TF: We defy augury

Tribulation Force, pp. 362-366

I wish I could be of more help,” Buck said, suddenly realizing what an understatement that was. What he wouldn’t give to expose Nicolae Carpathia as a lying murderer, the hypnotic Antichrist! And though Buck would oppose him, anyone without Christ would never understand or agree. Besides, Scripture didn’t seem to indicate that even Christ’s followers would be able to do more than simply bear up against him. The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before, and the drama would be played out to the end.

Nicolae Carpathia was going to swallow up the president of the United States and everyone else in his path. He would gain ultimate power, and then the true battle would begin, the war between heaven and hell. The ultimate cold war would become a battle to the death. Buck took comfort in the assurance that the end had been known from the beginning.

This is what is going to happen and there’s nothing Buck can do. Nothing Buck even should do. He has no role to play in this “war between heaven and hell.” He can’t stop Nicolae from oppressing and slaughtering millions and he can’t stop God from oppressing and slaughtering billions. He won’t even try. He believes it would be wrong to try.

Which means the story is pretty much finished. There are 14 more books in this series, but whatever it is they contain it can’t be called a story. That story has been dealt a fatal blow by the fatalism of our heroes and of the authors.

That fatalism creates at least two insurmountable problems. First, it means that our heroes cannot be heroes. And second, it means that good and evil — or God and evil — are interchangeable and indistinguishable. It means that it doesn’t matter what anyone does and that it doesn’t matter what happens. If Nicolae wins, everyone suffers and dies and then suffers endlessly. If LaHaye’s God wins, everyone suffers and dies and then suffers endlessly.

There is nothing that can be done and there is no one to do it. That’s not a story.

“There is nothing we can do,” would not, in itself, preclude the possibility of a story or of heroism. Heroes — real heroes, not feckless bystanders like Buck Williams and Rayford Steele — hear that all the time. There’s nothing you can do. It’s hopeless. It’s too late. It’s fate, destiny, a foregone conclusion. The prophecy has been written. You cannot change anything. You cannot win. You cannot save them. You’ll get yourself killed. Resistance is futile.

But real heroes ignore all that. They may suspect it’s true. They may even know it’s true. But that doesn’t matter, they’ll still jump into the fray and, at least, try to go down swinging because … well, because they’re heroes and that’s what that word means.

Think of Norse mythology. At Ragnarok, the gods and heroes are doomed. What has been prophesied will come to pass and nothing they do can change the outcome. But they never give up. That’s why their story matters. It’s why their story is a story, even if nothing they do can change how it ends.

And let’s face it, all our stories ultimately end the same way and nothing we do can change that. Our end, to borrow Jerry Jenkins’ phrase, has “been known from the beginning.”

… If it be now,
’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come.

The readiness is all.

“What if I told you it doesn’t help?” the man asks as the woman packs up a truck with supplies for her shelter for at-risk youth. “What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it’s all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive and they will never let it get better down here? What would you do?”

“I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here,” she says. “Wanna give me a hand?”

That scene comes at the end of a very long story. The woman has heard all this before. She’s said all this before. She knows firsthand about “forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive” who will “never let it get better down here.” But she’d also met a real hero who’d showed her different and so she changed her name and became a hero herself.

This is what heroes do. They pack the truck despite all the forces that tell them it will never get better down here. They act like it matters even when they’re told it doesn’t matter. They help even when they’re told it doesn’t help — even when, as Dr. Rieux puts it in another story, it means being involved in a “never ending defeat.”

Our stories need heroes because we need heroes. The heroes don’t have to win. They don’t have to succeed in changing anything or saving anyone. But they have to try. They “have to go forward, groping their way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times,” and try to do what good lay in their power.

When Buck here announces and demonstrates his unwillingness even to try he surrenders any claim he might have had to being a hero in this story.

This story has no heroes.

