Think Tank: What Do the Stormtroopers Think of Vader?

Think Tank: What Do the Stormtroopers Think of Vader?

Are the Imperial officers cool with Darth Vader choking everyone he disagrees with, or …?

Belinkie: I was thinking about the scene in Star Wars where Obi Wan and Vader duel on the Death Star. They pass in front of a big window, and a bunch of storm troopers run over to watch… but only to watch. Despite the fact that this old man is clearly trying to kill their boss, they hang back. Hell, if they weren’t wearing helmets, they would probably be passing popcorn. Doesn’t this strike anyone as the icing on the Death Star Craptacular Security Cake? Couldn’t they at least ASK Vader if he wanted the guy blasted?

Mlawski: That scene never actually bothered me. Based on what we’ve seen of Vader, we can infer that he doesn’t treat his storm troopers very well. My guess is that the storm troopers both hate and fear him. In this scene, you see both of those feelings coming out. The troopers hold back from helping him out of fear — Vader might get angry if you interfere in his fight, especially since it implies that you don’t think he can win on his own. At the same time, the troopers hate Vader and probably wouldn’t be all too upset if Obi Wan happened to chop the guy’s head off.

On second thought, is it right for me to be ascribing these emotions to clones? It’s been a while since I’ve seen the prequel trilogy. The storm trooper clones act basically like regular people, don’t they?

By the way, the idea of a storm trooper asking Vader if he wants some help is making me chuckle.

Uh, hey, boss. You, uh, want me to, uh…

[wheeze] What is it now, Jenkins?! Can’t you see I’m busy? [wheeze]

But I just… I thought you might want some help. You know? Fighting Obi Wan Kenobi?

[Obi Wan and Vader stop their fight for a second.]

Is this guy serious?

Fenzel: Why doesn’t Grand Moff Tarkin reprimand him when Vader strangles General Taag in the conference room at a strategy meeting? Vader isn’t in charge of the Death Star – there are at least one or two guys around who outrank him at this point, and he’s going around threatening to murder the Empire’s equivalent of the Joint Chiefs just for talking smack. Everybody just sort of writes it off.

It’s clear at this point that the Force is kind of a fringe thing that hasn’t been around since a lot of these guys were kids. They don’t seem to know the Emperor and Vader’s relationship, or even the Emperor’s powers, at all, because they don’t believe in the Force and insult it to Vader’s face. When Vader flies off the handle in A New Hope and has super-powers it’s legitimately surprising.

It’s kind of lost in the later films, but in the very first Star Wars movie, the Empire’s conventional military don’t just hate and fear Vader, they think he’s fucking crazy. They look the other way and kind of grumble like he’s a Birther at the American Heritage Institute. A necessary ally, but an unstable, embarrassing one who talks a lot of nonsense when other people are trying to get work done.

Grand Moff Tarkin: We have the Democrats right where we want them. Fear will keep them alive. Fear of deficits, fear of national bankruptcy, fear of Mexicans, and fear of this battle station!

Vader: wheeze 9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB. wheeze

Grand Moff Tarkin: Ah, Lord Vader. It’s a pleasure for you to join us. We were just planning the final annihilation of Obama.


Grand Moff Tarkin: Of course, Lord Vader, but with the power of this battle station, we will crush him with a single stroke.


General Taag: Some of us here are trying to run a campaign! You’re an embarrassment! Your allegiance to those crazy websites will be your undoing!


Taag: [chokes]


There seems to be a standing rule in the Death Star to ignore Darth Vader whenever he starts acting crazy. Just leave him alone, let him do his thing. Somebody upstairs seems to like him, and you don’t want to be messed up in his business.

The other side of the coin here is, yeah, it’s crazy to interrupt Vader – he’ll kill you! But it’s also crazy that he is fighting a 70 year old man and doesn’t just shoot him or hit him with his choke powers, which the stormtroopers may or may not believe actually exist. None of these guys have seen a Jedi before. Jedi are extinct – old stories from a bygone era. They don’t know Obi Wan Kenobi is dangerous when Darth Vader can deflect laser bullets and strangle senior government officials with impunity.

Also, I don’t think it’s established in A New Hope that the storm troopers are clones. Remember at this point in the story the Empire is recruiting naturally born humans to fight for them – Luke wants to send in an application.

No, the stormtroopers bumble around like regular guys who work for a massive, massive bureaucracy and don’t expect to be running around their home office chasing people. If Darth Vader is swordfighting an elderly man near the loading dock, the more likely reaction than “Look, Darth Vader is in trouble!” is “Look, Darth Vader is fucking crazy!”

