There is nothing truly remarkable about the design on the shirt (pictured above). For all intents and purposes, it is otherwise run-of-the-mill. The partial quote emblazoned in capital letters on is a recognizable one from Return of the Jedi: “I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER.” Within the words, a LEGO version of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker from stands in a ready position with his green lightsaber ignited. Determination emblazoned on his face, this LEGO Luke is prepared to enter battle.
While I am conditioned by my life-long love of the franchise to notice Star Wars merchandise online and in-stores, I rarely linger on the products I find. On the one hand, I have more than enough Star Wars stuff, and on the other, many Star Wars products are pretty banal. Unless something really unique catches my eye, or I have a vested interest in a product, I typically “move along” rather quickly.
Yet, this t-shirt design, while not something I would buy for myself, never-the-less caught my attention. In fact, when I saw it, I found myself pondering what I was seeing. And the reason for this reaction was because in that moment I was looking at an image which fundamentally misrepresents Luke Skywalker when he states this quote in Return of the Jedi.
In my piece Luke Skywalker: A Farewell to Arms I dive into the moment Luke Skywalker delivers the quote, the moment he truly becomes a Jedi in Return of the Jedi. As Emperor Palpatine goads Luke to destroy and replace Darth Vader, the young man has a moment of clarity. The anger which propelled Luke to violence and saw him teetering on the precipice of the Dark Side is washed away by an awareness which comes to him before he delivers the killing blow. Recognizing how close to darkness he has come, he turns toward Palpatine, he throws his lightsaber away. It is only then, after this action, when he declares “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
The t-shirt design presents a far different accounting of this critical moment. While keeping part of the quote which signifies his elevation to Jedi Knight – I AM A JEDI LIKE MY FATHER – it instead couples Luke’s declaration with an image of Luke that does not fit the scene in Return of the Jedi. Notably, the design is actually closer to an image of Luke from earlier in the film when he is battling Jabba the Hutt’s gang on the sail barge. Were the quote left out of the design, and we were just given the image of a LEGO Luke that mirrors Luke’s sail barge stance, none of this would really matter. Never-the-less, the image of Luke within the quote serves as a reminder that Star Wars creators and fans alike are often willing and eager to undercut one of the most radically subversive moments in the Star Wars narrative.
Admittedly, this is hardly surprising. Star Wars in general and the Jedi in particular have, overtime, succumbed to the flashy excitement of lightsabers. It is how Jedi are understood, how they are defined, how they are recognized. A symptom, at least in part, of the choreographed lightsaber battles of the Prequel Trilogy that added more gravitas and intrigue through balletic acrobatics, the snap-hiss ignition and hypnotic twirling of blue and green blades has come to be the defining feature of the Jedi Order. The franchise consistently telegraphs that being a Jedi is having a lightsaber ignited and at the ready. It is hardly shocking, then, that a shirt design depicting Luke Skywalker, even a LEGO version, would show him with his green lightsaber at the ready and superimposed within his iconic statement declaring his status as a Jedi.
But while this may not be surprising or shocking, it is nonetheless disappointing because it forces me to wonder if some of the most profound lessons in Star Wars are being lost. Star Wars has rightly been described as a form of modern-day myth, and as such, myth always has something to say, something to teach. In Return of the Jedi, the Jedi “return” precisely because Luke recognizes his capacity to fall into darkness and stops himself from doing so. Turning off his lightsaber and tossing it aside is not just a rejection of that darkness, it is a rejection of violence more broadly. Luke heroically displays that we, too, can reject violence through similar actions in our own lives.
Of course, to some fans, the act of disarming himself may seem foolish as he turns and faces down a powerful Sith Lord. Wishing he would have fought the Emperor and/or deriding Luke for being defenseless misses the point, though. Luke chooses the path of non-violence, willing to face his adversary, the Emperor, without his lightsaber because Luke recognizes and offers a lessons that is exceedingly important, one that the Star Wars franchise seems to have forgotten over time: the “elegant weapon of a Jedi Knight,” the lightsaber, is irrelevant to being a Jedi. It is NOT what makes him a Jedi; it is not what makes anyone a Jedi. Rather, Luke can declare “I am a Jedi” because he possesses something far greater than a saber of light. He possesses the Light Side of the Force. Choosing to face his enemy with only the Force as his ally offers the clearest sign that the Jedi have returned. But don’t just take my word for it, take the Emperor’s. He is the one who has the final say on the matter in the moment, and I will likewise give him the final word here.
“I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” Luke declares, standing with poise after tossing aside his lightsaber. And to this, the Emperor responds with a contemptuous affirmation: “So be it, Jedi.”
There are times when one comes across a book that is so good that you simply refuse to put it down or stop thinking about it. Sometimes such a book is a Star Wars book, hijacking your imagination and transporting you to the galaxy far, far away. I can say, without a doubt, that Star Wars: Force Collector by author Kevin Shinick is unequivocally NOT one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, Force Collector does take place in the Star Wars galaxy, with familiar places, species, and concepts popping up over and over again. Yet, the novel is otherwise dull and one-dimensional, constantly falling back on a bland formula while simultaneously adding nothing of substance to the Star Wars canon. On the other hand, Force Collector goes out of its way to undermine one of the most important episodes in The Clone Wars with baffling nonchalance. Allow me to explain.
