Why is the Galactic Empire so bad?

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#1 Posted by isomeri (3093 posts) -

So I watched The Empire Strikes Back yesterday for the first time in years. It's still a fantastic film and I had a blast, but one thing rose to my mind while watching it. Why is the Empire so bad?

I mean sure it's lead by a fanatical dictatorship (the Sith) and they assert power through military rule (the Death Star), but the films never really explain why all these people are willing to fight and die to oppose the Empire. Wouldn't it be more effective to just fight the Sith and aim to change the Empire towards a more democratic system rather than destroying it altogether? And the Rebellion has always seemed like a very small movement compared to the presumed size of the galaxy and its inhabitants. If there really was a huge public outcry against the Empire, shouldn't the forces of the rebels be much greater? I mean when it comes down to it all we see in the films is the Empire fighting against presumed terrorists.

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#2 Posted by Hunter5024 (6706 posts) -

I feel like it being a fanatical dictatorship is reason enough to fight to overthrow them, but even if it weren't, they destroyed the entire planet of Alderaan and all of its citizens. Maybe they did keep parts of the empire alive and just replaced the leadership after Return of The Jedi, I don't think the movie makes that clear, but if they started over from scratch that would make sense too. That seems to be the way of things when dictators are overthrown, destroy the remnants of the old leadership and draft up a new constitution.

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#3 Posted by Arabes (744 posts) -

Also, they are space nazis that hate aliens.

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#4 Posted by Veektarius (6382 posts) -

Without getting too much into the morality of the empire, which at its size is probably more of a bureaucratic quagmire than it is any kind of oppressive weight on the shoulders of the majority of its people, you have to keep in mind the timeline of these movies. It isn't like the Empire has been ruling a prosperous domain for centuries or anything like that. It took power from a democratically elected government in a coup roughly 20 years ago, and many of the rebel leaders are politicians and officers who served the previous government and are just looking to restore what was.

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#5 Posted by Brendan (9181 posts) -

I wouldn't overthink the Star Wars movies. You're expected to accept the general backdrop to enjoy the craziness. As with any big blockbuster you could poke a million holes in it if you wanted.

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#6 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -

They enslaved wookies and forced them to harsh labor probably due to the fact they were in support of the alliance. I'm assuming most of the rebel alliance planets faced similar consequences. They also blew up Alderaan with a GIANT PLANET DEATH RAY and killed about 2 billion Alderaanians in the process.

I think some of your questions truth be told are or going to be answered in the Star Wars Rebels cartoon. I actually think it's quite good and kinda shows both the Empire and Rebels in different light. While obviously more Empire folks are addressed as being evil and somewhat corrupt power hungry people, I thought it did a good job in one episode showing that the storm troopers believe it or not are just normal average folks who joined for several reasons not always bad. Some had to support their families, others were kidnapped and forced to join, heck there's even a character who I believed joined the Empire to try and make a difference within and save his sister who was kidnapped by the empire.

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#7 Posted by CornBREDX (7336 posts) -

They're very clearly space nazis. The movies aren't at all subtle about that haha

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#8 Posted by BonOrbitz (2611 posts) -

It's all about obtaining ultimate power and control in the galaxy, which is what the Sith ultimately want, through the use of fear and intimidation.

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#9 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -

I can't believe I'm going to talk about something discussed in the film The Interview but I remember the female officer discussing with Seth Rogan about the North Korean political system. Even though you kill Un he has other officers probably not as well known to assume the thrown. Same thing with the Star Wars Empire just cause you take out the empire does not mean there aren't any crazy tyrannical mofo's there ready to take Palpatine's spot on the throne. Just a reminder Palpatine figured out a way to extend his life range through the darkside of the force and was grooming a protege to hopefully take over if he were to fall. He was basically setting it up so the Sith would always be in command of the Empire.

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#10 Posted by isomeri (3093 posts) -

They enslaved wookies and forced them to harsh labor probably due to the fact they were in support of the alliance. I'm assuming most of the rebel alliance planets faced similar consequences.

But wasn't Anakin and his mom slaves in the prequels, during the time of the Republic?

Most of all your points do seem valid, especially the Death Star stuff. Then again is the destruction of a planet on a galactic scale any worse than the destruction of a city on planet for the purposes of winning a war?