Imagine you worked at the Pentagon as a personal attache to Colin Powell or McChrystal, and you hear over the PA “Alert! Alert! There is a Nazi Ninja Master loose in the Pentagon! Your orders are ‘Shoot to kill!” You get up and walk around the corner, and there’s this 80 year old man with a Hitler moustache in a black outfit, and he and Donald Rumsfeld are circling each other ominously. Both of them have katanas drawn.

Do you shoot?

One blog post claiming Obama wants to confiscate lightsabers doesn’t make it so!

Belinkie: But Pete, you’re forgetting something. This isn’t just a regular day at the office that is randomly interrupted by a sword fight. The Death Star is under attack. A group of commandos disguised as storm troopers snuck into the detention block, slaughtered all the guards, and ran off with the leader of the rebel alliance. At least two separate groups of these infiltrators have been pursued around the base, with heavy casualties. One actually charged right at a large group of heavily armed guards, accompanied by some sort of furry monster. The other group escaped via grappling hook. Clearly, these are extremely resourceful and determined men, with no fear of death. The storm troopers have no idea how many of these rebels are onboard – they just know a lot of their friends are dead.

So let me propose another thought experiment. You’re a guard at Guantanamo Bay. Your buddy doesn’t answer the phone at the cell block, so you go to check it out. You find that all the Marines there are dead, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has escaped. Minutes later, you hear gunfire from two different places in the camp. You sprint to the landing strip to try and stop the terrorists from escaping. And when you get there, you see your commanding officer and an old bearded man in a knife fight.

Do you shoot?

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?

Perich: If I’m in a sword fight with Moqtada al-Sadr, I don’t want anyone shooting at me.

Let’s put aside for the moment the conventional wisdom that Stormtroopers have shitty accuracy. Let’s just presume they’re regular soldiers. Regular soldiers aren’t trained for pinpoint accuracy. They’re trained to keep the enemy’s head down with suppression fire, move into superior position and then deliver the kill. Per the U.S. Government Accounting Office, U.S. forces discharge about 250,000 rounds of ammunition for every one insurgent killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (source).

How far away are the Stormtroopers – twenty yards? thirty? Firing semi-automatic carbines? The odds of them hitting my opponent are as good as the odds of them hitting me.

No, the Stormtroopers were practicing good firing discipline. They weren’t shooting into an area occupied by friendlies. Had there been a higher-up around to command them, they might have started circling in to surround the intruder and order him to put his laser sword down. But they weren’t engaging a hostile who was occupied with a civilian without orders from an officer. Especially a civilian whom they didn’t love in the first place.

Lee: Vader clearly isn’t a regular part of the Imperial armed forces’ hierarchy, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a “civilian.” After all, he hops into his special TIE Fighter and clearly commands the two other pilots who accompany him. He’s more like the paramilitary CIA officer who goes on operations with regular army troops–outside of the hierarchy, but in charge of things in some ill-defined way and able to take part of combat operations.

Or maybe a better analogy would be the President’s Chief of Staff interacting with troops and sort-of bossing around military folks because he’s the President’s right hand man. Rahm Emanuel does have a bit of a Vader-ish quality to him.

Stokes: You know, from the perspective of a Stormtrooper, Star Wars takes place in a hellish dystopia.

The worst part? Service does NOT guarantee citizenship.

First of all, they’re set up by their own government to be acceptable cannon fodder. In the original trilogy, you never see their faces, the point being to make it more family-friendly when they get killed. Then in the prequels, we learn that their role is pretty much the same in-universe. The main foot-soldier villains in the prequels are robots, because no one cares if a robot gets killed. Establishing the Storm Troopers as clones is meant to make it okay for them to get killed… not just for the audience, although I’m sure that’s part of it, but also for the conflict-averse citizens of the Galactic Republic. Think about those masks. Their armor doesn’t do shit against blasters, and we even see Storm Troopers taken out by Ewok-thrown rocks, so obviously the helmets aren’t for protection. But when combat footage gets posted on the Star Wars equivalent of YouTube, the masks make it easier for the average taxpayer on Bespin or Coruscant to ignore the human costs of war. We see enough of this in modern American society: our all-volunteer army draws from a limited sector of society, so a lot of voters (and worse, lawmakers), never have to deal with the possibility of someone they actually know getting killed. Now imagine that every single soldier in our army is this one dude named Chad from Biloxi. And he’s always wearing a mask. Tends to magnify the effect, yeah?

