For my propaganda analysis I chose to look at the Galactic Empire from the fictional Star Wars Universe. I will be analyzing their transition from the Galactic Republic to the first Galactic Empire and the propaganda that was used. Prior to the transition, the main obstacle to change was a group called the Jedi, who were force sensitive beings who observed the light side of the force (Stupendous Wave YouTube Channel). Tearing down the reputation of the Jedi was paramount to a successful transition of power. This was because the Jedi had long fought for the Republic and had been looked at as keepers of the peace (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). To turn public opinion against the Jedi made the hunting down and extermination of them a justifiable act. I will give representations of the nonverbal tactics the Empire used in their quest to bring the galaxy under their rule. I will also address the 10 points of propaganda analysis.
Ideology and Purpose of Campaign
The purpose of the propaganda campaign was to obtain absolute control over the galaxy. The galaxy included many different planets with many different star systems, the capitol of which was the planet Coruscant (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). This location is where most of the propaganda I will be looking at took place. The Ideology of the Galactic Empire was driven by one man, Sheev Palpatine. His journey from senator, to chancellor, and then to Galactic Emperor was fueled by subtle and non-subtle propaganda.
He was known as Emperor Palpatine to the public, but a handful of people knew him as Darth Sidious. The latter was his name as a Sith Lord. The Sith were force sensitive beings who observed the dark side of the force (Stupendous Wave YouTube channel). Among the ideologies of the Sith are hate, anger, greed, and lust for power (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). Being a Sith drove many of the decisions Palpatine made as a politician.
After the destruction of the Jedi, Palpatine’s Sith influence was evident in his rule. Prior to the destruction of the Jedi, Palpatine kept up a positive image with the public. He put on the façade of a mild mannered politician, working his way to the top (Stupendous Wave YouTube Channel). At the same time unknown to the public, he was heading a separatist movement as Darth Sidious. This movement would start a galactic civil war. During the war Palpatine would play a crucial role for the Republic as a chancellor. At the same time, he would secretly pull the strings in the background of the separatist movement as Darth Sidious (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). This would further his role in the galactic senate as Palpatine and in time, would help him achieve the goals he secretly had as Sidious (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films).
Context, Identification of Propagandist, and Media Utilization Techniques
The context in which the propaganda occurs is during and after the galactic civil war. The galaxy was in a state of turmoil as the war raged on. During this time the Jedi were fighting for the Republic against the separatists. They were aided by a mysterious clone army they recently learned had been formed to fight for the Republic (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). This army was part of Palpatine’s plan to overthrow the Jedi and gain absolute power. Bio-chips were secretly implanted in the clones’ brains that included preset plans, one of which was Order 66. This was an order for the clones to kill the Jedi without any question (Lore Guy YouTube Channel). This would come into play later.
During the war that Palpatine himself secretly created, he can be seen speaking out against the Jedi on billboards, implying that they started the war (Star Wars The Clone Wars television Series). This began to sway public opinion against the Jedi. They were now seen less as keepers of the peace and more as war mongers.
As chancellor, his voice carried weight and he was very respected amongst the public. He was so respected that when the war took a turn, emergency powers were given to Palpatine. This meant he had absolute control over the Senate and the Courts (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). This was the power Palpatine had been looking for and his plan to transition into a Galactic Empire was near completion.
Palpatine’s plan was moved forward somewhat when he was outed as a Sith Lord to the Jedi. This information never reached the public, as Palpatine played off the Jedi’s attempt to arrest him as an assassination attempt (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). Palpatine spoke out against the Jedi in an open senate meeting where he claimed the Jedi attempted to overthrow him and take the republic for their own (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films).
This was the last straw in the public’s eye for the Jedi. The Jedi had already lost their identity as peace keepers and now had been labeled assassins (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). When Palpatine made the formal suggestion that the Republic become the first Galactic Empire and that he be their Emperor, it was met with majority approval (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films).
