“Man, the Jedi sure are uptight, maybe the Sith have a point? Wait a minute, these guys are literally the worst people you can possibly be! If only there was something in between…”

– every Star Wars narrative that even attempts to be morally complex

The most frustrating part of the Star Wars universe, to me, is that George Lucas very much started it as, “Jedi and Rebels good, Sith and Empire bad,” with very little room for nuance – Darth Vader tortured people and blew up planets, the Empire was Space Nazi Germany, and the Emperor fuckin’ looked like this – and every subsequent addition to the world needed to work backwards from, “Well, there needs to be some reason why the Sith are an ideological threat to the Jedi.” So we get things like this speech from Count Dooku in the novelization of The Clone Wars, where he makes a very effective critique of the Jedi Order and its hypocrisy. But then the leap to, “So I embraced the most toxic and hate-fueled ideology in the galaxy,” kinda undermines any decent point Dooku made, from my point of view.

In all my knowledge of Star Wars, I have not yet found a single decent, rational reason why anyone would join the Sith outside of straight-up mind-control or literally just being the worst person ever (or at least tied for that position with every other Sith). To the best of my understanding, Sith ideology basically boils down to, “the Jedi have too many rules, I want to do whatever I want, but only the powerful get to do what they want, so I should be the most powerful person ever, that way I can do whatever I want, which also involves telling everyone else to do what I want!” Which is, of course, psychopathic, and definitely the ideology of some terrible people, but how the hell does any sort of cohesive group philosophy form from that? How the hell do the Sith gain recruits with this sort of idea? They can’t all become the most powerful person ever. Does every single one of the hundreds/thousands/millions of Dark Siders believe they are the ones who will finally get one over on the current most powerful Sith lord? Why do most Force users seem to only ever have the choice of becoming “Buddhist monk with superpowers,” or “the worst person ever?”

Does the Force hate happiness? Because that seems to be the common thread between both Jedi and Sith – the Jedi seek to purge all emotion and attachments, the Sith respond, “No, let your emotions run wild! But only the ones that make you miserable!” In fact, Darth Sidious seems to be the only force user in the galaxy who actually expresses joy. Perhaps embracing his bliss was what allowed him to become the most powerful Sith in history? Or maybe it’s the reason the Force will never allow him to win in the end?

– James