129 episodes

Beltway Banthas is a bi-weekly Star Wars podcast about the intersection of fandom and politics. For host Stephen Kent, one of those things is politics. Star Wars draws from our worlds politics just as much as it contributes to it by influencing policy makers, journalists and thought leaders. On this podcast the hosts seek to understand how Star Wars impacts the world we live in, while also covering the Star Wars news, gossip and hype of the day.

Beltway Banthas: Star Wars, Politics & More Stephen Kent

    • TV & Film
    • 1.5, 2 Ratings

Beltway Banthas is a bi-weekly Star Wars podcast about the intersection of fandom and politics. For host Stephen Kent, one of those things is politics. Star Wars draws from our worlds politics just as much as it contributes to it by influencing policy makers, journalists and thought leaders. On this podcast the hosts seek to understand how Star Wars impacts the world we live in, while also covering the Star Wars news, gossip and hype of the day.

    Star Wars' Identity Crisis Mirrors Our Own

    Star Wars' Identity Crisis Mirrors Our Own

    Kat Rosenfield wrote for Reason Magazine a feature piece on how Star Wars' three trilogies aligns almost perfectly with the politics of the time they were made in. What makes the sequel trilogy so unique, Episodes VII-IX, is that their chaotic nature almost mirrors the era we live in today. 

    • 43 min
    Michael Steel on the DC cantina, Han Solo and Star Wars' case for democracy

    Michael Steel on the DC cantina, Han Solo and Star Wars' case for democracy

    Michael Steel is a Republican strategist and partner for Hamilton Place Strategies. He served as a communications officer for the likes the Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan and John Boehner. He caught the eye of Beltway Banthas when on Kasie DC (MSNBC) he knocked the Trump administration for approaching staffing like it was the Mos Eisley Cantina. We get into how Jeb Bush & Marco Rubio's 2016 feud sparked this podcast into being and also how Star Wars makes the case for democracy...but perhaps not with total devotion. 

    • 37 min
    The Tibetan struggle and the Force's threat to tyrants

    The Tibetan struggle and the Force's threat to tyrants

    No tyrant can fully control a people if they believe in something higher than their worldly ruler. This is reason all memory of the Jedi must be wiped out by the Empire. The Force is a threat. Ashwin Verghese of the Internation Campaign for Tibet sees this struggle playing out between the Tibetan people and the Chinese government. He joined Beltway Banthas to share his fandom, talk about Tibet, China, Yoda, Naboo and the future of Star Wars. 

    • 50 min
    Mayor Betsy Hodges on surviving, governing and escaping to Tatooine

    Mayor Betsy Hodges on surviving, governing and escaping to Tatooine

    Mayor Betsy Hodges may be the former mayor of Minneapolis and now Washington, D.C., but she's really a citizen of Tatooine. In this special interview episode, the progressive activist and mayor joins Beltway Banthas to share how Star Wars saved her life (The Mary Sue). Beyond her personal story, which is a remarkable one, Stephen Kent and Betsy Hodges trace how Star Wars explains redemption and why that matters for the world we live in. 

    • 52 min
    Ben Domenech (The Federalist) on The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and democracy

    Ben Domenech (The Federalist) on The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and democracy

    To supplement your social distancing we have a bonus episode with Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist. Ben and Stephen review the ending of the sequel trilogy and the case for The Mandalorian as the future of Star Wars storytelling. Ben makes a compelling point about why Star Wars raises some questions about the value and trade off's of democracy, and why people like Anakin Skywalker end of wanting something else. 

    • 59 min
    The Clone Wars and the politics of starving

    The Clone Wars and the politics of starving

    Season 7 of The Clone Wars is live on Disney+ and it's as political as ever. Characters have to make real hard moral choices given their economic status, which is the making of a great Beltway Banthas episode. Bernie Sanders organizer Mohammed Shakibnia joins the show to dissect The Clone Wars political themes. Plus! Herb Scribner of the Deseret News makes a guest appearance to reflect on the messages of "The Bad Batch" episodes, and what they say about war, trauma and fandom. 

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

1.5 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

hm uh oh ,

Well....they try!

Gonna cut to the chase: pretty awful.
Imagine two washing machines trying to talk to each other.
The guests try soooooo hard to inject something resembling charisma into the proceedings...and then the "hosts" turn up to ensure that none of that makes it broadcast.
I hate to end a review on a bad note, so....if you don't subscribe you won't have to unsubscribe. As in all things: YMMV, so make your own call

EthanC89 ,

You'll like or dislike depending on your politics

The show is a great concept and very timely given the way Disney and various cast and producers of Star Wars are now so keen to identify the movies with modern-day partisan political politics. They have some very interesting people and guests on for each episode and Stephen is a congenial host. Their enthusiasm for their fandom is at time infectious.

Which is why it’s hard for me to say this podcast probably isn’t for me. The political discussion only ever leans to one side. If you are a liberal or lean Democrat and hate anything to do with conservative principles and philosophy, absolutely you will love this show. And I’d encourage you to listen.

But for conservatives, even for ones like me who identify as moderate (I’m pro gun control, universal healthcare, not a fan of Trump) there’s only so much sneering and mocking of anything conservative in principle before you feel this isn’t the podcast you were looking for. Even the affable Stephen Kent (who identifies as conservative) seems to effect a metropolitan liberal, sneering attitude to any conservative notion within Star Wars.

When the issue of politics and Star Wars comes up, it tends to always fall along a similarly constructed debate. Everything rebel is good, diverse, liberal. Everything else is elitist, racist, supremacist. Even the podcast on why people liked the Empire came to the conclusion that the racism of the Empire should be more closely identified as representing the right of the political spectrum. Effectively lambasting conservative voters through the power of popular culture.

In many of the podcasts, conservativism or right-wing politics is simply equated to white nationalism. If you really believe that, then yes, you will enjoy this podcast. It’s also very American-centric. A British conservative for example or a German one might find the equation the conservative=white supremacist unfair and rather jarring.

And so it persists. Offering a liberal, millennial, sarcasm-laden put-down of the right. Because apparently such liberal satire is in short supply?

I’d love it if they did try to balance it up occasionally but it’s set in its ways now and unlikely to change just to please a minority of conservative listeners (I fully accept we’ll be a tiny minority of their listenership).

So in conclusion, this is a great liberal perspective on the Star Wars universe and very supportive of inserting identity politics into popular culture as a compulsory requirement. For anyone into that I can fully recommend this podcast. For conservatives, unless you wish to be constantly condemned as a white supremacist, with zero right to reply, perhaps best to give this a miss. Apparently we’re the bad guys. Which is odd, as I’ve never identified with the Empire, but apparently being a white conservative male automatically makes you one of those white supremacists.

A real shame that such wonderful escapism as Star Wars is now being used to divide people along political lines.

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