In Defense of the Last Jedi

 

Lately, the most recent movie has been facing a lot of criticism. Some earned, some not so much… I want to try to tackle this as best I can.

There was an article posted on recently that came to my attention entitled Meet the Women Who Ruined Star Wars.

This page seems to be backed by internet provocateur Milo Yianopolis, so take that as you will. I know a lot of people rightly have mixed feelings about the guy. That said, I feel like it does illustrate a lot of the problems with the people criticizing Star Wars and I wanted to delve into it. Let’s take a look…

First of all, the title…. ‘Meet the Women Who Ruined Star Wars.’

Following is an image of Admiral Holdo, Rose Tico, and the president of LucasFilm, Kathleen Kennedy. First of all, I don’t believe that Star Wars was ruined. Audiences are divided on it and whether or not this could enter ‘classic’ territory is anybody’s guess. That being said, I liked the movie and even if the movie wasn’t good… it doesn’t ruin Star Wars.

So this brings us to the first problem; Melodrama. I get it, Star Wars is one of those big institutions that changed the ways we think about movies and its something that should be respected… and honestly, I think it has been. Rogue One was great, despite not being a typical Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens was safe, but still offered enough new content to keep us coming back for more, and honestly Star Wars Rebels has me foaming at the mouth to see where it goes. That show has really been a fun ride.

The Last Jedi didn’t ruin Star Wars, very little actually could. I would argue that not even the prequels ruined Star Wars. The only thing that came close to ruining it was the Special -Remastered- Editions. For starters, when you switch out the models and puppets that actually look real with laughably fake looking CGI, it becomes a problem. This was glaringly abundant in Return of the Jedi with the 4th Wall-breaking music-video at Jabba’s Palace, and most egregiously, replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christiansen at the end of the movie. This destroyed one of the most memorable, emotional scenes IMO. However Star Wars is not ruined. The original movies are still there, you can still go back and watch them and enjoy Star Wars just like you could when you were a child. These movies do not change that. If they bother you that much, pretend they don’t exist… that’s what most Phantom fans to with Love Never Dies.

Secondly, let’s look at Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo for a moment. These women didn’t ruin Star Wars or at least, they don’t deserve the majority of the blame. Kathleen Kennedy is a different story. She’s the boss lady at LucasFilm, so she does deserve some of the scorn lobbied her way. However you’ve got plenty of writers, and a director that was given way too much freedom to take the movie in whatever direction he felt like that also share the blame here.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the article…

“Suffice to say, and it’s been over two weeks now, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was met with not the greatest audience response.”

This is true, unfortunately. The movie has divided audience pretty straight across the board.

“The reception is understandable: Nobody asked for a Star Wars movie with yo momma jokes, a crazy ghost Yoda that can call lightning from the sky by giving a thumbs up, or Porgs trying to make Chewbacca a vegetarian. Nor a scene where Luke milks Lena Dunham.”

Okay, I will admit that the light-hearted opening and rather… out of place comedy didn’t really mesh well with the film and failed to set the tone for the rest of the movie,  I agree with that point. Yoda calling down lightning as a ghost, I didn’t have a problem with. In the now-Legends series, we saw Force ghosts do all sorts of crazy things. The images of Padme’ showing up for Vader messed with him rather frequently.

Chewbacca being made into a vegetarian… come on, I didn’t get that either. I guess you could say that Chewy eating the porg right in front of another one was a pretty heavy handed scene that could be interpreted as a vegetarian scene, but I thought it was funny. The porgs kind of annoyed me anyway.

As for the Lena Dunham jab… I’m admittedly not a huge fan of her work or her as a person, given some of her comments and behavior over the years, so I’m not really going to get into that.

“It seems they were busy promoting the diversity on their team instead of guaranteeing success for the franchise.”

I’ve heard this concern a few times and honestly, these days when someone touts diversity instead of getting into details… unfortunately that really does send up Red Flags. It shouldn’t, but in this day and age, diversity is too often used as substitute for good writing. It seems these days that writers seem to believe that as long as they have a diverse cast, the story will be good by default with little to no effort. The end result is usually stale characters that come off as offensive stereotypes and one dimensional archetypes. I’ve covered this extensively in another piece, which can be read here, if you’re interested.

I do agree that I found it highly questionable how much they were talking about what percentage of their team was what race/gender, etc. Like, seriously are you trying to provide a product or service, or are you trying to appease some group ideologues? Really, no one should care. In this day and age, the genders and races of the development teams are irrelevant as long as they’re the right person for the job. The only people who care about this kind of thing are a very small and annoyingly vocal minority, most of whom likely don’t patron movies like Star Wars.

