Leave Baby Yoda Alone!

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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31 Responses

  1. fillyjonk says:

    Type I vs. Type III survivorship curves, yeah – so it sounds like Frog Lady and her husband have gone over closer to Type I (like humans) then Type III (like earthbound frogs).

    I don’t watch this show (too cheap to pay for yet another streaming service) but this sounds hilarious. Of course Baby Yoda would eat the eggs! Children want what they want! There’s also something metaphorical about his “selfishness” here – rather than calling it “genocide” and screaming for it not to happen, the people watching should maybe contemplate their own lives. I don’t mean “would you literally eat an embryo if you got peckish” but….yeah….I’m watching the news and some dude in an airport is saying “I’m 64 and I want to enjoy my life” as he’s preparing to fly during the worst pandemic in over a century where doctors and epidemiologists are pleading with people not to travel to try to limit spread….

    I mean, what Baby Yoda did is hilariously terrible, but geez, these people hyperventilating need to look at the world and what people are doing and wonder, is it really so terrible this fictional event happened in a fictional story?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to fillyjonk says:

      My kids (ages 5 and 7) regularly volunteer how much they love me.

      But if you told them they could get a Nintendo switch if they offed me? Dude, I’d be dead before dinner.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to Kazzy says:

        Children (and some adults) are literally thoughtless and selfish, as in, they’re not even making a conscious choice, they don’t THINK about the other person involved.

        I have people who have hurt me in some way and a friend reminded me that “they are being literally thoughtless, they are not doing this to harm you, they aren’t even thinking.” The outcome is the same but somehow not assuming mean intent makes coping with it a little easier.

        Cripes, if 2020 has taught us anything….

        But yeah, like I said, I don’t watch the series but the idea of Baby Yoda eating a frog egg of an endangered species because he got hungry and wanted it seems so freaking true to life to me that I can’t get why people are so upset.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to fillyjonk says:

          I think the meaning of “thoughtless” has somehow come to involve mal intent. Which makes no sense.

          The below argument is one I’ve had with MULTIPLE people…

          “You were being thoughtless.”
          “No I wasn’t. I just didn’t think about all that.”
          “Exactly. You were thoughtless.”
          “NO! I just didn’t think of it.”
          “That is what thoughtless means: lacking thought.”
          “UGH! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!”

          We all have moments of thoughtlessness. When I point them out to others, my goal is (usually) to get them to widen their “thought net” so they are taking more into account when making decisions. We could all stand to do better at that. But it is almost always taken as an attack on the person’s intent and therefore character. That may have something to do with how I approach such conversations, but the conflation of “thoughtless/selfish” with “intentional jerk” is real and confounding.Report

          • Kristin Devine in reply to Kazzy says:

            One of my personal pet peeves is being held accountable for things that literally did not occur to me.

            To me, thoughtlessness implies things you DID think of and were just like “meh that’s not important”. You didn’t think of others.

            It is dumb to expect people to think of things they did not think of LOL. As you put it, confounding.Report

    • It was darling and hilarious, and completely in keeping with the spirit of Star Wars.

      I hope you have a good Thanksgiving today – if I could I’d have you over! 🙂 no eggs thoReport

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    We eat unfertilized eggs all the time. Sure, they species aren’t in danger, but still.

    Genocide kinda requires an intent that Baby Yoda just does not, can not, have.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Also, if I ever get a Twitter account, the first thing I figure I’ll have to do is create a macro that responds to Tweets with “Are y’all fecking daft?!”Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        This is a great piece. Thank you for writing it!

        I’m the kind of guy that struggles with fantasy. I tend to get too caught up in, “THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!!!” And that’s on me. I tend not to read/watch it as a result. And if I do, I’ve learned to keep my opinions to myself.

        I read/listened to the Harry Potter series (original 7, at least) since it felt important to tune into such a major literature phenomenon aimed at children. And I now spare everyone my opinions on the series (WHY NOT USE THE TIME TURNER MORE?!?!?! WIZARDS ARE IMMORAL MONSTERS FOR KEEPING MAGICAL HOSPITALS SECRET FROM MUGGLES!!!) because that isn’t what the books are for or about.

        People like me have always existed. And we’ve probably always been irritating to folks who enjoy these works of art, ESPECIALLY if we can’t keep our opinions to ourselves.

        The problem now is, as I see it, twofold.

        1.) Not only do many folks not keep their opinions to themselves, but we now all have immense platforms to broadcast our opinions. So now every jamoke can make his feelings known to, well, just about everyone. This is the underlying problem but ultimately the lesser of the two.
        2.) Too many folks seem to assume that because the platform is big, that their opinion is thus weighty. We’ve gone from stoned naval gazing on whether Baby Yoda is a genocidal monster to Twitter debates that people think actually matter. So while this problem is built upon the latter, it is the bigger of the two as I see it. Because you can’t just dismiss all these daft bozos for being just that: daft bozos. They assume because their opinion is now out their in the world, it needs to be engaged with.

        Folks like me have always been around, ready and willing to ruin other people’s fun. But now we have bazookas and assume that makes us an army. Instead of just loud jerks.

        Though, if you really want me to take up arms, get me ranting on The Lion King and its various spin offs.Report

        • Kristin Devine in reply to Kazzy says:

          Oh man, don’t even get me started on Harry Potter.