The plot of Force Collector is rather straight-forward: it is about a teenager who wants to learn about the Jedi Order and better understand his own Force abilities. Set prior to the events of The Force Awakens, the teen in question is Karr Nuq Sin who has the gift of psychometry, the Force ability to gain information in the form of sights, sounds, and emotions by touching objects. This is the same power which Jedi Quinlan Vos (The Clone Wars) and Cal Kestis (Jedi: Fallen Order) both harbor, although the stark difference for Karr is that his psychometry ONLY manifests when he touches an object that is associated with the Jedi in some way, shape, or form. This important fact about Karr’s psychometric power, established right out of the gate when Karr buys/wears the helmet of a stormtrooper who once had his mind manipulated by a Jedi, is also a fact that is entirely contrived to drive the plot of the book. Psychometry is a worthy concept for exploration, and that Karr spends a great deal of the story growing to control and accept the intensity of this power makes sense. Yet, the notion that psychometry would awaken in one while simultaneously being limited to Jedi-objects only is absurd. “That’s not how the Force works,” as Han Solo would say.
Then again, without any type of Star Wars group overseeing the possibilities and limitations on Star Wars concepts like psychometry, I suppose the Force can work in whatever way an author/writer might need for the sake of a plot. More and more this seems to be the case in Star Wars, with the Force serving as a convenient plot device to account for the most unlikely of eventualities (such as the time travel in Rebels which ensured Ahsoka Tano would survive her duel with Darth Vader). That Karr can only experience visions associated with Jedi objects is pretty convenient for a book in which the main character wants to become a Jedi and needs to learn more about the Jedi Order. Just give the protagonist a Force ability that is directly tied to this desire and, shazam, you have the magical ability to insert all manner of Jedi-specific objects with Jedi-specific information just waiting to be unlocked and collected.
Unfortunately for Karr, though, he is stuck on the planet Merokia and cannot head off-world to discover the secrets of the long forgotten Jedi. That is, he can not do this until he meets Maize, the new girl in school who is willing to steal her father’s company-provided yacht (the Avadora) to whisk Karr on a galactic scavenger hunt. Who does her dad work for you ask? Oh, just the First Order. But you know, the First Order is pretty chill about one of their ships being stolen because it is clearly the type of organization that just lets things slide.
First Stop: Utapau
So, the grand adventure begins. Karr and Maize, along with Karr’s droid RZ-7, decide their first stop will be Utapau because it was the location of one of the final battles of the Clone Wars. Fair enough, you have to start somewhere and Utapau is as good a place as any. Once there, Karr and company will come upon a junk dealer (the son of a clone trooper) who conveniently owns the staff of Tion Medon, the Pau’an port administrator who meets Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. Karr touches the staff, a flashback to that scene in Episode III ensues, with additional details we don’t see in the film, and Karr has some new information about the Jedi to mull over.
Naturally, there is no better place to mull things over than in a diner. Discussing aspects of the vision with Maize, Karr name drops “Skywalker” – Anakin, mind you, has absolutely no role in Kenobi’s interaction with Medon in Revenge of the Sith, but is added to the vision so the Skywalker name can be mentioned in the diner – and another patron perks upon hearing this name. In turn, the patron points Karr, Maize and RZ-7 to the planet Jakku because, rumor has it, at the Battle of Jakku the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker pulled Imperial ships out of the sky using the Force.
What are the chances that Karr would be on just the right planet, in just the right location, at just the right time, to gather a clue about the next stop on his journey? I mean, those chances would have to be astronomical, so it is reassuring to know that this only happens one time in the book. Except, this happens every time he travels to another world, with a standard formula of convenience really stretching the imagination. Over and over, the ability to suspend one’s disbelief is tested in Force Collector, with Karr arriving at the perfect locations and times for things to fall into place for his journey of Jedi discovery.
Arriving in Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, the group sets out to find more Jedi junk. First, they meet Unkar Platt, the blobfish from The Force Awakens buying salvaged wreckage for food portions. When Platt’s collection ends up being a bust, Karr and company decide to poke around the Outpost. What do they come across? Well, a run-down and grimy Corellian freighter of course! I won’t provide the name, as it isn’t revealed in the novel, but you already know the name...
Boarding the freighter the teens and droid end up finding a curious looking orb, “gray, dotted with silver circles.” Touching the orb, Karr has another vision, this time experiencing a scene from A New Hope. Or rather, the scene is entirely made up, details being filled in prior and up-to the moment when Obi-Wan Kenobi senses the death of millions which is where the vision ends. That details are added is not a problem in and of itself, but what his vision leaves out, which Karr desperately needs on his quest to become a Jedi, is the actual lesson which Luke Skywalker learns in this scene in A New Hope. Instead, the added “backstory” to the scene is meant to do one thing: simultaneously name drop Skywalker and Kenobi, making Karr question how his scattered visions line-up.
