Jay’s Galactic Espressions
I recently taught a lesson in my high school classroom about The Hero’s Journey, popularized by Joseph Campbell’s work The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Part of the lesson included choosing a hero with which the student could identify, and correlate that hero’s values with their own. It was a great way to help them evaluate their own identity and personal “code of ethics.”
After the lesson that day, I began thinking about heroes in general. A hero is typically “the good guy,” someone who (almost) always does the “right” thing, or at least does things for the “right” reasons. They aren’t flawless, per se, but they’re as pretty darn close as you’ll ever get. Overall, heroes are relatively easy to pick out of our culture, and from sources of literature, pop culture, and other media.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Captain America immediately come to mind.
But, what about people or characters who don’t always do the right things, or make all the right choices? What if these people have a dark past; a history of poor judgement calls? Are they inherently evil?
How about those who start their life’s journey as “good,” then turn “bad” for whatever reason?
Cue the anti-hero.
The term “anti-hero” has had much debate among literary circles. What is it? A villain? Someone who is evil? A person who always does things for their own selfish gains, no matter who they hurt in the process?
After much personal reflection and research on this topic, I have decided that an anti-hero is this:
Someone we hate to love, love to hate, yet somehow wish them the best, regardless of what they’ve done. We want to see them succeed, to be loved, to be accepted. They get under our skin, in our very souls, and cause us to evaluate our own motives, values, and decisions in life. They gain our empathy and our affection. We forgive them, or at least make excuses for them, even though their former actions may be abominable.
Who ARE these people??
For me, four characters enter my mind immediately:
Let’s take these characters to a bit of a “court of justice” and assess their cases.
Asajj Ventess: This gal has always had my attention. Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple has finally brought the masses around to my way of thinking. 😉
There was always just “something” about Asajj, originating from the original Cartoon Network Clone Wars Microseries. Mysterious, cunning, super sly, unyielding, and strong, Asajj could hold her own against anyone, and look graceful — yet deadly — doing what she did best: being vicious.
As the Dave Filoni era of Clone Wars emerged, we saw Asajj as a mega-villain. A dark acolyte, trained by Count Dooku to be an assassin and warrior. She became one of the most feared entities in the galaxy.
Yet, we knew nothing of her past, really.
Fast-forward. We eventually get to learn of Asajj’s hurtful experiences; of a Jedi Padawan who maliciously lost her Master, who forgets her true nature, and eventually watches her entire family and culture perish before her eyes. Outcast, devastated and ashamed, she turns to bounty hunting, and becomes a loner with “No Name.” We do see glimpses of her humanity — and femininity — through it all: “flirting” with Obi-Wan as they battle, reuniting a brother and sister, helping Ahsoka prove her innocence, and eventually learning to love again… I won’t go further, so as not to spoil the essence of Dark Disciple, for those who have not yet read the novel.
My verdict: Asajj is a beautiful soul that was trapped in the circumstances of her experiences.
…of Asgard? Of Jotunheim?
Loki Odinson, or Loki Laufeyson?
Poor, poor Loki. In a nutshell: Adopted kid, has a big brother who gets all the attention, idolizes his adopted Mom, but twists her lessons of wholesome fate-weaving into those of mischief and trickery. I won’t go into too much detail about Loki’s character, being a Star Wars blog, but suffice it to say there are many layers to this soul.
For all of his deeds, Loki commands a level of empathy from us. We can identify with many of his issues, at least on some level. We become attached to him, want to excuse all of his evil acts, and even root for him to win. We fall for his charm and wit, even though we know that charm and wit will probably end in some sort of malignant or deadly act. We love him and hate him all at once. We laugh at his jokes and want to heal his wounds.
My verdict: *I* want to adopt Loki. Draw up the papers. He needs someone to allow him the opportunity to be loved.
Tahiri Veila and Anakin Skywalker‘s “anti-hero’s journey” are actually very similar in many aspects. We all know Anakin’s journey, so it would be redundant to describe it here, but I invite you to correlate Anakin’s journey with Tahiri’s as it is described:
Now part of the Legends era of Star Wars, Tahiri has strongly established a unique place in my psyche, for reasons I cannot fully explain, and she remains one of my all-time favorite Star Wars characters.
A human orphan, adopted and raised by the Sand People of Tatooine, Tahiri was quickly identified as Force-sensitive, and taken to the Jedi Temple for training. She loved to roam the halls of the Temple barefoot. She liked the coolness on her feet, in contrast to the hot Tatooine sand. There, Tahiri met Anakin Solo, youngest son of Han and Leia Solo. The two became friends, and Tahiri fell in love with Anakin, only to have him taken from her by his untimely death.
After that, Tahiri’s life circumstances began spiraling in such an out-of-control way, that I couldn’t help but to feel as though her future choices were not fully her fault:
She was captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, tortured, and “reshaped” into a Vong persona. She forever holds the scars of that ordeal on her forehead: a mark of anguish, yet perseverance.
Later, Tahiri was convinced by Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus to become his Sith apprentice in exchange for his promise to teach her a Force technique called “flow-walking.” Tahiri was led to believe that by utilizing this technique, she could go back in time and revisit her love, Anakin. In the process of turning Tahiri to the Dark Side, Caedus coerced Tahiri to assassinate Gilad Paelleon, Imperial Head of State.
Much later, in a positive turn of events, she was finally able to regain the trust of Luke’s New Jedi Order. After a series of happenings, from imprisonment to working alongside Boba Fett, Tahiri was ultimately able to help the Jedi defeat the entity known as Abeloth.
The Tahiri quote that sticks with me most, and gives me chills:
“I know something about pain you don’t. Pain drowns other people. I just swim in it.”
My verdict: Tahiri is one tough chick that hasn’t just endured her torturous circumstances, but has flourished in the wake. I admire her. I want to embody that resiliency every day of my life.
I’m excited to see what lies ahead in this new era of Star Wars. I wonder what anti-heroes await us in The Force Awakens and beyond. Will we see any anti-heroes in Rebels as well?
Who are your favorite anti-heroes, and why do you love them? I would love to know!
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May the Force be with you, and remember…
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