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Are We All Dark Disciples? Anti-Heroes and Why We Love Them

Are We All Dark Disciples? Anti-Heroes and Why We Love Them

Jay’s Galactic Espressions

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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.

CaptainAmerica4-TFA

Source: disneyinfinity.wikia.com

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Captain America immediately come to mind.

obi-wan-resized1

Source: starwars.wikia.com

 

 

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:

Asajj Ventress
Loki
Tahiri Veila
Anakin Skywalker

Let’s take these characters to a bit of a “court of justice” and assess their cases.

Asajjcw

Source: en.wikipedia.com

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.

obiwan_vs_ventress

Source: www.starwars.wikia.com

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.

quinlan-vos-asajj-ventress-dark-disciple

Source: www.thewookieegunner.com

My verdict: Asajj is a beautiful soul that was trapped in the circumstances of her experiences.


Loki…

…of Asgard? Of Jotunheim?
Loki Odinson, or Loki Laufeyson?

loki1

Source: www.comicvine.com

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.

tumblr_inline_n23bcikiYL1rm5his

Source: www.tumblr.com

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:

680800-tahiri_veila2

Young Tahiri Veila. Source: static.comicvine.com

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.

Anahiripic

Anakin Solo with Tahiri. Source: boards.theforce.net

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.

tahiri_veila_portrait___lotf_by_saith100

Tahiri, bearing her Yuuzhan Vong scars of torture and reshaping. Source: saith100.deviantart.com

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.

tahiri_sith

Tahiri Veila: Sith apprentice to Darth Caedus. Source: pinterest.com

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!

Contact me via email: jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com

Follow me on twitter! I have two accounts: @JoyceKrebs@KrebsKlass

Proud to be Rogue 7 at Star Wars in the Classroom, as well!

May the Force be with you, and remember…

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11 Comments

  1. birdonabird
    September 18, 2015 at 10:26 Reply

    I think even Obi-Wan can be questioned, with all of his withholding of secrets and not telling the whole truth to Luke. That’s a throwback to the behavior of the Old Republic, and we all know how that went. Not quite like Cap, who is basically a saint. That guy.

    I love that Tahiri is on your list. I feel like she’s had the most struggle through her life. She has all these setbacks, and still manages to come out on top.

    1. Jay Krebs
      September 18, 2015 at 22:00 Reply

      Thanks for your feedback!
      Obi-Wan was certainly far from perfect. I think HE honestly believed in everything he did, however. He did what he felt necessary to uphold what he was taught, and the values which sprang forth from that teaching.
      Of course, that’s all “from a certain point of view!” 😉

      SO glad you liked my inclusion of Tahiri. She is one of the most underrated characters in the GFFA. Really hoping somehow, someway, she becomes a canon character…but if not, I will still love her all the same! 🙂

  2. ladylavinia1932
    September 18, 2015 at 14:54 Reply

    I can think of more reasons why I would never regard Obi-Wan as a “hero”. Actually, I feel the same about nearly all of the characters.

    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.

    In fact, I’m rather suspicious of the phrase, because I feel that no one always (or “almost”) always do the right thing for the right reason. No such person exists for me. And I find it hard to relate to characters like that, because they seem too unreal to me.

    Not quite like Cap, who is basically a saint. That guy.

    Steve Rogers is not a saint to me . . . even if he tends to present himself in that manner. For all of his “goodness”, he strikes me as too egotistical and too self-righteous. This does not mean that I dislike him. This means I find him to be a very interesting character, despite his “saintlike” appearance.

    1. Jay Krebs
      September 18, 2015 at 22:14 Reply

      Much to ponder here, methinks!
      Of course, no one is perfect. The term “hero” is just as subjective as “anti-hero.” It largely has to do with one’s paradigm of ethics and values.
      I honestly hope there is at least one hero in everyone’s life, no matter what form or entity that may take. You’re absolutely right to point out that you need to be able to sort of “get on board” with a person to buy into them as a hero. For you, neither Cap, nor Obi-Wan is that person, and I respect that.
      Thanks for making me really analize these ideas further!

