SURRATT: On Darth Vader and knowing where you stand

Published 6:00 am Friday, August 5, 2022

He stands under my computer monitor towering over the mass of papers covering my desk, his light saber in one hand and his other hand almost clenched as if he were using one of his Sith powers to overwhelm an adversary.

I became a Darth Vader fan when I first saw “Star Wars” more the 45 years ago. He was dressed all in black, was tall with a menacing demeanor and had that deep, threatening voice (courtesy of James Earl Jones). He was the very essence of intimidating.

Vader was the kind of villain you could hate but respect because of the way he handled different situations. And there were those Sith powers that could bring someone to their knees in a matter of minutes.

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He was a mix of man and machine, but unlike Robocop, the man/machine who mercilessly and mechanically and efficiently carried out his crime-fighting role, Vader was more human and had a soul; that was demonstrated when he saved his son Luke Skywalker by tossing the emperor over the side and into the reactor on the Death Star.

After his initial appearance on the silver screen, Vader became a media celebrity, appearing in commercials and videos, including a recruiting video by the Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department, during which Vader uses the Force to disarm the officer interviewing him. In another commercial for a golf course, Vader angers the other members of his foursome when he uses the Force to manipulate his ball and get in the hole. He then uses his Sith powers to repel one club-wielding attacker and pulls his light saber to stop another.

Vader was all over the airwaves and making personal appearances, including concerts where he conducted orchestras in the “Imperial March.” In many ways, the media was turning Vader into a pussycat. His appearances tended to make him one of the boys; a mild-mannered fella just getting along with others. He didn’t have the intimidation factor he once had.

It took another “Star Wars” sequel (or prequel?), “Rogue One,” to bring him back as an arch-villain, as mean and intimidating and as powerful as ever. I hope he gets more time like that.

I like Vader because of the intimidating presence and as a reporter, I’d like to have some of his Sith powers, especially when I’ve had to deal with stubborn politicians who prefer to play games instead of just telling the truth.

I know my affinity for Darth Vader may surprise some people who know me but I don’t mind showing this one “dark side” of my character. To be perfectly honest with you, my favorite ghost in “A Christmas Carol” is the ghost of Christmas future. You know where you stand with both characters, although Vader has shown in the past to be a bit of a “softie” when it comes to family.

So Darth, as I look at you standing on my desk, thanks for being one of the few fictional characters I could like without guilt and for occasionally reminding me that there is that fantasy world where, once in a while, it’s good to visit.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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