But it gets even worse, because at least the Chads all volunteered. The storm troopers, on the other hand, are a slave race. Granted, we don’t have any hard information about the clone army’s legal status, but according to the Star Wars wiki, the Kaminoan cloners pumped out some 1,200,000 identical copies of Jango Fett… all of whom went directly into the army. Do you think they were asked? Did they have a choice? If UN Elections Observations have taught us anything, it’s that 100% approval ratings are a sure sign of something undemocratic, especially if the proposition in question is “I would like to sign up to have my arms torn off by a Wookie please thanks.” Think of it like this: if the clones had the right to be anything other than soldiers, we should expect to see at least a couple of Temuera Morrisons popping up in every crowd scene in episodes IV, V, and VI. And we don’t.

So really, the surprising thing is not that the Storm Troopers don’t try to shoot Kenobi. The surprising thing is that they don’t try to shoot Vader. Even if we suppose that they’re just too damn scared of Vader to consider fragging him, we should at the very least expect them to be performing countless little acts of insubordination throughout the movies. Turning a blind eye at checkpoints when they’re supposed to be looking for droids, half-assing it on guard duty (even of critical areas like the prison and the reactor core), and intentionally misfiring their weapons during combat… huh.


(image found on

42 Comments on “Think Tank: What Do the Stormtroopers Think of Vader?”

  1. AnotherDave #

    “we should at the very least expect them to be performing countless little acts of insubordination throughout the movies”

    You’ve just shown me how to love Star Wars again. Thank you.


  2. Hazbaz #

    Don’t forget, Vader is also something of a religious fanatic. It could be that all those Stormtroopers show up, see two guys in robes with weird weapons, and figure it to be some kind of ritual. Obviously, none of them want to be written up by HR for being culturally insensitive, and Vader’s already shown himself to be really touchy about his faith.


    • Lara #

      I’m sorry, but I snorted out loud at this comment.
      completely awesome.


  3. Matt #

    Think about the day these guys have had. They’ve JUST witnessed and more than tacitly been party to global genocide. Add on to that mutiny, the murder of their commanding officer, the successful invasion of an armed guerrilla group. That’s a lot of violence for one day, even for a clone. They’re obviously suffering from post traumatic stress and likely depression; they’re shell-shocked.


  4. Ryan McClure #

    “Their armor doesn’t do shit against blasters, and we even see Storm Troopers taken out by Ewok-thrown rocks, so obviously the helmets aren’t for protection.”

    I challenge Stokes to find a single stormtrooper that was legitimately taken out (implied to mean killed) by an Ewok-thrown rock. Knocked to the ground, certainly — armor isn’t going to protect you from being unbalanced by a heavy piece of stone. But killed? No evidence whatsoever.

    It’s also questionable that their armor does nothing against blasters, for that matter. Stormtroopers are seen checking their comrades in the hallway on Tantive IV to see if they’re still alive, and blasters are weapons that can blow massive chunks of masonry apart as witnessed in the blaster fight when the Millennium Falcon escapes Mos Eisley. On screen, what visible difference is there between a dead stormtrooper and one who has been put out of the fight in a non-lethal fashion. Kevlar stops bullets from being lethal and turns them into merely incredibly painful. Why should we assume plastoid battle armor is any different?


    • Timothy J Swann #

      My theory on this is that it was like the US Army vs. Vietcong. The stormtroopers are ‘designed’ or trained or what have you for more conventional warfare, and they are vulnerable to creatures that a) evolved to the terrain and b) know the area.


      • Krahka #

        There’s a comic narrated by a retired stormtrooper with PTSD about how Endor was pretty much the Empire’s ‘Nam, if the Vietcong were bloodthirsty cannibals.


        • stokes OTI Staff #

          That raises a non-trivial question, namely, does it still count as cannibalism if they’re different species?

          Wait, come to think of it, that’s a TOTALLY trivial question. My bad.


  5. Iver #

    On a side note: if you are really interested in the citizenship and legal status of the clones. Check out Karen Traviss’ excellent series of Republic Commando books. Much of the books deal with this very question.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      I do second this. On Jedi and Mandalorians, Traviss goes a bit too far. But the clone issue she has spot-on – it’s just the finger should to the greatest extent point at the Emperor. The Clone Wars TV Series (the article on which brought me to this site) has clones dying like crazy, (in a very recent episode, hundreds die in vitro as the Separatists attack Kamino, and the scene really disturbed me. Esp. for a show aimed at 8-12 year olds. The old fridge horror, except that the makers must be fully aware of what that shot meant).


