Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Luke Skywalker vs Dorothy Gale (and her little dog, too)

A young person is raised on a farm by an aunt and uncle. Said young person despairs of life on said farm. Said young person is swept up into adventure and confronts the Forces of Evil. Along the way, said young person meets up with a metallic man and some furry dude. At the end of the story, it turns out the young person had the ability to accomplish the goal all along! Many sequels ensue.

Alexis (in this post) discusses heroes and how stereotypical D&D player characters are not heroes. There is not much in the post with which I disagree. Alexis seems to suggest that Dorothy Gale is a hero. OK, I'm down with that. So I ask Alexis if he considers Luke Skywalker to be a hero. (I mean, Alexis doesn't have to like Star Wars to agree that Luke Skywalker is a hero.) In Alexis' opinion, Luke Skywalker is not a hero. Then I ask why Dorothy is heroic if Luke is not. Alexis laughs this question off and does not deign to provide a straight answer. Why should he? Clearly, I'm going to interpret things however I want.

Is there anyone out there that can play devil's advocate (or, in this case, Alexis' advocate)? Seriously, I'd like to know what qualifies Dorothy to be a hero as opposed to Luke. From what he writes, it seems Alexis thinks Luke is self-centered; that his goals are selfish. I guess bringing freedom to the galaxy was just incidental to his plans. What about Dorothy? She wasn't a crusader. Her motivation was to return to her aunt and uncle. If not for that motivation, Dorothy could have chilled out with the Munchkins. Am I missing something or does Alexis need to take off his green spectacles?

To avoid quibbles of canonicity, let us restrict ourselves to the original movie (Episode IV) and the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Thanks.


  1. You exhaust me.

    Here is what it comes down to. I have the perception that Dorothy cares more for her companions than she does for herself, and that Luke cares more for 'adventure' than he does for his companions. I feel that this is evident in Frank L. Baum's text as opposed to George Lucas' screenplay.

    However, to PROVE this is true, I have to effectively write a thesis, producing quotes from the Wizard of Oz and juxtaposing those quotes with Star Wars, arguing them point by point, building comparisons which I would use to destroy Luke and promote Dorothy. I have no doubt I'd be able to do this, because Baum's work is genius, whereas Lucas' work is crap.

    But should I do all this work, it wouldn't do any good ... because it would either go right over your head or you'd dismiss it out of hand; because this is what FAN BOYS do. They ignore evidence and they have no perspective on things they love. For fan boys, Star Wars is a fetish, and that's all the defense it needs.

    So forgive me if I don't want to do three months work to satisfy your smarmy certainty that Luke is still a hero no matter what anyone says. Here's what I suggest: YOU spend three months writing a thesis on why Luke is just as good as Dorothy. Then print is and build a little altar for it in your room, so you can love it with all your heart.

  2. Alexis, you may not believe me, but I genuinely appreciate your reply.

    Yes, you could write a thesis, but I'm not looking for proof, just your educated opinion.

    I think your perception of Dorothy as selfless is valid. It's fair to say that a hero should be selfless. Given this criterion, Dorothy makes the grade; Luke, arguably, does not. I am not asking you to make that argument.

    You have shown me that your rejection of Luke as a hero is not merely a knee-jerk reaction, but a defensible position.

    I will forgive you for not wanting to do three months of work if you forgive my smarminess.

    Thank you.

  3. My apologies for any friction this has caused.

  4. No friction on my end. I'm just trying to understand a different viewpoint...and write a blog.

  5. That is still bullshit. You get the sense that Luke does not care for his friends as much as Dorothy - nay, you could prove it, given three months - so therefore Luke is not a hero.

    And if you disagree, you are obviously a FAN BOY.

    L'il Lexi, you are too deluded to realize that saying "Luke is a hero" does not equate with worshipping the film.

    You are too incompetent to state your thesis in less than three months of work.

    Your inability to present anything without overstating and demonizing differing viewpoints underlines your petulant disassociation from reality, for all to see. Except for the fan boys buying your subscription and blowing you in your comments.

    Have fun picking the lint out of your belly and tearing the wings off flies while others enjoy the holiday.

    Happy Turkey Day, Perdustin.


  6. Aww, Timothy, Alexis answered my question and he apologized. He deserves some slack for that. He's entitled to his opinion even though LUKE ROOLZ!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving and may the Force be with you.