And these heroes, such as they are, have no story. Because it doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do. It doesn’t matter whether Nicolae wins or God wins. Either way, everyone and everything is screwed. “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow,” but if every sparrow and every other living thing is wiped out mercilessly no matter what, then providence doesn’t seem any different than … whatever the opposite of providence is (despair? disregard? wrath?*).

“The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before,” the authors tell us. And not even the real, true Christians of the Tribulation Force “would be able to do more than simply bear up against him.”

Nicolae’s rise to power and his cruel reign are part of God’s plan. Buck can’t try to oppose the Antichrist’s plans because to do so, he believes, would be to oppose God’s plans.

I don’t know how to make sense of that in any way that does not make the Antichrist out to be God’s servant — that does not require us to regard God as the author, and driver, of evil.

The scenario that LaHaye and Jenkins present is much like the one C.S. Lewis described with great dread in A Grief Observed:

The conclusion I dread is not “So there is not God after all,” but, “So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.” … No, my real fear is not materialism. If it were true, we … could get out, get from under the harrow. An overdose of sleeping pills would do it. I am more afraid that we are really rats in a trap. Or, worse still, rats in a laboratory. Someone said, I believe, “God always geometrizes.” Supposing the truth were “God always vivisects?”

Lewis ultimately rejects this idea, but his description of such a “Cosmic Sadist” and the theology behind such an idea seems to capture exactly what’s going on here in Tribulation Force. Lewis’ description is more hostile, but also more precise and more honest than Buck’s manifesto of inaction against God’s servant Nicolae. In clearer language than L&J are able to express, Lewis captures exactly what Buck is saying above about God, prophecy, fate, good and evil. And he argues that ultimately what Buck and the authors are saying is nonsense:

Or could one seriously introduce the idea of a bad God, as it were by the back door, through a sort of extreme Calvinism? You could say we are fallen and depraved. We are so depraved that our ideas of goodness count for nothing; or worse than nothing — the very fact that we think something good is presumptive evidence that it is really bad. Now God has in fact — our worst fears are true — all the characteristics we regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty. But all these [negatives] (as they seem to us) are really [positives]. It’s only our depravity makes them look [negative] to us.

And so what? This, for all practical (and speculative) purposes sponges God off the slate. The word good, applied to [God], becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying [God]. Not even fear. It is true we have [God's] threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from [God's] point of view “good,” telling lies may be “good” too. Even if they are true, what then? If [God's] ideas of good are so very different from ours, what [God] calls “Heaven” might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa. Finally, if reality at its very root is so meaningless to us — or, putting it the other way round, if we are such total imbeciles — what is the point of trying to think either about God or about anything else? This knot comes undone when you try to pull it tight.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* The list of Seven Deadly Sins isn’t from the Bible, but that traditional list is an expression of biblical ideas and that makes the biblical phrase “the wrath of God” potentially misleading.

The other deadly sins aren’t usually attributed to God. We’re told that God is “jealous,” in a sense, but we never speak of “the lust of God” or “the sloth of God” or “the gluttony of God.”

Yet the Bible does speak, frequently, about “the wrath of God.” This word “wrath” seems to have two meanings — one of which is a deadly sin and one of which is an expression of something righteous. “Be angry but do not sin,” the book of Ephesians says, addressing this distinction.

We encounter a similar ambiguity with the deadly sin of pride. That word, too, refers both to one thing that is necessary and virtuous and also to another thing that is vicious and evil. Such linguistic ambiguity opens the door to confusion on our part. We are prone to think of the wrong definition or the wrong set of connotations when encountering or employing these words. We are susceptible to condemning the duty as if it were the sin or to excusing the sin as though it were the duty.

“The wrath of God” clearly doesn’t refer to what we mean by the deadly sin of wrath, yet having just the one word for both ideas we tend to confuse the two and thus, consciously or unconsciously, we wind up attributing to God the sort of wrathful motives and behavior that we otherwise would usually rightly condemn as sinful. That confusion, I think, is at the heart of Left Behind. It is the basis for much of Tim LaHaye’s theology on which these books are based.

