaps he's using Yoda logic in that Obi-Wan died and "Old Ben" was born. Or, perhaps he's just a selfish liar like Obi-Wan.

So what did we learn? 
- For those folks who, up to this point, may have said of Episodes 1-3, "Yes, they lied with regularity, but it was clear that the Jedi Order had become corrupt at that point in history!" here we have proof that the deceptions continue beyond the fall of the Jedi.
- It's clear that Obi-Wan is manipulating Luke into becoming a Jedi and he's willing to use falsehoods to do it. Didn't they learn anything from their mistakes with Anakin?

I can see why he lied. "I stole this from your father after I cut off both his legs and one arm," doesn't have quite the same ring to it as, "Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough."

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