It’s not exactly unsung at the moment, but I thought I’d link to this excellent news article announcing the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a firefight with Imperial Storm Troopers on Alderaan. It’s a rare occasion that I enjoy humour based on morphing real life figures into fictional characters, but this is one of those moments. The delicious peskiness of casting Obama as Darth Vader is so perfect in so many ways, as is the satire of modeling Obi-Wan Kenobi as a terrorist mastermind. It makes very nicely the point that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but at the same time pokes fun at the semi-mystical powers ascribed to bin Laden by the American intelligence community – by giving him actual semi-mystical powers. This isn’t the first time the US security apparatus has been compared to the Empire either – the brilliant parody Troops does a similar job of turning the evil bad guys of Star Wars fame into everyday men trying to bring order to the Universe, and is well worth watching.

The real brilliance of this Galactic Times article though lies in the comments, which manage to take the piss out of every single conspiracy theory floating around in the war on terror, from September 11th onward, without ever straying from the Star Wars format. We have demands to see the body, claims that Vader was actually born on Tatooine, accusations that the destruction of Alderaan was done by the Empire, demands to cut spending on war, suspicion that Vader is himself a Jedi, and fears of further losses of personal freedoms. It’s like the entire 10 years of the GWoT can be morphed into the Star Wars framework, reduced to farce and genuinely criticized all at the same time. It also does a great job of undermining conspiracy theories – we know that in the Star Wars context most of the conspiracies are true, but precisely because it’s an insanely cool science fiction story set somewhere else, a long time ago.

Conservatives of course are pissed about this, because it doesn’t take the GWoT seriously and implies Osama is the good guy, but even here the irony is perfect. After years of unrestrained attacks on Obama, they find themselves defending him against accusations he is Darth Vader – even though they have spent years accusing him of wanting to introduce “Fascism” to the US, of being a closet muslim, of planning “death panels” who will decide who gets health care and who dies, of sympathizing with Osama, of not being American, and of course of wanting to undermine the Republic with his health care socialism. The Australian conservative ex-Prime Minister, John Howard, even claimed in 2007 that Osama bin Laden would be “praying for” Obama to win the election [how wrong that was!] So now they find themselves defending him from comparisons with someone they have until recently quite openly implied he wants to be.

Perhaps because its construction was based on a theory of the development of myths, Star Wars will always be amenable to parallels with significant real world stories; but I think it says a lot about the lies, misinformation and hyperbole connected to the war on terror – and particularly to Osama bin Laden – that the real world story fits so well with a silly myth from another galaxy. Dishonesty, bad motives, incompetence and lack of faith in our own governments have combined to turn the war on terror into a story so incomprehensible to most of us that it might as well be fiction.

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