The Stormtrooper Paradox

PSW: discuss Star Wars without "versus" arguments.

Moderator: Vympel

Post Reply
User avatar
FaxModem1
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6634
Joined: 2002-10-30 06:40pm
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world

The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-01-08 06:02pm



Youtube Link

Did they throw away a chance to show that anyone is capable of redemption, or the moral complexities of war, for the fun of watching Stormtroopers getting killed repeatedly?

Or do you find the video maker full of shit?

Thoughts?
Image

User avatar
Khaat
Jedi Knight
Posts: 886
Joined: 2008-11-04 11:42am

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by Khaat » 2018-01-08 06:48pm

Mixed reaction: 1) there have to be nameless, faceless bad guys in a shoot-em-up, and 2) Finn was exceptional. Redemption is a recurring theme in SW, but it has to be chosen.

There certainly is room in the SW universe to explore those who find themselves on the moral dark side, choosing instead to strive for redemption. There's the suggestion that many of the Rebellion a generation earlier were such individuals; Biggs and Tagge left for the Academy, ended up flying for the Rebellion and not the Empire.

But in the core trilogy arcs? I don't think there is really room, unless IX is going to have Finn talk (?!) a group of FO troopers into surrender (or encounters a group of "deviants".) If there is going to be (big) redemption, it's going to be limited to named characters. Despite the humanitarian desire to see child-soldiers freed, it isn't a major element of the story, any more than freeing clone slave/soldiers was in CW or RotS.

A stand-alone, like Rogue One could do it, but then that opens the door for the greying of "good guy/bad guy" dynamics: everyone is wrong for killing the other guys. Granted, the "hero team" in RO was repentant thieves, assassins, killers, spies, and saboteurs seeking redemption for it.
Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule #4: Be outraged.
Rule #5: Don’t make compromises.

User avatar
Alyrium Denryle
Minister of Sin
Posts: 22023
Joined: 2002-07-11 08:34pm
Location: The Deep Desert
Contact:

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-01-11 06:38am

I don't think it's much of a paradox. In WWII, the men of the Wehrmacht were people (I am leaving out the SS here, you'll understand in a moment). Yet allied soldiers had no problem shooting them. Many of them could have potentially been induced to defect, in fact, there were deserters and defectors. But when you are engaged in combat operations against an enemy, you don't have the luxury of attempting to reason with the people who are trying to kill you, and you cannot afford to get wrapped up in the morality of killing them unless you want to turn yourself into a psychological casualty.
GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Entomology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

Factio republicanum delenda est

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6590
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by Zixinus » 2018-01-11 08:34am

Acknowledging that there is a moral option and being able to act on that moral option are two different things. Especially when you factor in ability of the person in the situation.

Stormtroopers do not need to be pure evil to find yourself justifiably killing them. That they are agents of an oppressive, evil power is evident and they will follow orders that lead to harm. They are still human beings but they are also human beings that will massacre innocent and harmless family in their own home. The system they are part of makes them complicit at least to a significant degree.

The problem with the stormtrooper "paradox" is that there isn't one. Most of the situations that the heroes of Star Wars find themselves in are situations where the chances of appealing to a stormtrooper's human nature is unlikely to work. If not outright situations where lethal force is necessary either for survival or for a mission that is for a Good Cause. And one of the points of Star Wars as a space opera is that the Good Cause is unambiguously good. You could argue for the use of stun weapons rather than lethal ones, but that's something an arguable option (and I would not be surprised if Stormtrooper armor prevents it).

It is not even fantasy, it is the standard idea to fiction where killing someone is portrayed not a reprehensible act but a necessary or even good one. War movies, of which Star Wars has roots in, has frequently this: the enemy soldier who is pointing a gun at me might be a human being but he (and more frequently he) is about to kill me and I have to kill him if I want to survive. If not win a just war. That he is a good or bad human being is rather irrelevant because the situation does not allow a campaign to appeal to their better nature, because they are in control. But the point of fiction, especially with fiction like Star Wars, is to be entertaining and thus the enemy that is killed is dehumanized. To be portrayed as someone worthy to kill and the audience does not need to feel sympathy for. This is something that is abundant since there was fiction and something that modern media in general is guilty of. The creators of Star Wars, old and new, were not unaware of the complex moral problem but simply chose to deliberately ignore it for entertainment. And again, it is not at all unique to Star Wars. This is a standard thing that authors have made since there was writing. Not all authors do but where is the argument that all authors should?

The video frequently points to Finn but ignores one clear plot point: Finn has a means to escape from being a Stormtrooper. He has to actually escape being a stormtrooper and not just quit: he is deeply entrapped into his situation where he either obeys or is punished/killed. That is a point that the video misses.. If he, or any other of his fellow stormtroopers, tried to quit he would be killed and he knew it. But Finn was given a chance. Not just to run away into a life of forever hiding from the First Order, but to a place he can go to. A cause much better than the one he has been forced into. Much more, a person who has entrusted him with a mission, a person who would vouch for him, a person who has given him a new directive, a person who has given him something that the cold, dogmatic, authoritarian First Order does not. That is why the jacket was of great significance to Finn's character.
There is also his relationship with Rey too. Because an escapee Stormtrooper would face a life similar to Rey's: living in survival mode outside greater interstellar society, on the fringes doing opportunistic work and forever in fear of a system that would punish them if they found them.