I bet that in the books or the general back-story the sins of the Empire are cleared up, but I'm just saying that at least in the first two films the viewer is not really given a proper reason to hate the Empire other than they wear black and red and have an ominous theme.

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#11 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -

@isomeri: Tatooine was considered on the outskirts of the republic where they had to influence there. That's why it was a planet full of crooks, rogues and people who didn't want to be found.

I can see your point with the whole weapons of mass destruction pov considering the history of past wars. My point to that is that in the Star Wars universe at that point there was no war, it was clear the Empire had won and were the superior force at the time. It also wasn't proven at the time that Alderaan and it's inhabitant were a major part of the rebel alliance. We only find out later on through the later movies and the Forces Unleashed storyline Bail Organa, leaders of Alderaan and adopted father of Princess Leia was in fact one of the co-founders of the Rebel Alliance. Even in the first film while the Empire probably had their suspicions due to the sanctions put on Alderaan they only destroyed the planet because they wanted to test their shiny new weapon and Princess Leia wouldn't give up the location of the Rebel Base.

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#12 Posted by Jimbo (10472 posts) -

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu48/offworld92/star-wars-alderaan-shot-first.jpg

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#13 Posted by GiantLizardKing (1144 posts) -

Alderaan was an inside job

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#14 Posted by whitegreyblack (1927 posts) -

@bonorbitz: "In this galaxy,first you get the money, then you get the power,THEN you get the woman." - Palpatine, to Darth Vader; a long time ago in a galaxy far away

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#15 Posted by csl316 (14806 posts) -

They made something called the Death Star.

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#16 Edited by The_Ruiner (1745 posts) -

They blew up a heavily populated planet, killing everyone on it and they didn't even need to get like a manager's signature or anything. I bet there's more red tape involved in requisitioning those weird badges than there is for exterminating a planet.

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#17 Edited by Mikemcn (8523 posts) -

They sorta genocided all the jedi. That's bad.

Also, The reason the rebels are small is because the Empire is so effective at crushing resistance. Of the entire galaxy the only place they can hide is in a bunch of ancient temples on Yavin (Which were fucking sith temples btw, putting on my extended universe hat for a second...) that they have to abandon as soon as they try anything against the empire. They're an insurgency, they can't fight toe to toe with the empire so they take potshots where they can (Deathstars 1 and 2.) and then run for the galactic hills.

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#18 Posted by BonOrbitz (2611 posts) -

@whitegreyblack said:

@bonorbitz: "In this galaxy,first you get the money, then you get the power,THEN you get the woman." - Palpatine, to Darth Vader; a long time ago in a galaxy far away

Nice! I think we have the foundation for a Robot Chicken sketch.

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#19 Posted by Animasta (14923 posts) -

@mikemcn: man who hasn't genocided nearly all the jedi? That's a friggin plot point in KOTOR2

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#20 Posted by isomeri (3093 posts) -

I can see your point with the whole weapons of mass destruction pov considering the history of past wars. My only point to that is that in the Star Wars universe at that point there was no war, it was clear the Empire had won and were the superior force at the time.

The beginning of Episode IV clearly states: "It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire."
So it is a time of war, and those damn terrorists had it coming.

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#21 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -

@isomeri: Ok so The Rebel Alliance were probably considered Terrorist in the Empires eyes but seriously, come on. Look at them and tell me they're probably not evil.

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#22 Posted by isomeri (3093 posts) -

@i_stay_puft: I know, I know, I'm not being totally serious. I'm just saying that making the characters "look evil" is a pretty cheap way of convincing the audience to hate them for the duration of three films. If the Empire has enslaved the Wookies then maybe just mention that quickly in the first film and immediately the audience should have more of an attachment for the Rebels.

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#23 Posted by CornBREDX (7336 posts) -

This thread reminds me of a thread once (over a decade ago now, god) on the Star Wars Galaxies forums where the OP broke down the Star Wars film from the eyes of an Imperial. It was both funny and an interesting take on the story.

I wish that thing still existed. I'd share it if it did, but those forums are gone as far as I know and I don't think I'd be able to find it on an archive.

