TV | Star Wars | Dramatic Irony and Clone Wars | Overthinking It
On the surface, Cartoon Network’s smash hit Clone Wars is a breezy little space adventure. Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme, and the rest of the prequel pack (yes, even Jar-Jar) zip around the galaxy, taking out hordes of bumbling robots and crossing lightsabers with a series of snarling bad guys. Everyone is constantly in danger, but nobody ever gets hurt, and the good guys inevitably save the day while learning valuable life lessons. Even though there’s a massive interstellar war raging, the tone is doggedly upbeat. In other words, this is a high-tech version of G.I. Joe, Thunder Cats, Transformers, or any of those other boy shows we enjoyed with our Rice Krispies back in the 80s.
However, when you consider the series in the context of Episodes II and III, everything changes. The Clone Wars suddenly seems darker than the inside of a Sarlacc. In fact, it seems almost cruel to market it to eight-year-olds.
Here’s the key thing to remember about the galactic conflict known as the Clone Wars: they are a complete and utter farce. Palpatine is literally controlling both sides: he commands the Republic’s clone army as Supreme Chancellor, and he leads the Separatist’s droid army as Darth Sidious. The sole reason for the war is to solidify Palpatine’s political power, and to keep the Jedi bogged down in a bunch of totally meaningless battles.
. . .
The Clone Wars are not the epic struggle between good and evil the cartoon makes them out to be. They’re not even a real conflict. To the people fighting them, they’re real enough, but there aren’t even two sides; just a single commander, ordering his troops to attack each other. Imagine if Gargamel was secretly working for Papa Smurf.
Like I said, this is dark, dark stuff. But that’s not the half of it.
The Jedi lose the Clone Wars, bigtime. They not only don’t defeat the robot army, they are all killed. By their OWN TROOPS. Consider that for a moment: this is a show for children about a war which will end with the good guys getting shot in the back by their own soldiers. The fact that a lot of the young fans might not know that doesn’t make it better; arguably, it makes it worse.