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middleman
05-18-2009, 11:06 AM
For a long time (a decade apparently!) (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=517936), I have been amongst the bashers of midichlorians.

But today, among reading the thread above detailing the many sins of the prequel trilogy, it occurred to me that midichlorians as a source of a Jedi's ability to manipulate the force is not THAT absurd (for the sake of me being able to make a reasonable defense, I'll allow that the virgin birth was a tad too out there for a non-religious film!).

The thing I came up with is that we have always known that there are people who are more sensitive to the force than others. It was always an innate feature and not simply a mind over matter concept. There were those who were strong with the force.

So isn't there SOMETHING that causes it? Wouldn't a society with FTL travel be able to scientifically identify this substantial difference in a select sample of the population?

It seems reasonable that they would be able to determine the root cause of these abilities in the same way Professor X discovered the X-Factor which causes mutants to have powers in the Marvel Universe.

Why can we buy the fact than the X-Men have powers due to a biological anomaly, but not the same when it comes to the Jedi?

It seems that the Jedi are simple mutants with the ability to tap into some form of spiritual energy. Sure, it sounds kind of out there, but no more so that other forms of science fiction.

So, I would argue that the fact that midichlorians lead to manipulating the force is not that bad.

I have no defense for Jar-Jar.

Chronos
05-18-2009, 11:46 AM
To the extent that I can rationalize it, it's that the Force couples to all living beings equally: A human has the same amount of connection to the Force as a Hutt or an amoeba. But midichlorians are separate organisms, and a human with many midichlorians can, with training, utilize all of their connections to the Force, and thus effectively achieve a connection billions of times stronger than a non-symbioted human.

And Jar-Jar becomes a lot more bearable when you realize that he's a character being role-played by Obi-Wan's eight-year-old kid sister, when his parents couldn't find a babysitter.

Eonwe
05-18-2009, 12:13 PM
I haven't argued about this one in ages!

Really though, the problem is, when you start quantifying and explaining the mystical and magical, it ceases to be mystical and magical.

When Vadar(?) says, "The Force is strong with this one," it's compelling; his power and connection with the force enables him to sense others who also wield similar power.

If a doctor in a lab coat says, "The Force is strong with this one," while looking at a specimen slide, it's not magical any more. I'm not in awe of the power in the same way.

Part of the whole Hero myth is that some people were just born to be heroes; destined for greatness, and anyone could be that person. The story compels certain people to become heroes, sometimes the most unlikely of people. In this case, it's no longer the story, the ineffable ways of the universe that coax miracles from the mundane, it's just a simple biological cause that's easily tested for. Meh.

The Controvert
05-18-2009, 12:40 PM
Has it ever been defined that Midichlorians cause Jedi powers? Isn't it possible that there is a correlation, which allows measurement to take place, but the Force really isn't caused by the Midichlorians themselves?

For example, if you isolate the Midichlorians from one Jedi and inject them into someone else without Force powers, does that give them powers?

Maybe Midichlorians migrate towards Force-sensitive individuals, or they naturally thrive inside such individuals but not in regular folk.

garygnu
05-18-2009, 12:59 PM
...Maybe Midichlorians migrate towards Force-sensitive individuals, or they naturally thrive inside such individuals but not in regular folk.
This makes sense, but like Eonwe says:
...
When Vadar(?) says, "The Force is strong with this one," it's compelling; his power and connection with the force enables him to sense others who also wield similar power.

If a doctor in a lab coat says, "The Force is strong with this one," while looking at a specimen slide, it's not magical any more. I'm not in awe of the power in the same way...
From a storytelling aspect, I couldn't have said it better.

It just comes down to the Midichlorian thing being completely and totally unnecessary. There is simply no good reason to include a "scientific" aspect of the Force.

If Star Wars really wanted to be a real science fiction film about a group of super beings and their telepathic powers, there would have had to have been more "science" in it. Instead, apart from the description of symbiotic bacteria, the Force is treated as a mystical discipline, a religion and a martial art.

The Controvert
05-18-2009, 01:27 PM
My point on causation is in regards to the point that fans are irked by Midichlorians because it makes the person's character seem irrelevant. You could be the bestest human being, but you won't be a hero because your count is too low. Well, that implies causation... inject someone to raise their count, they get super powers.

However, if there is another root cause for both Midichlorians and force powers, then the Force is still mystical, it's just that the effects are quantifiable. It's the same as measuring how fast a person's reflexes are. There's a normal range, and then there's a Jedi range. If you are fast enough to deflect blaster bolts, you are probably in the Jedi range.

Science can measure a person's muscular fitness by the number of mitochondria in their cells. You can increase this number if you work out a lot. Maybe Lucas was borrowing this idea (since the words are similar), but his thinking is if you use the Force a lot, your cells have a lot of Midichlorians.

wunderkammer
05-18-2009, 01:34 PM
When Vadar(?) says, "The Force is strong with this one," it's compelling; his power and connection with the force enables him to sense others who also wield similar power.

If a doctor in a lab coat says, "The Force is strong with this one," while looking at a specimen slide, it's not magical any more. I'm not in awe of the power in the same way.

And when a Jedi says, "I think the force might be strong with you, so I need you to pee on a stick hold still while I prick your arm. You might feel a slight pinch..." he looks totally lame. What power? What connection to the force? Why do you need to quantify its effects in the first place?

Reno Nevada
05-18-2009, 01:42 PM
When I heard midichlorians I thought mitochondria. And one of the important things about mitochondria is that Luke got his from Padme, not Annakin.

