Baby Yoda sucks. It is nothing more than a new Star Wars icon which further drags the science fiction franchise deeper into capitalism’s grasp. This is nothing new for the series as it has consistently chosen profit over story. Why else would we have nine movies about the Skywalker family? But Baby Yoda is perhaps the most forced merchandising tool the series has yet to create, it is certainly the most successful in breaching the generation gap. As my colleague Christian eloquently shows it hasn’t always been so obviously materialistic. But from Return of the Jedi and on, Star Wars has been about selling products.
The youngest Star Wars fans have been spoon fed ewoks, porgs, and a never ending supply of silly droids. Adolescent fans are given a new take on the lightsaber each generation. From the double sided saberstaff to the three pronged crossguard lightsaber of Kylo Ren. Teenage Star Wars fans are gifted with new takes on violence and force powers from Darth Maul, General Grievous, and Kylo Ren. Adults may watch for the character development or world building potential to be limitless, but are trapped in Star Wars’ chase for the mighty dollar. The story without the merchandising has proven to be too brave a concept for Star Wars.
The Mandalorian on Disney+ has been a micro-study of this struggle. While still existing in the timeline of the same old Skywalker’s, we are introduced to a race of people with which die-hard fans are familiar. Mandalorians are a secret people with a long history only briefly touched upon in the films by the Fett family. We follow a lone warrior whose journey becomes intertwined with the galaxy’s best interest. A well made space cowboy show set in the Star Wars franchise should be an undeniable win for sci-fi fans.
And yet, the show has not achieved the greatness it could. It is enjoyable, though most episodes are filler for a story that, two seasons in, hasn’t found itself. The only negative I can write about is the unnecessary cuteness of Baby Yoda. The show’s greatest strength is this adorable little character’s ability to make a space western fun for all members of the family. It also cheapens the experience. Baby Yoda has succeeded where Jar Jar Binks failed. Comedic relief in an easy to market cartoon character. An experiment someone should have asked if they should, not if they could.
I imagine the creation of Baby Yoda came from a circle of Disney executives. Gathered in dark robes like sith lords (perhaps Jedi Master’s if you prefer) deciding on how best to capture the minds of the innocent population. To tease them with a drug that imitates quality without delivering on expectations. To get the viewers hooked and convinced to purchase the dolls, halloween costumes for babies and pets alike, and prepare for the inevitable spinoffs. I choose to believe Baby Yoda was invented first, The Mandalorian was developed as a vessel for the character. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the show. I just hate feeling like I’m being used by our Disney overlords.