M: And now for something completely different!
K: By which we mean “lighter than our typical soul-crushing Star Wars fare.”
M: Obi-Wan has a pretty bad attitude when it comes to flying and droids. For someone who
laughs sarcasms in the face of death, why such strong opinions about such inherently benign things?
K: “Flying is for droids,” nicely sums up Obi-Wan’s feelings about both of those things.
M: A double-hitting snark. But really, I think that Obi-Wan’s disgust with both flying and droids is one of the most hilarious aspects of his character. Here we are, sitting at home, looking at the Star Wars universe, wishing we had droids and could fly.
K: Have you HEARD me talking about how much I love X-Wings? I would kill for one of those!
M: He’s such a flipping hipster about it. You know what his preferred mode of transportation is? Riding an Eopie. Or Walking. And an eopie looks like a shaved camel with a grubby little elephant snout, and they are known, primarily, for farting.
K: (For those of you wondering about Obi-Wan’s affinity for eopies, see Kenobi, by John Jackson Miller.) I had a thought about why he hates flying–in a single person fighter, he’s the only one he’s responsible for. And we all know how much Obi-Wan cares about his own safety.
M: 0%. Okay, maybe like 11.38%, but that’s just because he’s worried he’d let someone down by dying.
K: Exactly. So, when he flies, he actually has to care about his own life and safety because they’re the only ones he has control over.
M: Darling Obi-Wan, please care about your life. I mean, Vader does! Obsessively, even!
K: Hahaha. I wonder if he’s afraid of heights too–he’s had enough bad experiences, what with all the dangling off stuff he does.
M: Haha, a different conversation because he hangs off of precipices by one hand basically every day of his life, but yes, possibly.
K: Actually, as someone who IS afraid of heights, I think it’s probably pretty unlikely. He doesn’t exhibit the usual signs of, I don’t know, avoiding standing close to sheer edges or jumping out of skyscraper windows.. And of course, he always has the Force to catch him. But, in space, you’re not going to fall, you’re going to be sucked into a vacuum, which sounds much scarier. So maybe the hatred of flying has more to do with that.
M: Honestly, I think he just gets motion sick.
K: OMG of course! He’s always clutching the armrests when Anakin starts making crazy turns and staring desperately at the horizon line.
M: Exactly. He’s definitely dizzy. Plus, he is in SERIOUS mom mode when flying. Like, you know he’s pressing the invisible brake pedal with all his might.
K: Oh yeah, the imaginary parent brake gets a workout when Obi-Wan flies with ANYONE. But especially with Anakin.
M: So, he’s about to barf, Anakin says “let’s try spinning, that’s a good trick!” and Obi-Wan has to pretend he’s not going to lose his space-cookies. Additionally, I imagine this is a point of embarrassment for him. I mean, the cool kids fly yellow speeders and spin, duh. And here Obi-Wan is, hanging out with a much younger, more risky Jedi, who is admired galaxy-wide, and let’s face it, he wants to pretend he’s cool too!
K: And the thing is, he IS a good pilot–even Anakin, wonderboy pilot extraordinaire, says he is. He’s just not a flashy one.
M: Yes, definitely not flashy. It’s Obi-Wan “making full use of his inherent discretion,” as Dooku says (Labyrinth of Evil, James Luceno). Obi-Wan thinks of everything in the long-term. It’s what got him constantly into trouble with Qui-Gon (living force, yadda yadda, living force), and so there’s no WAY he’d take any sort of risk by being flashy or unsubtle. He’s got to be the one with good judgment.
K: But, he also wouldn’t be anything less than a great pilot, because what if he’s the only one who can pilot the ship and save everyone? Wait, that sounded a bit too Anakin.
M: That’s where they think similarly. Just, Obi-Wan hopes he can save everyone, while accepting that maybe he won’t be able to, and Anakin needs to save everyone cause he’s the Chosen One and crap.
K: Well yes. Little messed-up dummies. But where Anakin would thoroughly enjoy doing a daring landing with a damaged ship and a full crew depending on him (or at least he would after the fact), Obi-Wan would hate every minute and be muttering under his breath the whole time. Given all the tells he has, (like that muttering) I find it hilarious that he tries to deny that he hates flying in AotC. He seems to get over that though, he’s a lot more open about his dislike in later novels and in RotS.
M: Haha, glad he gets over trying to deny it because it’s terribly obvious. Obi-Wan was born with a grandpa’s soul, and I think he tries to play cool for a bit, but ultimately he can’t deny his grandpa-ness or all of the sarcastic remarks building up in his head. Kids these days, with their texting and murder, and also their flashy flying and newfangled droids.
