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Manly Man #10

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Hierarchies Oct 06 2013 · 488 views

Star Wars

 
:kaukau: Let's reword that statement: "If you strike me down, I will become more MANLY than you could possibly imagine."
 
Ever since Princess Leia pleaded over hologram message "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi; you are my only hope!" he has become a household name.  When he first appeared, he had just that right amount of mysteriousness about him.  In so many ways, it was certainly human, and looking back I think Alec Guiness did a better job than even most fans gave him credit for.  This wasn't Gandalf, who was mysterious by the virtue that he was indeed hard to comprehend, being some Tolkien equivalent of an angel.  There was a quality about Obi-Wan that made me automatically trust him as a mentor.  Though mysterious, he seemed attainable and human.  He had a history.  He could have been my uncle.  I respected him.  My mother respected him.  He was a character we found ourselves incapable of criticizing, like we could with so many other attempts at memorable mentors that came after him.  We didn't just look at him and think he was cool, but he also seemed like the type of person who could be a friend, like someone who could have and ought to have been a normal fixture in our lives.
 
In any case, he died, but in a pretty glorious fashion.  And who can forget how he came back as one with the Force?  I will always love the simple look of his ghostly projection, and to me that's what a Force ghost should look like.  My deepest hope is that if the ghosts are depicted again in the new movies that the same look is retained, no matter how dated it looks.
 
In any case, he was cool even as a ghost.
 
Yet, let's rewind.  Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi is my favorite character in the entire Star Wars franchise.  Not only did Alec Guiness to an amazing job of playing him, but easily the other best performance of the entire saga is Ewan McGregor's depiction of Kenobi in his formative years.  Whenever a character is recast, especially due to age differences, I must take a breath, but this was easily the best casting ever.  I can't say for sure whether Ewan himself actually looks like Alec in and of himself.  Ewan didn't do an impression of the original, since it was a younger Kenobi who hadn't fully matured into the older one, the one called "Ben."  Yet, the transition looked seamless.
 
The younger Kenobi, meanwhile, was what elevated Old Ben to this list for manliness.  For a while I had a long debate on whether I was going to include Kenobi of Qui-Gon Jinn on this list due to their equal status as awesome mentors and awesome Jedi in general.  Qui-Gon certainly has a lot of cool literature out there when you look at the extended universe, and I'm a huge fan.  Yet, this list couldn't include both of them, as I only had so much room and only one and a half Star Wars characters made the final cut.  What sold me on Obi-Wan Kenobi was Ewan's performance in Revenge of the Sith.  That hair, that beard, and that awesome robe set aside, I was just impressed by his development from a simple padawan into a mature, dependable person.  I said before that he could not only be a mentor but a friend if given enough time, and Episode III proved it.  He had an intimate relationship with Anakin.  They were essentially brothers.  Yet, he also knew how to always do the right thing, and he wasn't afraid to stand up to Anakin when he turned to the Dark Side.  It's hard to forget the power of their confrontation on Mustafar.
 
To fully grasp who this manly man is, let's look at his biography.  He was trained by Qui-Gon Jinn (Manliness!) who was trained by Dooku (Played by Christopher Lee, ergo manliness!), who was trained by Thame Cerulian (Appointed to the Jedi High Councel because of his manliness!), who was trained by Master Yoda (A whole new kind of manliness!).  Really, it's difficult to determine who's the manliest man out of that lot.  I just have to go on a tangent here to emphasize how how manly Obi-Wan's mentor was.  Qui-Gonn was a maverick and deeply tuned with the Living Force, and a compassionate and caring person who put common grace above the rules.  He would often go out of the way to help people when it didn't make sense because he knew when the Force was speaking to him.  Not only that, but Qui-Gon was the first person to ever discover how to become one with the Force.  Kenobi, meanwhile, was the most awesome of apprentices ever.  He was patient and humble under his master and kept a very perfect faith in their mission.  At the same time, he was pretty aware of Qui-Gon's maverick nature and knew how to reverently voice his opinion without dishonoring his master.  How many people can keep faith in someone even when they seriously question them, even doubting them?  Obi-Wan could.
 