And as a result of that confusion, LaHaye further confuses himself and his readers about the object of God’s wrath. The book of Revelation is, unmistakably, largely about the pouring out of God’s wrath, but if we are confused about the type of wrath that it describes — righteous or deadly sinful — then we will also be confused about the cause and the target of that wrath. We will end up mistakenly imagining that it is being directed at the very people on whose behalf John’s apocalypse portrays that wrath being exercised. And thus we wind up, as LaHaye does, imagining that God is guilty of deadly sin.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters,” St. Augustine said, “their names are anger and courage.” The wrath of God, I think, is that kind of anger — the beautiful daughter of hope.

If you’re imagining the wrath of God as something other than an expression of the love of God, then you have taken a wrong turn, for God is love.

Ah, but isn’t God also perfectly holy? And thus wouldn’t it be possible to say that God’s wrath is an expression of God’s perfect holiness? That’s a slightly different, albeit very popular, wrong turn — imagining the holiness of God as something distinct from the love of God.

Very bad idea, going that route. Jesus had a great deal to say about the idea that holiness could ever mean anything apart from love. His response to that idea tended to be, well, rather wrathful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Ah, right, I wasn’t really thinking of episodes 1-3, which is odd considering I’m a big fan of the Darths & Droids webcomic.

  • Rikalous

    Wheel of Time is also relevant to Left Behind discussion (well, by our standards of relevant, anyway) because the main character, Rand al’Thor, is prophesied to break the world as well as save it. Once he finds out that he’s the prophesied one, he starts to go steadily insane from a combination of tainted magic and the pressure from trying to save as many people and as much knowledge as he can before the fated catastrophe. He’s basically a sympathetic Nicky C.

  • Lori

    You don’t like Dawn!?!? I give up.

    You did like Dawn?

    That probably goes a long way toward explaining why we’re not on the same page about how to judge movies. Mileage. It truly does vary.

  • Will
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    I’m with you on the first point. The second…enh, possibly less frequent screeching than I remember, though damn does that episode stick in the mind, but I don’t remember a S5/S6 episode where she didn’t whine. And on a writing level, her introduction made Buffy all kinds of stupid and overprotective and stupid–q.v. end of S5, my Lord–so that bugs too.

    But as Lori said, mileage totally varies. I also hate Anya and S4-through-S6 Xander, if that provides any cue to my character judgment. (Though, in fairness, there were like two characters I emerged from S6 not hating–and I started wanting to smack Willow back in S4. Dear Joss: “lesbian” does not mean “suddenly fits every irksome Granola Girl stereotype ever”, p.s. I doubt anyone who grew up in the Santa Barbaraish area would be surprised, freshman year of college, to learn that we did shitty things to the local Native Americans. Ugh. Stupid Thanksgiving episode.)

    I may be procrastinating here. ;)

  • Hawker40

    I remember one Asian in the original trilogy. He was a fighter pilot, his fighter is hit by enemy fire, and with a scream of rage he flies it into the bridge of a Imperial Stardestroyer…
    So, the only Asian dies in a Kamikaze attack.
    Stereotypes.

  • Lori

    I just could never get past the Cousin Oliver thing with Dawn. There was no reason for that and IMO no excuse. I had plenty of other problems with her (so many other problems), but even if she had been a fabulous character I would have been hard pressed to be happy to have her on the show. The fact that her appearance at the beginning of S5 coincided with so many other developments that I didn’t like definitely didn’t help either. S5 & S6 had some good stuff, but mostly I didn’t like them. S7? What is this S7 of which you speak? BtVS didn’t have a 7th season.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    “Hell, the supposedly “good” god of Warhammer 40K (the God-Emperor) isn’t much better. I mean, his church murders a thousand children a *day* in order to keep their fucking space beacon running, and lobotomizes people to turn them into cyborg zombies.

    (I really didn’t have more than a casual familiarity with Warhammer until last week, when I finished reading Rogue Trader. I’m sure it would be even worse if I’d read the game that deals with the Inquisition).”

