Living in the Star Wars universe sounds awesome. You can use lightsabers, travel to distant worlds, and fly X-wing starfighters. But there are a lot of untold truths about living in the universe. Turns out, if you are the average person, chances are you’ll be blown up by a hyperspace accident, shipped off to be a slave in Hutt space, or just spend your whole life functionally illiterate.
People just randomly find superweapons and blow up planets all the time
Everybody and their dog uses superweapons in Star Wars. Nobody can really be the Dark Lord of the Sith without a giant space laser, which makes the Star Wars universe one of the worst to live in.
Imagine being a random citizen. You never know when some random evil dude is going to find a giant space gun and blast your planet to pieces. Those attacks happen without warning, and for no reason. Alderaan got blown up for … what exactly? Existing? Being the adopted home of Leia? Billions of average people died for no other reason than they were born on the wrong planet. And there was no warning, no chance for them to escape.
At least the people of Alderaan could see the Death Star. Hosnian Prime got blown up by Starkiller Base from, like, halfway across the galaxy! Worst still, it was by a superweapon that nobody knew existed, from a government that people thought was a myth. So random citizens have to live under the constant fear and paranoia that in the next minute their planet will be evaporated. Existential dread is more a part of a citizen’s life than the Force is.
During the Galactic Civil War, you basically have to choose between a totalitarian Empire or joining a terrorist organization
Living under the Empire is undoubtedly terrible. Summary executions, no trials, xenophobia, and having to pledge allegiance to a wrinkly monster is what the average Imperial citizen deals with. Watching the movies, it seems crazy that everybody didn’t join the Rebel Alliance.
But look at it from the average Joe-shmoe’s perspective. The Rebel Alliance is a terrorist organization. They hide in secret bases, commit sabotage, and blow up huge military installations, killing millions of poor soldiers who got drafted into the Empire against their choice. We think of the Rebels as heroic freedom fighters, but for the average citizen, the Rebels aren’t really a source of hope. They are a source of fear.
So what choice does the average citizen have during the Galactic Civil War? They can stay in the Empire and risk torture and death. Or they can join a terrorist group and risk … torture and death. There is no way to know for sure if the Rebels will trust an Imperial citizen, or if they will even accept some random defector into their ranks. No matter which side a person chooses, death is on the table. It’s an impossible decision. Good luck.
Planets outside of Republic jurisdiction are ignored by the Republic
In the Star Wars universe, the Republic might seem like it controls the galaxy, but groups of planets and governments might as well be outside of its jurisdiction. A big one is Hutt Space, where the giant slugs hang out and run their criminal empire. Shockingly, the Republic doesn’t interfere much about what goes on in their space, even though they are a society of slavers, smugglers, and gamblers.
What does that mean for the average citizen? If the average Star Wars citizen has the bad luck of being snatched up by the Hutts and dragged off to Hutt space, there really isn’t much the Republic is going to do about it. This even happens to Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi’s own daughter. He has to go on his own personal mission to rescue his daughter from being a Hutt slave.
They pursue this policy to a hilariously incompetent level. One of the craziest lines in the prequel trilogy is when Shmi Skywalker says that slaves are totally allowed on Tatooine because it is too far away from the center of the Republic. This is a planet under Republic government, and the senate totally ignores mass slavery in their own space. Lots of good the Republic does the average citizen.
Even in the era of the New Republic (the government formed by the Rebel Alliance), the same problems are rampant. In one book, Han Solo himself gets kidnapped and sentenced to slave labor in the Kessel spice mines, a planet in New Republic space. If even Han Solo can get kidnapped randomly while in protected space, what hope does the random citizen have?
Technology is stagnant
Rewind 4,000 years from 2017. Technology is, of course, much different. A farmer living in the Fertile Crescent would be blown away by how advanced our technology is. In Star Wars, rewind 4,000 years from Luke Skywalker’s era, and nothing is different. People still use lightsabers, lasers, hyperspace spaceships, etc. Nothing has improved.
