Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 by Ethan Anderton
When it comes to Star Wars, audiences are extremely familiar with the Jedi. They can use The Force. They have lightsabers. They have an affinity for beige and brown cloaks and clothes. However, as we’ve seen in the most recent trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Jedi have become a myth, regarded as legends.
With the revelation of this detail of the Star Wars universe, there have been some who are having a hard time accepting that Jedi in The Force Awakens are treated as a myth. How are the famous battles of the Jedi fighting alongside the Rebels against the Empire so easily forgotten? When we look at the history of the Jedi, not to mention consider certain practical elements of the Star Wars universe, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why.
“The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re all real.”
For some fans, it may be hard to picture citizens of the Star Wars galaxy as being out of touch with people who seem to be some of the most famous and powerful warriors in existence. But that’s only because most of the stories we’ve seen unfold on film and television have focused on Force-sensitive characters who have become Jedi or at least other characters who have allies who are Jedi. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone in the expansive galaxy, a pretty big place, would have encounters or knowledge of Jedi, and that’s for a multitude of reasons.
The Phantom Menace: “Have you ever encountered a Jedi Knight before, sir?”
When Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are dispatched to take care of some dispute with the Trade Federation, there’s an exchange between Nute Gunray and Rune Haako where the latter asks the former, “Have you ever encountered a Jedi Knight before, sir?” Gunray’s response indicates that he hasn’t. The galaxy is a big place, it would stand to reason that not everyone even knows they exist.
Revenge of the Sith
The general population not being familiar or having encounters with Jedi is especially true when you consider the fact that in Revenge of the Sith, the newly named Emperor Palpatine uses the clone army that was created under his authority as Supreme Chancellor to wipe out the Jedi. It’s called Order 66, and very few Jedi survived this massacre at the hands of what became the Galactic Empire.
If Palpatine is able to use his clone army to take out the Jedi, then it’s clear that their population wasn’t very large to begin with. But beyond that, let’s say that if even a dozen Jedi survived outside of Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano from Clone Wars and Kanan from Star Wars Rebels, do you think they’re going to make it known to anyone around them that they’re a Jedi? The death of the Jedi is the beginning of the end of their presence in the public eye.
All of this happens a little over 50 years before The Force Awakens, when the Jedi are believed to be nothing more than a myth. That’s a lifetime for some, and plenty of time for two generations of kids to have been born who didn’t grow up in a world with Jedi working as the guardians of peace and justice. They only know the Empire, and they likely aren’t even aware of the Sith being involved with their actions.
Star Wars Rebels: “Kid, I’m about to let everyone in on the secret”
If that’s not enough, there’s even more evidence as we move beyond the prequels. First of all, in Star Wars Rebels, we get the indication that the Empire is keeping a close eye out for people who might be Force sensitive. Stormtroopers in training are tested in their skills, and anyone who seems to do too well on those tests is sent to see The Inquisitors.
What happens when they meet them, we don’t really know. Maybe they attempt to recruit them as Inquisitors, and I’m betting that they don’t have much use for a Force sensitive person who isn’t keen on joining the squad. Therefore it stands to reason that the Empire continues to wipe out any remnants of those who may be strong in the Force.
In addition, we see that there are very few surviving Jedi, with the Empire still on a mission to kill all those who survived Order 66, giving all the more reason for the Jedi to disappear and be out of public sight. It’s also worth noting that Ezra Bridger is a character who is Force sensitive, but has no idea how to use his powers, despite being aware of strange feelings. It’s not until Kanan takes him under his wing and trains him that he begins to hone The Force. This illustrates how without guidance, even those with Force sensitivity may not be able to achieve their potential. And without any Jedi Masters training Force sensitive people, there will be less and less people using The Force.