  3. Pam Bruchwalski
    September 18, 2015 at 15:54 Reply

    LOKI BLOG!!!!! Loki! Loki! Loki!… Sorry. You know how I feel about Loki. I had NO idea this blog was coming! Yes, this is a Star Wars site, but Loki is the EPITOME of an antihero, and I’m so glad you use him for an example. The thing about an antihero is not only that it’s so easy to feel they can be turned back to the light with the right nurturing (I don’t know if I want to *adopt* him necessarily….heheh), but also that they are so integral to whatever story is being told…which makes you want to root for them even more. In Thor 2 as in Avengers, Loki drives the story, and as much as I love Thor, he isn’t the same without Loki as he is with him. Loki’s antihero helps to shape and define Thor’s hero.

    I’m sorry. Were we talking about Star Wars? 😉

    Every human being on Earth makes mistakes, and most everyone deserves redemption. I truly believe that. There is good in most people (cue Luke about Anakin). I live in a glass house, and I try very hard to never throw a stone.

    I’m going to scroll back up and look at, I mean ponder, Loki now.

    1. Jay Krebs
      September 18, 2015 at 22:27 Reply

      I knew you would appreciate my inclusion of Loki! How could I NOT!?
      You absolutely nailed it by saying Thor needed Loki. He is the yin to Thor’s yang, even though they seem more like oil and water.
      You know how I feel about Loki. Losing Frigga was so hard for him; so much regret, remorse and heartache. It ripped at my soul to watch his anguish.

      I agree – there are people who do deserve a second chance at redemption, but there are also thoe that do not, IMO. Call me jaded, but this world is full of evil. I’m no judge or jury for those people, and I’m glad for that!

      Thank so much for always supporting me! 🙂

  4. Audra Weiker
    September 18, 2015 at 16:11 Reply

    Love this blog on antiheroes. Good points were made as to why we love them and hate them at the same time!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Vader’s Girl

  5. Jay Krebs
    September 18, 2015 at 22:29 Reply

    So great to see you here, girl!
    Feels like old times 🙂
    Very glad you enjoyed this piece. I am particularly proud of this one.
    Hope to have you around here on regulr basis! 🙂

    1. Audra Weiker
      September 19, 2015 at 11:19 Reply

      I will try to be……..at the moment studying for a medical coding exam so I can get certified. I take it October 10 in Columbus

      Vader’s Girl

  6. Erica Steinweg
    September 20, 2015 at 17:53 Reply

    I really appreciated this entry. I think the thread running through all of the anti-hero characters you chose is that because we get close to their stories we understand their suffering. Every villain was first a victim. That doesn’t excuse their behavior, but seeing the full story from beginning to end can’t help but spark compassion–even when you witness hurtful deeds. Not only that, we all have a shadow side. When we see it enacted on a screen or on a page, a part of us naturally “gets it.” I understand Anakin’s fear of loss, because I see it in myself.

    Thanks for this! It’s really such an important topic.

  7. Melinda
    October 23, 2015 at 08:01 Reply

    A well-written entry! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, impressions, descriptions of, and reasons why these characters have earned a place in your heart. 🙂

    I’m not sure I have any favorite anti-heroes. I’ll have to give that some thought. When a story is fleshed out well, creating a basis for why an anti-hero makes the decisions s/he makes, it certainly helps put a lot into perspective. However, that is where I draw the line. The pain they cause others — and it’s usually ‘others’ who have had no direct correlation to the pain and suffering the antiheroes experience(d) — is unjustified. That is the reason why I cannot jump on the anti-hero bandwagon.

    By the way, I loved “Dark Disciple”. It is the best Star Wars novel I have read this year. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂
    p.s. What a great assignment you gave your students! 🙂 They’re very lucky to have you. 🙂

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