The Mad Aardvark

Critical commentary on culture…

Yeah, that lightsaber…

Posted by madaardvark on November 29, 2014


I’ve mentioned this before. I can’t remember which episode it was, but in a commentary track from the Twilight Zone (original series) DVD set, Rod Serling comments about suspension of disbelief. He suggests (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the best way to get an audience to believe in the fantastic is to make sure the people that make up the world behave in ways you would expect them to, given the situation they’re in. Otherwise, the false reality built into a fantasy work starts to break down, the audience starts to question not just the character behavior, but eventually the whole premise of the movie.

The question is not “Is it possible to make a lightsaber like that?” Clearly, it isn’t. That’s the fantasy. We have accepted belief in a few things: lightsabers work, blaster pistols, flying in space, hyperspace, mystical energies that bind the universe together…

When people in these movies do things that seem “off”, we pause for just a moment and say, “Wow, that dialogue seemed forced” or “Why would somebody DO something like that?” or “That event would only happen in a movie like this because the writer is desperately trying to advance the plot”. So when I say “That lightsaber is really stupid because NOBODY would build one like that,” the response “Deal with it, bro. It’s all make-believe” just doesn’t get to the core of my problem.


See, I WANT TO BELIEVE. For a couple of hours at a time, I want to believe in aliens, magic, galactic civilizations, and laser swords. But when I see something that nobody in their right mind would do, even in a world that allows those things to exist, my whole belief structure falls apart.

I don’t even care about special effects! The original SW trilogy DID have its problems. But the story, with some real and sincere character development, carried the film. Not the bad special effects. Not the GOOD special effects. Not the acting from masters of their craft or bad actors who never quite learn. I want to believe by seeing how people WOULD react to these things IF these things were real. And when they don’t, I lose faith. I can’t accept it. My suspension of disbelief fails, and I find myself disappointed.

So, no, a weird lightsaber crossguard makes no sense at all, and it damages my belief that the rest of it could actually exist. It’s also just a trend in our need to make everything more bad-ass-er, which just accomplishes nothing. Trying too hard to make things “epic” only makes things look ridiculous.

Related Links:

I designed a better lightsaber than J. J. Abrams while I was in line for coffee this morning

Here, Star Wars, I fixed your “Force Awakens” lightsaber crossguard for you

Let’s talk about the new Star Wars lightsaber


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