Target Audience and Structure of the Propaganda Organization
The inhabitants of the galaxy were the target audience for this propaganda campaign. It was proving successful and with public opinion turned against the Jedi, it was time to eliminate them. They were the one threat to Palpatine’s rule. If enough of them survived it could begin a civil war not of his own making. There were parts of the senate that did not agree with the formation of the Empire, and refused to believe the Jedi were capable of what Palpatine was claiming. One Senator in particular was Padme Amidala. When the senate responded favorably to Palpatine’s suggestion for a Galactic Empire, she commented to her companion in a voice of disbelief, “So this is how democracy dies, with thunderous applause” (Star Wars Episode III Revenge of The Sith). This kind of resistance was a feeling Palpatine wanted to stamp out. The image below is an example of a media technique used against the Jedi, as is the billboard still of Palpatine speaking out against them.
The structure of this propaganda campaign was headed by Palpatine. He continued the anti-Jedi rhetoric as he gained more star systems by force or peacefully. He did this by inciting fear in the galaxy. His main tool for this was his Sith apprentice, Darth Vader (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films).
Darth Vader was a step down from Palpatine in the structure of the propaganda campaign. He did Palpatine’s dirty work which often included acts of violence. Vader was a show of strength for the Empire. He was an indication of what would happen if you resisted in any way (Stupendous Wave YouTube Channel). The public feared Vader and this was evident as most of the galaxy submitted to the new rule of Palpatine (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). Alongside and below Vader were various generals and commanders in the imperial army.
Special Techniques Used to Maximize Effect
There were various special techniques used by the Empire to maximize effect. One technique was violence. Palpatine would send Darth Vader on various Jedi hunting missions that would result in the massacre of a village and many lives lost (The stupendous Wave YouTube Channel). The Empire’s most brazen show of power was when they demonstrated the power of their super weapon, the Death Star. This was a space station that Palpatine had been planning the creation of for decades as a show of strength (Urban Acolytes YouTube Channel). The space station was rumored to have the power to take out a whole planet with one shot. This rumor became fact when the Empire used the weapon to destroy the planet Alderaan, home to millions of innocent life forms (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). This act drove home the idea that the Empire was not to be disobeyed or resisted.
Audience Reaction to Techniques and Counterpropaganda
The public responded as you would expect: with widespread fear. A weapon capable of wiping out an entire planet was terrifying to the galaxy (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). The destruction of Alderaan was also met with anger. This in my opinion was the final push needed for the galaxy to take back its power. This surge of emotion was embodied in the Rebel Alliance. They had been fighting the Empire basically since its formation. They were made up of people who shared in the feelings that Senator Amidala felt at the formation of the Empire. They believed that Palpatine was a tyrant and oppressor. This is an example of counterpropaganda that was evident.
To the right is a symbol of the Rebel Alliance. It could often be found painted on buildings in the capitol (The Stupendous Wave YouTube Channel). Eventually the Rebel Alliance emerged victorious after the destruction of the first and second Death Stars.
Effects and Evaluation
The effects of the Empires propaganda campaign were ultimately self-damaging. Their constant and often violent presence left the galaxy feeling oppressed and the end result was outright rebellion (Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films). In the end Palpatine lusted too strongly after power and ignored the good of the people to obtain it. The Sith of old were quoted in saying “We are Sith we have power because we take power, those who do not have power could not take it, and are therefore weak.” (Star Wars Explained YouTube Channel). In conclusion, this kind of thinking is what led to a failed propaganda campaign and the demise of Palpatine and the Empire.
Chapter 12: Understanding Visual Rhetoric
Word Press: Propaganda & Persuasion
The Stupendous Wave YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdIt7cmllmxBK1-rQdu87Gg
Star Wars Cannon Lucas Films
Urban Acolytes YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgDt0StiE__LpjdUC-SQVbw
Star Wars The Clone Wars television Series
Star Wars Explained YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIKlsX1qfGqKPt4KAW-JOZg