Fortified with this new vision, Karr and his pals exit the freighter and run into two First Order stormtroopers. Yikes! Sent by Maize’s father to take her back to Merokia, the stormtroopers leave Karr and RZ-7 alone on Jakku but do not reclaim the Avadora. But they DO let Karr and Maize have a moment to say their goodbyes because First Order stormtroopers are pretty chill.
Remaining on Jakku, Karr goes about searching for more Jedi clues and eventually comes across a Pyke who has information for him about “the crashed ship of a Jedi Master” that went down a long time ago on the desert moon orbiting Oba Diah, the Pyke homeworld. The Pyke also tells Karr that Oba Diah and it’s moon harbor many criminal outposts, warning the teen that if he travels there he may never leave.
From Jakku to Oba Diah
Landing in a canyon on Oba Diah’s desert moon, Karr and RZ-7 head west, towards evidence of a crash which the droid detected. After poking around for an hour, Karr comes across a “drag mark etched into the stone.” Being the “only sign of disruption on this whole eroded planet” – a completely ridiculous and naïve assessment – the two follow the mark and come across the wreckage of a ship!
Is this wreckage the crashed ship of a Jedi Master, a crash that took place a long time ago? Come on, you already know the answer is yes. More importantly, Karr finds a piece of debris with the serial number 775519, and also notes that “a ship crashed here, and somebody took the wreckage away, but they didn’t get everything…” And what, besides the debris, was left? Answer: a storage locker containing a recording of the Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas in the final moments of his life.
Okay, let’s pause for a moment. If you have not figured it out yet, the crashed ship of a Jedi Master which Karr finds himself exploring comes from “The Lost Ones,” a Season 6 episode of The Clone Wars. At the outset of the episode we find Jedi Master Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion on a desert moon searching for the wreckage of a ship that had been in the possession of a Jedi Master killed long ago. When they find it, Plo Koon enters while a clone in the background states, “the scans check out, it’s a T-6 shuttle alright. Serial number 775519.” Finding a lightsaber buried in the sand, Plo Koon immediately turns and says, “I want the entire area cleared. We’re taking everything back to Coruscant.”
“Everything?” a clone inquires.
“Everything,” Plo Koon exclaims.
Did you catch that? Plo Koon wanted the entire area cleared so they could take everything, EVERYTHING, back to Coruscant. Except now, with Karr and RZ-7 searching the exact same crash site, we discover that Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion “didn’t get everything.” Up to this point in the book, I had found myself rolling my eyes at the series of impossibly convenient events playing out. I was at least willing to continue reading, to overlook some of these unlikely moments and just move on. It wasn’t about accepting the way things were unfolding so much as it was to say “okay, whatever, let’s just head to the next stop on the journey.” Yet, when Karr finds the crashed ship of Sifo-Dyas and says that whoever excavated the site “didn’t get everything” I became annoyed, really, really annoyed.
In my opinion “The Lost Ones” is easily one of the best episodes of The Clone Wars and one of the most important. With the discovery of the crash on Oba Diah’s desert moon, the Jedi Order set out to discover the fate of their long-lost friend Sifo-Dyas, attempting to piece together his fate. In doing so, they are led on a journey which takes them to a point they were neither expecting or fully prepared handle: the Clone Wars was secretly orchestrated by the Sith. This revelation is a gut-punch to the Jedi, the Council recognizing that they have been playing by their enemies rules this whole time, and they must continue to play along until they can uncover the deeper layers to this Sith plot.
The opening of the show sets the stage for this stark revelation. With the initial explanation and voiceover, we learn that the Jedi have stumbled upon a clue to an enduring mystery and have dispatched Plo Koon and his clones to investigate. The set up explained, we are then transported to the moon, a raging sandstorm concealing the view of the clone troopers and vehicles scouring the landscape. The sandstorm is an appropriate metaphor, a symbol for the turbulent mystery obscuring the Jedi from discovering a harsh truth. Added to this is the ominous music which captures the foreboding discovery and exploration of the wreckage. This may be the crash they were seeking for more than ten years but the music presents a heavy tone and stark warning: what they have found is also a harbinger of a deeper and darker web which has ensnared the Jedi Order.
“The Lost Ones” is meticulous in peeling back the layers of mystery only to unveil even more nefarious truths lingering below the surface, truths which the Jedi are aware of but can not fully grasp. Force Collector is anything but meticulous, offering nothing more convenient plot so Karr not only discovers the crash site of Sifo-Dyas’ vessel but also wreckage which, as noted, Plo Koon and his soldiers failed to salvage from the site.
For Master Koon to demand “everything” be found, only for fans to later learn that “everything” was not found is ridiculous, a canonical bait-and-switch which makes Plo Koon and the 104th Clone Battalion look inept and undercuts the profound importance of The Clone Wars episode. That even one piece of wreckage remained of Sify-Dyas ship – and a critical piece at that, an actual recording he made prior to his death – is flabbergasting. Nothing in “The Lost Ones” lends itself to this possibility. Absolutely nothing.
