I am a major Star Wars fan, i’ve loved or liked all the films. I have my favorites but I enjoyed them all, I could even endure JarJar Binks. I have been a fan of the the latest films: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, even with their obvious intentions to flip the script and make women the face of the franchise.
I’m for equal rights and even classic feminism. As a father of a daughter and fan of strong women, I value counterbalancing the decades and decades of male dominated movies where bumbling women needed rescued, who were always falling down when they ran away from danger and typically exhibited less than admirable skills, courage or wits. The beautiful lady as the damsel in distress became a tired expression of overt or overdone sexism.
I am particularly fond of the character Rey and celebrate the developing female Jedi storyline. I like diversity in films and I still squirm in my seat when I see actors covered in makeup to look like other ethnicities or directors that can’t seem to cast natives or people with appropriate accents in other films. It amazes me how Hollywood can be such a bastion for liberalism and yet awkward and tired stereotypes keep showing up at the theater.
But, I must confess, it was hard to enjoy a movie that seemed purposefully intent on exacerbating, inflating and perpetuating the identify politics of class, race, gender, tradition and religion in our day. So though I am all for many of the new directions being taken with the franchise I found myself pretty disappointed with The Last Jedi on the issues below.
-All the women were in control, powerful and the source of sanity, perspective and the salvation of all the men.
-Eating little meaty creatures is bad, especially if you are a Wookie.
-Animal sports are perpetuated by careless monsters who have only money in mind and the destruction of goods by nature is a picture of meaningful resistance.
-Rich people, weapons manufacturing and war are at the heart of evil in the universe, especially if they fund extravagant paradises for the yacht owning wealthy people.
-Ancient religious texts can be burned and forgotten because all that matters is carrying on the spirit of those boring texts.
-The masculine drive to protect and provide is an underlying hero complex that is destructive.
-Fighting against something, is less than fighting for something. Love and kisses are the highest expression of meaningful warfare.
-The massive, industrial complex is entirely run by obnoxious, goofy, idiotic, murderers bent only on wiping out all resistance through their increasingly gigantic, planet destroying weaponry.
-Men can’t see women as competent leaders, especially women who are presented in a way that contradicts stereotypes, ie. purple haired, dress wearing, middle aged women.
-The dark side of the force is not a objective evil outside of ourselves but is actually in all of us. If one has a deep personal exploration of oneself, they will discover their own face underneath Darth Vader’s mask or our own image reflected back at us in the ice cave.
-Confronting evil while it’s in it’s development is a problematic philosophical conundrum.
Some would say that one of the best intentions of Science Fiction is exploring alternative views, ideas and practices on the canvas of another time and place. I get that and enjoy it when it is sincerely exploring possibilities, blind-spots and slaying sacred cows. But I loathe heavy handed, evangelical movies with their syrupy, pushy religious agendas, just as, this film made me want to wrench the franchise from Disney’s hands! Its claustrophobic progressivism sucks all the cherished, iconic air out of the script and replaces it with noxious and divisive identity politics.
Other nagging questions keep provoking me as I wrestle with disappointment with this film:
-Who is Luke and what have you done with him?
-How did an impertinent, impulsive, juvenile dark lord become the unstable shadow of the movie industries most powerful embodiment of evil, Darth Vader?
-Yoda sounded more like Oprah than a Jedi master.
-Why are you retelling previous Star Wars storylines and images? Big guns that can destroy planets and hidden rebel bases, facing yourself in the caves, opening space battles, reworked cantinas, cutsie droids and creatures, daddy/mommy issues, Lords & Emperors, confused and needy apprentices that grovel for leaders but eventually discover they don’t need them but only need to trust themselves. Can’t we write new material?
-The force allows you to see someone without all their clothes on, move rocks and engage in battles while just meditating.
Ugh…my head just hit the desk.
In conclusion, I enjoyed various aspects of the movie, especially the fight scene in the emperor’s throne room. Luke’s Jedi temple island hideout and Rey, but, overall the rest of it felt like the skin of Star Wars stuffed with odd jokes, agendas and combative politics.