Grey Thoughts
Movies - Star Wars Sith and Politics
Many people out there have an opinion on whether or not George Lucas made intentional references to George Bush in the latest Star Wars Film 'Revenge of the sith'. Particular attention has been paid to the lines
Skywalker: You are either with me, or you are my enemy.
Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Parableman makes the comment
I don't know if Lucas wrote the line since Bush had adapted this saying, but he wrote the first draft this script in the 70s, and the major themes were all there. I believe him when he says that Bush had nothing to do with this film and that if any American president was the inspiration for the emperor it was the Nixon in the era of power-hungry politics.

In actuality, it seems most likely that Lucas wrote the final screenplay after he had done the other 2 movies. You can read about his struggles for inspiration here. I am quite sure that the original storyline has been mapped out for many years, however, the actual dialogue would have been a very recent construction.
Whilst Lucas can tell us that the story was written before Bush and Iraq, I think it is definitely possible (and maybe even probable given his views on George W Bush and the War in iraq) that he put in certain lines to cast George in a bad light. Lucas has been quoted saying
I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will waken people to the situation
which seems to indicate his desire to educate people. But all this is really pointless. Lucas is well aware that movies educate people. So, even if it does not refer to George W Bush, the comment is still trying to push a particular point of view on his audience.

As Lucas said in this interview
The thing I like about fantasy and science fiction is that you can take issues, pull them out of their cultural straitjackets, and talk about them without bringing in folk artifacts that make people get closed minded....By making the film "about" something other than what it's really about. Which is what mythology is, and what storytelling has always been about. Art is about communicating with people emotionally without the intellectual artifacts of the current situation, and dealing with very emotional issues.
George Lucas understands that being subtle in trying to teach a particular message is what it is all about.

In placing the idea that 'Only the darkside deal in absolutes' he is trying to convey the idea that anyone who talks of absolutes is talking evil. He probably believes that is absolutely true as well. Note the contradiction. The fact that he cannot consistently use this principle throughout the movie however is evidence that it is unusable. Here is the script from the movie, where we find Annakin telling Obi-wan
OBI-WAN: From the Sith!!! Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.
ANAKIN: From the Jedi point of view! From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.
So here we find Obi-Wan professing an absolute - The Sith are evil, and Annakin professing relativism 'Evil is just a point of view'. Other examples abound. The Jedi constantly profess absolutes such as unarmed prisoners should not be killed, that the ends do not justify the means, where as the dark side constantly take a relativists position to justify their actions.

That Lucas is unable to convey his message of absolutes being evil is a great testament to absolutes not being evil. That he is unable to show the advance and actions of evil without using relativism shows quite clearly that evil progresses through the pretense of relativism. He is unable to convey it any other way because the story doesn't work otherwise. The very thing he set out to do he is not only unable to do, but supports the opposite contention.

Update: Michael Graham has a blunt message for those worrying too much about the politics in Episode 3
You completely ignored my second, and more important, point. Absolutism and relativism are about completely separate issues. Obi-wan is clearly no absolutist, but he's not a relativist either. He thinks lying and deception can be perfectly ok and indeed even the right thing to do. He lied to Luke about Anakin's relation to Darth Vader, at least if you take his words literally. That doesn't mean he's a relativist. He did it because he thought it was right to do it in those circumstances, and it would have been right for anyone to do it in those circumstances.

Relativism is about right and wrong varying from person to person. A more radical relativism is about truth and reality varying from person to person. The Sith seem to want to rely on relativism (even if Palpatine doesn't himself really believe it, as far as I can tell, anyway). They also will treat things as absolutes when it suits them. It may be that Palpatine endorses neither but uses what will help him achieve his ends.

But Obi-wan is clearly no relativist if he thinks the Sith are just plain evil. He isn't an absolutist, because he thinks there are complicating factors that make it harder to determine the right choice, and when he finally has to choose what to do he thinks deception is actually right in that particular case because the circumstances make it so. That's a denial of absolutism. It's not relativism.

As for the motivations of Lucas, you're treating me as if I made a more substantive claim than I did. I didn't say he didn't let the language of Bush shape his language here. I said we can't assume that, and we know the plot isn't about Bush because it existed before him. We also know that if it were going to be about Bush it would have involved something much less severe. Bush didn't put Saddam Hussein in power in order to help himself become president. He didn't get Saddam Hussein to start a war so we could have enemies to unite us in war. He didn't coordinate some massive conspiracy by playing both sides.

At most Lucas could have been saying that Bush in some of his mannerisms and language is in some very small ways like Darth Sidious in his mannerisms and language, and even if that was the point then he must have realized that he would be making it about Jesus and Christianity as well. I don't think he's that stupid. That's why I think he may have been hinting that thinking in terms of exclusivity might eventually lead to danger if you don't watch it, because people who do evil do that. He may have badly misinterpreted Bush and thought of him as an example of that. He couldn't have been saying that all who say things like that are evil, not unless he's completely stupid, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt on things like that.

That's not how people are portraying what Lucas has tried to do in this film, politically speaking.
Sorry. That last sentence was written after the first sentence of the previous paragraph, and I didn't notice that all the stuff in between made it make little sense in its current context.
By the way, the link to my post has changed. It's now here.
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