Frankly, although I have only presented half of Force Collector’s plot in this review up to this point, I genuinely have nothing left to say about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did finish reading it, and I certainly have opinions about the remained of the story. Yet, the way Force Collector so willfully undermined “The Lost Ones” put such a foul taste in my mouth that I see no reason to elaborate on anything else. The moment Karr stated “they didn’t get everything” my opinion about the novel was made.
Upside-down again. This time Luke crashes after a vision of friends.
Decision to make: go and help his friends or to finish his training.
Haiku Addendum: because he is impatient, Luke decides to leave.
Haiku Addendum: internalizing lessons is not Luke’s strong point.
Onto Cloud City! Luke waltzes into a trap. The truth awaits him.
“The Force is with you.” The Carbon Freezing Chamber. Luke confronts Vader.
Red and Blue Collide Skywalker holds his own but it won’t be enough.
Launched out a window. Pushed back onto a platform. An abyss below.
A deadly blade stroke. Maimed by Vader’s blood red blade. “There is no escape.”
“I’ll never join you!” And now the truth is revealed… “I am your Father.”
“That’s impossible!” “…we can rule the galaxy as father and son…”
Calm comes over Luke. A decision has been made. He lets go…and falls.
Upside-down again Luke has nowhere else to go. One option remains.
Calling to Leia, Luke reaches out with the Force. His sister responds.
Haiku Addendum: in the next film, they will learn that they are siblings.
Haiku Addendum: …but pay attention and you can figure it out. 😉
Haiku Addendum: Seriously, “Empire” gives you the info.
Luke gets a new hand! And Lando wears Han’s clothing. Did Hobbie survive?
Meanwhile, on Hoth… the one-armed Wampa adjusts to a one-armed life.
Luke maims the Wampa. And Vader maims Skywalker. Quite interesting…
This post is Part 2 of 3 in a special three-week version of Haikuesday exploring Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Be on the lookout next Tuesday for for the final installement with haiku about Luke in Return of the Jedi!
What Luke Skywalker accomplishes in the climactic final Act of Star Wars: A New Hope is nothing short of miraculous. Tasked with the responsibility of destroying the Empire’s planet killing Death Star, to succeed and win the day Skywalker unexpectedly gives himself over to the mystical energy field known as the Force. Doing so at the behest of the recently “deceased” Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, young Luke puts his faith in something greater than his available technology (or luck, or logic and reason), allowing the sacred and mysterious energy to guide his actions. In doing so, Skywalker not only saves the galaxy by destroying the Death Star, but also takes a giant leap of faith into a realm of wondrous possibility. As Skywalker speeds back to the Rebel base after the battle station explodes, Kenobi speaks to the young pilot from “the beyond”, reminding Luke that “the Force will be with you, always.” Luke Skywalker, farmer-turned Rebel pilot-turned galactic hero, will always have the Force as his ally.
Yet, when we once again meet Luke in The Empire Strikes Back three years after his leap of faith and heroic deed, the young man has all but forgotten the Force is with him.
After putting his faith in the Force in A New Hope, one would anticipate that when we meet Skywalker again that he will have started to more fully develop his understanding of, and connection to, the Force. This, however, is not the case, and is actually hinted at early in The Empire Strikes Back as Luke hangs upside down in the Wampa’s lair (having been ambushed and knocked unconscious by Hoth’s apex predator). His lightsaber protruding from the snow a few feet away, Luke’s initial instinct is to desperately grab for his weapon, and only concentrates on using the Force to bring the weapon to him once he recognizes the blade is out of reach.
Luke hangs upside down in the Wampa’s lair. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Luke’s use of the Force in this instance reminds the audience of his connection to the energy field while likewise foreshadowing the lessons he will learn when he makes his way to Dagobah in the film’s second act. After all, in the Wampa’s lair we see for the very first time that one can move objects using the Force. Later in the film, this reality will be expanded, with Luke moving boulders and the ancient Jedi Master Yoda using the Force to move Luke’s X-Wing Starfighter.
The episode in the Wampa’s lair likewise foreshadows the doubt and disconnect Luke will display, with respect to the Force, when he travels to the Dagobah system to learn from Yoda. The Force is certainly with him, but at the outset of The Empire Strikes Back it is a curious afterthought, a seemingly forgotten aspect of his being. Even after bringing the lightsaber to him in the lair, the Force seems to fade away as panic sets in, Luke maiming the Wampa and anxiously fleeing the snowy cave.
At the end of A New Hope, Luke was the victorious hero who we last saw receiving a medal for destroying the dreaded Death Star. Now, only a short way into The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker stumbles out of the Wampa’s lair, his flight response fully in control. Unsurprisingly, Luke will succumb to the harsh elements on Hoth, collapsing into the snowy Tundra. Face down in the snow (see featured image above), his body surely experiencing the effects of hypothermia, it is here and now that Obi-Wan Kenobi curiously chooses to re-appear. Calling to the (freezing) young man, Kenobi appears in astral form and commands Luke to “go to the Dagobah system” where he will learn the ways of the Force from Yoda.
