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There are two sides to every story. In the original trilogy, we learned about the evil Galactic Empire and the small Rebel Alliance that was fighting for freedom in the galaxy. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time learning the perspective of the other side however. It looks like that oversight may be getting fixed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We’ll be getting to know a lot more about The First Order and how they have been able to recruit thousands of Stormtroopers to fight on their behalf. It turns out the First Order’s soldiers are being taught that the Empire was a benevolent force, and that Luke Skywalker and those damn rebels who blew up the Death Star (twice) are the villains who destroyed everything.
According to John Boyega, Stormtroopers are fed propaganda by the First Order in order to make them believe that the rebels are the bad guys of the story. Well, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, that’s probably true, from a certain point of view. Entertainment Weekly has some images from the new film that include attacking Stormtroopers, without Boyega’s Finn in their ranks. Finn will apparently start the film with a view of the people we view as heroes in fact as villains. Does he come across information that causes him to doubt the truths that the First Empire has been telling him? This could be the reason that Finn makes the decision to leave his position.
As wild as this sounds, the galaxy is a big place and 30 years have passed since the events of Return of the Jedi. You have to assume that many Stormtroopers weren’t even alive on the day when Darth Vader and the Emperor were killed. Add to that the fact that the further away from the event you were, the less likely it is that you’ll receive accurate information, and it’s not hard to imagine impressionable young people coming to believe things that aren’t true. It’s not like it’s never happened before.
But then one has to ask themselves, exactly how far up the chain does the propaganda go? Stormtroopers believe the story. Does Captain Phasma know the truth, or is she also unaware? Might we see more Stormtrooper defections over the course of the trilogy? Have there been others before Finn?
At the same time, is it even really propaganda? Surely the Emperor never actually viewed himself as evil. He thought he was bringing order to the galaxy by taking control of it. Aren’t the rebels actually villains from the Order’s perspective. How much do they really need to lie about it? The empire was the government inasmuch as there was one. The rebels destroyed it. End of narrative.
Who are the real bad guys of The Force Awakens? Which side are you on?