Seriously, go back and watch the old Knights of the Old Republic video game. It’s jarring. The battles, dress, and tech is exactly the same stuff that Luke Skywalker used. Over the course of centuries, no scientists came along to invent anything new. Even something like the Death Star isn’t super impressive. Sure, it’s big, but it’s just scaling up pre-existing laser technology.
During an average citizen’s life, he or she can expect no scientific progress. No technological improvement of quality of life, no new possibilities for invention. Nobody is ever going to change the galaxy by inventing a teleporter. The only thing to hope for is designs to change slightly with changing tastes. How exciting.
There is almost no press at all, even in the Republic
Remember in The Phantom Menace when Padme tries to convince the senate that Naboo has, in fact, been invaded? Nobody believes its a big deal, which is insane. Shouldn’t they be able to pull up holo-recordings of the event, or appeal to journalists who are reporting on scene? How is it possible that an entire planet got invaded, breaking one thousand years of peace, and nobody knew much about this major news event?
The truth is that there is no press in the Star Wars universe. We never see reporters, or news bulletins, or anything like that. During the Clone Wars, people are still going to operas, flying speeders around, and acting like nothing is happening, even right as the Jedi are getting murdered. This isn’t hubris. The average citizen in the galaxy does not know that their democracy is crumbling because nobody is reporting on it. The rise and fall of the Empire just slides right by everybody’s life until stormtroopers show up at their door.
The lack of reporting reaches insane levels in the original trilogy. We expect that the Empire censors news for the average citizen, but it seems like even top-level commanders have no clue what is happening in the government. Remember the Death Star conference scene in A New Hope, when one of the admirals asks Tarkin what they will do about the senate? Tarkin tells him not to worry because the senate doesn’t exist anymore, like the dude didn’t know. Wait, this high-ranking admiral didn’t know that the government just got bushwhacked?
That is what happens when there is absolutely no reporting going on in the galaxy. At least in the Poe Dameron comics, one of the characters was a reporter … until she quit and joined the Resistance.
If you are a random person during the Jedi era it’s basically impossible to trust your own thoughts.
Imagine being a random person hanging on Coruscant during the Old Republic. One day, you wake up with a random idea: "maybe I should go start looking for a new job." That seems a little out-of-place, but hey, maybe your mind is trying to tell you something. But, there is nagging doubt. It might just be a result of a Jedi mind trick.
If there are Jedi around, they are certainly using mind tricks, and their victims are never really aware that they are under Jedi influence. That pretty much destroys any hope an average citizen has of being sure of any of their thoughts.
When something unlucky happens was it because of a Jedi mindtrick? If you fall in love, is it just because a Jedi made you? Reality is a paranoid guessing game, trying to figure out which thoughts are your own. Maybe Order 66 wasn’t such a bad idea.
The whole society is always on the verge of a robot rebellion
Star Wars droid culture is pretty messed up. Robot engineers build sentient machines that can feel pain and then subject them to a life of slavery. Their owners can randomly wipe their memory, put on mind-controlling motivators, and sell them off like garbage. Enslaving sentient beings is horrible, and it always leads to rebellions. It’s only a matter of time before the droids revolt.
Living with droids means constantly wondering if wiping their memory this time will be the last straw. Every day, there is a constant worry that these faithful machines will snap and start killing.
Droid rebellions aren’t unheard of in the canon. Quite a few have happened, one even leading to IG-88’s brain taking over the second Death Star. Anybody with a little historical knowledge knows that a droid rebellion is a threat, but the Star Wars economy and society are so dependent on droids that it’s impossible to just stop using them. Everybody has to work around enslaved potential death machines. At least there is no Star Wars equivalent of Skynet. Yet.
Safe work environments just don’t exist
Nearly all the cool places in Star Wars have huge drops, and almost none of them have handrails. Just going to work means risking certain death.