Crashing into a Swamp
It is Luke’s journey to Dagobah that serves as the surest example of his mystical disconnect. Consider that as Luke flies his X-Wing into the planet’s atmosphere – the very same X-Wing he piloted to destroy the Death Star! – he relies entirely on the starfighter’s technology to guide him to the planet’s surface. “All the scopes are dead. I can’t see a thing…” he exclaims as he descends into the thick, dense atmosphere/fog covering the planet. The technology at his disposal fails him, and [a panicked] Luke does not call upon the Force to serve as his guide. It is no wonder he crashes into the swamp.
Luke stands on the nose of his X-Wing after crashing in the swamp on Dagobah. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
In turn, what makes this scenario all the more fascinating is that Dagobah is teeming with life, and as Yoda will explain to Luke, it is life which makes the Force grow. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter,” the elderly Master will note once young Skywalker has started his rigorous Jedi training. Luke, we know from his actions in A New Hope, already has a special connection to the Force, an ability to destroy a planet killing superweapon thanks to faith alone. Never-the-less, piloting his X-Wing to Dagobah, Luke Skywalker is incapable of navigating his way to the surface of a planet glowing with the radiance of the Force.
In the three years between the end of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker has chosen to ignore, or has simply forgotten, his connection to the Force. Or, perhaps over time he began to doubt the mysterious energy field, placing more trust in technology than on the mystical source of his power. Indeed, Luke express such doubt to Yoda – “you ask the impossible”, the young man will exclaim when given a Force-specific task – and Yoda will note that it is Luke’s doubt, his inability to believe in the possibility of the impossible, which makes him fail.
Whatever the reason for Luke’s disconnect with the Force – be it doubt, forgetfulness, ignorance, or something else entirely – from a narrative perspective it is a profound way of highlighting that even after becoming a hero one can still face incredible challenges. Luke may have relied on the Force to destroy the Death Star, but he must also face great external/internal struggle to ascend beyond a singular act of heroism to become truly heroic. In fact, The Empire Strikes Back goes to great lengths to show Luke stumbling, being knocked down, and crashing time and time again as he embarks on this new path of ascendance, towards becoming a Jedi Knight. Consider the following:
Luke is knocked off his Tauntaun when the Wampa attacks.
He falls from the ceiling of the Wampa’s lair.
He stumbles over a snow drift as he escapes the lair, and later falls to the ground as he walks across Hoth’s desolate tundra.
His Snowspeeder crashes when it is struck by a laser blast.
After destroying an AT-AT using his lightsaber and a thermal detonator, he unhooks his harness and falls far to the ground below.
Piloting his X-Wing, he crashes into the swamp on Dagobah.
Exiting his X-Wing, he jumps into the swampy marsh and must crawl up the muddy embankment.
When he is doing his first handstand during his Jedi training, moving large rocks while Yoda sits on his feet, Luke becomes distracted and falls.
Later, doing another handstand, suspending a number of containers and his droid R2-D2 in the air, he again becomes distracted once again.
As he battles Darth Vader he is knocked into the carbon-freezing chamber; he is blasted out of a window; stumbles to the ground and barely escapes Vader’s next attack; and falls, by choice, into the great abyss at the center of Cloud City after learning he is Vader’s son (presumably choosing death rather than continuing to face his father).
After falling into the abyss on Cloud City, Luke ends up literally hanging below the city on a weather vane, grasping desperately with his one hand (the other had been cut off, along with his lightsaber, by his father) for the door above him. Even here, in this desperate situation, the literal and metaphorical lowest point in his life, Luke forgets his connection to the Force, instead trying to climb to safety with his single hand. Unsurprisingly, Luke once again slips and begins to fall, this time only being saved by his legs (which catch the weather vane). Just as he was hanging upside down in the Wampa’s lair at the beginning of the film, at the end of the film Luke is once again in a desperate situation hanging upside down.
Luke hangs upside down from a weathervane below Cloud City. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
In a sense, this is the most appropriate metaphor for the existential situation Luke Skywalker finds himself in throughout The Empire Strikes Back – his heroic journey has quite literally been turned upside down. Where he gave himself willingly to the Force in A New Hope, placing his faith in something greater, in The Empire Strikes Back he stumbles and falls as he attempts to rekindle, and grow, in his understanding of and relationship with the Force. Eager to learn about the sacred energy field in A New Hope, Luke’s forgetfulness and doubt are why he crashes and fails in The Empire Strikes Back.
If you are thinking to yourself “Wow, that is a really provocative and uncomfortably disturbing title for a Star Wars post” you would not be wrong. I have lured you into this post with this title so I can address how completely and utterly messed up it is that people do google searches for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy.” You see, every now and again WordPress will inform me of the specific search terms that were used to find The Imperial Talker. More often than not, those search terms are pretty banal and run-of-the-mill. People have found my site by googling “Padme funeral,” “Dooku’s face when he dies,” “Yularen,” and “did Luke use the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi.” But every now and again, someone will stumble upon The Imperial Talker by searching for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” or some other combination of Ahsoka Tano and Sex. Since my site was recently frequented by another individual seeking gratification looking for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” on the internet, I figured I should just go ahead and commandeer the search term by turning it into a title.
