“For a Thousand Generations…” – Evolving Jedi Philosophy from Star Wars to The Last Jedi

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On April 15th, 2017, the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released to the thunderous roar of a thousand live attendees at Celebration Orlando and the individual cheers of viewers at home. The trailer closed with a line from Luke Skywalker, uttered in a gravelly voice and tinged with foreboding, “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Cue the launching of a thousand speculations as people wondered what exactly those words meant for the Jedi and the overall philosophy of the Force in the Star Wars universe.

When Star Wars came out in 1977 the concept of the Jedi, as explained by Ben Kenobi, was relatively simple – the Jedi were space-age knights, chivalrous and inherently good, wielding a mystical energy field that was ever-present but relatively unexamined and mysterious. Juxtaposed against the evil of the fallen Jedi Knight Darth Vader in a space-fantasy play, it seemed their position as the relative “good guys” was pretty much sealed.

Over the course of the original trilogy we got to explore aspects of the Jedi and their relationship with the Force. I’ve always felt that Star Wars was conceived as an adventurous morality play with the dynamic of the light side versus the dark side as the center theme of the classic films. Although it can be argued that Jedi believe in the yin and the yang of the Force where the light and dark comprise a whole that ties the galaxy together, they are firm believers that the “yang” or “light” side of the Force is morally right. Their actions and philosophies reflect this attitude and are not challenged within the original trilogy itself. » Read more..

We Came, We Saw, We (Mostly) Celebrated

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Ben: Welcome to the Eleven-ThirtyEight roundtable/Not a Committee/podcast thing, whatever you want to call it. It’s myself, Ben Wahrman, along with David, Sarah, and Jay. We’re gonna be talking about our experiences here at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, different panels, and just general experiences with the con. To start with I just want to ask everybody real quick, how has the experience been for everybody? Above expectations, below expectations?

Jay: Our intrepid editor has informed us that we’re calling these Aggressive Negotiations, so here we are, aggressively negotiating the convention. This Star Wars Celebration has been sort of interesting; this is my fifth Celebration, and it’s the third one I’ve been to that’s been operated by ReedPOP, and it seemed to be the most disorganized of all the conventions I’ve been to, with maybe the exception of Celebration IV. But I think a lot of that is due to factors that could have been predicted, such as better signage, organization, better estimates of crowd sizes, crowd flow.

The problem with these little difficulties is they had a lot of knock-on effects on people’s enjoyment of Celebration. It really changed the nature of Celebration itself; instead of people going to the show floor at the time the convention opened and going through the list of activities, people had to pre-plan, get their selected wristbands in advance, and start lining up at pretty much 4am every morning regardless of whether or not there was an official line-up or not. And that’s what changed the whole nature of the convention, at least for me. » Read more..

Everybody Lives: Rebels and Character Death

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Star Wars Rebels has just wrapped up its third season with the biggest Empire-versus-Rebellion showdown we’ve yet scene from the show. Prior to the episode, speculation swirled around the promised battle, with many wondering just exactly how the rebels we know and love are going to make it out of thione. And, inevitably and tiresomely, spirited discussion sprang up around which Ghost character would die in the ensuing conflict.

It’s not the first time there has been speculation around a major character dying in the show. Like clockwork, the closer we get to a season finale, the more discussion there is about why someone on the Ghost needs to bite it. Rex and/or Zeb needs to go out in a blaze of glory. Kanan needs to die for pathos and so the fandom can make tragic fics about Hera. Ezra needs to die because of a thousand and one reasons (the main one being that the majority of the older fanbase finds him irredeemably annoying). They all have to die because we don’t see or hear anything about them in the original trilogy. Inevitably, it all comes down to fans wanting to see that things are different, that the rebels have finally faced a serious threat and come up short and now have to find a way to overcome.

And yes, that’s certainly a good (and necessary) narrative to explore. After all, it’s not exciting if your heroes never face any serious challenges or defeats. But why is it that we automatically go to “major character death” as the best way to show the severity of a threat or to shake up the status quo?

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The Gang’s All Here: Looking Ahead to Celebration Orlando

celebration-sarah4Jay: Last time we had a Star Wars Celebration, I was the only member of Eleven-ThirtyEight there. The site was a couple years old, the new Star Wars around the same age, and we were all eagerly awaiting the new movie. Now, we have four staff writers attending — Sarah (who hadn’t joined ETE by the time of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim), David, Ben (who I believe is attending his first Celebration?), and I. I’m officially covering the event as press for ETE, but really, all of us will be covering panels and writing about the events. I thought we’d discuss what we plan to cover, what we hope to see, and what we think of Star Wars Celebration in general. In other words, how does Eleven-ThirtyEight approach Star Wars Celebration?

I’ll get us started with my initial thoughts on Celebration. This is my fifth Star Wars Celebration — I’ve attended all of the domestic Celebrations since Celebration III with the exception of Celebration V. Primarily, I attended them as social events: as a central meetup for all of my friends and fellow Star Wars fans, with the whole convention as sort of a convenient backdrop. The only panels I made an effort to attend were the books and comics panels. Aside from that? It was cool seeing costumes and stuff, but eh. But since Anaheim, Star Wars news has been huge — overnight lines, trailers dropping, wall-to-wall coverage. Being in the room for the <i>Force Awakens</i> trailer was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I’m eager enough to relive it that I’m going to be doing two overnight lines now for the 40th Anniversary and The Last Jedi panels.

For me, the social aspect of Celebration hasn’t changed — if anything, there are even more people I’ve gotten to know since Star Wars was revived and I want to spend time with all of them. But somehow I have to manage to see all the movie, book, television, and even toy news.

What about the rest of you? What were previous Celebrations like for you? What do you expect from Orlando, generally? » Read more..

Republic Rising – A Political and Cartographic Look at the Post-Galactic Concordance Galaxy

It’s a year since the Battle of Endor. As the dust settles on and above Jakku, the Aftermath (pun intended) of the climactic battle of the Galactic Civil War leaves the New Republic the sole major galactic power. Rebuilding, reparations, and de-militarization are the orders of the day. Yet, even after the signing of the Concordance under an ancient tintolive tree on Chandrila, the galaxy’s political alignments are still taking form. Chancellors, emperors, presidents, and warlords across the galaxy now have to decide where their allegiances lie. The New Republic – egalitarian, democratic, and freedom-loving – is eager to expand its ranks, but equally content to let worlds choose their own paths. The wounds left by the Clone Wars, the Empire’s harsh rule, and the Galactic Civil War can now heal – but scars will remain.

Thanks to books like Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, Bloodline, and various other canon sources, we now have a good idea of how the New Republic grew and expanded between Jakku and the destruction of Hosnian Prime. Yet, other powers emerged too. Large regions remained neutral, some to harbor the worlds that would be the harbingers of the First Order. The New Republic, victorious but still fledgling, comes of age in this galaxy. So, join me as we chart the political alignments and leanings of the galaxy in the years following the signing of the Galactic Concordance.
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