21 things I learnt from Star Wars movies

Does Apple provide software to the Empire? Can light-sabres be used for gardening...?


George Lucas has a lot to answer for. Not content with ruining our generation’s understanding of numeracy (456, then …321?), the plots are distinctly lacking in common sense. The Rule Of Common Sense is the thing that a good plot requires. Otherwise, the viewer experiences the story, stops, and is dragged out of the moment of dramatic tension with the BULLSHIT! moment – that second when you realise the plot is a load of old bollocks.

Star Wars is particularly prone to The Bullshit Moment – so don’t think too much… or you’ll end up writing lists like me. Star Wars taught me everything I Know. Which is…

1. Every planet has a uniform eco system

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No matter what planet you are on, it only has one default setting. Coruscant is a planet that somehow has managed to survive mass industrialisation to the extent that it has no vegetation, no seas, nowhere to produce food, and no natural features whatsoever – but somehow the Eco system is just dandy, everyone eats, and there’s water everywhere. By the same token, Endor is nothing but forest, Tattoine is nothing but desert, and Hoth nothing but snow. Humans must eat sand, Ewoks must survive on nothing but leaves, and Tauntauns and Wampas must have evolved from bacteria on visiting astronauts boots.

2. Almost every alien is a biped

Well, aside from Jabba The Slug, the bipedal lifeform has evolved as the dominant species. Either that, or every lifeform that does not have two legs and two arms must also have no opposable thumbs. The only things that don’t have two legs, are easily domesticated.

3. You can domesticate any animal at all

Even a 30-foot tall dinosaur. These cute little killing machines can be put on leads and humbled by the simple 6-foot biped: The Rancor and The Reek on Tattooine are extreme examples, but also Tauntauns – everything can be trained to be as docile as a cat and as friendly as a Chugger. All you have to do is throw some meat at them, and whammo, the hostile Reek becomes a cuddly scaled 30 foot Snookums. You might as well have Tigers for Cute, sweet, cuddly pets. With those ickle claws.

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4. Every brilliant plan must have an achilles heel

Or an exhaust vent. Did they not think of maybe putting a grate over the exhaust vent, for example? What about the generator shield of the second Death Star? Why not put the generator on the Death Star itself? And if you must plant such a generator in a forest, why not level the surrounding few hundred yards of grass to make sure that the Ewoks and the rebels can’t just sneak up? Why would Palpatine deliberately leak the access code, then let them through deliberately (even if it was an older code?). Why not invent a special ‘Judas Code’ solely for their use then blast them out of the sky later? Why not warp in the fleet to knock the crap out of the Rebels as soon as they turned up? Oh, I forgot. Palpatine’s a worse strategist than Hitler.

5. Lightsabers cannot be used for domestic tasks, such as gardening

Maybe it’s because I’ve been battling hedges with wonky trimmers recently, but if I had a lightsaber, the gardening would be done dead quick. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. After all, Jedi Gardeners would be… very quick. And, after the fall of the Republic, dirt cheap.

6. Time travel is a common phenomenon

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Bowman went backwards in time and Tattooine is the home of The Monolith, as the Discovery pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey is in Watto’s junkyard. Look carefully in the background of the junkyard in The Phantom Menace, and you will also spot a T-800 head from a failed time-travel experiment (Skynet truly is rubbish). Presumably, the Monolith zapped Bowman back several thousand years and across the other side of the galaxy, turning him into the Star-Child over there, before casually flytipping the Pod onto a passing planet, and whipping Bowman back over the Earth. Hmm. That’s just showing off now.

7. Fate is pre-ordained

It was the plan to subject the universe to 20 years of Darth Misrule. It’s our lot, to suffer in life. Fate then, is a cruel dish.

8. Always promote the man standing next to the guy who messed up

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This never fails. NEVER. It is only a matter of time before the ship’s chef is the military strategist. When Vader knocks off Admiral Twatto Bronson with a force-grip over several thousand miles (and, if he can do that, why can’t he just choke that troublesome Luke to death in the final battle? Why does Palpatine just sit there like a bitch instead of knocking Luke off with a blink?), it’s poor management. Where’s the KPI’s and the Union busting Imperial labour policies? How come it takes 20 years to build a Death Star? Do they not have emergency construction contracts? Were the workers on strike?