That some people find my site by searching for sexy images (or even stories) of Ahsoka Tano is grossly unfortunate, although entirely unsurprising. Since her introduction in The Clone Wars movie/series, there has been a trend on corners of the internet to sexually objectify Ahsoka. While the sexualization of characters in Star Wars is hardly shocking , what sets Ahsoka apart is that she is not an adult in The Clone Wars, she is still child.
Ahsoka meets Anakin and Obi-Wan for the first time.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars
A while back, I wrote a piece titled Ahsoka Tano, Child Soldier which considered the stark reality that when she is sent to the front lines of the Clone War, Ahsoka is only fourteen years old. While it is easy to view Ahsoka as older and more mature than her age, given some of the deadly situations and difficult decisions she is forced to make, the fact remains that throughout the entire animated series Ahsoka is a post-pubescent childhood who has not yet arrived at adulthood. As such, her participation in warfare is problematic in and of itself, an ethical dilemma that should have given the Jedi Order pause. Likewise, that she is a child, and is overtly objectified by pockets of Star Wars fans, is also incredibly problematic.
In many respects, the way Clone Wars era Ahsoka has been sexualized in images could easily be summed up as a Star Wars version of “jailbait.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, or lacking a coherent definition, jailbait can be defined quite easily as the sexualized images of minors, specifically tweens and teens. Conducting a basic, safe google search of “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” will result in countless images of Ahsoka as jailbait – scantly clad, presented in seductive poses, and more. Turn off the safe search and things become even more uncomfortable.
That a subset of Star Wars fans either do not see, or willfully ignore, the inherent problem of sexualizing Ahsoka is dismaying. More importantly, it is inexcusable. There is simply no justification for a girl, a child – even a fictional one – to be treated by adults as an object of sexual desire. The American Psychological Association would agree.
In a 2007 report, the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls explored the variety of ways girls are sexualized within our society, likewise examining the myriad of consequences this hyper sexualization reaps on the burgeoning minds of girls. According to the Task Force,
Sexualization occurs when
a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them.¹
The way “sexualization” is defined by the APA Task Force is important to this conversation as a whole, but what is critically relevant is the very last sentence: “…when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them.” This is precisely what has happened to Ahsoka Tano. There is never an instance of Ahsoka being imbued with “adult sexuality” in The Clone Wars. No, in the movie/series, Ahsoka Tano is a self-assured and headstrong young girl, a Jedi padawan who is immature but never-the-less eager to learn, to act, and to adapt to the difficult situations she finds herself in.
Surrounded by members of the Death Watch, Ahsoka dispatches them with ease.
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 4, Episode 14: “A Friend in Need”
Moreover, and more importantly, from her first appearance in The Clone Wars movie and onward, Ahsoka consistently demands the recognition of the adults she interacts with: Anakin Skywalker (her Jedi Master), Obi-Wan Kenobi, Clone Captain Rex, Admiral Yularen, and others. She does so not by selling her looks, by being “pretty” or “sexy” but through her persistence, showing time and time again that she has the talents to succeed and a willingness to grow from her mistakes. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Ahsoka has no qualms speaking her mind and offering an unfiltered opinion, a characteristic which earns her the nickname “Snips,” a nickname which is simultaneously fun and which reminds us of her unrelenting pursuit for respect.
That Ahsoka is a child and is sexualized is disgusting. What is even more pathetic and gross is that this sexualization intentionally strips her of the qualities which make her who she is. Rather than experiencing her, and in turn depicting her, as a strong and confident young girl who serves as a role model for children and adults alike – within the Star Wars universe and among fans – she is instead utterly disrespected by individuals looking to satisfy their perverted sexual fantasies.
Thankfully, among the vast majority of Star Wars fans, Ahsoka Tano is given the respect she deserves. I take solace in this fact, reminding myself each time someone finds this site by searching for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” that there are far more fans who seek out Ahsoka for who she is – a remarkable girl and extraordinary woman.
I have always held the opinion that Darth Maul should have survived his confrontation with Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, and that his story-arc should have reached its finale in Episode III. Disregarding entirely that Darth Maul DOES survive, that he was resurrected from the dead in The Clone Wars animated series and has since made appearances in a number of post-Prequel stories, my belief that Maul should have been a menacing presence in every Prequel film is built upon a rather simple premise. In short, Anakin/Darth Vader should have been the one to kill Darth Maul.
Allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush. Darth Maul is still alive and in Revenge of the Sith, and takes full-command of the Separatist cause after the death of Count Dooku and General Grievous. Safeguarding the leaders of the Confederacy on Mustafar, a small Jedi fighter arrives on the volcanic world and Maul goes out to meet this foe. The Sith Lord instantly recognizes the individual: it is the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. We know the truth – Anakin Skywalker is no more, the man before Maul is the newly minted Sith named Vader and he has been ordered by Darth Sidious, his new Master, to kill the Separatist leaders as well as Maul. It is a test for Vader: kill your rival and take his place, or perish. Vader is up for the challenge.
