Wednesday 20 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [Spoilers]

I have so many things to say about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that I almost don't know where to begin. That's why I have decided to devote this blogpost to what I see as the message of the movie, that of social justice.

One thing I loved about Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the way it stays true to The Force Awaken theme of challenging the idea of the patriarchy, as well as the thought that "where you come from matters". It talks about the problems with machoism and misguided heroes, and uses it's untraditional storytelling to surprise us at every turn. It is magnificent.

For example, in the very first scenes we see Poe taking the hero role, directly disobeying orders and risking his own life and that of others to take out the cannons of the Dreadnought. Leia demotes him for his arrogance and for challenging the command of his leaders, but he learns nothing, echoing the sad reality that many women feel in their heart, that men just don't trust women to know better.

Further into the movie, he tries to be the hero again and commits mutiny against Admiral Holdo, another woman, to do it. It ends in another epic failure.

Leia blasts him into a wall for it, and then carries out Holdo's plan, which ends with Holdo being the real hero. In the end, it finally humbles Poe enough to realize that he was being an ass and that having a cocky confidence doesn't always make you a hero.

We see more of this theme of cocky confidence and misguided heroism with Finn when he plans to lead Rey away from the Rebellion with the beacon. He is about to do it, and consequently take the choice of helping the Rebellion away from Rey, when Rose appears near the escape pod, realizes what he's doing and stops him from leaving, causinf them to work together to come up with a better plan. Rose actually stops Finn several times from doing the wrong thing or trying to be a hero, and we just never see it coming because we're so used to men getting away with things. It's so great!

Another subtle but honest point is made when Finn takes charge of the situation by stepping in front of Rose when she tries to explain their plan to Poe. Rose won't have it and quickly steps up and interupts him, a small but important move for women.

Kylo Ren is another thing all together. He suffers from the chosen one-delusion, prancing around like a dark prince with an overwhelming sense of self importance because of his family's connection to the Force.

What I especially love about this film is that the importance of his or anyone else's heritage gradually diminishes. It happens when Rey admits that she's the daughter of some nobody, and when a mere stable boy use the Force to pick up his broom.

Staying true to his inflated ego, Kylo agrees that she's a nobody, but says 'not to him', thinking that she will hang on to his approval. He's so entitled and full of himself that when Rey doesn't see his side of things, it completely knocks him off centre. She realizes he's not going to turn, turns him down and leaves and he responds by deciding to destroy her. Because how dare she refuse him?

She takes her loss with a stride and goes on to save her friends, and shuts him out, showing that she doesn't need him.

It sets the pieces up nicely for next movie to have an epic show down between toxic masculinity and feminism.

Challenging multiple tropes like "the chosen one" and "the hero's sacrifice", also challenges the idea that men must save the day or die trying. That it's always up to the men. That only men can decide what's best for everyone. That men get away with shit because they are men.

The Last Jedi shows that it doesn't matter where you come from, whether you're a princess, a prince, an ex-storm trooper, a scrap collector or the Rebellions greatest pilot, it's what you *do* that matters.

It shows that you don't have to be macho to stand up, lead the resistance, defy expectation, and save lives, especially your friends' lives, when they're trying to be stupid heroes for no good reason.

I think this is also the reason that a lot of young men have trouble buying the message of the movie, which makes it all the more important.