A herd of teal deer
Earning my blog title!

This is a ridiculously trivial thing to complain about, but it’s my current pet peeve, so I’m going to whine anyway.

Or: Elizabeth’s Theory of Balancing the Force (because even if I hate the prequels, they are canon Star Wars and I am a Star Wars fan, dammit, so I need this in my life)

Every now and then, a bunch of people come up with a brilliant! and shocking! and completely unprecedented! theory of what the Chosen One prophecy thing was all about it. It goes like this:

The Force/midichlorians/whatever brought Anakin into being to bring balance to the Force, right? And balance implies the Dark Side and Light Side of the Force in cosmic … well, balance, doesn’t it? And for that to happen, there’d need to be the same number of Jedi (= Light Side users) and Sith (= Dark Side users). And hey, isn’t that what happens? Yoda and Obi-Wan vs Vader and Sidious. Ta da, balance!

Alongside this there’s often some suggestion that it’s terribly bigoted of the Jedi to think turning to the Dark Side = becoming a tool of evil. And ye olde Jedi are just as bad as Sith Lords blah blah blah.

These days, I start headdesking about as soon as I see it, for a few reasons:

(1) “I have this great new theory” — no. There is nothing new about it. I’m a relative newbie to SW fandom (two years or so) and I’ve seen it come up about once a week since I arrived.

(2) Okay, so by this reasoning Anakin exists for the purpose of bringing numbers of Light Side Force-users and Dark Side Force-users into equivalence.

For less than twenty years, apparently.

I mean. Contrary to Obi-Wan’s opinion on the subject, Anakin didn’t actually die at the end of ROTS. The only way this works is if he exists to even out the numbers of active practitioners in full standing within their respective institutions/religious traditions for a few years. OTOH, if we consider the net result of Anakin’s actions over his lifespan … well, at the end of his life, the numbers stand at:

1 Jedi Knight (two, if you count Anakin in the few minutes before his death)

1 Force-sensitive, clearly using the Force (among other things, telepathy, supermemory/visions of the past, inexplicable knowledge that kissing Luke should be reserved for comfort and trolling), with a strong implication that she will be trained as a Jedi

0 Sith

So. The end result of all of Anakin’s choices? The Sith are utterly destroyed and the Jedi Order gets a reboot. Either he failed in his mission to bring balance to the Force (a particularly comprehensive failure, given that it’s his entire reason for existence), or balance means something other than getting the sides of the equation to match up mathematically.

(3) I don’t really get Light Side-user = Jedi and Dark Side-user = Sith, either.

First, the Jedi Order is - however worthy (or not) - a religious and political institution running under the auspices of a particular government, not some transcendental manifestation of the Light. The Sith seem to have been pretty similar in their heyday, though presumably with more backstabbing, and are no more cosmic in their scale.

Second, it doesn’t work for the OT at all, because there we get Force-users who aren’t Jedi or Sith: Luke and Leia. Luke is an apprentice, but he is (repeatedly, from all kinds of different people) told that he isn’t really a Jedi until the end, and he and Leia are implied to be using it before getting any training, anyway. They’re not on the Dark Side, so I guess that lumps them in with Jedi? Kinda? And how long have they been unconsciously using it, anyway? Anakin was doing it by nine, and probably well before. Maybe that balancing of the numbers didn’t last long at all.

Third, it’s really, really, really popular in the fandom (and other stuff) to suggest that the Dark Side isn’t really a thing, there’s only the Force and it’s like a knife, only a weapon of evil if you use it for that but it COULD be for cutting cheese, something something purity of heart etc etc. That doesn’t make any sense to me, either — in the movies, it’s pretty much, you turn to the Dark Side and bam! dead babies. (Substitute “unarmed elderly enemies”/”your dad”/”former friends” as necessary.) But I think there is a small point in there:

I don’t remember anyone ever talking about a Light Side. I mean, it seems a reasonable extrapolation from the Dark Side, but I’ve only heard it in fandom/fanon/the EU. Maybe I’m just forgetting, but I honestly do not remember ever hearing anyone talk about it in canon.

So, veering into my own crack theory headcanon land — iirc the not-Dark-Side is just called “the Force.” Even the Jedi describe its nature in pretty neutral terms. And however they use the Force, it doesn’t seem to make them noble heroes the way the Dark Side makes people murderous villains. Sith Lords can’t really use the Dark Side for good or do good while on it, it just corrupts them like the One Ring, but Jedi can totally use the Force for sheer dickery and generally be total assholes.

I mean, they can cheat and steal and lie (a lot). They can control others’ thoughts. They can blow shit up. They can kill with unerring accuracy. They can leave their surrogate sons to slowly burn to death! Or they can save people’s lives, sometimes untold numbers of people’s lives at one go, sense seriously well-buried good in others, and devote themselves to the galaxy’s good even beyond the grave. It depends on the Jedi. And the occasion, for a good many of them.

So, personally, I think it makes more sense if the Force as used by the Jedi is the knife - a sort of morally grey True Neutral thing that overall manages to maintain a kind of transcendental equilibrium, when not pulled out of whack by the Dark Side. And when there’s nobody for the Dark Side to feed off of (ty Anakin!), it dies or splits off to its own thing or whatever, and la, balance.

  1. anghraine posted this