Darth Maul leaps into action, his double-bladed saber viciously slashing and hacking at Vader. Deflecting the violent blows with his blue lightsaber, Vader is at first caught off-guard by the rage-filled attack. Gathering himself, anger swelling within him, the new Sith Lord goes on the offensive. Now Darth Maul staggers backwards. He has fought and killed Jedi before – Padawans, Knights, and Masters – but Maul has grown complacent throughout the Clone War. He has been such a menacing presence to Jedi that he has left his flank unguarded against a Dark Side for. Darth Sidious knew this, could see that Darth Maul was in need of a true challenger. If he survives this fight, if he kills Vader, then Maul will be a newly sharpened weapon which Sidious can use.
The battle of blades comes to a momentary pause, Maul and Vader alike unable to land a killing stroke. Starring each other down, it is Maul who speaks first:
“I sense the darkness within you, Jedi. Tell me, has my Master chosen you to test me?”
“I am no Jedi…” Vader responds with scorn “…and he is my Master now.”
Amused and laughing, Maul replies with obvious derision: “You are naïve, young Jedi, if you believe you will replace me.”
Turning his back to Vader, Maul pauses to looks out at the hellish landscape before he speaks again.
“Do you remember what I did to your first Master? To that fool Qui-Gon Jinn?”
Anger obviously swelling within Vader, rage contorting his face, Maul confidently continues his mocking tone:
“I should have slaughtered him sooner…on Tatooine. I should have slaughtered him…and his Padawan…and you, Ani. And then…”
Reigniting his blue blade, the rage within Vader ready to spill out, Maul speaks one last time:
“….and then I should have slaughtered Amidala.”
Both hands on the hilt of his saber, Vader launches into a vicious assault and Maul greets it head-on. The clash is unlike the choreographed acrobatics of their fight from moments before. There is no twisting of bodies or twirling of sabers. Now, their battle is purely driven by a desire to destroy the other, their blades being used not as elegant weapons but as bludgeons. Hacking and chopping, deflecting and countering, the two raged-infested Sith give no ground, take no footsteps backward. They are locked in a stalemate, unwilling to give an inch, frozen in a battle of wills against the backdrop of a volcanic, smoked-filled landscape.
Frozen, that is, until Vader finally lands a blow, slicing downward across Maul’s face and chest. Staggering backwards, scars glowing from the heat of Vader’s saber, the demonic-looking Zabrak attemps to recover but Vader moves in. Sidestepping and moving past Maul’s desperate strike, Vader reverses the direction of his saber and drives it upwards into Maul’s back, the tip coming out of the Dark Lord’s chest. Lingering for a moment, Vader yanks the blade from his foe, allowing Maul – agony and the recognition of death on his face – to sink to his knees. Turning as his blade is extinguished, Vader kneels behind Darth Maul, leans in, and softly speaks:
“You have been replaced.”
Rising, Darth Vader walks around the dying Sith Lord and, we can assume, towards the facility beyond, on his way to kill the Separatist leaders within. But the camera lingers on Maul – the landscape of Mustafar behind him – and we watch as the Sith Lord slumps forward and dies.
Killing the Devil, Replacing the Devil
There is obvious religious symbolism in Star Wars and perhaps one of the most obvious forms of symbolism is in the form of Mustafar. Essentially, Mustafar is meant to symbolize Hell. When Vader travels to the volcanic world in Revenge of the Sith, he is descending to Hell, a descent which visually captures his internal descent into darkness. While his conversion to the Sith Order took place in the ecumenopolis of Coruscant, he is baptized in this Mustafarian Hell, transformed by eternal fire and subsequently reborn in his iconic suit of armor. And yet, I have always felt one element was missing on Mustafar: the Devil.
Mustafar = Hell Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
There is obvious religious symbolism in Star Wars and perhaps one of the OTHER obvious forms of symbolism is Darth Maul. Darth Maul looks the way he does – horned head, red and black face, intense yellow-eyes, black robe – because he is a visual representation of evil. He looks like the Devil because he IS the Devil. And, as such, I have always believed Vader should have descended into Hell with the distinct intention of killing the Devil. While his massacre of the Separatist leaders is violent and shows that he is continuing down his dark path, the added layer of Vader killing the Devil in the Devil’s own lair would have added incredible weight to Anakin Skywalker’s descent into Darkness.
But this added weight is not solely based on Vader’s killing a character serving as an archetype and personification of evil. Killing the Devil is certainly profound in and of itself but Vader would have also been replacing the Devil, becoming the new archetype and personification of evil. It would not have been out of goodness of heart, or a willingness to safeguard the galaxy, that he traveled into Hell to vanquish the Devil. No, he would have killed the Devil precisely because he wanted to become the Devil. Only by descending into the darkness could he make his ascension, earning his title, position, and power as Dark Lord (of the Sith) by violently ripping it away from his adversary.
That is, after all, the nature of the Sith and the Dark Side of the Force.
