Few villains command the same respect as Darth Vader, one of the most powerful Sith lords to have ever lived. Vader’s black mask, mechanical breathing, and red lightsaber are international symbols of villainy and power. So in September, when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) directly referred to Steve Bannon as the dark lord, calling him “Darth Vader” while commenting on healthcare legislation, he was making a bold comparison. The public laughed off these comments, but do they hold weight? Is Steve Bannon truly the man behind the mask, the villain we learned to love?
As seen in The Phantom Menace, the most controversial of all Star Wars movies, a young Anakin Skywalker—the future Vader—was a slave to none other than Watto, the owner of a junkyard. Anakin spent long days in the junkyard on Tatooine, a desert planet with two suns and nonstop summers. His summer days at the junkyard ended with his mother urging him to wash up from his messy work before dinner. As a Jedi, Anakin Skywalker fought to preserve peace in the galaxy. He traveled far and wide, using his powers for the good of all. Skywalker also served on the Jedi Council, assisting the decision-making of high-ranking Jedi.
In the summers of his youth between terms at Virginia Tech, Steve Bannon found a job working in a local junkyard. After long, hot days in the sun working in the dirt and grease, Bannon’s mother often made him rinse off outside before entering the house just as Anakin’s did. Immediately following college, Bannon joined the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer. He served on ships and at the Pentagon, where he assisted high-ranking senior officers, just as Skywalker did on the Jedi Council. Both men worked for the good of all, but unfortunately were influenced by the powerful attractions of the dark side.
Darth Vader’s dark armor and mask give off an ambience of affectless authority. His cold garb and demeanor betray not even an ounce of emotion. The dark side, not only his mask, has overtaken any external feelings or emotional expression.
In public, Bannon’s face is harsh and unforgiving. The former White House chief strategist wears his stoic facial expression, devoid of any and all emotions, as if they were a mask. His straight, apathetic look reveals his lust for power and incites fear in all who meet him.
The Dark Side
Yoda warned a young Vader, “fear is the path to the dark side.” Through fear, the Emperor elicited Skywalker to leave the Jedi and the light side of the force to join him on the dark side. Skywalker was no more. The former Jedi would now be known only as Darth Vader.
After leaving the Navy, Bannon was tempted by the dark side with fear as a primary motivation. As Bannonhas said, “Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action.” Having already turned to fear, it wouldn’t be long before Bannon turned to the dark side—Goldman Sachs. In his new position, Bannon worked in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department. His days as a military officer far behind him, Bannon was no longer Lieutenant Stephen Bannon. He had fully embraced the dark side of the force as an investment banker.
Darth Vader commanded the Empire’s Death Star, a planet-destroying space station. In addition, he helped the Emperor achieve political hegemony by overthrowing the Galactic Republic, placing him into power in a revolution based on fear—one eerily similar to the American political revolution of 2016. Although the Emperor was the figurehead, Vader was the everyday leader of operations, often seen as the top Sith when it came to running the evil Empire.
While working as an investment banker on the dark side, Bannon served as acting director of the planetary science research project known as Biosphere 2. One of the major focuses on the project was space exploration, although there is not enough evidence to confirm that the initiative was to culminate in the construction of a Death Star. In addition, Bannon’s skillful work in politics brought about the election of President Trump. Before his masterful takedown of the government, Bannon said, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.” He proved successful, eventually tearing down the political establishment in the same way that Darth Vader helped the Emperor in his plot to bring down the Galactic Republic. In the early days of Trump’s administration, it was widely speculated that Bannon was the true mastermind behind the policy decisions that came out of the White House.
Truth or Conspiracy?
“Darkness is good. Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan. That’s power.” These words, uttered by Bannon himself, leave little doubt that Bannon is indeed a Sith. Directly referencing the dark lord, Bannon confirms his faith in the power of the dark side. The parallels between Vader and Bannon are too great to ignore. What is yet to be seen is the conclusion of Bannon’s story. As we know, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader suddenly experienced an inner transformation, realizing the consequences of his turn to the dark side. Vader jumped in to save the day, heroically overthrowing the Emperor. Will Bannon follow in the footsteps of his Sith predecessor? Will he see the consequences of his actions and return to the light side, restoring balance and peace to the galaxy in the process? We can only hope. But until that day, the dark lord of Breitbart News is to be feared in the same manner as Darth Vader himself.
Image source: Flickr/Steve Troughton/Gage Skidmore