  7. Nah, Alexis just proved his intellectual dishonesty is all he did.

    He defines a hero a certain way, decides Luke Skywalker does not fit that definition in his opinion, refuses to offer proof, demands you prove him wrong, belittles you beforehand in case you do prove him wrong, and then goes back to offering up his house-of-opinions argument as superior to your opinion.

    Its almost funny to see someone so obviously smart so absolutely blind to his own shortcomings.

  8. Seems Alexis enjoys playing with the meanings of words as well as fighting against imagined fanboys' feverish stubborn ignorance. I agree with some of what he comes up with and I do think he is a decent writer, but like many with a soap box, he feels the need to come across over the top. I guess it draws the most attention.

  9. With intellectual giants like these judging me on assumption, it's a wonder I don't change immediately.

  10. Alexis,I just want to say how much I admire your steadfast refusal to articulate any actual point of view. America needs this kind of determination! You are rubber, I am glue!

  11. What does Luke get out of being a hero? Sure he longs for adventure and wants to be a part of something bigger than himself. But to say that look doesn't care for his friends is ridiculous. It doesn't take three months and a thesis to figure it out. Ex:

    Luke leaves his Jedi training at great cost to his personal power and development to save his friends on Bespin.

    Luke continues and sets up an elaborate and heroic plan to rescue a smuggler from a gangster...the payoff for Luke. He rescues his friend.

    These are just two quick examples. I think from what I've read that Alexis is going to hate on star wars because because it's star wars. That being said I don't agree with the definition of a hero as being pure and untouched by sin anyway.

    Hero's in real life are real people with real personalities. They can even being fairly bad or unlikeable people and still be heroes. Some of the biggest real life hero's in my mind were the founding fathers. Washington was a wealthy landowner who owned slaves. Yet he was instrumental in making sure that our government was a democracy and not a monarchy. He is a heroic but flawed figure. Being an adult is realizing that a person or a character can be both.

  12. Lest we take our differences of opinion all too seriously, allow me to recommend this article

  13. I have not read The Wizard of Oz so I can only talk about the movies. And it has been a while since I saw them.

    Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch by accident. Before that she only wanted to go home and help her friends with their problems. I wonder if her solution was in one direction and her companions were in another direction, whether she would have helped them or gone her own way. She seems to be motivated by (reasonable) self-interest.

    Luke was just living his life when his guardians were killed and he found out his father was a Jedi. He then joins the rebellion against the tyranical empire, putting his own life on the line to help other people. The conversation he has with Han when Han is loading his reward and Luke is preparing for the attack on the Death Star illustrate this. He then, by a deliberate act, destroys the Death Star, doing what no-one else was able to do.

    I don't see Alexis's point of view.

    Regardless, I think people have their own ideas of what heroes are. A hero embodies the ideals you value yourself. If you value crime then your hero will be the biggest criminal you know. If you value strength then your hero might be a UFC fighter, or a weightlifter. Micheal Jackson will be some people's hero because he was talented, or spoke about saving the world, or was a black guy made good. Others might think he had mental problems and too much plastic surgery. Where I live there is a commemerative football match each year celebrating a player who died 10 odd years ago. He died of a drug overdose and I don't see why you would want to celebrate some druggie who killed himself. I guess others do.



  14. I think this comes down to the fact that there are a whole host of definitions for the word hero (as Alexis notes in the intro to his piece when he mentions the meaning of hero in Greek mythology: half-god, and nothing to do with altruism).

    A few observations:

    The hero's journey is also a literary pattern. I took an English class where Star Wars was actually used as an example of this in popular culture.

    Most of the literary antecedents of characters for the older versions of D&D are not heroic by the altruistic definition either; for example, Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, Cugel, Elric, Conan, Skafloc. Even Bilbo and Dwarves are more about recovering the treasure (Middle Earth didn't turn heroic until LoTR).

    I don't think D&D was intended to model altruistic heroes. If it was, experience would be gained for rescuing people in danger or helping people in need. Actually, that might be an interesting game, if you could get players on board. In my experience, most players want to play adventurers, not heroes, and that's just fine with me.

  15. Just saw this after being linked to the pepper spray image, so my apologies if its a bit late, BUT..

    Dorothy seems to be EXACTLY the kind of D&D 'Hero' Alexis rails as "Not a Hero".

