Indignation over new Star Wars definitely on dark side of the force
While 2017 certainly has delivered some progressive cinematographic moments, particularly toward the emancipation-on-screen of women, non-Whites, and minorities, the last battles are still being fought. One such bastion are a not so small group of, wait for it, white men who understand themselves as ‚proper‘ Star Wars fans. Such a proper Star Wars fan launched an online petition for the following fantastic cause: „Episode VIII was a travesty. It completely destroyed the legacy of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. It destroyed the very reasons most of us, as fans [emphasis added], liked Star Wars. This can be fixed. […] Remove it from canon, push back Episode IX and re-make Episode VIII properly to redeem Luke Skywalker’s legacy, integrity, and character.“ Thanks for illuminating us with your hubristic white male light sabers and clinging on to such glorious things as „legacy, integrity, and character“! Oh, you Jedi! Glad you’re the last.
Legacy – integrity – character, read: Tradition – tradition – tradition, and that despite the fact that now, after so many decades, Star Wars finally got rid of all that made it so old-fashioned, so Republican, so… Harrison-Fordian. Let me counter that with two major reasons why the new Star Wars may in fact be the best of them all.
Reason 1: Inclusion that doesn’t look token
Yay! Women that are warriors and remain warriors – very unlike integer Princess Leia in the old days, who would despite the occasional attempt be a little rebellious but somehow still succumb to Han ‚cute rapist‘ Solo’s self-entitled no-means-yes attitude; BME roles that matter and are not type-cast – unlike half-hearted Han Solo buddy Calrissian whose role was very much in line with stereotypes of the day (Calrissian is, who would’ve thought otherwise, a slightly criminally inclined ladies‘ man with an impulsive gambling habit).
Reason 2: Long overdue self-irony
The old Star Wars films were always funny, but mainly because they’re old and tend to look slightly ridiculous. Similarly, it’s always been hard to stay serious with hopelessly failed characters like nerve-wreckingly annoying Jar Jar Binks who talks like a hyperactive moron with an intentionally acquired speech impairment, the underwater tribe cast after the racist model of an „African village“, or the notorious Nute Gunray, head of the trade federation who also happens to have an ominous „Asian“ accent, or something like that. Now things have changed, even if extremely late: Star Wars takes itself less seriously.
Luke Skywalker is now a chronically depressed oldie with the looks of an aggressive dad with alcohol problems; Chewbacca makes new friends that look like a slightly uncomfortable cross-fertilisation of Madagascar’s penguins with the minions; and every now and then the film seems to wink at the audience, as in: Don’t worry, we’re giving up on the old days for good. I’d sigh with relief, weren’t it for the reactionary republicans now leaning out of their sofa seats just to whine for a while, uttering last lamentations before the downfall.
Be thankful Star Wars is making up for decades of Cold War conservatism
Perhaps this is all just a last anti-emancipatory anticlimax, and perhaps this is indeed the last time we hear from those self-coronated „proper fans“ – but perhaps it is still necessary to shout out to the 80,000 signatories of that online petition: Be thankful! Although it is slightly ironic that it is with Disney, of all, that Star Wars changes for the better, it is appreciable nonetheless – for no subversion is more powerful than that which comes from the subject of its critique itself. Star Wars has undergone such self-subversion, and thank heaven all these „proper fans“ were exposed at all to that subversion, simply for their traditionalist inclination of having to go see them all. There’s much left to do (how about, say, a gay Arab cast as Jedi next time?), and only time will show. But dear petitionists: go back to your couches. Your initiator, at least, already realised: „It was a bad idea.“