I was watching Return of the Jedi on HBO the other day, and besides reminding me that I really hate Ewoks, it got me thinking about redemption. My conclusion: I have a problem with redemption, it seems.
I'm not really a Star Wars fanatic, in the sense that the other day marked only the third time I've seen Return of the Jedi since its original 1983 release. Seeing it again, through the eyes of a jaded, cynical old man, pissed me off a bit.
For those of you unaware, in the end Darth Vader rejects the Dark Side of the force by killing the Emperor and saving his son, Luke Skywalker. Vader is mortally wounded in the process, but for this final deed is allowed to live forever as a Jedi ghost or whatever the fuck they call it. In other words, he gets to hang with Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi for all eternity.
I CALL BULLSHIT! What about the twenty-odd years of atrocities committed by Darth Vader? He killed all of the children in the Jedi temple, he used The Force to strangle anyone who looked at him funny, and he presided over a galactic reign of terror! And he gets to pal around with the ghostly visage of Yoda? If Luke had been anyone but his son, Vader would have let the emperor kill him and that would have been it. He hardly deserves Force Trinity status with Yoda and Obi Wan.
And wouldn't hanging with Obi Wan provide an eternity's worth of awkward moments?
Kenobi: "Hey, Anakin, is that the same light saber you used to slaughter those small children in the Jedi temple; the very ones who trusted you and looked to you for spiritual guidance?"
Vader: "Yes. Yes it is. Hey, is that the light saber you used to cut off both my legs and an arm when you left me to be horribly burned all over what was left of my body?"
Kenobi: "The one and same. Boy, did I catch a lot of shit when you killed those kids. Everyone was all 'Hey, great Jedi master, your star pupil killed my nephew. Nice teaching there, Anne Sullivan.' I mean, it was non stop."
Vader: "Yeah, my bad."
And I noticed in the latest version of Return of the Jedi that George Lucas has digitally added the image of young actor Hayden Christiansen as a representation of Vader's ghost, while Obi Wan's ghost is still represented by the geriatric thespian Sir Alec Guinness.
Wait a cotton-cuntin' moment here! Vader, who betrayed everyone he knew and all he once stood for, who killed more people than Hitler, gets to prance around the afterlife as a handsome young man? At the same time, Obi Wan, who NEVER ONCE wavered in his faith, who spent twenty god damn years in exile on a miserable sand planet, has to be a frail senior citizen until the end of days? Oh, that's fair.
I know this is just a movie, but it represents something I have a problem with in real life: The last minute, or "deathbed" conversion. People like the idea that they can be miserable pricks all their lives and suddenly "see the light" right before they kick the bucket. It's a little too convenient if you ask me. True redemption should be a long, tedious road fraught with self-doubt and personal sacrifice.
Or you could just give me a large sum of money, and all is forgiven.