MOIDALIZE
05-18-2009, 01:44 PM
What everyone else said. I didn't need a more explicit explanation of the Force, I was happy just using my imagination. Would it increase your enjoyment of kung fu movies to learn that the practitioners all had a gene that allowed them to kick higher and faster?

smiling bandit
05-18-2009, 02:02 PM
I think perhaps the worst element of this is that The Phantom Menace goes nowhere with it. It is ultimately an extraneous element to the movie, and apparently it was never intended to go anywhere. An element like that might work if it had some important relevence to the story, but it doesn't. It could have, but it's just shoved out onstage and then goes back miserably to its dressing to room to sit alone in the dark.

The Controvert
05-18-2009, 02:04 PM
Why do you need to quantify its effects in the first place?Lucas must have thought it was needed in order to move his plot forward. He wanted Qui Gon to be able to tell the Jedi Council that Anakin's count was the highest ever measured and he didn't feel like reworking the scene to have the room just sense the force emanating from Anakin.

But science can quantify things without resorting to Midichlorians. Reflexes are quantifiable. Telekinetic powers (if they existed) would be quantifiable. Even a kung fu master's ability to kick can be quantified. There are scientific answers to the questions, exactly how fast? and exactly how high?

Voyager
05-18-2009, 02:07 PM
Just another example of Lucas killing the magic. BTW, here is a link (http://comicsidontunderstand.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/young_george.JPG) to a very relevant cartoon.

Soapbox Monkey
05-18-2009, 07:19 PM
Would it increase your enjoyment of kung fu movies to learn that the practitioners all had a gene that allowed them to kick higher and faster?

But at some level, that does play a part. You could train for a hundred years and still not match Bruce Lee's skill.

Lebron James is as old as I am. He's also about a foot and a half taller, has a larger skeletal structure, is faster, jumps higher, and has greater muscle mass. If I had started playing basketball just as early as he had, and trained just as long and as hard, I still wouldn't be Lebron James.

Some people got it, and some people don't. Why should a galaxy far, far away be any different?

Bijou Drains
05-18-2009, 07:27 PM
It's a waste of time to say anything positive here about those 3 movies. Anyone who doesn't think they are all total garbage is shouted down as a total moron.

Shawn1767
05-18-2009, 07:37 PM
Does it say anywhere that midichlorians cause you to have good force powers? Here's the way I've always argued it:

Think of the force as being charisma.
Midichlorians are friends.

If you are very charismatic, you have tons of friends. In fact, someone who was analyzing you could infer that if you have millions of friends, why, you must be VERY charismatic indeed!

So, midichlorians are attracted to force-strong individuals, but don't GIVE them the force. As far as we know, having a high count is just a sign you are strong in the force. Much like having a high-white blood cell count might mean an infection, but no one is suggesting that white blood cells are causing the infection.

cmyk
05-18-2009, 08:01 PM
Midichlorians was a bad, bad, bad, bad move. All-capitals BAD.

First of all, in the original trilogy, there were many, Han being one of them, that thought the Force was a bunch of mystical mumbo-jumbo. He flat out didn't believe in it. When Lucas introduced Midichlorians in TPM, it made it seem like Han not believing in viruses.

Secondly, Midichlorians, as a symbiotic lifeform, doesn't really explain the Force phenomenon at all. If they're microscopic organisms, how do they communicate from a distance and do the things we see the Force doing? It just opens up a bigger jar of ugly, if you try and explain that.

It was best to just leave it as an entirely mystical, zen-like power that is largely untapped in the universe. It doesn't really have a light and dark side, because it's the people that do. It's really the idea that some people are just born special. Like a superpower. And of those are some that have an extremely rare sensitivity to it. The whole Midichlorian thing saps it of the specialness that those individuals who were sensitive to the force had.

The Force, just being a phenomenon in and of itself that connected you to something strangely powerful in the universe was elegant, and needed no further explanation. Midichlorians just ruined everything, along with the rest of the prequels.

MOIDALIZE
05-18-2009, 08:06 PM
But we don't need and explicit explanation. It adds nothing. It was only included so unimaginative dullards wouldn't have to wonder about something (God forbid!). The Force used to be mysterious, almost mystical, and there was nothing wrong with that. It just was.

But at some level, that does play a part. You could train for a hundred years and still not match Bruce Lee's skill.

Lebron James is as old as I am. He's also about a foot and a half taller, has a larger skeletal structure, is faster, jumps higher, and has greater muscle mass. If I had started playing basketball just as early as he had, and trained just as long and as hard, I still wouldn't be Lebron James.

Some people got it, and some people don't. Why should a galaxy far, far away be any different?

Who cares? LeBron James isn't famous because he's tall and strong, he's famous because he's the best professional basketball player on the planet. If he had decided to be a truck mechanic instead of play basketball none of us would know his name. The fact that he's out there performing is what matters.

Eonwe
05-18-2009, 08:46 PM
It's a waste of time to say anything positive here about those 3 movies. Anyone who doesn't think they are all total garbage is shouted down as a total moron.

Er, no. I happened to enjoy the third one quite a bit. The second was ok and the first a waste of my time.


Secondly, Midichlorians, as a symbiotic lifeform, doesn't really explain the Force phenomenon at all. If they're microscopic organisms, how do they communicate from a distance and do the things we see the Force doing? It just opens up a bigger jar of ugly, if you try and explain that.


This. Maybe part of why I can't stand this 'scientific' explanation for the Force is that it doesn't explain anything about the Force. Perhaps if the script had delved a little deeper into what was going on it might have turned into something I could buy. Instead it's a one-time throw-away plot contrivance that ultimately detracts from the experience, YMMV.

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