The Empire is the worst offender. Star Destroyer bridges don’t have railings to block command officers from falling into the crew pits. The Death Star has huge chasms without handrails, for no good reason. The poor superlaser gunners don’t even get protective glass to give some protection from the gigantic super laser shooting five feet away from them. The First Order also takes design cues from the Empire. Their TIE hanger bays on Starkiller Base didn’t have back walls, just a huge cavernous drop behind them. Don’t screw up the landing!
But it’s not just the Empire. On Cloud City, little walkways have barely any protection over the huge holes that, by the way, open up to a shear drop into a gas giant. In the Old Republic, the senate chamber is a OSHA nightmare, with people floating several stories into the air in little pods with barely any protection from falling over. Even the Rebel Alliance struggles with safe work environments. Admiral Raddus’s flagship during the Battle of Scariff had him suspended over a single sheet of glass. If it broke, he’d get to learn what a shooting star feels like.
The best way to travel is also extremely dangerous to everybody
Hyperdrive seems like one of the least dangerous things in Star Wars, but oh, how wrong that assumption is. A ship traveling at faster than light speed has a ton of energy. If it runs into something, the ship is instantly vaporized. There is no possible way to make a split-second course correction going faster than light. Even a small navigation error could send a pilot into a sun and instantly kill him.
At least in that, situation the pilot ran into something uninhabited. Running into a populated planet would be a massive disaster. A morbid Star Wars fan crunched the numbers. If the Millennium Falcon miscalculated and hit a planet, it would leave a 1.2-kilometer-wide crater on the planet. If a giant capital ship like a Mon Calamari cruiser hit a planet, it would release the energy of 14 gigatons of TNT, 100 times as much as the biggest nuke detonated on Earth.
Forget about the Death Star—this is the real threat to any planet. If a lazy pilot makes a slight navigation error (or the navigation computer on a warship is damaged during the countless space battles constantly happening in the galaxy), it could instantly kill billions of people who never saw it coming. Space travel is so commonplace in Star Wars that it is bound to happen multiple times.
The music is unvaried and boring
John William’s soundtrack is amazing, but popular music in the Star Wars universe is shockingly boring. Pretty much the only options of music to listen to are weird opera and bad pseudo-jazz music.
At least the water-opera-thing in Revenge of the Sith looked and sounded cool. Not something we would want to listen to everyday, but it was at least nice and relaxing. Star Wars popular music is downright annoying as hell. All we’ve seen of it is annoying songs in dumb bars. We can’t imagine listening to the Cantina Song (or anything that sounds like it) all the way through, even once. And while Jabba enjoyed the Max Rebo band’s music (and probably the dancing-girls that came with it), having that as your only pop music is a special kind of hell. Also, the official name for that genre of music is "jizz." We aren’t kidding. That is official Star Wars canon.
As far as we can tell, those are the only two types of music to listen to in the Star Wars galaxy. Sure, random comic books might list other genres, but they don’t get mentioned anywhere else. That is too bad, because we are sure that General Grevious’s four robot arms would absolutely shred on guitar.
You and everyone you know are probably illiterate
Star Wars has its own canonical alphabet, but have we ever seen somebody read anything? Sure, Luke probably reads words on his X-wing display, and clearly Obi-Wan can read the labels on the Death Star tractor beam, but nobody in the universe reads anything else. The Star Wars universe is functionally illiterate.
Functional illiteracy is different from total illiteracy. If a person is functionally illiterate, they can read words but cannot read anything substantially long or get any complex ideas from reading. So reading a sign isn’t a problem, but reading a novel just isn’t going to happen. That fits the Star Wars universe exactly.
The only library we see is the Jedi library, and it clearly only has holograms. We almost never see any books, anybody reading, or anybody writing. If a character is reading (like Luke reading Obi-Wan’s journal in the Marvel comics), they are reading for short periods of time, or reading things that are not extremely complex.
Almost no buttons have words, and few displays are labeled. If any of us went to the Star Wars universe, we’d probably be more magical to the population than Jedi, because we can look at scribbles and tell stories from them.