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#24 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -

@isomeri: I know dude, I think it just gets taken back to George Lucas original concept for Star Wars with Lucas borrowing from the serial shows he grew up with as a kid. You have your clear cut good guys and clear cut bad guys. You don't necessarily know the backstory as to why they are bad you just know they are bad cause the narrative says so.

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#25 Posted by oldenglishc (1526 posts) -

Won't somebody please think of the younglings!

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#26 Posted by I_Stay_Puft (5574 posts) -
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#27 Posted by burgavo (1142 posts) -

Anyone who has seen the star wars holliday special will know, the wookies deserve to be enslaved

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#28 Edited by PoorTommy (225 posts) -

Star Wars movies isn't about nuanced political perspective or militaristic schema. The Empire is a straight portrayal of an all-encompassing civil agency running amuck. They are corrupt politicians toted with guns and garbed in black.

To a degree, I understand that your post was meant to posit that stronger, more rationalized villains make for better heroes, but c'mon, there's no need to hold Star Wars to true literary standards of hardship and desperation. Star Wars is about a hero going through progressively dangerous obstacles and making new friends along the way. The moment the films stray away from that concept it will become messy.

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#29 Posted by FinalDasa (3149 posts) -

I think being lead by an evil and powerful secret organization of force users is a pretty good start. And the whole taking over the galaxy using backhanded tactics like galaxy wide war where millions, probably billions I guess, die doesn't help their resume.

In the first three films they are just the bad guys to play foil to the good guys. Darth Vader isn't shown to have anyone to answer too and other than vague mentions of 'The Empire' and their Death Star they aren't much more than Nazis. Stormtroopers is a name taken from Hitler's brown shirts who were often called Storm troopers and whose official name, translated into English, is Storm Detachment or Assault Division.

The first film, A New Hope, follows a specific path called The Hero's Journey. Lucas had read several books explaining this narrative through line in a lot of hero fables. That narrative always included a brash, raw, and young hero who needed the guidance of an older, wise, teacher who would die and provide further motivation to beat down the ultimate evil in the story.

So boiled down Lucas borrowed a lot of his ideas. The imagery and names of his evil forces are taken directly from history, his overall narrative is one found in story telling throughout history, and the story itself, eventually, explains and reveals the violence and oppression the Empire performs.

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#30 Posted by Draugen (963 posts) -

Alderaan. Never forget.

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#31 Posted by Ares42 (4095 posts) -

How would you "just fight the Sith" when they are the two most powerful people in the world (not counting the force) with armies of soldiers and ships able to defend them at a whim ? It's been a while since I watched the movies but I seem to remember their target is always to kill Darth Vader and the Emperor, they just have to get through the Imperial Army to get to them.

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#32 Posted by Entreri10 (581 posts) -

This reminds me of that quote from Admiral Thrawn that I always liked in the books "I encounter civilians like you all the time. You believe the Empire is continually plotting to do harm. Let me tell you, your view of the Empire is far too dramatic. The Empire is a government. It keeps billions of beings fed and clothed. Day after day, year after year, on thousands of worlds, people live their lives under Imperial rule without seeing a stormtrooper or hearing a TIE fighter scream overhead."

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#33 Posted by katimanic (209 posts) -

The jedi order was asking to be killed. From the movies I gather they were a group of idiots.

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#34 Posted by chimpchamp (49 posts) -

Yeah I think Lucas makes it clear in some interviews that The Empire is analogous to Nazi Germany or Fascist American politics, like Nixon. They're not "bad" for most of the people living under them, but they are bigoted and racist, which is why the Wookie/Ewok battles are symbolically important, and why Palpatine has non-human advisors to begin with, to hide his racism, but then has exclusively humans around him when he becomes Emperor.

The movies are far deeper and more political than most people realise/want to accept. Think about why Nazi Germany was "bad" or why Ultra-right wing US politics is "bad"... that's the answer.

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#35 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

The Empire as a construct isn't inherently evil, just the crazy people running the show.

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#36 Posted by audioBusting (2555 posts) -

Say what you will about Palpatine and Vader, at least they got the Death Star built on time!