Then Qui-Gon died, and Obi-Wan had to grow up fast.  Since he wasn't the main hero of the story (main heroes are almost always boyish instead of manly), he actually grew into an adult inconspicuously.  Of course, he had to kill a Sith first, and he was the first Jedi in 1,000 years to do so.  What does he do when he realized that the times have seriously changed and that an ancient evil that defined the Jedi identity returned?  While he's not cool with it, I'm astounded that he spends no time worrying.  His thoughts are purely on how he can train this poor boy, Anakin.  He doesn't think of whether or not he's going to fail when further conflict breaks out because he's already doing something about it.  I might also add that this took a tremendous leap of faith in the judgment of his deceased mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn, and he didn't continue his master's work out of some insecurity, as if he he had to continue his master's will in order to be at peace with himself.
 
Kenobi was also a stern but patient Jedi Master himself as he got used to Anakin Skywalker's maverick ways.  He had seen that sort of recklessness before in his master, only that reckless manliness was condenced down into reckless boyishness.  Obi-Wan was aware of how it could potentially all go wrong, but he put faith in his apprentice and loved him like a brother.  Overall, they had a pretty good relationship, even if Obi-Wan's conservative ways sometimes upset Anakin.  Really, though, Obi-Wan was always right whenever he held Anakin back.
 
Which brings us to a cool fact about Kenobi.  He has one of the most reserved, defensive swordsman in Jedi history, being the quintessential expert in the lightsaber form known as Soresu.  Even Mace Windu, who invented Vaapad, revered Kenobi, because he was the master of the classic form.  Every Jedi knew it and trained in it, but few ever actually stayed with it.  Yet Obi-Wan never took shortcuts and he stuck to the fundamentals, and he would not shift into the more aggressive Ataru form until he had worn out or frustrated his enemy.  It's really interesting that he didn't want to move on to something more advanced, and this actually saved him in his fight with General Grievous, who automatically adapted to every dueling form he had ever encountered, but had never fought a Soresu purist.  This even helped him be one of the only Jedi to ever survive an encounter with Darth Vader - and this was in his prime, before Vader became more machine than man!  Only Kenobi was a purist enough to stick to the most modest of all forms, and it saved him his life.  There's a real serenity about that man.
 
Moving on to the clone wars, he was an amazing general who lead from the front lines and was willing to do things that scared him.  He wasn't trying to be brave, and he wasn't merely doing his job.  He was a hero, pure and simple.  By that time, he had also become a wonderful partner with his former apprentice, Anakin, and they worked side by side as equals.  In fact, they were such a strong duo that they became famous for it.  Who here has had an imaginary friend who was so awesome that the two of you would go on adventures together and those "Adventures of X and X" became legendary?  No?  I know some people are going to say they haven't, but that's okay.  I have.  I totally have an imaginary friend who's I save the world with.  We're some sort of dynamic duo, two people with the most awesome friendship ever.
 
So Obi-Wan is apparently not only an excellent padawan and a great master, but he's also an awesome friend and brother.  So far, so good.
 
Then the hero of the story ceases to be the hero of the story.  So Obi-Wan is kind of the only active good guy in Episode III at the end.  Goodness, he did a good job of representing good.  It takes a real manly man to stand up to your best friend and fight to the death while on a lava planet, and the way he ended the fight was simply gracious.  Sure, he cut off Anakin's legs and he left him there to die, which on the surface might seem heartless, but in reality he was heart-broken and he dealt with it in perhaps the cleanest way possible.  He kept on fighting until his frienemy destroyed himself and walked away in tears when it was over.
 
Then we get to the patience of Ben Kenobi.  Taking his Soresu fighting style and adopting it to his entire lifestyle, he defensively goes into exile and merely waits until the right opportunity inevitably arises.  He doesn't necessarily do nothing; after all, he looks after the galaxy's last hope.  But it's a meager life.  I still respect him for it.  That man has patience.
 
So le's revisit the roles he perfectly fits into: apprentice, master, brother, friend, general, high counsel member, and crazy old uncle/wise mentor.  Yes, you could say that he was a wise mentor before when he was Anakin's master, but it really wasn't the same because he was incredibly young when he started training a padawan.  He was a mentor then, but not a sage, which he was when he was Ben.  Considering all that background, I think it really adds to that amazing sage he became.  Normally the sage seems unattainable.  In many ways it still is, simply because Obi-Wan is ten times more awesome than most people and his mistakes weren't as significant, but at no point did he seem inhuman.  Mistakes can teach you lessons in a hurry, but I think Obi-Wan learned over time through patience.  He was, to me, simply the most respectable kind of person out there.
 
Live selflessly, be humble, patient, gracious, and filled with serenity, and you will become more powerful than Darth can possibly imagine.
 

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Me

Username: Jean Valjean
Real name: People literally don't have names in my family
Age: 24
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