Saturday, March 02, 2013

Obama the fuddy-duddy

People on both sides of the great Star Wars/Star Trek divide must be wailing and clutching their groins in agony when President Obama says the following regarding how reasonable he's been and how unreasonable Republicans have been on the matter of sequestration:

"I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that's been floating around Washington that even though most people agree that I'm being reasonable, that most people agree that I'm presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don't take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld and convince them" to agree on a deal. (emphasis added)

Oooooohhhhhh, the pain. Although not quite as egregious as that famous moment when George Bush Sr. demonstrated that he had no idea what a supermarket scanner was, this gaffe certainly ranks high in the annals of pop-culture sacrilege. Not the way to be a uniter, Prez. Melding Star Trek and Star Wars imagery that way is like asking Texas and Oklahoma to kiss and make up.

To clear things up: in the Star Trek universe, Vulcans are generally touch telepaths: they need to be in physical contact with a sentient being to read its thoughts and feelings. And as far as I know, Vulcans don't actively influence other minds. Two exceptions present themselves, though: first, in an old episode of classic Trek, Spock uses his mind powers from behind a door to influence a guard standing outside. Second and more infamously, in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," Spock uses the power of his mind to force secrets from his Vulcan protégée Valeris. (Some have distastefully referred to this ugly event as "mind rape.")

Jedi in the Star Wars universe, on the other hand, register thoughts and feelings as if those phenomena were radiating out of sentient beings' heads. Thoughts are ambient, not contained within skulls. Through their talents with the Force, Jedi can influence the course of those concepts and sentiments in weaker-minded individuals. Luke Skywalker presumably fails to influence Jabba this way (although Jabba does pause for a significant moment at the beginning of Luke's mental attack) because Jabba's evil will is a river whose flow is simply too strong to redirect.

I hope that clarifies matters, Mr. President. Jedi don't do mind melds. That's a Vulcan thing.


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