      • Adrian #

        Yeah, I’ve thought about why Anakin would view the republic as evil, and when you think about it, it kind of is. He’s a child soldier and ex-slave, and apparently the republic allows slavery. Now, droids, arguably can be purpose-built without it being unethical, but clones? That’s a little evil. They have no choice, no freedom, and are expected to die without question. Yes they protect each-other a few times, but never do they ask to have normal jobs, or romantic relationships. Their lives are pretty meaningless. And the citizens of the Republic don’t care. I imagine the totalitarian ethnolo-centracism of the empire isn’t all that bad if you’re not getting a bad deal from it. Maybe the taxes are lower? Why did the separatists want to leave in the first place? fun times-


        • Adrian #

          *ethno-centracism the “lo” is a typo :/


  6. El Acordeonachi #

    I love this post. Reminds me of one of my favorite bits from NewsRadio.

    Also, all the scenes taking place on the Death Star really make the prequel’s attempt at continuity silly. Really? 15-20 years is long enough for everyone to send the Jedi into Myth territory? And for the Empire’s High Command to consider that Darth Vader’s following of The Force is silly and worthy of mockery? You’d almost think that after Episode 3 The Emperor and Darth Vader went on some kind of extended religious retreat and only now have come back to re-exert their control over the Empire.
    Oh, who am I kidding. That’s more than enough time. Look at how little the U.S.’s arming of Iraq (and the players involved) was reported/remembered by the media (aside from Jon Stewart) during the run up to the Second Gulf War…


    • Valatan #

      Well, you would have to figure that Empire propaganda, particularly for people in the military, would make North Korea look like a soft sell. So maybe the memory of the Jedi is kind of brainwashed away.


    • Tom P #

      You mean like land lines with wires and rotary dials which 20 years ago were rather common and are now a quaint memory that are difficult to explain to people who never saw them?

      I think it also helps to remember that it’s very likely that most normal people probably never saw a Jedi in their day to day lives. Let’s be honest here — it’s not like magic is evident in every corner of the Star Wars universe. If a rational person were to live in the Star Wars universe and be told that somewhere on Coruscant, there are folks with magical powers who “maintain balance” or some such nonsense, wouldn’t it be likely that they -already- think the Jedi are a myth? Maybe a convenient myth used to scare bad guys from being too bad or to make sure kids eat their vegetables?


  7. Jenni #

    I think 20 years is enough time for the Jedi to be “those silly people who aren’t around anymore.” It’s like hippies from the Sixties/Seventies. One supposes that there are still people around who consider themselves hippies, but if someone in the government/military today proclaimed to be a hippie, and start talking about the Power of Free Love, yeah, their coworkers would probably ridicule him or her.


  8. dewfish #

    awesome article. The storm troopers watching Vader and Obi wan fight reminded me of the first time I saw the Aliens vs. Predator. There was a scene where where one of the humans actually sees an alien fighting a predator. My first thought was, if I was in that situation, do i run in hopes of getting away from both of them (which most likely wouldn’t be successful anyway), or do I realize that I’m a goner either way, and sit down and enjoy the fight?


  9. jamesdcalder #

    El Acordeonachi- Totally agree.

    Also, weren’t the clones “modified” to follow orders unconditionally? In other words, I’m guessing they probably aren’t susceptible or even capable of dissatisfaction with their position in life. Also, and perhaps they’re just from a new batch, wouldn’t the clones be sort of old by this point? I guess 40 years old isn’t ridiculously old for military service, but you’d expect them to show some decline by that point.


  10. Timothy J Swann #

    To add my Expanded Universe thoughts to the pot – the stormtroopers, though volunteers, were thoroughly brainwashed by the Empire using some technical solution; some were clones – but a more heterogeneous mix than Fett clones – though what that means for attitude I’m unsure. Presumably not to attack without orders – if Vader did command them to shoot, as he often did, as the leader of the Jedi Purge (which would often involve mass fire which is a good tactic, apparently, against Jedi) – which may speak to his role – he is the very one responsible for making the Jedi extinct. To me, the commanders know he’s the Emperor’s pet, and express their discontent in ways that are tangential – their attitudes to the Force really represent their resentment that he is the Emperor’s favourite, Executor of his Military Forces (being his rank, though what that means, who knows?) and with a license to kill subordinates with impunity.


  11. Eli #

    To be honest, I always thought that Vader was seen as like a hurricane to the storm troopers. Completely unpredictable, violent, troubling, yet somehow irresistible. He’s the kind of man who would order you to follow him into a volcano, and you couldn’t help but do it.

    Kinda like those crazy mentors in fiction. The ones that everyone knows are crazy, but can’t help admiring anyways. While Vader is violent, fearful, and powerful, he’s a man deeply devoted to the Empire, and whom the Emperor seems to have utmost trust and respect for. These qualities, combined with his impressive figure (say what you will, he knew how to make being on life-support look good), I think would have made most storm troopers compelled to follow Vader, despite knowing that it might not be the best of ideas.