    By Rogue Trader, are you referring to the recently released RPG, or the old sort of ‘proto-40k’ books? Because the latter is *way* lighter than it is now.

    Oh, and first of all, it is *tens of thousands* just for Astronomican, and thousands to keep the Emperor alive. Really though, this is one of their lesser sins, as it’s arguably neccesary… after all, if the Astronomican goes out, *everyone* dies. If the Emperor dies, *everyone* dies (that, or he transcends into a true god, and pwns everything, but they’re not about to risk that…).
    The Imperium does many, many, many things that are much worse than that, but that is a rather blatant example…
    It also varies a bit by source. Some of the books/games are really not that grim dark (Dark Heresy, suprisingly, isn’t all that bad… except for the chance of psykers causing a total party kill, which is just annoying.)
    On another note, servitors are *supposedly* either condemned criminals (for real crimes, it’s considered a more severe sentence than mere execution) or brain dead to begin with… of course, it’s heavily implied (and outright said) that it doesn’t always work that…

    As for ‘Good’ gods in the 40k verse, well, the Emperor himself was actually a lot nicer than the Imperium, but… well, things happened. There’s also the Eldar gods, but they are unfortunately mostly dead at the moment. (Except for Khaine (god of murder, also shattered into a few thousand pieces), Cegorach (weird), Isha (imprisoned by Nurgle), and Ynnead (well, technically dead, but also not yet born)).

    Finally, I think that L&J god is most like a combination of Nurgle and the Deciever, if that makes any sense… manipulating events for his amusement, then helping his followers to stoically accept the damage *he himself* causes… (Yeah, I’m not capitalizing for L&J god).

    “I think: it came across as ‘everything is really aliens’ rather than ‘fantasy plus aliens’. ”

    Well, to me it seemed it was *magic extradimensional aliens*… so, in a sense, it was more ‘everything is really fantasy, not aliens’. Also, any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from SCIENCE!

    As for Lucas being racist, I’ve never bought it. At least not consciously – at worst, I’d say he’s not terrifically creative, and steals stock characters.
    Jar-Jar… I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. Besides, most of the Gungans are competent enough… although I did just remember their shields. The Nemoidians, meanwhile, I can almost see the logic there. On the other hand, they’re aliens, and don’t seem to closely resemble *any* particular human race…
    I don’t buy the David Brin thing, either. It seems more like a deliberate misinterpretation of Star Wars…

  • Lori

    Jar-Jar… I’m sorry, I just don’t see it.

    Really? How familiar are you with the way AA characters were portrayed in films before the 1970s? Having seen a lot of older movies I was a pretty horrified by Jar Jar*. I remember saying to my date that the only way it could be more obvious was for him to a big slice of watermelon and some fired chicken.

    *Actuallyl I was totally horrified by Jar jar, but only part of the horror was because of the weird racist vibe.

  • Rikalous

    “L&J god is most like a combination of Nurgle and the Deceiver”

    You slander Grandpappy Nurgle with your comparison to that sour jackass.

    The Imperium of Man has proverbs like “An open mind is an unguarded fortress” and “The loyal slave learns to love the lash.” L&J god would fit right in there.

  • JD

    The Star Wars films are inspired by Japanese cinema, take their entire philosophy and design aesthetic from Japanese culture, and George Lucas’ idol was Akira Kurosawa. When Kurosawa had been exiled from the Japanese film industry and had attempted to kill himself in shame, Lucas raised the money for and produced, along with Francis Ford Coppola, Kurosawa’s comeback film Kagemusha.

    I find it very, VERY unlikely that the Star Wars films caricature the Japanese.

  • JD

    It doesn’t perpetuate racist stereotypes, Andrew. The Thugee really existed; the legend of the sankara stones is a real one; the Indian villagers, the Sadhu holy man, the Marajah after he wakes up, the children in the mines, are all portrayed respectfully and fairly. It may be sensational and childish in a lot of ways, but it’s not racist.