The point of the brainwashing that he undergone is that he is a victim of a greater evil system. In fact, the point of his origin and redemption ark is to show how evil the First Order is. The Empire had conscripts and volunteers, people who were forced into being evil but otherwise recognized as people (for a system that does not care about people). At least the clones were born and prepared into their role before they were even born. Using "child soldiers" (Finn is not a child, not even a teenager) is meant to be a new low for a choice of warriors.

And the whole point of the Rebellion was to destroy the system. That is why they are the Good Guys.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

APlayerHater
Padawan Learner
Posts: 157
Joined: 2015-02-18 11:31am

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by APlayerHater » 2018-01-16 10:35pm

Finn never made any moral choice until the very end of TLJ. Everything he did before that point was self-serving and out of cowardice and to fulfill his own desires.

He didn't make any change into a good person until the end of TLJ when he was going to kill himself. Rose completely ruined it. -- I mean, he did go onto Snoke's ship, which easily could have gotten him killed, but Sicario guy also went on the ship at great risk to himself without pay due to... Um.. He... So that he could betray them later, I guess, for money?

Anyway, Finn was a completely wasted character. I was excited when I heard we were going to have a stormtrooper character, because I always wanted to learn about storm troopers and what kind of life/motivation/etcetera they have. Only he's A: Not a storm trooper, he's a child soldier and arguably a space pirate since all TFO seems to do is kidnap people and steal things. And B: We barely get even a glimpse at his daily life, and he abandons everything instantly.

Despite not even having a name, he is at best very minorly socially awkward, and for some reason seems to have the morals, beliefs and preconceptions of a regular man in the SW galaxy. You'd think he'd be a complete fish out of water, but he just seems mildly ignorant and incompetent... Until The Last Jedi when he magically remembers the exact layout of every ship in The First Order, I guess... Okay, where was he not a janitor? I doubt any janitor in the world today knows the layout of The Pentagon, The Whitehouse, A Nuclear Submarine, an Aircraft Carrier, and Airforce One.

Whatever.

jollyreaper
Jedi Master
Posts: 1127
Joined: 2010-06-28 10:19pm

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by jollyreaper » 2018-01-21 04:46pm

APlayerHater wrote:
2018-01-16 10:35pm
Anyway, Finn was a completely wasted character. I was excited when I heard we were going to have a stormtrooper character, because I always wanted to learn about storm troopers and what kind of life/motivation/etcetera they have. Only he's A: Not a storm trooper, he's a child soldier and arguably a space pirate since all TFO seems to do is kidnap people and steal things. And B: We barely get even a glimpse at his daily life, and he abandons everything instantly.
Seeing a friend blown away is the kind of impetus it would take for someone to break conditioning but it would make more sense if he wasn't a child soldier.
Despite not even having a name, he is at best very minorly socially awkward, and for some reason seems to have the morals, beliefs and preconceptions of a regular man in the SW galaxy. You'd think he'd be a complete fish out of water, but he just seems mildly ignorant and incompetent... Until The Last Jedi when he magically remembers the exact layout of every ship in The First Order, I guess... Okay, where was he not a janitor? I doubt any janitor in the world today knows the layout of The Pentagon, The Whitehouse, A Nuclear Submarine, an Aircraft Carrier, and Airforce One.

Whatever.
Like you, I loved the idea of a stormtrooper character It's a POV we've never seen. And it would have been fine if he was from some craphole planet that makes Tatooine look like the shining center of the galaxy. Signing on with the First Order was a way to see the galaxy. He didn't know he was getting in bed with crazy. Him wanting to get out and being an otherwise normal guy makes sense.

As a child soldier, his personality would be completely different. He's having to reject everything he's ever known and escape into an utterly alien and unknown society that was likely characterized as the greatest evil there's ever been. He would have to be a different character from who we met.

I also agree that they had little to do with the character in TLJ. And it's not because he was a character with little potential. There's a lot they could have done with him.

I don't agree that there's a paradox in making one stormtrooper human. It's actually the perfect tragedy. It shows there's a human being behind every mask but you're unlikely to ever reach them as a human being, they are so steeped in their indoctrination. So you're forced to kill someone you might otherwise have been friends with.

User avatar
Gandalf
SD.net White Wizard
Posts: 14476
Joined: 2002-09-16 11:13pm
Location: A video store in Sydney, Australia

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by Gandalf » 2018-01-22 01:49am

That's ten minutes of my life I'd like back.

What was this guy's point? Every time you kill a bad guy it's one less that can be redeemed? No shit, but Finn was lucky in his circumstances. That Lucasfilm should make Apocalypse Now but with stormtroopers? Well, anything would be better than another Rogue One. :P
"Oh no, oh yeah, tell me how can it be so fair
That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

- A.B. Original, Report to the Mist

"I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately."
- George Carlin

User avatar
GuppyShark
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2588
Joined: 2005-03-13 06:52am
Location: South Australia

Re: The Stormtrooper Paradox

Post by GuppyShark » 2018-01-22 02:25am

What does Rogue One have to do with Finn?

Post Reply