    Like Albus Dumbledore, everyone knows that he’s a little bit mad, but will never deny his brilliance. Or like Fuehrer King Bradley who carries around a sword as part of military outfit despite its being obviously outdated. I’m sure everyone in Amestris has their misgivings about their Fuehrer, but he’s an impressive and powerful figure that you can’t help but admire. Or even better, the Major Kong, who is so crazy, that he rides a nuke to the ground just to make sure that his mission is accomplished.

    I haven’t really pushed myself through this chain of thought too well, so I’m sure there are numerous holes, but I think that Vader is afforded a fearful respect by the storm troopers for being so damned insane and devoted to his Empire, and also just for looking like a bad ass.


    • fenzel #

      Furhrer King Bradley is a great example. He is clearly a very strange guy with mysterious motives, but people follow him anyway — AND, in the first anime versus the second anime/manga, his kooky leadership style is the same, but the background explanations for it are very, very different,since the two plotlines diverge so much.

      He’s like Schroedinger’s Vader.


  12. KP #

    Disclaimer – My knowledge begins and ends with the movies…

    @jamesdcalder – These Stormtroopers should be from a new batch b/c we are told in Ep. 2 that they have some sort of age accelerator implanted in them that allows the army to be ready at an earlier date. That said, I assume the troopers were rolled out over a period of time and not all at once, so it might be the same batch.

    My simple explanation of why they didn’t shoot is either they were a new batch and like Michael Keaton #4 from Muliplicity, they were a copy of a copy and just really, really stupid OR since we’ve seen how suseptible they are to the Jedi mind trick already so Vader probably just telepathically told all of them, “stay out of this or I’ll eff you up.”

    Regardless, great freaking article. I’ve never thought about this and thoroughly enjoyed it.


  13. Nick #

    “Why doesn’t Grand Moff Tarkin reprimand him when Vader strangles General Taag in the conference room at a strategy meeting? Vader isn’t in charge of the Death Star – there are at least one or two guys around who outrank him at this point, and he’s going around threatening to murder the Empire’s equivalent of the Joint Chiefs just for talking smack.”
    He does pretty sternly command Vader to stop, at which point he immediately does. I kind of got the idea that GMT wasn’t one of these people like General Taag who has forgotten about the Jedi and that he knows the power of the force and (sort of) agreed with Vader that Taag needed to be taught a lesson. He’s like the gym teacher who will let his favourite student give a wedgie to the guy who’s sitting at the back whining. He stops him going too far, but feels the guy deserves it.

    “It’s like hippies from the Sixties/Seventies. One supposes that there are still people around who consider themselves hippies, but if someone in the government/military today proclaimed to be a hippie, and start talking about the Power of Free Love, yeah, their coworkers would probably ridicule him or her.”

    But the Jedi are shown to be a millenia old religion, with headquarters in major cities and schools and stuff. They were well respected by space-government. The Jedi being killed off isn’t like having no more hippies. It’s like the Holocaust.
    Could they make everyone forget that in 20 years?

    Awesome article though. Made me want to go and watch Star Wars a few times in a row. Again.

    And one a sort-of-related-but-not-really note: Chances are you’ll probably have already seen this a few weeks ago, but just in case here’s a nice piece of Star Wars overthinking on cracked that may or may not ruin the ending for you forever:


    • lee OTI Staff #

      That article is solid gold.


    • richies^ghost #

      If Germany had won the second world war, I doubt we’d attach the same meaning to the term ‘holocaust’, especially if we were German. We might not even know about it, certainly not the form and extent of it. It seems this could be applied to Order 66 and the Jedi genocide, but even more so because the Emperor probably didn’t want people fooling around with the force. Being so enamoured with power, it’s likely the Emperor didn’t like the thought of some punk kid fooling aroung with it.

      Imagine if you will, a youth who grows up shooting rats for fun, who will later become an insurgent and kill millions of peacekeepers in one foul swoop. A youth guided by a voice in his head, a voice of a dead man whom he unquestioning follows even though he knew him briefly when he was alive. Now imagine that you have some form of clairvoyance, and can see that a certain way of life and set of beliefs will be intrinsically linked to this youths attack on all you hold dear. Is it too much to imagine that you would do what you could to prevent this?

      Whilst the Jedi order was the organised body of force users, the force in the Star Wars universe does not seem to require Jedi membership. Getting rid of the Jedi order did not get rid of the force, and likely did not get rid of the desire to experiment with it. Through the use of propaganda and social engineering techniques, this desire was likely decreased by attaching a negative stigma to it. It is unlikely that in the Empire, making the force seem bad and anti-establishment would have achieved this goal: youths, especially psychopathtic ones, would likely flock to it. Making it seem empirically* false and thus crazy to believe in it would be a much better option; think of the debate on creationism and how our belefs are affected by the media and education system.