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#37 Posted by ZolRoyce (1761 posts) -

They're very clearly space nazis. The movies aren't at all subtle about that haha

Yes, I think the extent of the writing Lucas did was scribble down Space Nazis, erase it and then re-write Evil Space Nazis.
Then someone at the studio said "You can't all them Space Nazis, George, just call them the empire or something."

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#38 Posted by Marcsman (3809 posts) -

How many died when the Rebels blew up two Death Stars? Not all of those workers were evil.

Plus in Return of the Jedi, they let the Ewoks eat the Stormtroopers. Clones taste like chicken.

From my point of view, the Rebels are evil.

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#39 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (7280 posts) -
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#40 Posted by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@monkeyking1969: Bush is hardly a moustache twirling villain, just a nice, dumb guy surrounded by moustache twirling villains. Replace with Karl Rove.

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#41 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (7280 posts) -

@fredchuckdave said:

@monkeyking1969: Bush is hardly a moustache twirling villain, just a nice, dumb guy surrounded by moustache twirling villains. Replace with Karl Rove.

Bush like Anakin Skywalker was tricked to the darkside, because he wasn't aware where his emotions would take him. ;-)

Also keep in mind we are all having fun here, we're are talking about a fictional world...you know Washington DC.

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#42 Posted by ch3burashka (6086 posts) -

Goddamn Empire apologist...

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#43 Edited by TNTDuDe1234 (1 posts) -

I believe that the Empire, on average is pretty good.

First off, let's address the arguments against. Alderaan was destroyed by the Empire; thing is, it was destroyed by a very, very small part of it. In Rogue One, they say the senate (the Empire is still a Republic) was not informed that a moon-sized Imperial super weapon destroyed the City of Jakku. The people in the Empire that destroyed Jakku and Alderaan (enslaved Wookies, committed genocide and more) where truly evil and power hungry. I've learned that the Empire (as a whole) brought happiness and prosperity to people not only in the Core Worlds, but in the entire galaxy. In the book "Thrawn", I've learned that the Empire fights pirates, slavers and any other threat to society! The Empire really did bring (to a point) peace and prosperity to the galaxy!

Also, the vast majority of the Imperial Navy honestly believed that their cause was truly good (so did the Rebels).

The one thing Palpatine, being a Sith, wanted more than anything else, was power. To achieve that power he would do anything (including commit mass genocide multiple times). That, of course, is pretty darn evil. So yeah, he would commit said atrocities but only if something threatened his power. If the Rebellion hadn't been so violent and aggressive, maybe there would still be an Alderaan... or Jakku... or stable Wookie population.... So, like said before, Palpatine brought peace and prosperity to the galaxy until the Rebellion showed up trying to bring back a past corrupt democracy. So maybe you're wondering, "But wouldn't Palpatine eventually become a brutal, soulless dictator?" Well no. I say that because if he did, there would be good reason for Rebellion, thus threatening his beloved power.

A few more points to add:

-The Empire replaced a corrupt government heavily controlled by megacorporations.

-Palpatine (evil, but did some good stuff) ended the bloodiest war the galaxy had ever seen (The Clone Wars) and strived to end corruption.

-The Empire was, ironically, still a republic. The Senate was intact until Palpatine dissolved it. Before that, Palpatine wasn't that much of an Emperor, more of a powerful and glorified President.

So these are just my thoughts on this topic, chill out, it's just an opinion.

One last thing, the Empire was pretty Xenophobic, but hey, most of the try alright?!

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#44 Edited by WhiteForestParkRangr (95 posts) -

The Empire represents an existential threat to any competing ideology/institution in the entire galaxy, appearing to only exhibit any sense of pluralism with those whose goals intersect with theirs as long as they remain useful. I imagine whatever outright resistance offered in any of their controlled territory is isolated and snuffed out quickly, any record of it occurring wiped from the official party line so as to prevent a a run-away effect of diffused responsibility/threat of uprising in the general populace. I mean we see how the Rebels are constantly relocating their base of operations to remain one step ahead of the Empire's pursuit in Empire Strikes Back, though we're never given the full picture of just how much territory they actually control, the level of control on how much cultural intermixing there is, etc.