If that were the case, Palpatine would simply force-choke the union leader. Then his replacement. All the way down until the ungrateful builders got on with building a better Death Star. After all, it’s a recession: they should be bloody glad just to have a job.

9. Use decent architects

Whoever thought that it was a good idea to have a throne room with a central vent that went all the way down to a reactor obviously never understood the importance of health and safety, radiation proofing, or simple common sense. You get what you pay for, and The Empire is a cheap mistress. Probably subcontracted it to Bodgit & Scarper’s Interim Death Star Radiation Consultant.

“Do you think The Emperor will notice”?

Of course not, all old dictators are dead and photoshopped, so The Emporer himself doesn’t actually exist – witness Kim Jong Il’s amazing disappearing shadow for proof.

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10. There are no anger management classes in outer space

All Vader ever does is skulk around, projecting. To use classic pscyhologist speak, Vader is storming around as a royal grumpy bad ass (and Vader himself is the most po-faced dick of the series, with the requisite charm of a cockroach), acting out his self-loathing and anger at ruining the best thing he ever had, by generally being a shit to everyone. Doesn’t he do yoga? Or even, ever, get bored with being pissed off? Darth – you’re projecting again!

11. Stormtroopers may be accurate: but only when firing on Jawas

The rest of the time a stormtrooper couldn’t hit a stationary object the size of a car at point blank range. Did Jango wear contacts, and not tell anyone? Maybe this explains why stormtroopers are a worse shot than me. I never knew Obi had such an astute and understated sense of humour when he said “Only stormtroopers are this precise”. They’re no bloody good at shooting. You just can’t get the troops these days.

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12. The Empire has a no-redundancy policy on clones

Hence 400 of them standing around in a room doing nothing on the Death Star. You’d have thought the Empire could just shit them into space or something. Unless the Stormtroopers are all illegal aliens on day contracts hanging around car parks in East London waiting for cash-in-hand jobs…at which point, would you trust any of them with a blaster? Maybe they were all going dogging in the Tie Fighter bay. At which point, whoa… After all, you’re guaranteed anonymity if you’re in a full-face helmet.

13. The Hutts have a taste for human females

I don’t know why, but the Hutts do seem to like a woman in a steel bra. Big, thin, tall, short, the Hutts don’t care. Just have a dopey, stroppy human pet. Perverts. Were I a largely asexual 16 foot slug, I’d be more attracted to something a bit similar to my own kind. You don’t hear of humans with slug fetishes, do you? And if you do, you’re weird and I’m deleting your number from my phone.

14. Always get your rocket pack serviced

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Come on, Boba Fett, being the baddest bounty hunter ever can’t pay that bad. Cough up, cheapskate.

15. It’s okay to have a thing for your sister

Almost every girl is someone’s sister. Apparently, it’s a wee bit wrong if they’re your own sister.

16. Death is not the end, unless it is

You can strike down anyone you want, but they don’t die. Unless they want to. Obi Wan can come back, but Palpatine can’t. Maybe Obi Wan has the cheat codes.

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17. All baddies are English

We knew this anyway, because we’ve seen movies. Talking of which, all that technology, and no one has invented a DVD player in outer space? A movie? A CD? An iPod. Weirdos.

18. There is no recorded music, but plenty of opera

Where’s the Darth Metal genre?

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19. The Death Star runs on a Mac, as it never crashes

You never see the Death Star CPU stutter as it powers up to wipe out a planet. There must be one hell of a server farm on that thing. That, and a cracking firewall. *Cannot launch ‘Destroy Planet.exe’ due to low memory. You may wish to close other applications before blasting Alderaan to pieces’ *

20. ‘Death Sticks’ is an appealing name for a Class A drug

I don’t quite know why, and Death itself never appealed to me: Death metal? Nah. Now, Dream Sticks? I’d be quite tempted. It’s a symbol of how disconnected from reality Lucas is if he thinks anyone could be tempted with a ‘Death Stick’. I don’t know. Myself, I’d be more tempted if they were called “Cotton Hearts”. And where are the ghettos? You’d thought if the Empire was that badass it would’ve knocked out all the druggies like a South American Junta tidying up before The Swedish Royal Family were coming to visit.

21. Kids don’t go to school: they go to slavery

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Yet they can talk just fine. How wude!

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