• Wes Hazard

Just let people have their Garbage Compactor Moment



Remember in Star Wars IV: A New Hope when Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, & Chewbacca get stuck in Garbage Compactor 3263827 on the Death Star after escaping from a bunch of storm troopers? It's a bad situation. They're being still being pursued by the Imperial goons, they're stuck in a noxious dead-end trap filled with waist-deep bilge water, there's a largely unseen tentacled monster swimming in there with them that's trying to kill them, and to top it off the garbage compactor starts running and the walls of it close in. They're sure to be either shot, eaten, or crushed in short order...inside of a trash dump. Like I said, it's a bad situation.


But then a miracle happens (it's a Hollywood movie after all). Out of nowhere, against all odds, R2-D2 pops up on Luke's radio and is able to remotely shut down the compactor and open the pressure maintenance hatch, everyone escapes the garbage compactor. Having been seconds away from being crushed to death in a pit of debris and untreated waste our protagonists are understandably...ELATED. Luke and crew start whooping it up while soaking wet and covered in slime because they came *this* close to certain death but juked out of its clutches at the last second. They're thrilled. They express that they're thrilled. We exhale and cheer along with them. No one questions any of this. The celebration is due and welcome.


They are however still trapped on the DEATH STAR. Clearly their core mission (toppling the seemingly invincible Galactic Empire and liberating the galaxy) isn't "done". It's not even close. In fact fact, with the benefit of having seen the rest of the movies, we know that they need to escape the Death Star, blow it up, overcome the loss of Luke's hand and the revelation of some troubling family secrets, endure Han's capture, then Leia's capture, free them both, kill a slug mob boss, kill the emperor and blow up the Death Star again. AND THEN, decades later, remnants of the defeated Empire will rise, Han will be murdered by his own son (who Luke almost murdered), they'll have to blow up the Death Star (more or less) AGAIN, and the kids will have to kill the Emperor AGAIN because utopias don't exist and freedom needs to be nurtured and oppression resisted at every single turn forever and ever and ever.


So yeah, in the grand scheme of things getting saved from a garbage compactor is a pretty minor victory but in the moment that it happens it's the greatest and most unexpected relief that could possibly have been hoped for and it lets the resistance crew breathe a sweet sigh of relief and get themselves prepped to continue the fight and to begrudge them of that muck-covered "we literally almost died" moment of celebration would just be unhelpful and...weird.


In other words: Joe Biden is no savior. Kamala Harris will not carry us to the promised land. Trump still holds tremendous sway over millions of people and a significant minority of the people in this country do not believe in the legitimacy of the current administration and are prepared (and preparing) to take up arms against it. And even a return to a supposed pre-Trump "normalcy" would be an abhorrent affront to millions of Americans who would still be suffering under the weight of poverty, sickness, food insecurity, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, white supremacy and so much more. The Death Star still needs to be destroyed. The Empire still needs to be toppled. And even if it is the next Empire will need to be confronted.


But the inauguration of Biden is still infinitely better than the other scenario we were looking at on election night (or what might have been on January 6th). We escaped the garbage compactor. Nothing is over, but let people be happy about it for a couple of days.

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