How did Darth Vader ever expect to stay on top of things if he kept killing his own commanders?
Monday 08 July 1996
This is good news to folks of my generation, a worryingly high percentage of whom still have all the relevant action figures and toys. The director of the film Clerks was once asked if Star Wars was this generation's Vietnam. "Well," he said, "we certainly can't seem to get over it."
Not having seen the first three films in a while, I can't call myself an expert, but I do know bad business sense when I see it and I honestly think that this is what brought down the empire in the end. Nothing more, nothing less.
I mean, how did Darth Vader ever expect to stay on top of things if he kept killing all his own commanders? In The Empire Strikes Back he gets through about 10 of them. Every time there's a bit of bad news, another guy in a brown Nazi cap puts his hand on his throat, makes a "kkk-kech- hhkkk" noise and falls over.
No modern business could survive this kind of impulsive downsizing. With one commander going every couple of minutes, there's no time to train potential replacements. This is why, as the series progresses, the commanders get more and more stupid so that by Return of the Jedi, they're a disgrace to their uniform.
They all look so surprised when it happens, too. Aren't they aware of Darth's snappy temper? If your boss started killing people with his psychic powers, you can be sure the news would have spread around the office by at least the end of the week. But the Empire's recruits have the memories of goldfish. Every time someone gets it in the neck you can see them thinking "What - what's happening? I seem to be choking! Wait a second, do I remember another person choking recently? Yes, Commander Reichart started choking when he told Darth that other bit of bad news. I wonder if his choking and my choking are somehow related? Kkk-kkk-euch-hhkkk."
It's never really their fault, anyway. The rebels always come up with a brilliant plan (like attacking the Death Star with the equivalent of a few World War I biplanes), so you can't really pin the blame on the commanders. If someone came into Vader's office, or whatever it is, and said "Mr Vader? Remember when you told me to jettison the garbage? Well, when I was doing it, I didn't check the airlock, where F-brigade must have been training, and they all shot out into space. It's all right, though! I managed to close the outer door pretty quickly, though we only lost about ... let's see ... about 1,200 men, give or take 700." Then I think there would be very real grounds for dismissal. But if Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star by using magic as he does in the first film, then maybe a little flexibility is in order.
The next time you hear a bit of bad news, Darth, count to 10. If that doesn't work, try thinking of something nice for a moment or two, like a pony or a beautiful lady's face. Or walk away from the person and jump up and down in your cloak for a while, shouting and shaking your fists. If that doesn't work, think of all the things you have to be happy about - you have some nice black clothes and a scary helmet, and you rule the galaxy. If all else fails, maybe some deep breathing exercises could - oh, wait, forget that one.
Really, it is a problem. I think in the Star Wars trilogy you kill more members of your own army than the rebels. This is one sure way to lose a war, killing all your own troops before the enemy has a go.
Remember, a happy Empire is a successful Empire. When it's a commander's birthday, send him some flowers. He may be too proud to thank you, but the next time you look in his eyes to order troops into Vector 9, you'll see real gratitude there. And from time to time, a little compliment wouldn't hurt. Let the words "nice job" and "well done" be as close to your lips as, "you have disappointed me, commander" and, "if we lose Solo I will hold you personally to blame." Come onnnnn! Cheer up! Is that a little smile I see? You know it takes more muscles to smile than it does to frown. Come on, let them all know that the whole "evil" thing is at least partly hype. Then maybe - kkk-kkk-euch-kkk.
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