Tonight's Star Wars cartoon looks like it may teach an important lesson: pacifism sucks. If so, it'll join an illustrious science-fiction tradition: stories where peace-loving, non-violent people learn to kill. Here's our list. Minor spoilers...
Judging from the trailers and stuff, it sounds as though Anakin and his pals have to teach the peace-loving Lurmens (aka lemur people) that killing is justified sometimes. And that it's totally awesome. As commenter ThisDudeRufus points out, it's great timing, coming just a few days after Martin Luther King day.
Here are some of the stories that have paved the way for Clone Wars to teach us such an important lesson:
Doctor Who: The all-time classic "gandhi iz lame" storyline has to be Doctor Who's first Dalek story, variously known as "The Daleks," "The Mutants," or "The Dead Planet." It's also the most cynical. On the planet Skaro, there are two races: the warlike Daleks, who are like evil tentacley blobs inside armored tanks; and the Thals, who are blond and peace-loving people who just want to dance and frolic in their petrified nuclear wasteland. The Doctor thinks the Thals are total wusses, but doesn't really care — until he realizes his time machine is stuck on Skaro, because he left a crucial component behind in the Daleks' city. Then, because the Doctor's neck is on the line, it's suddenly crucial to convince the Thals that human dignity requires them to fight and die for them. At first, the Doctor's companion Ian just tries reasoning with them, but that doesn't work. So he threatens to steal their hippie history drum. Still no good. Finally, he threatens to steal their womenz. And that totally works.
But another important entrant in the genre is the classic film Demolition Man. Sylvester Stallone wakes up from suspended animation in a future that's removed violence and naughtiness entirely. It's a namby-pamby PC future, in which the cops don't even know how to apply a little police brutality when the situation requires it. Does Sylvester Stallone teach these future wimps a lesson about blowing shit up when the situation requires? What do you think?
Battle Beyond The Stars features a planet of peace-loving people who are ill-equipped to deal with the attacks of the evil Sador. This Seven Samurai rip-off features a young hero, Shad, who has to gather a bunch of mercenaries to help his hapless people fight back. (Supposedly a forthcoming Fox movie, Doomsday Protocol, will be a "Seven Samurai in space" type deal.)
The anime Cyborg 009 features a whole storyline about "Alien Children," who have godlike powers but refuse to fight because they think they'll be destroyed if they kill someone else. In the episode "The Awakening," the cyborg heroes use the power of love to help the alien children to realize how to activate their deadly powers without dying themselves. Killing is so liberating! But in the end, the aliens go too far and start enjoying killing too much — they even destroy an alien invaders' ship when it's already running away. At the end of the episode, one of the aliens, Pal, steps on a flower callously as he walks away. Aww.
Enterprise plays with this idea too, in the episode "Marauders." A poor colony with a valuable Deuterium mine, is being attacked by naughty Klingons. The townspeople won't fight back, and beg Captain Archer and his crew to hide and avoid upsetting the Klingons' delicate sensibilities. But Archer and T'Pol finally convince the colonists to fight back, teaching them ass-whuppin' martial arts skills and stuff. (And then once the Enterprise is gone, the Klingons come back and vaporize the colony from orbit, probably.)
The Animorphs book series includes a whole story where the Hork-Bajirs, peaceful genetically engineered tree-herders, have to learn to fight back against the parasitic Yeerks that have enslaved their people.
Red Dwarf, of course, features poor Rimmer teaching a straggling band of intellectuals and pacifists to fight back — mostly by running across a minefield and getting blowed up, in the episode "Meltdown." Lister is so disgusted by the pointless slaughter that he punishes Rimmer by swallowing his hologram-projecting light-bee.
Okay, what did we leave out?
Additional reporting by Alasdair Wilkins.