K: I also love the contrast in the opening of RotS, where Anakin is manually flying, grinning as he puts his starfighter through all kinds of crazy maneuvers, while Obi-Wan gives his astromech control with a nervous “Nothing too fancy, R4,” and then just grits his teeth and bears it.
M: Speaking of RotS, it’s also a great place to discuss his dislike of droids. I’m thinking of the elevator scene when he starts complaining about Artoo…
K: Yeah! And Anakin gets all defensive (“He’s trying!”), because he treats his astromech like a person basically. (See also, Artoo gets lost in Clone Wars and Anakin risks his and Ahsoka’s lives to get him back.) Which just confuses Obi-Wan to no end.
M: Obi-Wan is very aware that these things are metal, and he just does not understand them or why people would treat them as beings rather than tools.
K: Important to note: Jedi don’t use droids, as a general rule. Like, they are almost never found in the Temple. He probably didn’t see very many during his childhood, or even during his apprenticeship.
M: Yes, interesting. Droids would certainly be unsettling if you weren’t used to them. Also, Obi-Wan definitely has a predisposition for living things, perhaps passed on to him by Qui-Gon “pathetic lifeforms” Jinn. I love that he rides that freaking lizard in RotS (which he obviously gets a bit attached to, bad Jedi!), and in Clone Wars he often rides animals or is rescued by them (my favorite being that manta-ray thing on Kamino).
K: Yes! Anakin would have grabbed one of those spinny wheel car things Grievous drives to chase him. Obi-Wan’s like, “Where’d my lizard go??”
M: Maybe I’m reading too much into this (that was a joke, I definitely am), but I like to think of it as Obi-Wan longing for a simpler life in general. He just wants a pot of tea and a good book, and in his hipster-grandpa view, droids are just over-stimulation and over-complication. As is a lot of “modern” Star Wars life.
K: Hence him not using blasters. “So uncivilized.”
M: And let’s not forget Oldie-Wan. Plenty of evidence in the OT, too. Ever since I was a child I’ve found it hilarious that he hovers over Han’s shoulder in the Falcon, practically wringing his hands. He is sooooo anxious about flying there, too. And OMG, speaking of ANH, the look he gives R2-D2 when he first sees him kills me every time.
K: Me toooo. He’s like “Are you KIDDING me right now, Artoo?” And Artoo just beeps smugly.
M: Little punk droid.
K: As much as droids are weird and unsettling and whatever, and as complicated as robot ethics are, the Star Wars fandom LOVES them some droids. So it’s interesting to have Obi-Wan, (and often, the other Jedi,) treat them so dismissively, while we’re all getting attached and writing headcanons about how Artoo teaches swear words to BB-8.
M: And don’t forget Skippy the Jedi Droid (look it up). It IS an interesting dichotomy and one I’ve wondered about. I think it puts the audience in Anakin’s POV, and punctuates the description of the Jedi as a hokey old religion. But really, I think the Jedi just don’t know how to use them so they act all superior about it.
K: Yes, the Jedi are very good at acting aloof and superior about the things they don’t understand (*cough* Anakin Skywalker *cough*).
M: And, lest we forget, the Sith seem plenty comfortable with their droid army. To them, the Jedi’s discomfort with new technology is indicative of how outdated the Jedi are, and ultimately something easy for Palpatine to exploit.
K: Yep! But the Jedi are all about life, nature, etc. Droids, even nice/friendly/sassy ones, don’t comfortably fit in their world. The Jedi can’t even sense droids in the Force, which I’m sure has to be disquieting.
M: Ok, I have to go back though because I’m just giggling to myself about Oldie-Wan and Artoo still, like when Luke’s saying the transmission is gone and Obi-Wan’s like “I seem to have found it” like DUDE you know you didn’t “find” it and you’re lucky Threepio isn’t on to translate Artoo’s indignant response.
K: Bahahaha, it’s a good thing Luke can’t understand Artoo as well as Anakin (especially at this point) because, even though he’s a very trustworthy and circumspect droid all things considered, I’m sure Artoo could (and would) tell him some stories.
M: Which might be why Obi-Wan doesn’t like droids. Or flying. I bet Artoo has pulled something on him at one point or another.
K: WIth Anakin as Artoo’s owner? Certainly. Also, a thought: Anakin probably treats Artoo as a friend because he doesn’t want to be the owner of something that can talk to him.
M: Okay, OUCH, I thought we were being “light” hahahaha. Whatever: “Another happy landing!”