      The use of propaganda, social engineering, and media maniupulation in a totalitarian regime is not a difficult thing to imagine. A movie which highlights this is V for Vendetta. Whilst many remain skeptical of their government in this movie, they don’t speak of it. Not openly at least and definately not around the board room table whose organisational culture and sustained power are controlled by the government. In contrast, the Empire is light years** advanced in terms of technology and likely psychology as well, and thus their manipulation skills can only be imagined.

      There is an argument that the Empire leadership would have known about the force in their youth, perhaps even encountered it during the clone wars, and thus they should know it to be true. I think this overlooks the power of the propaganda, especially over time. Setting aside the likelihood that the Empire chief of staff were simply brainwashed with technology under order 1984, it seems reasonable to think they would conform to their organisational culture if it was the social culture as well.

      The Zimbardo prison experiment indicates that if you put a person in uniform, and they will take on its role even to the extent of going against conventional morality. The Solomon Asch experiment indicates that if you put a person with others who are blatantly mistaken, they will conform and be mistaken to. Whilst I don’t think Lucas considered these experiments, it seems easy enough to utilise them and our own experiences in society to retcon the questionable nature of belief in the force, and perhaps overthink our own beliefs as well.

      *you saw what I did there
      **and again, very punny I know


      • Nick #

        There’s a lot to take in there.

        Are you saying that the Emporer ordered the purge of the Jedi because he foresaw Luke blowing up the Death Star and killing a bunch of his followers? Isn’t not commiting the genocide that will ultimately cause this to happen a better option for him?

        Actually now, having watched the film again, I’m going do an Anakin on my original point. No-one working for the Empire actually seems to consider the Jedi a myth. Tarkin says that they are extinct and that Vader is the last one of that religion while Taag calls Vader a sorcerer and mocks his “devotion to that ancient religion”. It’s a strange phrasing that suggests the Jedi have been gone for hundreds of years, but doesn’t necessarilly mean that. Maybe he was referring to the origins of the religion, which would have been ancient, or more likely he was simply using the word “ancient” to further wind Vader up. He really means outdated, but is kind of a dick.
        The people working for the Empire are aware of the genocide of the Jedi but, as you said, are the equivalent of what the Nazis would be like today had they won and believe due to the propaganda and so forth of the Empire that it was the correct thing to do.
        However I still believe that it is more than just propaganda and normal social engineering techniques. Yes there is the V for Vendetta element where people go on with their lives but aren’t happy about the people in charge, as made clear in the very existence of the Rebels and the celebrations at the end of RotJ, but it still seems too difficult to convince people that the force doesn’t exist even with the technology of the Star Wars world. You compare it to the creationism debates, but the existance of the Force is no longer even a debate any more. The ordinary people of it literally no longer remember that it exists, as shown in the reaction of Han Solo to Obi Wan Kenobi.
        Han Solo knows nothing of the force despite having “flown from one side of this galaxy to the other”. According to Wookiepedia Han was born a full ten years before the Jedi were killed. Surely he would have at least heard stories of the Jedi in his childhood? But he hasn’t.
        And in case you want to make the “orphan raised by wookies/criminals etc so doesn’t have anyone to tell him of Jedi” argument (my Star Wars knowledge only comes from the films, I just briefly read the Han Solo’s early life bit on wookiepedia so I don’t know much at all about his childhood) look at Chewbacca. He fought with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith. If anyone knows about Jedi he should, but he never mentions to Han that actually everything this old guy is saying is true.
        No amount of social engineering will make him forget actually fighting with the Jedi. The only way this could make sense is if we assume that the Emporer is in fact using the Force itself to make the ordinary civilians under the Empires rule forget about the Force.
        Bonus thinking on this theory: Obi Wan and yoda do not forget about the Force due to being Jedi themselves, obviously. And Leia is vaguely aware of it and the Jedi due to being raised in a political environment and part of the Rebel Alliance and not forgetting the stories of them due to also being part Jedi (and therefore having something to do with midichlorians in her genes). And that is why she knows about Obi Wan Kenobi, knows he can help her and is the only one who thinks of getting in contact with him.

        So there’s my theory. The Jedi couldn’t have become myth after just 20 years through propaganda and social engineering, but they did because the Emporer fucked with everyones minds using the force.


        So you’re saying that the Stormtroopers not helping Vader is the equivalent of the crowd of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks watching the houses of parliament explode?