    One thing nobody ever comments on is that Temple of Doom may be the ONLY Western film made in America that cheerfully grants Hinduism divine authenticity. Can we please remember that it’s followers of Kali and Shiva CAN PERFORM MIRACLES? That it takes what much of the world considers a pagan religion and shows it’s gods GRANTING WORSHIPPERS MAGICAL POWERS? Mola Ram pulls out a guy’s still beating heart and holds it as it bursts into flames, Indy is turned evil by black magic, and the Shiva Lingam destroys Mola Ram. That’s not racist.

  • JD

    What Jedi and what issue? : )

    Seriously, if she did some kind of Star Wars themed pictorial, then I frankly see nothing sexist in firing her. I can completely understand his being upset at that. If he doesn’t want the Star Wars films to have those kind of associations, that’s his choice. It wouldn’t be without precedent, either; one of the women who auditioned for Leia back in the 70s came in having previously posed for girlie photos, and Lucas, despite thinking she’d be good for the role, didn’t cast her because he didn’t want naked pictures of Princess Leia turning up everywhere when Star Wars opened.

    As for the Raiders story transcript, they are mostly JOKING. C’mon. And they were apparently considering making Marion a precocious, rebellious teenager–about fifteen–and Indy a twentysomething grad student when they first met and had their affair. Echoes of this actually survive in the finished film: Indy’s evasiveness about why he’s no longer friends with Abner (“We had a falling out….”), and Marion declaring “I was a child! I was in love!” Makes me wonder if they ever really fully gave up on it.

    And as for HP and REH, yeah, I think they would have. Howard really did always have a true empathy for black people and American Indians in his fiction: amazing for a white man in rural Texas in the 1920s and 1930s. It shines through very clearly, undimmed by his now embarrassing passages about the superiority of the Nordic warrior race, the sinister Asians, ect ect. There’s no question he was, near the end of his life, reconsidering a lot of the prominent racial beliefs of the time. I mean, in one story he has Solomon Kane in Africa befreinding a native witch doctor who saves him from zombies or something. That right there is a sign of an evolving consciousness.

    Lovecraft, same thing…He claimed he hated foreigners but loved Italian food and ate all the time on Federal Hill in Providence; he made all kinds of anti-semetic statements but married a Jewish woman; by the end of his life he’d become a Roosevelt New Deal democrat. It would have been interesting to see both of them live through the 1967 – 1974 period and how it would have been reflected in their fiction.

  • JD

    It doesn’t change the fact that their writing is not overtly racist, but is rather clearly the work of two intelligent, creative artists struggling with the conflict between their own empathy for other human beings, and the societal decrees of the time that they had to perceive these people as less then human: which both Howard and Lovecraft instinctively understood to be not true.

  • JD

    Well, the actors who did their voices were from Romania, so, if they were caricatures of Asians, they sorta missed the mark….

  • JD

    I adored Dawn. I struggle to understand not liking her….

  • JD

    A. I gotta check but I don’t think that character was Asian. I think you’re confusing him with another A-Wing pilot who, if memory serves, IS Asian.

    B. Even if he IS, so?! That’s one of the high points of 80s cinema! Come on! He takes out the Imperial flagship! :) That is a superb moment of awesomeness.

    I remember watching the Special Edition of Jedi back in the late 90s in a packed theater, having not seen the film projected since ’83, and realizing how much we underrate it. That final, I guess 40 minutes or so–that whole battle, remains a monumental acheivement in cinema. There are just images and moments of such cathartic, epic greatness….at some points all you can say is WOW.

  • JD

    Jar Jar was an interesting idea poorly done. He seems to have been derived from three basic ideas. One, the main character in Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, a common thief who is forced to pretend to be a powerful lord. Jar Jar is sorta of a local loser, a chariot driver, basically, who ends up leading armies in an epic battle. He’s also a bit like the two peasants in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, and various other clumsy, loud, goofy characters in Kurosawa’s films.