    She squishes someone who is evil (because she was told she was evil by a third party, and through movie magic has green skin, you know, like an orc) and then loots the body for a bitchin magic item.

    The magic item's legitimate owner (the previous owner's next of kin) comes by and is refused the bitchin items (because damn, they sparkle).

    Dorothy then gathers a ragtag group of party members (fellow PC's) and goes to see the wizard about getting something. The wizard sends them on a pretty standard fetch quest, which they undertake in exchange for a wish(reward) (really, this is cliche RPG material here). They then go commit home invasion to finish murdering the the green skinned people they don't like and taking her McGuffin in exchange for rewards from a third party.

    If you go by the book version of Dorothy she is a straight up assassin of the witch (who didn't accidentally melt her but lashed out in a fit of anger) and enslaves the flying monkeys through magic (again, no giving up the shiny magic item) and is still driven by her own desires.

    Dorothy is the standard D&D character.

  16. Far be it from me to be a Dorothy apologist, but a few clarifications are in order.

    Dorothy does not “squish” the Wicked Witch of the East; the house falls on the witch. Dorothy wasn't even conscious at the time.

    The Witch's body turns to dust so, technically, there is no “body” to “loot.” Regardless, it is the Good Witch of the North who takes the Silver Shoes and gives them to Dorothy. (If they're so powerful, why didn't the Good Witch keep them?)

    The Wicked Witches were not related; that's just Hollywood make-believe. In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West admits that she has no right to the shoes.

    The Wizard is pretty much a jerk. He tells a little girl to go kill someone, makes several promises, and then refuses to deliver. Whatever. Even though Dorothy says she doesn't want to kill anybody, I admit it is somewhat disingenuous of her to accompany others who, evidently, intend on killing the Witch.

    There is no prejudice against “green skinned people.” First, the Winkies are yellow. Second, no Winkies are harmed (or even threatened) by Dorothy and company.

    There is no “home invasion,” although they intentionally enter the Witch's domain. Dorothy, the Lion, and Toto are captured and brought to the castle.

    Dorothy had no idea that water would harm the Witch. I admit that it was spiteful (and perhaps unheroic) of Dorothy to splash water on the Witch, even though the Witch had enslaved her and conspired to steal her property.

    The Winged Monkeys were never enslaved. They voluntarily submitted to the authority of the Golden Cap in repentance for their mischief.

    So there.

  17. Fair enough.

    The capture part I would still consider an invasion as she had already set out to kill the witch (or become an accomplice in helping those who would) and entered her property at that point. I forgot the specific mention of having no right to the shoes in the books version, been awhile (in fairness I did split between movie and book Dorothy however :P)

    The shoes, were still not hers to take however. They belonged to someone(the key point Alexis makes) and Dorothy didn't go try to track down their rightful owner nor return them to the community. And the monkey's volunteering to serve the bearer of the golden cap to me seemed very much like a genie volunteering to serve whomever rubbed the lamp.

  18. OK, I'm with you on the invasion. Dorothy, of her own volition, accompanies a group that has no stated purpose other than to kill the Witch.

    I'm almost with you on the Flying Monkeys. They had some leeway with regard to their service. (First, they didn't kill Dorothy. Second, they did not comply with Dorothy's request to fly her across the desert.)

    Then there are the shoes. Dorothy did not 'take' them, the Good Witch of the North, a recognized authority figure, gave the shoes to her ("the silver shoes are yours"). The Munchkins, 'the community,' did not contest this notion. If you go to a foreign country and an official gives you something, you become the rightful owner. It might even be considered an insult if you tried to 'return' the gift.

    But why argue? We agree on the invasion issue. This alone tarnishes Alexis' precious heroine and makes her no better than a ruthless thug.

    Luke Skywalker was not so bloodthirsty. I guess that makes Luke a BETTER hero than Dorothy!

    Thanks Zzarchov, you saved us three months of work. Only L. Frank Baum FAN BOYS could dismiss such evidence.

  19. Wait a second, don't be hatein' on Dorothy. She is an awesome hero too. She helped the scarecrow, the woodman and stood up to the lion when he tried to bite toto.

  20. Alexis is right, you are wrong, get with the program people! He doesn't have to back anything up, geez, he's smarter than all of us put together. And looks better in women's lingerie.