Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More Jedi Stuff

Well, I haven't talked about Jedi in a while, and since they take up a significant amount of my brain power on any given day, it's about time I get back to them.

I was at a costuming event recently where a guy who is part of a Jedi stagefighting group told prospective members that, in lightsaber combat, "Jedi fight defensively, mostly blocking and not attacking. They just have to survive a fight to win. Sith are the aggressors. Jedi don't start fights, Sith do."

My immediate gut reaction was that he was wrong. When I thought it through, I was sure he was wrong. Let's first consider the claim that Sith usually start conflicts.

Episode I:

Darth Maul does start the first fight with Qui-Gon on Tatooine. One for the opposition. However, even though Darth Maul does stand in Qui-Gon's and Obi-Wan's way in the hangar on Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan actually attack him first and do start the fight. One for me.

Tally: Tie.

Episode II:

Obi-Wan and Anakin chase Dooku down with the intent to kill him. Anakin starts the fight. Obi-Wan protests, but not because he didn't want to start the fight, but because he wanted to move in more slowly. One for me.

After Dooku tries to crush Yoda and hit him with Force lightning, Yoda and Dooku leap at each other to begin the duel. I'll call this one even.

Tally: One for me.

Episode III:

Palpatine attacks Mace Windu and the other Jedi who have come to arrest him. One for the opposition.

Obi-Wan goes to Mustafar to kill Anakin and activates his lightsaber first, but technically Anakin does leap at Obi-Wan and attack him first. I'll give this one to the opposition.

Yoda attacks Palpatine in the well of the Senate. One for me.

Tally: One for the opposition.

Episode IV:

Once again, while Vader does confront Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan actually is the first to strike. One for me.

Tally: Even.

Episode V:

While Vader has lured Luke to Cloud City to capture him, Luke strikes at Vader first. One for me.

Tally: One for me.

Episode VI:

Though the Emperor does provoke Luke, he does attack the Emperor first (prompting Vader to parry). Two for me.

Tally: Two for me.

So, on the whole, we actually see Jedi start fights with Sith more often than the reverse. And, in many of these fights, the Jedi aren't the ones on defense (the Duel of the Fates, Anakin's and Obi-Wan's battle with Dooku, Yoda's battle with Dooku, Yoda's battle with Palpatine, Luke's battle with Vader in Episode VI). Jedi are certainly the aggressors in a number of these fights as well.

On the second point, that Jedi just have to survive to win a duel but a Sith must kill his or her opponent to win, is exactly backwards. Since there are lots of Jedi and only two Sith, and since the Jedi's loyalty is to preserving peace while the Sith's is to gain more power for him- or herself, the Jedi can die and still win if he or she eliminates the Sith and the threat he or she poses.

All of a Sith's plans, which are selfish and for his or her own aggrandizement, come to naught if he or she is slain by a Jedi. The Sith must, at all costs, survive in order for his or her goals to be realized, and therefore can win just by surviving. Slaying one Jedi won't help the Sith cause that much -- there are more -- but that Sith's cause is lost if he or she dies. But a Jedi who puts his or her own survival before stopping a Sith from escaping to do more evil has lost. A Jedi can win by sacrificing him- or herself for the greater good, but not by putting his or her life before the good of others.

I think the guy I was talking to let his preconceived notions of what a good-guy should be overcome what we actually see of the Jedi in the films themselves. Jedi can be aggressors without being aggressive. A Jedi can attack a Sith as a necessary act to preserve the greater good without being angry or succumbing to aggression, without flirting with the Dark Side. Professional detachment, one might say. And a Sith can fight a defensive battle to save his or her own skin while simmering with hatred and fear.

I probably spend too much time thinking about stuff like this. :^)


Post a Comment

<< Home