Stephen takes a look at how the Empire used creative communication to oppress billions in Star Wars Propaganda.
By Stephen Kent // Star Wars Propaganda is available for purchase here. You can hear more about the contents of Star Wars Propaganda in Episode XV of the Beltway Banthas podcast, where we discuss in more detail what you stand to learn from this book.
Watching Star Wars I had always been confused by the obscured nature of the Jedi’s legacy. How did this massive and powerful cult of mystical warriors get wiped from a history in which they played such a crucial part? Only a few characters in the original trilogy seem to know what a Jedi is, or know what to expect when they encounter one–Jabba the Hutt being chief among them. After embarking on the journey of the prequels, this question looms even larger. The Jedi are everywhere. They are fighting on behalf of The Republic and have a presence around the galaxy. How could the people of the galaxy in A New Hope onward not know the story of the Clone Wars and the Jedi?
The answer as it turns out is simple: propaganda.
The Empire markets jobs and prosperity to worlds with ragged economies, such as Lothal, as seen in Star Wars Rebels.
Propaganda is essentially a more derogatory term for public relations, messaging and or marketing. It’s vast, persuasive, political in nature, and often aimed at a specific social goal or outcome. If you’re a citizen of the Galactic Empire, they don’t want you to know about the Jedi, The Force, all of it. The Jedi, as it turns out, were so reluctant to have their legacy as peacekeepers tethered to the Clone Wars that they chose not to be included in Republic propaganda promoting the war.
“We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers” – Mace Windu.
Little did they know that a certain Sith Lord at the helm of the Republic. And, he was more than happy to let the Jedi self-censor themselves out of the Clone Wars and downplay their role in stopping the march of the Separatists. This choice, of course, made the Jedi all the easier to scapegoat and destroy, and to erase from the collective memory of the galaxy.
This is one of many questions I had answered by Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy by Pablo Hidalgo of Lucasfilm. This book takes the reader on a journey with an artist known as Jaynor of Bith, a propagandist who served the Republic, then the Empire, then the Rebellion. Jaynor has compiled a diverse array of art by multiple artists, to show the course of galactic history as it really transpired.
The book has a strong narrative flow and breaks up the timeline into five parts–the crucial turning points in the political story of the galaxy, of course. Each section serves not only to fill in gaps and offer context to the events of the Star Wars films, but they also all work together to tell a cautionary tale about freedom and tyranny.