          I agree with you completely about the navel gazing. In fact I think this particular controversy is what made me realize that what once passed as an “isn’t that weird/stupid” conversation between people now receives a ridiculous amount of cultural weight and I’m not sure fiction can exist in that atmosphere. It’s just not possible as a writer to please everyone and by giving every idiot a mouthpiece (that’s ok) and the media acting as if they’re the second coming of Roger Ebert (not ok) it is having a chilling effect on the writing process as a whole.

          BTW I would love to read a Lion King rantReport

    • A whole lot of people seem to have forgotten about intent these days.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    They should have two sets of stories, like the Bible.

    There are the fun ones that you can tell the kids and the *REAL* ones that you tell other adults after the kids have gone to bed. You know, like tell the kids about Sampson and Delilah and David and Goliath. Once only adults are in the room, tell them the story about Yael and Sisera or David and Bathsheba.

    The problem is that people think that Star Wars is only happy and nice Bible stories and when they encounter Elisha calling for some bears to maim some kids, they get confused.

    Don’t make fun of bald people!

    Anyway, the Mandalorian is obviously one of the Bible stories for adults after the children have gone to bed. People who demand that these stories leave them feeling good after they encounter them should probably convert. Star Trek, for example, doesn’t have any problematic stories after Roddenberry died.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Don’t make fun of bald people!”

      Preach the truth, brother!Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is a very good observation, that science fiction can address serious issues but only through a filter of fantasy.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        A lot of religious stories, more’s the pity, have calcified. Science-Fiction, Superheroes, Fantasy stories… they allow us to discuss morality in a way that makes it alive. Our ancestors were once allowed to do the same, but a bunch of prissy jerks said “NO THE STORIES MUST BE SET IN STONE!” and, wouldn’t you know it, all of the people who wanted to tell stories and discuss things vibrantly had to scurry off and find some hidden corner in which to talk.

        Look for the censorious jerks. Look for the ones policing which stories get told and who gets to tell them.

        Those are the calcifiers.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

          Post-apocalyptic fiction (which weirdly always seems to get lumped in with sci-fi) allows for interesting conversations.

          A recent fave was “The Girl With All the Gifts.” On it’s surface, it is a quasi-zombie story about a virus that renders most people zombified but a small group of children as yet-to-be-explained in-betweens. They look and act like people most of the time but every now and then go all zombie, so there is much discussion in the book about how to treat “them”.

          My girlfriend can’t get into such books but sometimes I talk about them and she’s intrigued. So we can lean into really fascinating talks about what it means to be human. But then at some point I have to interject with, “Yea, but then the kid ate someone’s face off. So they shot him.” Because, ya know, they’re still half zombie things.Report

      • It is the entire point of fantasy, to allow us to tell stories about our own culture through the guise of another, without people getting up in arms about it. Sometimes this is done by presenting cultures that have elements that are problematic or even repellent to us.

        If we start imposing the moral rules of our culture upon fantasy, it will completely kill the ability of writers to do that.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird says:

      One of my sons has a theory that modern storytelling is really weakened by our culture’s insistence that everything that’s for children should really be for adults, and everything that’s for adults must also be suitable for children (either actual children, or the perpetual children who are offended by everything constantly). It yields terrible products where the kid stuff is laden by constant pop culture references and plots that are preachy rather than entertaining or thought provoking, and the adult stuff is, as you say, calcified into insipidness and quasi-religious blather.Report

  4. This was a great, Kristin! I was smiling and nodding the whole way. I watched the episode after this notroversy broke and I was like, “Really? That’s what everyone is upset about?”Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    One of the best things about Star Wars, like the Dune series, is that it envisioned a world in which religion played a major role. As opposed to most other science fiction which envisioned only worlds in which people were entirely secular.

    Dune was a lot stronger in this regard, showing that the actions of the characters was driven not by rational goals like power and money, but religious zealotry.

    What gives both of these imagined worlds strength is how they show that regardless of technology, humans (and human-like species) will eternally behave in predictable ways.

    I don’t know that the Star Wars universe features ethnic hatreds, but it should. A universe in which every species just automatically views every other species with collegiality and acceptance seems weird.
    Like, what if some of the service species like tauntauns were sentient, and decided they didn’t like to be beasts of burden? Or what if there existed a world in which a stronger species decided that humans were rather tasty?Report

  6. I think the controversy is a function of that part of the episode being a bit more true sci-fi than Star Wars usually is. Generally, all the aliens in Star Wars might as well be humans. The Frog People (the species still doesn’t have a proper name, at least as far as Wookieepedia seems to know) reproduce in a way that is genuinely inhuman, and while the question of “can you blame a small child for eating the unfertilized eggs of another intelligent species?” might be at home in some sci-fi stories, it came in a bit jarring for Star Wars.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    Robin Hanson has a great post about this today:

    Just as authors focus on telling stories in familiar spaces with familiar minds, they also focus on telling stories in familiar moral universes. This effect is, if anything, even stronger than the space and mind effects, as moral colors are even more central to our need for stories. Compared to other areas of our lives, we especially want our stories to help us examine and affirm our moral stances.

    In a familiar moral universe, there many be competing considerations re what acts are moral, making it sometimes hard to decide if an act is moral. Other considerations may weigh against morality, and reader/viewers may not always sympathize most with the most moral characters, who may not win in the end. There may even be conflicts between characters who see different familiar moral universes.

    The whole essay is good.

    The important insight, I think, is the desire for a shared moral universe. We can wave away the stuff that we all agree is a matter of taste. Who cares about matters of taste? It’s the moral questions that are important.

    It’s when we get shown a universe that doesn’t agree with us that we end up with arguments like the one about Baby Yoda.Report