Fake News in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

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Rogue One highlighted one of my odd obsessions: how does a galaxy far, far away manage its information? How do people gather and use information? How do they save it? I think about this a lot (sadly?), so this is the first of what will probably be several posts about information in Star Wars.

(disclaimer: while I consider myself a fan, I’m a new fan who was recently won over by Clone Wars and The Force Awakens. It’s very likely that all of these questions have been answered, I just haven’t found the answers. This is me working it out through the perspective of LIS.)

Based on immediate appearances, it would seem that information management is not a priority. However, this cannot be the case. Influencing and controlling the flow of information is one of the most powerful weapons of not only the Empire and the First Order, but also the New Republic. Consider how the galaxy views the Jedi.

It’s reasonable to assume that the Jedi order would have been fairly well-known during the years of the prequels. Even without knowing the names of specific Jedi, people would have heard of them. Younglings were plucked from a variety of planets and cultures. Throughout Clone Wars, the Jedi visited numerous planets where everyday people would have seen them. They taught people how to fight separatists on behalf of the┬áRepublic. For thousands of years, the Jedi Temple was on Coruscant, which served as the capital more than once.

Ahsoka teaching on Mandalore in Clone Wars ep. 3.6. From starwars.com

In short, people knew about the Jedi.

19 years after Order 66, a naive farm boy on an outer rim planet knew about the Jedi and was excited to learn that his father had been one. But 53 years after Order 66, (that is, 34 years after the Battle of Yavin – the destruction of Death Star 1), Rey is amazed to discover that the Jedi are real. In addition, it’s almost as if Finn doesn’t recognize a lightsaber even when he’s holding one.

How do they not know about the Jedi just 50 years after their annihilation? There are obviously people “in the know,” such as General Leia Organa and her husband, as well as other politicians who were around during the days of the Republic. These people likely kept quiet about the Jedi out of fear for their own lives and the lives of their friends, but that doesn’t explain how the order is almost completely forgotten by the general public. True, the Jedi maintained an air of secrecy, but they also had a temple in the biggest city in the galaxy. They weren’t exactly the Illuminati.

The only explanation I can think of is that both the Empire and the New Republic suppressed information about the Jedi. The reasons for the Empire doing it are clear: the Jedi were enemies and a threat to the Empire. But what about the New Republic? Was the information suppressed for the safety of the remaining Jedi? A Jedi version of witness protection? But if that’s the case, why suppress all knowledge of the Jedi?

I’ll explore the New Republic’s motivations in my next post and I’ll eventually loop back to Rogue One.


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