    2nd, silent films comedians like Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. This is clearest in the final battle when he’s dodging the energy balls, which is straight from some old silent comedy–I can’t remember which one.

    And 3rd, and most awkwardly, he seems to be some kind of attempt to actually engage with and confront minstrely and stereotype in American cinema, such as the characters Stepin Fetchit used to play in John Ford’s pre-Code comedies. Who were usually foolish, clumsy, got into all kinds of trouble, were comic relief, ect. I suspect this was a bit beyond the means of both Lucas and the Star Wars universe.

    But, again, all that’s irrelevent because, in Episode One, anyway, he’s just not very well done. He’s kind’ve poorly designed visually, he’s way over the top, he’s almost impossible to understand most of the time, he’s not very funny, he just doesn’t work.

    They do largely redeem him in Episode II, though, by having him become a Senator: if Jar Jar could become a Senator, then the Republic was well and truly crumbling. And he’s also the one who then introduces the legislation that helps create the Empire’s military-industrial complex, which I thought was a pretty subtle and clever comment about not-very-bright elected officials who’s main qualifications for office are that they can be easily manipulated by various idealogical and corporate special interests.

  • Lori

    I adored Dawn. I struggle to understand not liking her….

    And I struggle to understand the adoration so again, mileage varies.

  • Lori

    And 3rd, and most awkwardly, he seems to be some kind of attempt to actually engage with and confront minstrely and stereotype in American cinema,

    This is an incredibly generous take on the character and I didn’t see anything on the screen to justify that level of generosity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Oppen/594893122 Eric Oppen

    Having been rereading the “Tomorrow, When the War Began” series, I think that I’d swap the two “heroes” of these books for the kids who star in the “Tomorrow” series, any day, and have a much better book. Ellie’d be coming up with clever plans to discredit or destroy Nicky Mountain, Robyn and Fiona would be figuring out how to save as many people as possible, Homer’d be building a bomb to blow Nicky Mountain past Mars, Kevin and Chris would be hacking into the world’s media to plant anti-Nicky messages, and Gavin…Gavin would probably come up with something totally off-the-wall and unexpected that would save the day.

    And if all else failed, if there was nothing else to do…they’d steal a truck and drive it at Nicky, blazing away at his mooks, and go out in a blaze of glory.

  • JD

    Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You can’t see radiation either, but I assure you, it does exist.

    And I do tend to be generous to artists whose work I admire and people whose actions I respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    “I don’t buy the David Brin thing, either. It seems more like a deliberate misinterpretation of Star Wars..”

    David Brin is big on deliberately misinterpreting Star Wars. I read his famous articles, and they depending mostly on supposed subtext directly contradicted by actual text.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    It doesn’t change the fact that their writing is not overtly racist, but is rather clearly the work of two intelligent, creative artists struggling with the conflict between their own empathy for other human beings, and the societal decrees of the time that they had to perceive these people as less then human: which both Howard and Lovecraft instinctively understood to be not true.

    I think you’re doing the thing where you think, “OK, I like this person’s writing, therefore they can’t really be racist,” and make up excuses for them. I’m not as familiar with Howard, but Lovecraft’s racism is vicious and pervasive throughout nearly all his writing. I’ll come up with some examples later but really, have you read his works?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You can’t see radiation either, but I assure you, it does exist.

    Since it seems this thread has dropped off everyone’s radar, I’ll refrain from a detailed post explaining my views of HP Lovecraft and Temple of Doom.

    I’ll just note that what you say, “Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” applies just as much, in fact probably more so, to racism, than to what you’re referring to. I’m guessing you are male, white, American and non-Hindu. That you don’t see racism when you watch ToD, doesn’t mean someone who is of Color, Hindu, or from India might not feel alienated and the subject of racism when watching it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Indiana Jones movies. I prefer Last Crusade first, then Raiders, then ToD as a distant 3rd. But they have a disturbing undercurrent of racism throughout all of the movies, mostly regarding ‘Orientals’, including Chinese, Indians, and Arabs, and ToD especially closely resembles Gunga Din, which is a wonderful movie for its time (1930s) but which has colonialist attitudes that ToD unfortunately echoes.

