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Star Wars and the Myth of the Nuclear Family

From sapling to monster. Tribulations of a young man growing up without a father.


Most of you must be familiar with the Star Wars series. If not it really is not worth making an effort to familiarise yourself with this masterpiece of mediocrity, just for this article. Especially since I will be focusing on the less popular ones, namely episodes 1,2,3. That being said, I have no great love for the ‘original’ movies either. It has just been way too long since I have seen them, and have no idea whether they confirm my totally fabricated opinion.

Anyway, what happens in episodes 1,2,3 is essentially we watch Anakin Skywalker grow from an exceptionally talented sapling, into a full grown jedi.

[Brief note here, I have just discovered that my computer's spellcheck, insists on typing 'jedi' with a capital 'J'. The absurdity of course is that I do not get an irritating red underline when I write 'god' without a capital letter. As atheist as I am, I find it concerning that a (supposedly) informed decision has been made to encourage computer users to revere 'sacred' symbols that are known to be fictional instead of sacred symbols whose existence there is a debate over. I will persist bravely, at the risk of offending the 'force' and being struck blind by it or some shit of that nature. In fact the theme of comparing contemporary popular culture will (or may, since I haven't the faintest idea how this will end up) be of great relevance to the rest of this article]

It is widely known that one of the great inspirations for Lucas in the making of Star Wars was the works of Joseph Campbell on the Monomyth. Campbell suggests that all myths have in common the ‘rite of passage’ storyline. There is of course greater detail in description, certain elements are detailed in specific like the appearance of a far sighted goddess, the receiving of a special item, the survival of some ordeals that come close to death etc…

Campbell’s works with their emphasis on the trial of passage story arc, that ends with the hero becoming ‘a real man’, as expected, place a tremendous importance on assorted macho imagery. The heroes in question go through a range of tribulations to prove that they have understood the wisdom of their invariably male mentor, save for placing their peckers against the chosen measuring implement of whatever fantastic land they come from.

Essentially the entire Star Wars saga could have been resolved by Anakin and Luke taking out their members. But instead we have to endure watching the said gentlemen wave shiny penis substitutes to make entire armies submit to their virility, before they can get to each other.

Now, let us briefly psychoanalyse Anakin Skywalker. Have a look at what kind of myth making process he is a part of, and what contemporary mythologies his downfall embeds.

It is to be expected; the kind of mentality that feels it necessary to draw on presumably universal ancient mythology, is going to make presumably universal generalisations about contemporary society. After all the motivation for making products that appeal to the masses in the present economic system is to make money and not to challenge fundamental assumptions. And what brings money in the popular culture industry my friends, is to identify pre-existing fears and prejudices only to exploit, perpetuate and in some cases exacerbate them.

A key nasty stereotype the Star Wars series exploits for money and cheap thrills are those of the single mother and the feral child. Essentially what we know about Anakin when he first shows up is that he is brought up by one. There is a litany of stereotypes associated with single mothers, but of course all of them lead to the notion that they are not capable of raising, ‘healthy children’

The issue of single parent households’ leniency to produce ‘feral rats’ has come under serious attention after the UK riots of 2011. One exceptionally revolting article from the Daily Fail holds no punches in it’s descriptions of the ‘degenerate’ promiscuous sex that goes on in single parent households and claims that, this is what leads young boys to a life of violence.

In such areas, successive generations are being brought up only by mothers, through whose houses pass transitory males by whom these women have yet more children — and who inevitably repeat the pattern of lone and dysfunctional parenting.

The result is fatherless boys who are consumed by an existential rage and desperate emotional need, and who take out the damage done to them by lashing out from infancy at everyone around them. Such children inhabit what is effectively a different world from the rest of society. It’s a world without any boundaries or rules. A world of emotional and physical chaos.

So the expert opinion of the Fail is not in fact all that different from that of Lucas Arts. If we look closely at the Life of Anakin, we will see that his feral fits of rage that have ensured his passage to the dark side, are in fact rooted in the absence of a father figure.

There are some key events that serve as catalysts in this transformation. A key scene is the one in which Anakin’s mother is killed by the sand people. After the incident Anakin goes home and grumbles about not being powerful enough to protect his mother, and confesses to his girlfriend that he has slaughtered an entire tribe of sand people (a nomenclature that must have been coined in a rare moment of creativity in Lucas’ career). The girlfriend steps in as a the nurturing mother substitute and tells the sobbing Anakin something like “oh well shit happens lulz” (I don’t remember her exact words, but I am certain my version is an immeasurable improvement). We see she is totally incapable of taking a moral stance against Skywalker, presumably because as a woman she is more suited for giving comfort to mass murderers, rather than expressing disapproval. Next scene, if I recall correctly, she goes into the kitchen to bake a space-berry cake and do the dishes, with various talking household appliances her future husband has made.

Now in a ‘healthy’, ‘normal’ family, the burden of protecting his mother would not be on Anakin’s shoulders. There would have been a father figure to take care of the situation. Even if the father figure were to fail in protecting the mother; he would have had an authoritative presence on Anakin’s fit of rage and would have had the ‘cojones of steel’ to tell Anakin to buckle up and stop ‘crying like a woman’. Instead tho, Anakin is weeping in the arms of his mother substitute like a ‘big spoiled baby’. The mother substitute in question will die during childbirth (the only evidence that the couple ever had sex), and seal his transformation to ‘Darth Vader’.

What we have here is a little rascal, who’s mom brought home way too many geezers from the pub when he was at a tender age. Here is a boy who has never had the presence of a credible authority figure in his life. And as hard as his professional mentors may try to instil wisdom and virtues in him, they are bound to fail, because Anakin is already ‘broken’ from being brought up in an ‘unnatural’ environment, not fit for a human being.

Just like the reactionary argument that, educational institutions cannot help children who have been denied the cozy hearth of a united family. Lucas argues that the jedi masters (yes small j!) have no means of struggling against the all dominating mythical ‘human nature’. All they end up doing is giving Anakin superpowers that turn what would otherwise have been a relatively harmless hoodlum into a killing machine. The jedi academy and it’s instructors are bit like the pawns of the liberal delusion that public institutions can play a role in the shaping of young people if they are funded adequately. One could almost hear an angry Tory giving the failure of the jedi academy to turn Anakin right as an example of how even the most advanced education institutions are reduced to total impotence when faced with individuals who are fundamentally damaged by an inadequate family environment.

The end of episode 3 is also very revealing. Obi Wan rescues the young Luke Skywalker from the hands of the bad people who have presumably never had fathers either, and take him to the desert planet Tattooine. Where the child is delivered to a young couple in the middle of the desert. The trilogy ends with the silhouette of the couple holding the baby against the red sunset. Here we have the entire future of the galaxy, who needs the best possible upbringing a child can get, to guarantee the rescue everyone from the dark side. It is no surprise that he should be raised in an idyllic, romanticised nuclear family.

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