        And going back to the original point again, your bringing up pyschological experiements reminded me of Darley and Latanes bystander effect experiments and the Kitty Genovese case. There are at least five stormtroopers standing there watching Vader fight Obi-Wan. According to this effect none of them are helping out because each one is waiting for one of the others to fire the first shot. The Star Wars films have many flaws, but are apparently pyschologically accurate.


        • Nick #

          “Doing an Anakin” was originally supposed to mean that I was turning against my original point, but since I kind of ended up going right back to it at the end, that actually makes it work even better.


        • richies^ghost #

          The retcons have certainly made things messy. Hans shot first, and I don’t think there were celebrations at the end of RotJ: things were better that way, but I guess not as warm and fuzzy. Of course, things changed so now I’m wrong. Greedo shot first, and we have a whole bunch of CGI partying going on.

          I agree that Chewbacca probably would have said something to Hans, but there isn’t any indication of his prior involvement in events preceding episode 4. I don’t think he even got a medal for all his troubles through the 6 movies, so maybe it’s an ongoing plot device. Also, Obi-Wan should have recognised the droids what with his past history with them. And as far as I know it was C3P0 who got his memory wiped at the end of episode 3, not R2D2, so maybe there should have been some recognition there.

          Originally, Hans was made to be a bit of a liar and a fool, especially with his Kessel run in under 12 parsecs. That was since retconned so that gravity distortions on the Kessel run affect distance, meaning that Hans successfully navigated a cluster of black holes and is thus an ace pilot. Nice going Hans. My point is that it’s hard to take Hans on face value, not only because of these changes but also his character. He’s a bit of a dick too though at least a likable one, so maybe he was having a go like Taag.

          Now that I think of it, no one really jumped out of their seats when Taag started to choke. They weren’t really astonished. So it seems that they were aware of the force being used to some extent, a dirty little secret of the Empire if you will. Though at the same time, we still have the mockery going on, which seems rather foolish of Taag in hindsight.

          Though back to Hans, it’s quite possible that in a galaxy far far away, growing up outside of the mainstream Empire, Hans just didn’t hear much about the force. I mean, why would he? Sure, it’s part of the Empire history and all, but he’s operating in a niche which wouldn’t profit from time spent philosophising about the force. Not easy profit at least, and Hans starts off as a man all about easy profit.

          Though this is all going by what I’ve seen, and what I’ve read. I might be mistaken. Chances are I am on a few points, and I certainly hope so with Chewbaccas medal. It’s easy to be misled through recall, but it’s even easier if culture is deliberately doing the misleading. Han’s knowledge of the force and its history might be like my knowledge of the Islamic empire – little more than a trickle down from reports of reports and pop culture references, with both of us being mislead more than a little.

          But to answer your questions about my questions…

          1. No, I’m not. The Emperor ordered the Jedi purge to get into power. I’m suggesting that once there, he was doing his best to keep the order down as well as the use of the force in general. He wanted a monopoly on power, and an effective way for him to retain his power was to prevent threats. The biggest threat to him was the Jedi, but more importantly the force. It seems logical (to me) that he would want to prevent others from using the force.

          Whilst using a hard tactic of killing those who did use it without his permission is evident, let’s not forget he was a master diplomat and manipulator – using soft tactics to make the general population think the force was like fairies, to prevent them even trying to use it, was something he’d probably consider. As far as we can tell, though everyone has access to the force, not everyone uses it or even knows how to – it’s not like they’d be giving up something they actually used or cared about.

          2. No, I wasn’t saying anything about the storm troopers. My point was that sometimes it’s pretty easy to change minds. In a galaxy far far away, it’s probably even easier. I think the best argument so far for the troops not firing is their training, to not shoot for fear of hitting Vader. Though we also know troops are susceptible to mind tricks, so perhaps they were mentally commanded to stay back. Vader wanted the fight too much to let a n00b trooper ruin it for him.

          Also, I don’t think that the troopers hated him – I doubt most of them even knew of him. Wasn’t he conducting an inspection of the Death Star, and these just happened to be the troopers onboard? I doubt he had time or reason to interact with them, and even if he was a jerk to them as he’s known to be (seriously, youtube “darth vader being a jerk”) they were probably so indoctrinated in being good soldiers that they weren’t holding grudges. Of course, the bystander effect might have come into play too, and they were just waiting to see what everyone else would do ;)


          • Nick #

            Yeah the retcons and the prequels did mess some continuity aspects up hugely and I was going to complain that Chewbacca being in RotS was one of the stupidest things ever, but figured that if we’re accepting the stormtroopers are clones etc. then we kind of need to accept everything else that happens in the prequel trilogy, painful as it may be. (Something else I just learned from wookiepedia: apparently Han was originally supposed to be in episode 3 as well, living and fighting with Chewbacca, but they couldn’t find a decent kid to play him. Thank god that didn’t happen.)

