Today I Learned: One Of The World's Worst Serial Killers Wanted To Be The Emperor From Star Wars

We knew there was something sinister about Return of the Jedi. Aside from the Ewoks, obviously.

Emperor Palpatine is one of the great movie villains, sure – so much so that he’s seemingly coming back in the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. But that seems less fun when you discover that he was the hero and inspiration for one of the worst serial killers ever.

It turns out that Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 (and who also ate bits from several of them) would watch Return of the Jedi to psych himself up before his murders, and was even inspired to sketch out plans for a sort of a throne room based on the evil galactic wizard’s digs.

It’s… it’s not great.

That fellow speaking is Park Dietz, a forensic pyschiatrist testifying at Dahmer’s trial in 1992.

In his testimony Dietz explained to the court why Return Of The Jedi and Exorcist 3 were so important to Dahmer:

[W]hat these characters have in common is that they are evil and corrupt and powerful, and both have the ability to use special powers to control others. In the case of the Emporer he seems to be zapping people with energy beams of some kind… Each of the characters in the scenes that he repeatedly viewed actually torments someone else in a way that might be described as torture, but Mr. Dahmer said that was not what was appealing to him… but that he did identify with the power of these characters.

Now, obviously the film didn’t inspire his crimes per se, since he started killing five years before R of the J came out, but hearing that Dahmer even bought yellow-tinted contacts to better get that Emperor look when going out a-stalking in the clubs gives a really sinister edge to Star Wars cosplay. Why must everything good and pure be destroyed?

And frankly, that makes the end-of-trailer laugh all the more chilling.

A Vain Criminal Sent Police A More Flattering Mugshot And Mate, It's Not That Good

A good self-image is key.

It’s good to feel confident and attractive in one’s own body, but as a rule it’s considered somewhat vain when you’re a criminal that sends police a more flattering photograph of oneself because you don’t care for your mugshot.

Especially when they’re engaged in your manhunt at the time.

A chap named Stephen Murphy is currently on the run in Lincolnshire after failing to show up in court earlier this month.

Unable to locate him, local police took to Facebook to ask if anyone knew his whereabouts, and ran his mugshot as part of said appeal.

However Murphy – who is reportedly also known as Jr V Murphy – took umbrage and what he felt wasn’t a true representation of his powerful sexfulness.

And so he sent the cops a selfie.

It was accompanied by the following instructions:

And if you get my name right and don’t put the worst picture of me on, when I’ve been up for three days in Boston cop shop, you might be able to find me. Post this, it’s better for you.

Stephen Murphy, style icon

And look, we need to have a little talk about his FaceTune game, because that shot is processed to hell. His hairline looks downright shopped, the contrast is all over the place – honestly, maybe sit down with a few tutorials and really get your tune-game honed before goading the police.

In any case, the real lesson for all of us is to ensure that when the police photograph you as part of an arrest, maybe give them three-to-five looks to work with before the shoot so you can get it right first time.

Today I Learned: The Original Ending Of Star Wars Would Have Blown Up The Franchise

They had a bad feeling about that.

Being a Star Wars fan requires occasional recalibration, whether that’s accepting the often terrible material of the Expanded Universe novels and comics and games, or accepting the sudden elimination of all of the previous Expanded Universe novels and comics and games, or the prequels, or the Last Jedi, or whatever thing from the larger saga doesn’t quite fit with your own personal conception of the franchise.

Exhibit A.

But there’s one thing which everyone agrees on, and that is that the first film – the one now referred to as A New Hope, then referred to as Star Wars – was perfect.

And so it’s a bit a surprise to discover that the original ending to said film was… well, kind of lousy.

You heard me.

The stories of how most of the actors that worked on Star Wars thought it was a load of arse are legion, and it’s not just because they couldn’t sense how the larger narrative worked with all the groundbreaking visuals, the stirring John Williams score and/or Ben Burrt extraordinary sound design.

It’s because the script was genuinely a load of arse. For example: the ending.

In the original screenplay the attack on the Death Star has a couple of big differences to what you see on screen including Luke taking TWO SHOTS at the trench run to blow up the Death Star. Suddenly the pod race sequence from The Phantom Menace seems like a masterpiece in narrative economy.

Another lap? Oh, great.

But here’s the biggest difference: in the original script, the one which was filmed, the Death Star wasn’t coming to blow up the Rebels. At all.

And you might recall that was a fairly important bit of the film.

That whole thing about the Death Star entering into orbit around the planet and moving into position to blow up the moon with the rebels on it? That was entirely created in the edit with some post-production graphics and overdubbed dialogue.

Like this.

Watch the sequence again: at no point does anyone on screen talk about how the Death Star is coming into range. It’s all in overdub or in a long shot where you can’t quite see lips move.

The genius who put this in? Marcia Lucas, George’s then-wife and film editor.

She accurately noticed that there was zero tension with the rebels zooming off to fight a thing that wasn’t actually a threat, and that this also seemed a bit like bombing a bunch of people for no especially good reason.

And thrilling action!

So she got George to do some new dialogue to drop in, some nice graphics about Death Stars coming into range, and suddenly: we’ve got a race against time on our hands!

No wonder the editors got the only Oscar for Star Wars. Without them – and especially Marcia – things might have gone very differently, and now we wouldn’t have angry fanboys whining about how Rey is a Mary Sue. And who’d want to live in that timeline?

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