As far as changing the politics of the Empire from the inside out, I'm guessing they kind of self-select for only those most dedicated to towing the party line and spreading their ideals, the true believers or those with the most to lose. It'd take someone very high in the chain of command to effect any kind of real change and even then I don't see the Emperor willing to share power with anyone who even has the potential to threaten it. Since the only people able to conceal their hidden motives from a Sith Lord would be other Force sensitives (and even that is no guarantee) and the fact that they're almost wiped out completely by that point, the reformation from within option seems pretty far-fetched to me.

Also, look at North Korea. Using the proportionate level of resistance offered by the populace as a metric of the ruling government's moral legitimacy doesn't seem to make any sense . One doesn't necessarily beget the other. Any resistance done is on an individual level and for seemingly trivial things any free person automatically takes for granted; when things like eating beef can carry a potential death sentence, how in the hell do you successfully orchestrate something as complex/fraught with annihilation as an uprising or coup?

Anyway, in my opinion most of these details (while fun to explore and theorize about) are ultimately secondary to the struggles/developments of the characters, the main focus of the film.

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#45 Posted by NachoBizNas (146 posts) -

Jesus, who cast True Resurrection on this thread?

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#46 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

The Rebels are the true monsters

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But seriously, when you really think about things, The Rebel's actions would hurt a lot of people.

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Then I guess so would a planet destroying laser death machine.

The real reason the Empire is evil, though, is the Sith influence. They're just not very nice people.

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#47 Posted by huser (1421 posts) -

I believe that the Empire, on average is pretty good.

First off, let's address the arguments against. Alderaan was destroyed by the Empire; thing is, it was destroyed by a very, very small part of it. In Rogue One, they say the senate (the Empire is still a Republic) was not informed that a moon-sized Imperial super weapon destroyed the City of Jakku. The people in the Empire that destroyed Jakku and Alderaan (enslaved Wookies, committed genocide and more) where truly evil and power hungry. I've learned that the Empire (as a whole) brought happiness and prosperity to people not only in the Core Worlds, but in the entire galaxy. In the book "Thrawn", I've learned that the Empire fights pirates, slavers and any other threat to society! The Empire really did bring (to a point) peace and prosperity to the galaxy!

Also, the vast majority of the Imperial Navy honestly believed that their cause was truly good (so did the Rebels).

The one thing Palpatine, being a Sith, wanted more than anything else, was power. To achieve that power he would do anything (including commit mass genocide multiple times). That, of course, is pretty darn evil. So yeah, he would commit said atrocities but only if something threatened his power. If the Rebellion hadn't been so violent and aggressive, maybe there would still be an Alderaan... or Jakku... or stable Wookie population.... So, like said before, Palpatine brought peace and prosperity to the galaxy until the Rebellion showed up trying to bring back a past corrupt democracy. So maybe you're wondering, "But wouldn't Palpatine eventually become a brutal, soulless dictator?" Well no. I say that because if he did, there would be good reason for Rebellion, thus threatening his beloved power.

A few more points to add:

-The Empire replaced a corrupt government heavily controlled by megacorporations.

-Palpatine (evil, but did some good stuff) ended the bloodiest war the galaxy had ever seen (The Clone Wars) and strived to end corruption.

-The Empire was, ironically, still a republic. The Senate was intact until Palpatine dissolved it. Before that, Palpatine wasn't that much of an Emperor, more of a powerful and glorified President.

So these are just my thoughts on this topic, chill out, it's just an opinion.

One last thing, the Empire was pretty Xenophobic, but hey, most of the try alright?!

First, Palpatine was already a soulless brutal dictator. It's a testament to his planning (or plot device) that the Rebellion wasn't larger.

-The Empire itself was a corrupt government now controlled by a theocracy with no oversight.

- Palpatine initiated the bloodiest war the galaxy had ever seen, putting into place all the pieces and players needed to make sure it WAS the bloodiest war. That was the point, to overwhelm the standard response mechanisms of the Republic to make sure in the end he had indefinite and complete powers handed to him.

- Republic in name alone, see also Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

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#48 Edited by soulcake (2336 posts) -

The 501 was littarly a Division in the third reich (the nazi's ) if i remember corretly.

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#49 Posted by Corwag (427 posts) -

The Empire is bad....from a certain point of view...

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#50 Posted by FrostyRyan (2791 posts) -

Because it's being run by someone who literally strives for power through hate.

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