            And that’s a good point that the Stormtroopers may not know Vader. Imagine you’ve never seen Vader before and you just happen to walk across a guy in a big black armour suit thing fighting an old guy in a robe. And you’ve no idea who either of these people are or what they’re doing on your space station. That’s got to look pretty damn weird. I’d probably stop and watch too.

      • Valatan #

        But young earth creationism has been shown to be totally empirically false for about 70 years (a modern understanding of radiation was necessary to remove the last major glaring inconsistency, due to an Earth that seemed to be cooling too slowly), and the movement is stronger than its ever been in the US today.


        • richies^ghost #

          The point was to consider how beliefs can be changed by media and education. The US is the land of the free, the Empire is not, so it’s likely beliefs are broader in the US. Though to steal your point, that though creationism has been proved scientifically false the belief in it is stronger than ever, can’t we use this as further example on my idea?

          Though the force in the Star Wars universe is scientifically true, disbelief in it was stronger than ever. If the choice to openly question this was removed, with social engineering techniques used to enhance acceptance and belief, would it not explain why there are at least two people in Star Wars who deny the existence of the force?


  14. chris strange #

    According to the films the clones where aged at artificially accelerated rate. When they fight the clone wars they have only had the same amount of mentally experience as children even though their bodies are much older, which rather shows up the morality of both the the Empire and the Jedi as both have absolutely no quarms about sending these mental children to fight and die for them. In the films there is no evidence that the cloners would have stopped the accelerated aging after they come out of the cloning facility, in fact they have every reason to keep it going since it would increase the replacement rate. Likewise whomever it was that was using the clones would have no reason to stop their accelerated aging. At the very least it reduces the pension provision that they will need to provide, plus it means that they are less likely to acquire enough experience to start questioning their superiors when they get thrown into hopeless battles an unfortunate fact also exploited by the (ab)users of child soldiers on this planet. So it could be that although only 15 years have passed it had been several generations since the clones last fought the Jedi, most Jedi being destroyed on the execution of Order 66 with only a handful actually alive after this point, and therefore they have no idea what the crazy guy in the black suit is actually doing with the equally crazy guy in the brown robes.

    Likewise in the films the Jedi are a small force. They where almost completely unkown on the less civilised outer planets like Tatooine, and could even walk into the seedier bars of the capital of the republic and not get recognised as what they were. The empire however was everywhere, even recruiting for its academies on the most backwater planets such as Tatooine where Luke Skywalker wanted to apply from. It is therefore concevable that much of its officer core coming from these planets on the edge of civilisation would have seen the Jedi as almost a myth without the need for much re-education.

    Therefore a Jedi vs. Sith fight is going to generate a lot of WTF amoungst both the troopers and officers, plus everybody believes that Darth Vader is an unstoppable killing machine and therefore probably just toying with the old man in brown before killing him. What was actually happening would have gone completely over their heads, and seemed like the best entertainment that most of them will have seen for a long time.


    • richies^ghost #

      Then there’s the question of what to do with the youth of your Empire once you’ve made it – allow them to be discontent and join the rebellion, meaning you need to make even more clones, or hire them as your soldiers so discontentment is reduced and you already have enough soldiers to deal with the remnants?


      • chris strange #

        Very plausible and possibly cheaper than clones, even though after the initial capital expenditure the clones would have probably been a slave army as well as a child army. I was trying only to go from what was in films not having read any of the extended universe. That would also explain why they aren’t so happy to get involved in a fire fight with some crazy old guys fighting it out. Looking at that fight again and suddenly I can hear Bevis and Butthead going “Uhhhhhh … lightsabres … cool, Uh huh huh huh.”


  15. The_overlord #

    Those stormtroopers just know better not to F*&k with Vader and his business.


  16. Chas. #

    Although the Empire maintains strength through fear and intimidation and Darth Vader is the physical manifestation of this doctrine, it is also important to remember that most characters in the original trilogy refer to him as Lord Vader. Therefore, Vader is the stormtroopers’ master and like serfs they must obey him. If a crazy old wizard offs their boss, they are one step closer to freedom.

    Although Lucas certainly wasn’t thinking in partisan terms when he was writing back in the mid 70s, the parallel today to the Rebel Alliance would be conservatives who are pining for a nostalgic return to the glory of the Old Republic. Totalitarian regimes are always a movement of the Left.


    • Valatan #

      Yeah, Hitler and Franco were leftists.


  17. Wayne Parsons #

    Earlier scene:

    Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with

    If you’re right, he must not be
    allowed to escape.

    Escape is not his plan. I must face
    him alone.

    Surely the troops are following orders heres?


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