The Politics of Rogue One:
A Star Wars Story
12/20/2016 by Dylan James Harper
A dark presence is on the horizon and those with the power and influence to oppose realize too late that present opposition they’d previously labeled “too extreme” are the only people that can really help create a bright future. Doesn’t that sound familiar? If it’s already not obvious I’m referring to both the plot of the new Star Wars movie, thematically titled Rogue One, and the looming Trump presidency, with the rebels playing the role of the broader political left, and the First Whitaker lead Partisans, an extremist faction of the Revel Alliance, playing the part of radical activism such as Black Lives Matter.
The politics of Star Wars, the broad franchise that now spans eight live action theatre release films, has always been somewhat black and white. The dark side is bad, the non-dark side is good, the visuals of the characters are about as subtle as Western films depicting the heroes in white hats, and the villains in black hats; Darth Vader is faceless and menacing when you first meet him. Rogue One steps away from that a bit, and decides to give the audience a window into some of the in-fighting among the rebels.
The Partisans, a group that’s a part of the Rebel Alliance only in that they are in fact rebelling against the same Empire, has essentially been ousted from all operations and decision making among the rebel elite after being deemed extremist. What’s some what remarkable is that, in a universe where the Rebels are already launching bombing runs on non-military Imperial targets, anyone could be considered too extreme. It demands the question: just what are the Partisans doing?
One could argue it’s a bit of plot hole that all the audience sees of them is the same derail the Empire by any means necessary tactics that the rest of the rebels partake in. Intentional or not, however, I think this was actually a really effective choice that mirrors the United States’ contemporary political climate. Groups like Black Lives Matter have been deemed almost third rail for the Democrats, even though the Democrats claim to fight for the same general goals. Up until the earlier part of the decade, feminists were essentially treated the same way, too radical for Democrats in influential positions to fully embrace the term. When the loss by Hillary Clinton is analyzed, however, it’s obvious that the Democrats reluctance to embark these groups was the final nail in the coffin for any hopes at a presidency.
Star Wars paints a grim reality: a cruel government given a frightening amount of power. The people opposing them fall prey to in-fighting, and a generally unwillingness to do what needs to be done to stop the villains from prevailing. Their choice is to either embrace the radical politics they’ve worked so hard to distance themselves from, or fall into irrelevance, leaving open a vacuum of political power that’s not likely to be occupied by anyone good. Just as the first films released mirrored the Cold War, and the prequels mirrored the crypto fascist era of the Bush presidency, so the most recent installment to the Star Wars universe mirrors contemporary politics. The Democrats have found themselves in the same position.
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
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