  • Mackrimin

    I’ll just note that what you say, “Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” applies just as much, in fact probably more so, to racism, than to what you’re referring to. I’m guessing you are male, white, American and non-Hindu. That you don’t see racism when you watch ToD, doesn’t mean someone who is of Color, Hindu, or from India might not feel alienated and the subject of racism when watching it.

    I doubt very much they do, any more than Americans feel subject to racism when watching that old Bond movie with the obnoxious American sheriff in it, or a gangster movie – remember that the Thugees _are_ basically Indian gangsters – or one of those psychopathic “anti-heroes” that plagued comic books in the 90′s.

    Besides, if Indiana Jones is racist, at least it’s equal opportunity racism: there’s not a single character in the whole series who isn’t some kind of ridiculous over-the-top stereotype. No matter who you are, if you have some kind of connection to any Jones character, you have reason to feel insulted.

    Equal opportunity racism… now _that_ is an ironic concept :).

  • Alienbooknose

    There’s a basic problem with your idea of equal opportunity racism: as long as whites have societal power, prejudice towards them expressed in a film does not have the same effects as prejudice expressed towards a societally disadvantaged group.

    If people have stepped on your foot every day of your life, and then they turn around and step on your neighbor’s unbruised foot and say “see, it’s fair now” how would you feel?

  • BaseDeltaZero

    “You slander Grandpappy Nurgle with your comparison to that sour jackass.”
    Well, I said it was something of a comparison, not that it was a wholly accurate one.

    “Really? How familiar are you with the way AA characters were portrayed in films before the 1970s? Having seen a lot of older movies I was a pretty horrified by Jar Jar*. I remember saying to my date that the only way it could be more obvious was for him to have a big slice of watermelon and some fired chicken.

    And 3rd, and most awkwardly, he seems to be some kind of attempt to actually engage with and confront minstrely and stereotype in American cinema, such as the characters Stepin Fetchit used to play in John Ford’s pre-Code comedies. Who were usually foolish, clumsy, got into all kinds of trouble, were comic relief, ect. I suspect this was a bit beyond the means of both Lucas and the Star Wars universe.”

    Well, I suppose there’s a certain argument that he fits that archetype, although I wouldn’t say he actually resembles a black person in any way. Furthermore, the rest of the Gungans really *don’t* fit that mold, although some (especially the Boss) are really weird in their own way. If it was an attack on blacks, shouldn’t they all be like that?

    “David Brin is big on deliberately misinterpreting Star Wars. I read his famous articles, and they depending mostly on supposed subtext directly contradicted by actual text.”

    Yeah…. as best I can tell, the Star Wars universe simply uses royal-esque titles (Queen, Princess, etc) for elected officials, for some reason. The only arguement he vaguely has is with the Jedi, which, admittedly, can get pretty bad in some books. But…
    The Jedi Order in the Prequels are portrayed as arrogant and out of touch, and more than a little incompetent. They try to take charge against Count Dooku, and end up playing right into Palpatine’s hands.
    Even so, the Jedi Order exists in part to ensure that no Jedi or Force sensitive obtains too much political power, and is wholly subordinate to the mundane authorities… this pattern is maintained into the New Republic. The only time this is violated is with the various Sith Empires, which are, note, the *villains*.
    All that’s not even considering that, at least at some times, most everyone has some form of Force ability. The Jedi/Sith/’Force Sensitives’ are merely the ones with the predisposition and mindset to train and consciously utilize that power (the Jedi wouldn’t like that term, but I’m using it anyways…)
    I also liked his question of whether you’d rather live in the Federation or the Empire. What? A better question is whether you’d rather live in the Dominion or New Republic. Seriously… (Or, even better, the Federation or the Culture, which pretty much *is* directly his point…)

  • Kagi Soracia

    Thank you for making me cry. I was needing that analogy.


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