What I mainly don’t like is all the insane real world baggage that gets dragged into it. The Jedi are like an ascetic Buddhist FBI that is also a fourth branch of government and also the leaders of the military and also diplomats and also bodyguards. The Republic is the Roman Republic but it’s also the United States during the Civil War and also the United States in modern times. The Senate is the Roman Senate and also the United Nations times a million. The enemies of the Republic are the Confederates from the Civil War and also modern international megacorporations. Anakin has aspects of Christ but is not perfect like Christ and ends up being the Antichrist.
All of the religion and philosophy in Star Wars is both Christian and Buddhist, Western and Eastern, per Lucas. Which means that it has both traditional good and evil, and suggestions of Yin and Yang “balance” stuff, without distinguishing between the two.
This all leads to confusion and really, really, really bad takes from fans about what it all means. Stuff like you should be equally good and evil, or that Anakin committing genocide on the Jedi was good and they deserved it. And then you have a bunch of EU writers, Disney writers, and Dave Filoni encouraging this.
I think this is actually the strength of the prequels as they are IMO.
Lucas challenges preconceptions of The Story with every subsequent movie starting from “I am your father” in ESB; where the PT contradicts the OT is intentionally in conversation. To me, what’d even be the point of these if the story were only the genre tropes and archetypes we could extrapolate from the OT? The “insane” real world baggage is what makes them worth handling in detail at all. It moves the needle from fairy tale to mythology. It’s not meant to be instructive.
Whatever analogues are in that mix shouldn’t be 1:1, otherwise then we would just be talking about Catholicism. Falling in line to real life historical or contemporary example is a hacky commentative form anyway; the only reality that demands consistency in fictional worldbuilding are the sociological and theoretical mechanics. Any philosophy or culture can be made up in that context, and should. That allows space to work with empathy / thought that real world sensitivities make difficult. If you’re looking for specific analogy, of course it’s incoherent. Of course all of this couldn’t really exist. But the exercise is about how something works, not what they are.
Your mileage may vary on what the difference is, but to articulate how I see the difference: Lucas isn’t writing about the United States or Christianity (just as examples). He’d be writing about hegemonic imperialism and the sociology of principled beliefs. From there your personal engagement is your personal engagement. The murkiness of What It All Means™ is a feature not a bug. I like that we can all have different perspectives about it.
No, I get all that. My problem is the lack of different perspectives. The orthodox fan view right now is that the light side = no emotions, the dark side = strong emotions, and the gray side = emotions in check. The Jedi are a cult who kidnaps and brainwashes children into having no emotions. When you force people to have no emotions, the Freudian id takes over and makes them turn to the dark side and snap and commit mass murder, and that’s your fault. For these fans (most of them online), there is no other perspective. There’s no dialogue or moral ambiguity. They took black and white, introduced “gray”, then called the gray white and everything else black.
Never mind that gray is nonsensical and involves being half good and half evil. You can have a little bit of turning into a gray-skinned yellow-eyed genocidal cyborg monster, as a treat. (This is how they describe Anakin in the Ahsoka show.)
It’s blatantly false both in and out of universe, but there is no disagreement about it. This is the consensus. In Dave Filoni shows and other stuff, it’s canon. There’s no broader discussion of Christianity and Buddhism or exactly WHY monks do what they do. It’s all judged through the lens of 21st century hyper-individualistic modern western culture where everything is about sex and doing what you want, when you want, screw everyone else.
I am okay with all the weird political and religious imagery mashups. What I am not okay with is the confusion between Good and Evil and Yin and Yang. That’s stupid. It’s based in a lack of understanding of what good and evil and Yin and Yang are supposed to be, in both traditions. I don’t think Lucas intended this but it’s his fault. He was really clumsy with this and didn’t correct it. “Balance in the Force” is such a misleading phrase and there is no reason it should have been put that way. That is the source of this cancer. (It’s that, and video games where you can use force lightning without consequence because it’s cool.)
It also makes the setting really boring because nothing ever matters. “Balance in the Force” for these people means equal light side and dark side, so there’s always going to be mass death and suffering to swing the pendulum back and forth and every victory (including the Chosen One’s) is just temporary and meaningless. Kreia in KOTOR 2 was intended to be a criticism of this idea and the direction Star Wars was heading at the time, but this type of fan that I’m talking about thinks she was objectively right about everything and had no ulterior motives, and they like the setting being boring.