The Star Wars train is still rolling along and the toy shelves are filled with those freaking adorably annoying porgs (as a true Star Wars fan, I personally hope that they don’t become the new Jar-Jar).
A while back, we touched on the downside of being a Stormtrooper and why they have it worst. Now, let’s look at why the rebels are a very close second.
In the The Force Awakens, Finn left the previously mentioned terrible First Order and joined the Resistance, a successor to the Rebellion in all but name. The poor guy doesn’t even know that he just traded one terrible assignment for another.
At least Stormtroopers had a few things going for them, such as armor, reliable gear, force of numbers…
The rebels out “fighting the good fight” had next to nothing in nearly everything.
Here’s why it sucks to be a rebel:
1. Very little funding…
Good will can take you a long way against an evil empire, but you still need financing.
Those blasters aren’t just going to buy themselves. Historically, rebellions (in our galaxy) have been financed via a combination of three sources: Other governments, wealthy sympathizers, or outright stealing what they needed.
There aren’t really many options for the Rebel Alliance as far as governments or sympathizers go. When the Galactic Empire called themselves the Galactic Empire, they meant it. Nearly every government in the galaxy fell underneath Emperor Palpatine’s control.
You can’t just turn to the Hutt-controlled space in the Outer Rim for financing because scum and villainy just don’t care about noble causes. The rebels did have an extremely wealthy donor in Bail Organa (Princess Leia’s adoptive father)…but he and his wealth were destroyed on Alderaan.
So, if you estimate the Earth’s total combined wealth at $241 trillion in 2014 and multiply that by the god-knows-how-many planets under the Empire’s control, do you think it’s possible to steal enough stuff to stand a reasonable chance against an enemy that rich?
2. …which means little gear and training.
The Stormtroopers had acclimatizing suits that were designed to stop blaster shots. The rebels wore…blue shirts and vests. The Stormtroopers had a blaster rifle that works as a machine gun, rifle, and sniper rifle. The rebels stole a few of the same. The Empire had massive fleets of TIE fighters and pilots at their disposal. The Rebels had outdated X-Wings with only a handful of pilots.
And it keeps going on.
3. They’re painted as the villain – because some are.
The problem with being the Rebel Alliance was that it was loosely-formed from many rebels doing their own thing. This was most prominent during the events of Rogue One, where the rebels struggled to keep Saw Gerrera from giving the wrong impression of what the rebellion means.
It’s not too clear how the average citizen of the Galactic Empire feels about the rebellion. The closest we get in the films is when Luke talked about joining the Imperial flight program, and no one reacted as if the Imperials were the bad guys.
Albeit, their opinions did change after the destruction of Alderaan.
4. Little to no chain of command.
Sure, the pilots get fancy pep talks and are often given commands, but that barely constitutes good advice, let alone a real military order.
Take the Battle of Hoth, for instance. One of the three major rebel bases was under attack and needed to be evacuated. The duty of making sure everyone made it out alive fell entirely on the shoulders of a princess who hadn’t demonstrated any military capabilities until that point.
There were actual generals there, and yet her plan to fly weaponless transport ships full of high ranking officers directly at the enemies didn’t raise a red flag to anyone.
Even still, most rebels just acted on their own free will rather than having some actual military decorum. What would you expect from a chain of command that was literally made up of six officer ranks?
Which leads us to…
5. Rank makes no sense.
Case in point: Han Solo. A man who laughed at the Rebellion eventually gave in and helped his new friend. He flew in at the last minute, shot out Darth Vader’s TIE fighter, and earned a medal from the Princess. Got it. It makes some sense to why he’d become Captain Solo by the time of the Battle of Hoth.
We can forgive the battlefield commission/promotion to Captain, even if he wasn’t nearly as much help as Skywalker. The real concern is how he got promoted to General before the Battle of Endor. He didn’t really do anything but fly around space before being captured on Cloud City and imprisoned in carbonite.
When he was released and reunited with the Rebel forces, he was automatically granted the rank of General.
In the U.S. military, POWs are promoted with their contemporaries while captured and we stretch things in Star Wars to assume it worked the same way. But seriously? Did enough captains get promoted to general in the span of a year to warrant Han being promoted that quickly?
6. No recognition.
All of that can be explained away as the fighting spirit of the rebellion. Sure, they terrible gear, inexperienced leaders, and wacky organization, but at least you could hold true to the knowledge that they were doing what was right. Too bad the “Empire” turned into the “First Order.”
But your contemporaries will remember you? Right?
Nope. All of that glory went to some civilian contractor (Luke), a seriously unqualified General (Han), and the inexperienced (though highly motivated) adopted daughter of the guy who pays the bills (Leia).