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  1. #1
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    Default Fascination With The Sith Isn't Healthy.

    Said it better than I could.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    Said it better than I could.

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    I don’t think he’s saying that being “fascinated” with the Sith (and other bad guys) is unhealthy - merely that projecting righteousness or self-fulfilling escapism onto them is. They’re still escapist villains and fun antagonists with cool costumes and weapons, who can be dramatically fulfilling antagonists and opponents, or even (in the case of Darth Vader), tragically doomed and depressing fallen protagonists. They’re just not anti-heroes, and they’re more pitiable than sympathetic. Anti-heroes in Star Wars actually align with the “good guy” side, even the most angsty and sympathetically dark anti-heroes in SW are ultimately forced to choose to be anti-heroes or straight up villains.

    Now, I do think that Star Wars’s tendency to give them cool iconography and costume designs is a key part of the successful formula for Star Wars… but it should continue to end up being applied to the heroes as well (thus part of the reason for The Mandalorian’s success as a concept, as with the Jedi in general.)

    Still…in application, I think this is born out when one views Star Wars - more successful projects and stories embrace the “Being Evil Sucks One Way Or Another” motif, and makes sure to put the audience against the villain, where pity is the softest response and not actual sympathy. Vader, Maul, and Kylo in TFA are great examples of pitiable but still morally repugnant villains suffering even when they succeed. Kylo in TLJ is a horrible misfire because the audience is expected to sympathize and relate to him, which screws up the whole formula for the story, even in terms of basic function; you other learn to be prejudiced and favor Kylo at the expense of the rest of the story, or the story (rightly) falls apart.

    It’s also why Thrawn, even though he’s not a Force user, is most likely going to be a Big Bad in Ahsoka and elsewhere, and not the anti-hero some novel readers expect; he’s aligned with, tolerates, and facilitates the dark side… so he’s not supposed to be adored, and it’s likely he’s going suffer for it.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by godisawesome View Post
    It’s also why Thrawn, even though he’s not a Force user, is most likely going to be a Big Bad in Ahsoka and elsewhere, and not the anti-hero some novel readers expect; he’s aligned with, tolerates, and facilitates the dark side… so he’s not supposed to be adored, and it’s likely he’s going suffer for it.
    More like he's a neutral who uses the tools at his disposal and just happened to know how to work around the Sith who employed him!

  4. #4
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    Sith are so laughably over the top, it boggles my mind that anyone can take them seriously for being honest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    More like he's a neutral who uses the tools at his disposal and just happened to know how to work around the Sith who employed him!
    I really hope not; I get the appeal of some of his archetype being applied to a morally ambiguous character, but I don’t think Star Wars works with “sometimes good people must collaborate with Nazis and it *won’t* either blow up in their faces RO damn them as villains.”

    Plus… he’s a villain who just happens to have a book series where his author gets to remove him from his usual context and strain the premise a bit to try and avoid having him be a villainous protagonist … a book series that is comparatively obscure compared to what pop culture identifies the character as and wants him to be in the TV show.

    And I still think the most poetic thing for his character would be for it turn out his fears of the Grysk are overblown, and he’s accidentally fed his entire species to the First Order in the Unknown Regions, so he can die knowing he really should have backed the Rebellion/Republic, and his tolerance for fascism/preference for authoritarianism was as impractical as it was immoral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starter Set View Post
    Sith are so laughably over the top, it boggles my mind that anyone can take them seriously for being honest.
    They’re definitely escapist villains who don't do true moral ambiguity, and that’s part of the fun - Maul teaming up with then overthrowing Pre Viszla before fighting Palpatine may have him positioned as a protagonist who becomes an underdog, but there’s never any bones about him being *a monster*… simply one who can do the kind of exaggerated tragic monster story that escapism can do.

    And I still say that the inherently obviously evil nature of dark siders is why TLJ’s treatment of him screwed up the rest of the story - he was still an over the top sociopath, and Dirver played him as such, so insisting the audience and Rey sympathize with him and treat him as an anti-hero just meant the film was wildly prejudiced and inconsistent, and therefore shallow and lame.
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  6. #6
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by godisawesome View Post
    I really hope not; I get the appeal of some of his archetype being applied to a morally ambiguous character, but I don’t think Star Wars works with “sometimes good people must collaborate with Nazis and it *won’t* either blow up in their faces RO damn them as villains.”

    Plus… he’s a villain who just happens to have a book series where his author gets to remove him from his usual context and strain the premise a bit to try and avoid having him be a villainous protagonist … a book series that is comparatively obscure compared to what pop culture identifies the character as and wants him to be in the TV show.

    And I still think the most poetic thing for his character would be for it turn out his fears of the Grysk are overblown, and he’s accidentally fed his entire species to the First Order in the Unknown Regions, so he can die knowing he really should have backed the Rebellion/Republic, and his tolerance for fascism/preference for authoritarianism was as impractical as it was immoral.
    I think people just enjoy Thrawn as a character and that he's not necesarilly a binary good/evil guy in a franchise where that can be particularly clear cut (or not).

    And a lot of people are a fan of the Thrawn novels particularly for how they've dived deeper into his character and his background, particularly the Ascendancy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I think people just enjoy Thrawn as a character and that he's not necesarilly a binary good/evil guy in a franchise where that can be particularly clear cut (or not).

    And a lot of people are a fan of the Thrawn novels particularly for how they've dived deeper into his character and his background, particularly the Ascendancy.
    It's interesting, because I think this ties into the purpose of the thread, and into a discussion I’ve seen on other Star Wars forums; there’s been a bit of a growing divide in the Star Wars fandom (though thankfully far less virulent than usual ) other whether Thrawn is a clear cut villian who can dabble in being the lesser of two evils or if he’s a genuine neutral party… and where it has turned ugly, it reflects the character and Zahn’s writing in remaining largely a philosophical debate.

    Well, remaining philosophical until it reaches a point where pro-Thrawn arguments themselves get labeled pro-fascist, but even that tends to be wholly a philosophical point.

    To me, Thrawn’s a villain. He’s evil. I feel that *needs* to be admitted and embraced but the story; we shouldn’t adore him or want to be him, ultimately, without first declaring what parts of him are abhorrent, unacceptable, unrelatable, or damning. Because on every page or every episode, even when he’s the lesser of two evils, he’s supporting and facilitating a genocidal slave-state run by an evil magic space wizard who we know would have no qualms with murdering Thrawn’s entire race. Thrawn even has to, in-story, conceal his people, delay notifying the Galaxy at large of another threat lurking in the Unknown Regions, and scatter his faithful friends to other clandestine assignments, all to avoid having the. Wasted by an intentionally bloated, corrupt, and murdeorus regime… But a regime he still faithfully serves otherwise…

    …And one that a true pragmatist, wise, or goal-oriented person would end up helping to overthrow instead.

    Thrawn can’t be neutral, though he can be the lesser evil; he’s done far too much for the Empire that other true neutral character have not. Thrawn can’t be wise; the Empire’s obviously designed to serve despotism for its own sake, and at the expense of all others. Thrawn can’t even truly be pragmatic or practical; the Empire makes his situation worse, but he can’t conceive of how a non-authoritarian and paranoid faction would be a better help.

    I even kind of think Morgan Elsbeth in The Mandalorian already shows the “truth” that Dave Filoni’s using - in a Galaxy where the New Republic reigns and has objectively proven itself to ultimately be a superior military machine to the Empire simply because it lacks the Empire’s despotism, and where they could easily prove themselves greater allies to the Chiss Ascendancy against the Grysk, RO whatever other horrors lurk in the Galaxy… Thrawn’s still giving a war criminal carte blanche to murder and maim civilians to steal resources, and continues to hide on the shadows.

    Thrawn’s a perfect example of a cold, philosophical warning against fascism and authoriatarianism - and thus still a bad guy who is fun and can be a Villainous protagonist… but he’s still a villain, his actions aren’t actually justified, and he and his people will likely suffer for it.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by godisawesome View Post
    It's interesting, because I think this ties into the purpose of the thread, and into a discussion I’ve seen on other Star Wars forums; there’s been a bit of a growing divide in the Star Wars fandom (though thankfully far less virulent than usual ) other whether Thrawn is a clear cut villian who can dabble in being the lesser of two evils or if he’s a genuine neutral party… and where it has turned ugly, it reflects the character and Zahn’s writing in remaining largely a philosophical debate.

    Well, remaining philosophical until it reaches a point where pro-Thrawn arguments themselves get labeled pro-fascist, but even that tends to be wholly a philosophical point.

    To me, Thrawn’s a villain. He’s evil. I feel that *needs* to be admitted and embraced but the story; we shouldn’t adore him or want to be him, ultimately, without first declaring what parts of him are abhorrent, unacceptable, unrelatable, or damning. Because on every page or every episode, even when he’s the lesser of two evils, he’s supporting and facilitating a genocidal slave-state run by an evil magic space wizard who we know would have no qualms with murdering Thrawn’s entire race. Thrawn even has to, in-story, conceal his people, delay notifying the Galaxy at large of another threat lurking in the Unknown Regions, and scatter his faithful friends to other clandestine assignments, all to avoid having the. Wasted by an intentionally bloated, corrupt, and murdeorus regime… But a regime he still faithfully serves otherwise…

    …And one that a true pragmatist, wise, or goal-oriented person would end up helping to overthrow instead.

    Thrawn can’t be neutral, though he can be the lesser evil; he’s done far too much for the Empire that other true neutral character have not. Thrawn can’t be wise; the Empire’s obviously designed to serve despotism for its own sake, and at the expense of all others. Thrawn can’t even truly be pragmatic or practical; the Empire makes his situation worse, but he can’t conceive of how a non-authoritarian and paranoid faction would be a better help.

    I even kind of think Morgan Elsbeth in The Mandalorian already shows the “truth” that Dave Filoni’s using - in a Galaxy where the New Republic reigns and has objectively proven itself to ultimately be a superior military machine to the Empire simply because it lacks the Empire’s despotism, and where they could easily prove themselves greater allies to the Chiss Ascendancy against the Grysk, RO whatever other horrors lurk in the Galaxy… Thrawn’s still giving a war criminal carte blanche to murder and maim civilians to steal resources, and continues to hide on the shadows.

    Thrawn’s a perfect example of a cold, philosophical warning against fascism and authoriatarianism - and thus still a bad guy who is fun and can be a Villainous protagonist… but he’s still a villain, his actions aren’t actually justified, and he and his people will likely suffer for it.
    I think what matters in the debate is really context more than anything else.

    In the context of working for the Empire and fighting the Rebels, Thrawn is clearly a villain and antagonist.

    From the perspective of the Ascendancy and Thrawn's own personal loyalites, he's more of a hero or at least someone who does what he feels is right for the greater good.

    I'm not sure if Filoni understands that nuance though.

    Of course I guess that also sounds like "from my perspective, it's the Jedi who are evil."

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conn Seanery View Post
    Have to admit: that's pretty adorable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I think what matters in the debate is really context more than anything else.

    In the context of working for the Empire and fighting the Rebels, Thrawn is clearly a villain and antagonist.

    From the perspective of the Ascendancy and Thrawn's own personal loyalites, he's more of a hero or at least someone who does what he feels is right for the greater good.

    I'm not sure if Filoni understands that nuance though.

    Of course I guess that also sounds like "from my perspective, it's the Jedi who are evil."
    I think Filoni’s very aware of the context and nuance - it’s just he prioritizes everything through the wider context of the rest of the Galaxy as part of Star Wars’ “moral arithmetic.”

    Thrawn *is* the lesser of evils compared to his superiors and some of his peers, and is largely sane and orderly as his greatest character virtues compared to them.

    It’s just that his other, Ascendancy-based virtues have their own context created by the wider Galaxy… which turns them from virtues into flaws. Lesser flaw, generally, but still flaws a villain would have.

    The Ascendancy, as orderly as they are, is a paranoid, myopic, dis-compassionate, ruthless and authoritarian regime; Thrawn honors and embraces those aspects. It’s why Thrawn was drawn more to the Empire, with all it’s obvious liabilities and vile sadism, than to the Rebellion - his values are hostile to democracy and the greater good.

    Now the Empire’s gone, and Thrawn’s sticking to form - he still refuses to recognize the practicality of the New Republic as a possible ally to the Ascendancy, and is likely actively working to undermine them and return the Empire to power, even though that would obviously hurt the Galaxy’s ability to defend itself from the types of threats he uses to justify his actions with and empower a bloodthirsty xenophobic regime. To Thrawn, democracy and liberty *are evil*… and since he!s obviously wrong there, he’s evil.

    He’s the Lawful Evil Imperial badguy compared to the usual True Evil Imperials, and clearly has issues with some True Evil and Chaotic Evil adversaries… but he’s still not in the Neutral zone, let alone the Heroic one.
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    I think the fact that Thrawn didn't join the Rebellion has less to do with liking authoritarian regimes and more to do with the fact that the Rebellion didn't have the tools and resources he felt he needed to battle his foes. His interceptor program was designed to be a better fighter against the Grisk for instance, and there is no way the Rebellion would have ever been able to fund or defend an installation capable of building those fighters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thwhtGuardian View Post
    I think the fact that Thrawn didn't join the Rebellion has less to do with liking authoritarian regimes and more to do with the fact that the Rebellion didn't have the tools and resources he felt he needed to battle his foes. His interceptor program was designed to be a better fighter against the Grisk for instance, and there is no way the Rebellion would have ever been able to fund or defend an installation capable of building those fighters.
    Yeah… all that’s just his excuse.

    The Grysk ain’t the Yuuzahn Vong, cause LFL isn’t doing the Yuuzahn Vong. The Grysk are going to turn out, at best, to be a regional rival to the Chiss that ultimately aren’t as destructive to the larger Galaxy as the Empire and its successor states. And even if they were to be positioned as such… you’re not going get Dave Filoni kowtowing to fan nostalgia for the Empire by trying to make them or a successor state anything but *still worse.*

    Rebel snub fighters are already space superiority fighters used more effectively by non-psychopathic officers not commanded by a planetary murderer, in spite of the Rebellion’s logistical disadvantages. They’ve also managed to build up fleets that eventually outlast even Thrawn’s attempts to destroy them. And Thrawn *himself* has seen that the Rebels are capable of building up alliances with powerful factions and blocks like the Mandalorians.

    Palpatine’s Empire is designed to waste resources compared to the Republic, and Thrawn’s watching him make planet murderers; it doesn’t really matter how scary he thinks the Grysk are, they’re not on that level of psychopathy. He also knows that sociopaths and sycophants are encouraged by the Empire.

    Thrawn has enough evidence for a true pragmatist to see that the Rebellion, if successful, would make a better ally than the Empire, especially if they become the Republic again. He just chooses to ignore it, and thus is sneaking around after ROTJ as just another evil Imperial warlord.

    He’s a tragic villain who would rather ally with the Devil, even knowing he has to try and hide his thoughts from him, than request aid from heaven.

    He’s just… not neutral.

    And the books… just really don’t matter in judging his character.
    Last edited by Conn Seanery; 08-04-2022 at 05:55 PM.
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  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member thwhtGuardian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by godisawesome View Post
    Yeah… all that’s just his excuse.

    The Grysk ain’t the Yuuzahn Vong, cause LFL isn’t doing the Yuuzahn Vong. The Grysk are going to turn out, at best, to be a regional rival to the Chiss that ultimately aren’t as destructive to the larger Galaxy as the Empire and its successor states. And even if they were to be positioned as such… you’re not going get Dave Filoni kowtowing to fan nostalgia for the Empire by trying to make them or a successor state anything but *still worse.*

    Rebel snub fighters are already space superiority fighters used more effectively by non-psychopathic officers not commanded by a planetary murderer, in spite of the Rebellion’s logistical disadvantages. They’ve also managed to build up fleets that eventually outlast even Thrawn’s attempts to destroy them. And Thrawn *himself* has seen that the Rebels are capable of building up alliances with powerful factions and blocks like the Mandalorians.

    Palpatine’s Empire is designed to waste resources compared to the Republic, and Thrawn’s watching him make planet murderers; it doesn’t really matter how scary he thinks the Grysk are, they’re not on that level of psychopathy. He also knows that sociopaths and sycophants are encouraged by the Empire.

    Thrawn has enough evidence for a true pragmatist to see that the Rebellion, if successful, would make a better ally than the Empire, especially if they become the Republic again. He just chooses to ignore it, and thus is sneaking around after ROTJ as just another evil Imperial warlord.

    He’s a tragic villain who would rather ally with the Devil, even knowing he has to try and hide his thoughts from him, than request aid from heaven.

    He’s just… not neutral.

    And the books… just really don’t matter in judging his character.
    This just reads like you don't like the direction the books are going than anything logical to me.
    Last edited by Conn Seanery; 08-04-2022 at 05:55 PM.
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    I think it's fairly widely known in their universe that the Old Republic and the Jedi themselves at the end were ineffective, slow to act, and generally out of touch. That's part of why the Empire succeeded in taking power and ruling for as long as it did. It's why fascist regimes in the real world were successful as long as they were.

    Pragmatically speaking you need to play factions/tribes off against one another and declare some lesser (in the case of the Empire, humanity vs everyone else generally) to succeed and that has a baked-in expiration date as many will fight/"rebel" against such a society and it guarantees war which as has been said drains resources and inevitably is going to be a loss even when the fascist regime wins.

    So yes, as a pragmatist Thrawn should see that the Emperor-run Empire had an expiration date. But I can absolutely see him thinking he could "do it right" and forge an Empire that was more inclusive to other races but ultimately as tribal/"us vs them" (clockwork efficient Empire vs Republic doomed to decay and fall again) and no silly magic-worshippers in robes with their glowing phallic symbols and tiring philosophy mucking up the works.

    Which makes him interesting to consider, interesting to see how he goes about it and how close he comes to succeeding, but ultimately still a villain. And that's fine, beats the heck out of a snarling mustache-twirler with a silly name like "Darth synonym-for-dark/edgy".
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