Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Success of Jacen Solo: How does a Sith Lord do it again?

Every Star Wars EU fan knows who Jacen Solo is. The grandson of the Darth Vader who eventually becomes a sith lord and attempts to take over the galaxy. One would assume that thousands of years into the future, people wouldn't fall for a sith lord to be in charge again especially after Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader ruled the galaxy for over 18 years. Yet it almost happened.

We must point out that art is a reflection of the culture from which it springs. No writer lives on a deserted island. No writer can escape what is going on. In an age where we claim to be the most sophisticated and most technologically advanced that ever walked the earth, there are still dictators. Yet why was Jacen Solo successful? Why wasn't it until after he reached the height of his power, did his followers being to question their complicity in his reign?

The best example I can give is that of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Of course, many of us are idiots when it comes to history. Not only are we ignorant to the history of our nation and others, we still assume that most people that made the news are new comers as if their success happened overnight. Mugabe was a political prisoner who did ten years for his work as an activist. Mugabe was known for taken a stance against tribalism by accepting Pan Africanism as his mantra. Back then, this was something very deadly for most Africans (see Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba). Back in the 60s and 70s, Mugabe was admired for taking risks and committing himself fully to the revolution. When the British decided to give Zimbabwe their independence, leaders like Mugabe were hailed as heroes.

Ever since then leaders who survived the 60s and 70s were considered mentors for the upcoming generations. Individuals such as Thabo Mbeki, members of the ANC (African National Congress in South Africa), and other organizations throughout the region took notes directly from Mugabe. In a sense, Mugabe helped to launch the careers of other African leaders. When the United Nations asked African leaders to condemn Mugabe publicly many refused because of that. Many clinged to the hope that their mentor and friend would come to his senses and relinquish power.

Jacen Solo did the same thing. He went out in the front line with his troops. He put certain men and women in power. He even helped the powerful such as Admiral Nianthal. Yet when it was time to denounce him, many of his supporters could not. It makes sense. I recall reading how it was difficult for some people to help depose the Last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I. Selassie appointed people to so many posts that it was hard for anyone to give up any information on him. Those who overthrew his monarchy were young people who were not part of the upper classes.

I am sure that the writers of the Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus story arc may not have had the intention of teaching that particular lesson, but I am sure they were influenced by what they saw around them. Many will say, “well you are reading too deeply into the characters.” I have learned that when it comes to art, many things are deliberate (big up to Dr. bell hooks and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing).


Jdid said...

respect star! nice post, nice comparison. when you think about it many tyrants start out as good guys cause well they have to buld up their power from somewhere and coming in the game as a bad guy from the getgo seldom gets you that far.

Amadeo said...

True...he built respect first for how he handled things and walked with his people.

Andrew said...

I think you have an excellent EU/Real world connection here. This is a very good explanation of Jacen's rise to power.

However, as an avid Star Wars reader, I am thoroughly dissapointed it happened. Firstly, Jacen Solo is/was my favorite character, so I have experienced no small amount of dismay as this story arc has come to its seemingly forgone conclusion.

Most of of all, I am incensed that these brilliant authors could find no original plot to support their books.

What these nine books have become is a simple retelling of Anakin's story. This is nice for some people, (I guess) but I expected more out of the man who is, as Vegere states "the living Jedi dream". In fact I feel the height of Jacen Solo's powers were acheived during the Dark Nest Trilogy. I felt that in the Legacy of the Force series, not only did Jacen's Force powers fail to advance, they were greatly diminished. This causes me distress on a personal level, because I wished to see Jacen acheive great heights, (even as a sith if need be) it also causes me to doubt the author's motivation in completing this series in the first place.

If you bring all the elements together, you'll find a few essential truths.

1. A fall to the dark side.

2. The death of two fairly major characters. (Mara and Jacen)

3. Redemption of dark sider at the very end.

What does this mean? It means we had a nine books series that basically followed the original movie's plot with slight variations. The conclusion I draw from this is that this series was written only with the intention of selling books, not with the purpose of adding orginal thought to the EU. I believe this was a grave mistake on the publishers part. They sacrificed excellent characters and timeline in the EU that could have been used so much more productively.

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Lorinda said...

There's no doubt, the dude is absolutely just.