Why the Star Wars Universe Would be a Terrible Place to Live
I love Star Wars. I was a bit too young to see the original trilogy in the theaters, but I definitely saw them on VHS and TV many, many times. How many of you are old enough to remember when playing movies on primetime TV was a big deal? I memorized all the lines from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. I still have my original Boba Fett, lovingly worn out. I even made the huge mistake of going to the opening day first showing of the Phantom Menace. That’s how much of a Star Wars nerd I am.
There is one critical flaw I’ve always felt Star Wars has that some other fantasy and sci-fi doesn’t have. The Star Wars Universe would be an absolutely awful place to live if you were just a regular schmuck going about your daily life. Life would be miserable.
Medical Care is a Nightmare
On Earth, we are very close to being able to grow an organs out of our own cells. Within a few years, we can probably replace a bad heart or lost arm with something that is functionally and biologically your own organ. Not so in Star Wars. Robotics is either the most common or cheapest way to fix an injury. Lose a hand? Here’s a robot one. Lose almost your entire body? Here’s a robot one.
Oh, and for a society advanced enough that they have faster than light travel, they sure don’t know anything about medical care for mothers. Padme dies of a broken heart in childbirth? Death during childbirth can be startlingly common in societies without modern medical care but this is Star Wars. They can construct objects the size of small moons. There’s no reason Padme should die in childbirth because she’s sad. I could understand if she bled to death or had some other major complication. Or are we to assume she died because of the force…?
The Force also appears to greatly hinder medical advancement. For all the magical powers the Jedi possess, they apparently have not bothered to learn a single one for helping people. All of their powers are for combat. Even Darth Plagueis apparently learned how to create or save life, but the Jedi gloss over that. The Jedi, for all their talk of peace and the Force, have entirely skipped over the fact that their powers should be able to help the wounded, sick, and dying. If they can stop a blaster bolt then why not stop blood of a heart attack?
Basic Services Don’t Exist for Most Planets
Luke and his friends are enemies of the Empire. Vader and the Emperor want to find them and bring them to their own brand of justice, being the default governing body in the universe. Princess Leia sends secret information via a droid to a desert planet. The Jedi are investigating assassination attempts and weird Sith Lord plots. Who do they call? The police? The FBI? The CIA? No, because they apparently don’t exist in the Star Wars Universe.
We have rarely gotten a glimpse of anything even resembling police, fire, or any other basic service. We do know that the Death Star has a garbage system and that Bespin has some security. But aside for that, the lack of basic governmental services in the Star Wars Universe is startling. The Jedi can chase assassins through the street without one person calling 911. When Vader needs to find someone, instead of putting out a bulletin to the local police, he calls bounty hunters. Bounty hunters! Bounty hunters that he has to remind to not disintegrate their target. What kind of terrifying universe doesn’t have a way for the governmental bodies to just call the local police? They have to send in military personnel that apparently have no law enforcement or investigation training. When they need detectives, they turn to ruthless bounty hunters.
First and foremost, Star Wars apparently has institutionalized discrimination. I am not talking about the same way we do on earth. All the people – even women – appear to hold the same weight and importance in all positions. Being a human might not be so bad. You could work hard, rise in the ranks, and become an important person. But if you’re an alien? Sorry. Screw you. Almost every position of power is held by human beings. Now, human beings couldn’t have originated on every single planet. That means that at some point in history, humans left their home planet and colonized all the other plants. Then they subjugated the creatures already living on those planets.
The Empire and the First Order are almost entire human beings. But they’re evil! This makes sense. What about the Rebellion and the New Republic? Almost entirely human. The few aliens around are relegated mainly to sidekicks or menial tasks with a few exceptions (like Admiral Ackbar). So, what kind of jobs can aliens get? Manual labor jobs (like the Ugnaughts), criminals, sex workers, and the occasional Jedi. But even in the Galactic Senate we find that the aliens that look the least like humans are mostly ignored or forgotten.
Slavery is Rampant
For me, this is always the most terrifying thing in the Star Wars Universe. Slavery is entirely normal to everyone, including the Jedi. The Jedi, who are supposed to be warrior monks at one with the core of reality, are not surprised or upset when they come across a woman and small child owned by someone. Jedi are not shocked when criminal lords have people chained up for the amusement unless those people are their friends. How common and normal is slavery in the Star Wars Universe and why does nobody care? Think of someone of the worst governments you know on earth. Chances are they no longer allow slavery, at least not openly. In Star Wars, the Republic allowed open slavery and didn’t permit their Jedi to immediately end it when they came across it. That’s terrifying.
But it isn’t just a problem of the prequels or some backwards planet like Tatooine. Our beloved scoundrel turned capitalist Lando Calrissian has slaves. His controls Lobot, a human with mechanically parts, through controls on his wrist. Well, maybe he’s an android? Nope. In official cannon he’s a human with robotic implants and that wrist thing absolutely controls Lobot. Now Lando does ask Lobot for his cooperation and call him his friend in the comics, but we also learn that Robot’s personality is basically toast and he’s now basically owned by Lando thanks to his implants. So, yup.
And don’t get me started on the droids...
They Build Machines That Suffer.
The droids act as an entire class of slaves build out of robotic parts. The Star Wars movies, books, comics, and videogames have shown us time and time again that these are not simple robots like we have on earth. The droids can develop entirely new personalities, fall in love, and even feel pain. That’s right. People in the Star Wars Universe build robots that can feel pain for reasons I cannot even fathom. It might make sense to have sensors to let you know that a human would be injured in some situation, but why would someone ever build a machine that can scream in pain and think that’s a normal thing to do?
And it’s not like the droids and other sentient and intelligent robots in Star Wars are on the same level as people. Sure, someone hold positions of power, but the vast majority are looked upon as basically tools. Even heroes like Luke are willing to wipe the memories and personality of a droid entirely away without an afterthought. A droid is torn apart and might die? No one seems to care. A few people like Padme do occasionally show sympathy or remorse for the droids, but that’s rare. For the most part they are built as fully constructed beings that can love, suffer, and die, for the sole purpose of serving their masters. Then they are now let into bars, left to rust under a blanket, or are otherwise forgotten by their friends and owners.
I know I am overthinking this. It’s just a bunch of silly fantasy space operas, right? Go and watch the cool fights and weird creatures and have fun. That still doesn’t’ mean it isn’t terrifying to think about the underlying ideas at the heart of their universe that has been built so vividly by many, many talented artists. I’m just really glad I don’t live in a place where entire planets can blow up and people don’t seem more upset than turning away in disgust. I’m also really glad I don’t work in an office that has torture droids.