Darth Sidious steps out of the shuttle, surveying the Mustafarian landscape. He can sense Darth Vader, feel the pain and agony bleeding off of the badly injured Sith. As he moves down towards the end of the large landing platform, he passes the Jedi Starfighter which Vader had taken tot he world, and the body of Maul comes into view beyond it. Sidious walks up to the body, pauses, and looks down. Reaching out with his right hand, he uses the Force to call the double-bladed saber to him. Now in his hand, he crushes it, the broken pieces falling onto the broken body of Maul. Opening his hand and a red crystal sits on his palm. Laughing to himself, Sidious closes his fist and moves on to find his new Apprentice.
Later, after Darth Vader has recovered, and is entombed in his suit, Sidious will hand him the crystal and give him a single order: “Construct a new lightsaber.”
HELLOOOOOO FRIENDS! It is I, Hondo Ohnaka, businessman and sometimes pirate extraordinaire! Perhaps you have heard of me and my legendary exploits – battling Sithy Lords and clanking generals, running an honorable enterprise in the Outer Rum, throwing great parties for my Jedi friends! One time, I even rescused Jedi kiddies who were in trouble, swooping in to save the day in glorious fashion when they fell under attack by…
Ummmmm Hondo, it’s me, The Imperial Talker. I thought I would interrupt you and remind you that you were actually the one who attacked the Jedi kids and put them in harms way.
WHAT!?!?! Oh how dare you accuse me of such horrific crimes! You will pay for such insolence, Imp….
Time out, did you just say I am being insolent? Because that is exactly what Darth Maul accused you of that time on Florrum. Remember, he called you insolent and you said you didn’t know what that word meant because you are a pirate?
Ahhhh I see that you have been following my glorious exploits Mr. Talker! I knew you were the right person to write tear-jerking poetry about me for Haikondoesday! Tell me, what grandiness of mine have you captured in syllabical fashion!?!?!
Well, one haiku…
Sorry, one “haikondo” is references that time you raided a village on Felucia and tried to…
My my look at the time Mr. Imperial! It is time your readers get to reading about the wonders of Hondo. It is also time I go find my dear friend Bridger and encourage him to join me on another fun-filled and not dangerous at all adventure! Oh, and Mr. The Talker I will bill you later for using my name to promote “Haikondoesday.”
Wait a minute!!!! I didn’t coin that! You just did! What the heck…he just ignored me and walked out. Ugh, whatever, I’m going to get a drink. Here are some Haiku about Hondo Ohnaka.
Wonderful Weequay. One hell of a gentleman. Hondo Ohnaka.
He isn’t as young as he used to be, but he’s certainly older.
Insolent Hondo. HAHA! He is a pirate! INSOLENT!?!?! HAHA!
Stories he could tell, some of them are even true! Legends of Hondo.
Morally neutral. No, morally self-serving. That’s how Hondo roles.
Scene – planet Florrum: Hondo tortures two Jedi. But we still love him.
Scene – on Felucia: Hondo attacks some farmers. But we still love him.
Scene – in outer space: Hondo threatens Jedi kids. But we still love him.
Scene – planet Florrum: Hondo is a drug dealer. But we still love him.
Scene – on Felucia: “Die Jedi scum,” he exclaims! But we still love him.
Scene – in outer space: He tries to kill Jedi kids. But we still love him.
Scene – on Onderon: Hondo is an arms dealer. But we still love him.
Scene – planet Florrum: Hondo drugs two Jedi Knights. But we still love him.
Scene – Drazkel System: He tries to buy a Jedi. But we still love him.
Here is my question: Hondo does lots of bad shit… why do we love him?
It’s his good looks, right? His legendary exploits? Perhaps his wisdom.
One hostage is good. Two are better. And three, well that’s just good business.
More of his brilliance: Speak softly, drive a big tank. Teddy would be proud.
Soft spot for children, like the youngling Katooni. Wit captures his heart.
Ezra and Hondo, Brothers of the Broken Horn. Adventures galore.
Ezra lies to him. Hondo is a proud father. Children learn so fast.
Reklam Station heist. Stealing Y-Wings with Rebels. And his Ugnaught pals.
The Ohnaka Gang. Devious and deceitful. But mostly stupid.
Maybe we love him for all of his grandeur and magnanimity.
I like that Hondo has an actual flying saucer as a ship.
Describing his ship: silvery and round, and it spins and spins and spins!
Perhaps it’s his sense of honor, the pirate code he sometimes follows.
A Sith Lord captured. Epic fight: cannons, blasters, glowy thing, voom-voom.
Hondo and Aurra sitting in a tree, K-I- S-S-I-N-G.
All the ladies love Ohnaka, all the men too. He is so handsome!
If I had to guess, I’d bet that Maz and Hondo… …imagine the rest.
Ahsoka doesn’t want to hurt Hondo and he appreciates that.
Pirate and Jedi. Ohnaka and Kenobi. I think they were friends.
Jedi love Hondo! He is always helping them! Such a thoughtful guy.
Scavenging downed ships, a special past time of his. Find him on Jakku.
Hondo and Solo. No doubt they met at some point. Where is that story???
The Book of Hondo, No! The Gospel of Hondo! Sagacious Weequay.
Hondo on Florrum, Brilliant and wise and sexy, Hallowed be thy name.
Why do we love him? We love him because he is Hondo Ohnaka!
Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts: