Saturday, July 08, 2006

How the mighty have fallen

When seeing The Mode at the Wireless Festival a couple of weeks ago, we came across the UK Garrison, a small outposting of Stormtroopers redundant from the occupation of the whole damn galaxy (c'mon Mr Bush, get in the game, you nobody unless you own the whole galaxy).

Stormtroopers, sinister anonymous androids with the ice cold glare of a mechanised man-fly. Devoid of emotion and cold and calculated whether patrolling the wretched hive of scum and villainy at Mos Eisley Spaceport or buggering womp rats out of sexual boredom whilst marshalling the supply line down the Kessel run. It's some fall from grace to have been stationed in the UK with a PR/peacekeeping brief, how they must lament, whilst manning little recruitment booths at six form colleges in Essex, that it's not like the old days of the Empire when they indulged in an endless orgy of violence all on expenses.

We resisted the temptation to wave two fingers in front of them saying 'these aren't the droids you're looking for'. Whilst they may not have been the actual 'Troopers to have been duped by the simple Jedi mind trick, the shame that it has brought on the good name of the Empire's finest must still smart today. That, and they'd probably heard it every hour on the hour for the five days of the festival.

We looked on, watching people having their pictures taken on their knees with the hands behind their back in a kind of Guantanamo Bay chic. The Stormtroopers posed for photos pointing their blasters at the craniums of the bowed, giggly, mildly inebriated festival habitue. How the temptation to engage in a little 'weapons malfunction' must have eaten away at them. These guys were running the galaxy, now they were turning tricks for buttons in some obscure outpost.

At least the Stormtroopers' fall from grace is shielded by their anonymity (read the FAQ's on their website, it's an enclosed netherworld, you can't join them, you get invited - presumably only if you can prove you are a clone of Jango Fett and pay your subs on time). Whilst it is easy to mock, you do know that there are millions more where they came from. Unlike Darth Vader, who is so iconic and whose story is so well known, that he is a mere parody of his original being. He was the Dark Lord of the Empire, a shadow across the galaxy, distanced from every individual yet capable of ordering their destruction with a nod. Now, there he was, stripped of his dignity, wandering around trying to get the attention of portly men in Nine Inch Nails t-shirts. There was a time when he would have ordered the destruction of whole planets for wearing aged industrial rock merchandise. It was like seeing David Beckham driving a taxi.

I may be wrong but I'm sure I heard him slurring to one disinterested punter that he'd 'had that Skywalker in the detention centre of his imperial cruiser last week'.


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