In the previous decade, liberals loved making parallels between Bush administration policies and the power-seeking villains in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy.
With the 3D release of the first episode "The Phantom Menace," Yahoo! contributor Timothy Sexton took to his keyboard Friday to tell his readers, "[T]he original trilogy appealed directly to the simplistic moral perspective of an America above reproach and always on the side of right in global geopolitics, whereas the much more subversive prequel trilogy stands in defiant counterpoint to the much more dangerously simplistic moral absolutism of the Age of Bush":
The original trilogy holds a special place in the bosom of American moviegoers precisely because we view ourselves comfortably in place of the Rebels. Americans revel in their historical construct as rebellious underdogs constantly at war against an easily identified and unquestionably evil empire. Hence, the reason most Americans love the original trilogy has much to do with placement of ourselves in the role of the inheritors of the mantle of the Jedi.
The problem is that the post-9/11 world meant Americans also were forced to identify themselves with the Jedi in the prequel trilogy as well, and we don't like the face we see in the mirror. Let's face it, the Jedi don't exactly come off too swell in the prequel. This time around they are the guys in charge, and it is painful to watch them screw it up, especially when the way they hand over the keys to the Empire is so eerily familiar to a historical era defined by words like "signing statements" and "Patriot Act."
Just in case you didn't notice in your rush to castigate Jar-Jar Binks and complain about the wooden dialogue of the prequel, the peaceful Galactic Republic in place at the beginning of "The Phantom Menace" doesn't turn into the dark empire in place at the beginning of "A New Hope" due to an invasion by a foreign element. The Republic falls as a result of due democratic process, albeit due democratic process that is manipulated through lies and deception. Again, sound familiar?
Watching the "Stars Wars" prequel trilogy is like the most entertaining lesson in civics ever given -- specifically the way it reveals how even a republic peopled by representative leaders with the best of intentions can make decisions that result in disastrous policies, accompanied by devastation and the crumbling of great ideas. Yoda's observations about anger, hate, fear, and suffering are not said lightly; they may be the most prescient words spoken by a movie character in recent memory.
Not much less important is another quote associated with "The Phantom Menace," a quote that hasn't proved anywhere near as memorable as Yoda's but nonetheless plays a huge part in the events that will follow. Chances are you don't even remember these words of Darth Maul: "Fear is my ally." One can well imagine that slogan scrawled across the office walls of men like Scooter Libby and tattooed across the back of Dick Cheney.
What's the obvious flaw in this thinking? Two of the prequel stories were written before 9/11.
According to "The Secret History of Star Wars," George Lucas began writing the screenplays for "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" in 1994. He started writing "Revenge of the Sith" before "Attack of the Clones" was released in May 2002.
Conceivably most important, the transformation of pivotal character Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader had nothing to do with politics.
As the "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" documentary "Within a Minute" revealed in 2005, Lucas in 2003 completely restructured the plot line so that Skywalker turned to the dark side almost exclusively to save Padmé's life. In the previous iteration, it was largely because he believed the Jedi were evil and plotting to take over the Republic.
As such, the Age of Bush turned this trilogy more into a love story than a dark political thriller.
On the other hand, if Sexton wanted to be honest, he could have told readers that "Revenge of the Sith" marvelously presaged the rise of Barack Obama.
As Padmé says as Palpatine announces he's basically made himself Emperor, "So This Is How Liberty Dies...With Thunderous Applause."