Culture

The NSW Police Tried To Look Cool By Referencing ‘Star Wars’ But They Completely Screwed It Up

When you're desperate to look cool on the internet you can sometimes go too far.

The police are absolute masters at manipulating and managing their online image. Celebs get mercilessly criticised for attempting to craft their online personas, but they don’t have anything on cops. As Alex McKinnon wrote earlier this year, “Every post that draws your attention to the cute puppies being trained as sniffer dogs serves as a small distraction from news the police deem less convenient, like the multiple instances of alleged police brutality.”

It works pretty well most of the time. Journalists and the public love it. Check out the ABC’s “Seven times QPS Media won the social media game” article for proof.

But sometimes, in their desperation to be the coolest kids on the internet, the cops go too far. They post something that not only doesn’t make any sense, but actually undermines their attempt to come off as nice, friendly, approachable meme-lords.

Case in point, this photo dropped on Facebook by the NSW Police earlier today:

The caption reads: “Keeping NSW & the galaxy safe. This little guy was arrested for selling stolen goods.” It was taken in Lake Macquarie at the Living Smart Festival, and according to the photographer “no Jawas were harmed” and no public money was wasted.

In Star Wars The Stormtroopers Are Actually The Bad Guys

If you don’t know anything about Star Wars here’s a quick summary: the galaxy is ruled by a despotic regime called the Galactic Empire. They are not good people. In the first film they blew up an entire planet killing hundreds of millions of people. The good guys in the film are rebels working to undermine the Empire.

The loyal foot soldiers of the Empire are called Stormtroopers. They’re the guys in the white armour, standing around the cop in the Facebook photo. The term “Stormtroopers” is a pretty obvious allusion to the shock troops used by the Nazis in World War 2. The official Star Wars website even has an article linking the Nazi’s paramilitary force to the Galactic Empire’s Stormtroopers. This isn’t some secret, mysterious conspiracy theory. It’s a core part of one of the most popular film franchises in history.

I’m just going to put it out there: why are the NSW Police hanging out with Stormtroopers? The four Stormtroopers in the photo are looking on, hands on their belts, as the police officer arrests a Jawa (we’ll come back to the Jawa’s predicament). They’re clearly in cahoots with the cops.

“Keeping the galaxy safe” might sound well and good from the perspective of a Stormtrooper but if you’re a subject of the Empire, you live under a brutal, theocratic dictatorship which tests new weapons by murdering millions of innocent people and blowing up entire planets.

But it gets even worse! The caption on the Facebook post has actually been edited. It originally read “Keeping you safe from the dark side of the force.”

fb edit

That doesn’t even make sense! The Galactic Empire represents the dark side of the Force! The Emperor is a Sith Lord, a master manipulator of the dark side of the Force! The Stormtroopers are loyal servants of the dark side of the Force! The cop in the photo isn’t keeping us safe from the dark side, he’s doing the dark side’s bidding. He’s teamed up with the dark side to arrest a poor Jawa! Not only have the police aligned themselves to an evil regime in this photo, they don’t even seem aware that they’ve done it.

Let’s talk about who the police officer arrested. They’re called Jawas, and they’re an Indigenous people from the desert planet of Tatooine, where a lot of the action in the first film takes place. They have a reputation for being thrifty merchants and are for scavenging and selling goods. The desert traders are clearly inspired by desert tribes from the Middle East (Jawa is actually a settlement in Jordan) and their language is a variant on Zulu and other African languages.

So we’ve got the NSW Police working with imperial shock troopers to shake down a member of an Indigenous, Middle-Eastern influenced tribe. It’s not a great look, is it?

Don’t Try And Reference Pop Culture If You Don’t Know What It’s About

A number of Facebook comments pointed out that the NSW Police seemed to lack an understanding of what Star Wars was about and who the bad guys were. Others accused them of joining forces with the Empire to victimise “marginalised groups”. “So the storm troopers were not arrested and the good guy was. Hmmmmm,” one user wrote. Others couldn’t get enough. “Despite the dark side being firmly in control this photo is extremely funny. That’s a WIN because you managed to get me to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE,” posted another.

“It’s funny because he’s actually defending the dark side and harassing a minority,” joked one Facebook commenter. It’s hard to know what the bigger crime is here. The absolute failure to understand what the very basic plot of Star Wars is about, or the visuals of a police office teaming up with the evil, Nazi inspired soldiers to arrest a faceless Jawa? Either way, we’re chalking this one up as a swing and a miss for police social media.

Stick to the cute puppies, guys. Or better yet, drop the transparent attempt to be cool altogether.