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What Me Think

By Lord Mudgeon McGrumpypants

BLAT
"Star Wars: Return of The Quarter"

It's heartwarming to those of us on the Quarter staff that so many people have written in asking where we've been. Top Ten lists notwithstanding, the real reaon is that, after one too many joke at their expense, the Trimarian College of Heralds pooled all their money and took out a contract on us. Fortunately, $78.52 doesn't buy much, and the contract only lasted for three minutes. Still, just to be safe, we thought we'd take advantage of the SCA Memory Effect so we could get a fresh start.

You know the SCA Memory Effect. That's when you do something so bad that people actually call you on your behavior (normally considered a worse faux pas than actually behaving poorly). Really bad things, like drunkenly mistaking the Thrones for a Port-O-Potty, claiming you have a terminal disease to get out of an obligation, or pointing out that Pre-1600s Western Civilization doesn't include Ninja Cavaliers. So when people start making duct-tape torches and pitchforks instead of working on the arrow levy for Gulf War, it's time to disappear for a couple of years, maybe change your name in the meantime, and when you come back, all will be forgiven. Because in the SCA, it's the height of rudeness to mention behavior more than 18 months old — except in Peerage discussions, where the fact that you didn't know enough to bow to the Queen at your very first event will still be held against you.

So we're back now, and hopefully that little incident involving Triskele Herald, the sleeping bag and the flatulent badger will never be mentioned again.

LA la la!

Anyway, I'm sure by now everyone has seen the final Star Wars movie. If you haven't, and you don't want to read any spoilers, you should probably turn the page before I mention that Anakin Skywalker is really Darth Vader. Oops. Sorry about that. At least I didn't let it slip that Darth Vader is actually Luke and Leia's father. Drat. My bad. Anyway, as I was watching Return of the Sith, it struck me that the Star Wars movies are a perfect metaphor for the Society for Creative Anachronism. Consider the original Star Wars, otherwise known as A New Hope if you buy that revisionist bull about Lucas planning it as the fourth in the series all along. See-Threepio is like the SCA newcomer, brought into a strange new world by a friend who'd been there before but didn't bother to tell him what to expect.

Soon, like a newcomer being picked up by one of those households that gloms onto every newbie they see, C3P0 is captured by the Jawas. He's a bit taken aback, as their manners certainly don't match his expectations, but he doesn't know how to extricate himself from their clutches. Eventually, he meets Luke, an up-and-coming swordfighter who takes pity on him and pulls him out of the icky household, and C3P0 becomes Luke's man-at-arms, just before Luke himself is taken under the wing of a wise old knight. See how beautifully it all fits together?

Okay, maybe the metaphor isn't exactly perfect. The Knights in the Star Wars universe fight with light sabers, not heavy weapons, and they don't wear armor. No, the ones who wear armor are the Stormtroopers, whom I liken to SCA fencers. They use clumsy, random blasters (rubber band guns), wouldn't last three seconds in a bout against a Knight if each combatant used his preferred weapon, and have weak minds, making them easy prey to the Jedi mind tricks. No, wait a minute, SCA Knights don't have mind tricks. Never mind that last one.

Nevertheless, the parallels are uncanny. In the last three movies, which are actually the first three, we get to see the Jedi analogue of the SCA Chivalry meetings. Everyone sits calmly in a circle, listens respectfully to each other, thoughtfully ponders what the other Knights have said before responding in a measured, even tone... Well, I've never been to an SCA Chivalry meeting, but that's what I imagine it must be like.

SCA Knights and the Jedi Knights are of course too obvious to spend any more time discussing; likewise, the parallel between the Pelicans and the Sith is pretty self-evident. And you've got your belly dancers, your annoying musicians, your obnoxious drunkards — nothing too unusual there. But some of the other conclusions I've arrived at might surprise you. For example, I would not equate Heralds with the Ewoks or the Gungans, as satisfying as that might be. No, Heralds are the protocol droids. Fussy, fastidious, very concerned with what is right and proper, always telling people they can't do something — but most illustrative of all, if you think back to Return of the Jedi, you'll remember that C3P0 actually becomes the Court Herald for Jabba the Hutt! He doesn't mangle anyone's name while introducing them, true, but let's face it: nothing in the Star Wars universe is as unpronouceable as Welsh. (Jabba the Hutt, by the way, makes an excellent example of an SCA King. Nothing he says is even intelligible to the first row, let alone the people cutting up in the back. True, he is at least audible, unlike most SCA Royalty, but the net effect is much the same.)

What of the Laurels, though? Well, if you give it a little thought, it's pretty obvious. Okay, not exactly obvious, but there's a very clear parallel. Okay, no, there isn't; I can't think of any Laurel types in any of the Star Wars movies. George Lucas' œuvre is set in a world free from ArtScis, devoid of documentation. The word "authenticity" was never uttered in any of the six movies. Sorry, Laurels, but there's no place for you there. Tough break, but at least you won't get dismembered every time you turn around, like the Heralds do.

I hope you've enjoyed this little philosophical departure from my usually bitter rantings. I guess coming to the end of a 28-year journey will do that. Tune in next time for my take on why Heralds are the root of all evil. (Hmm, maybe they should have been the Sith, and the Pelicans should be the Senate of the Old Republic...)

The book is mightier than the sword!
Please send all complaints about this column to the author at mudgeon@thequarter.org.


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