“While she ran around with “The force is female” t-shirts and staffed her story group with women, she apparently forgot to actually plan out this franchise… Rian Johnson revealed that there was no big outline on the trilogy, and that he had full creative freedom to do whatever he wished in The Last Jedi. Meaning Disney and the Star Wars story group left the fate and success of this multi-billion dollar franchise to chance and at the whim of whichever director & writer happened to be…” 

That is very true. This is one area where the article does point out the glaring problems, but also illustrates why the title of the article is incorrect. Those three women didn’t ruin Star Wars, if you consider the Last Jedi a ruining, this piece right here clearly shows that the director and the writers are the problem. Not only that, but this is where Kennedy comes into play as well.

Say what you will about Lucas, he had a story planned out with the original trilogy and follow-up prequel series. You can argue that he didn’t have a strong way to connect those two trilogies and that they were their own independent stories, but at least he had them planned out. With the prequels, it was surrounding Anakin’s growth and eventual fall to Darth Vader while the Republic essentially collapses and the Empire forms. That was the story. Here, we see a studio going rogue with their own source material and that is a major problem.

“It is unknown why he is returning to direct and write the finale of this trilogy, but fans speculate that Disney got cold feet after the shoot for the latest film was completed.”

Eh… except that Rian has been given a whole new Star Wars Trilogy to direct, so I don’t think they got cold feet with him so much.

“The characters in The Last Jedi mirror this mess. Admiral Holdo, nicknamed by critics as Admiral SJW, is the definition of leadership as explained by someone with critically low testosterone: a person who must not explain herself, is expected to be followed blindly and without question, and must not be upstaged.” 

Okay… this is one of the major problems with the complaints. I’ve heard people accuse this Vice-Admiral of being the physical embodiment of an SJW, feminazi, etc. However, none of that is accurate. I get the feeling that people saw her with purple hair and no uniform and… given the climate already established by LucasFilm and Disney in their constant touting of identity politics over telling us anything about the story, I think they were pretty much looking for a character… any character that even remotely fit the mold.

Here’s the problem… Admiral Holdo takes over command after literally everyone else who could have has either been killed or incapacitated. It’s an extremely tense situation with little chance of a positive outcome.

To the point about her not having to explain herself… she’s a vice-admiral talking to a recently-demoted loose cannon commander, who doesn’t seem to be able to keep his emotions in check. In any navy throughout the world, if any commander spoke to an admiral like that… best case brig, worse case, executed. An Admiral isn’t obligated to explain his/her decisions to their subordinates except under very specific circumstances. Whether or not she did the right thing by choosing to keep quiet about what she was planning and… whether or not her plan was a good one, can certainly be put up for debate. However her handling of Poe, from my perspective as someone who’s a major Navy buff, was fairly tepid. She could have easily just had him escorted off the bridge. She put him in his place, and that was that. She could have done a lot worse.

I honestly found her calmness to be in keeping with a good officer. Had she gone off like Poe did, there would have been a pretty serious breakdown on the cruiser. So really… I think people were looking a little too hard for the Social Justice character/narrative here and the arguments in favor of such a belief are thin at best.

Was she a good officer who made good decisions? Eh… there’s an argument to be made both pro and con, however that’s for another topic at another time.

“But not before she has to finally sacrifice herself in a move that invalidates all other movies as she breaks the universe of Star Wars by hyper-space ramming a dreadnought.”

False. Absolutely false. We don’t know that. That information was never established in any Star Wars canon. We don’t know the nature of hyperspace outside of sub-canon technical manuals and Han Solo talking about how they need to make precise calculations.

“The final character, Rose, a small asian woman isn’t much better as we spend 30 minutes with her on a casino planet sequence that is ultimately pointless and ends with them saving space-dog-horses and Rose pretending that this effort was worth it. “

This one… yeah this character annoyed the piss out of me. I covered her in greater detail in another post and even awarded her a Jar Jar Award. I really don’t know what to make of her. The actress has called her a strong female character who is outside of the norm for a strong character… yet she makes a lot of really stupid, hypocritical choices, and acts like a teenie bopper fan girl throughout part of the movie. Additionally, the unneeded and… arguably unwanted social commentary surrounding her, brought the movie to a screeching halt.

“It seems Disney went too far in a few places, and already their newly flagship franchise is stumbling. If the executives at Disney wish to course-correct and not end up like DC’s cinematic universe, it would be wise for them to start with the person who did not plan this trilogy ahead of  time, and the team who failed to do their job in securing consistency from one movie to the next.”

Yup, sadly. I honestly loved the Last Jedi, but I have a feeling that there will be a fan edit in the near future that cuts out Rose Tico and the casino scenes. Between wasting talents like Gwendoline Christie, Max Von Sydow, Andy Serkis, and Benicio Del Toro, to a lack of direction, Star Wars does have a problem.

That being said, as I’ve said before, it took me some time to piece everything together and really take an objective look at the movie… but I actually loved The Last Jedi. It had its problems, and the social commentary really annoyed me, but the story as a whole went in a direction that I don’t think anyone really saw coming and really has me wondering where it’s going to go next. It wasn’t anything like what I was expecting and honestly, that kind of a thrill ride is a rarity.

So in summation, identity politics ruins a lot. We’ve seen it with Marvel, Sony, and a lot of other companies as well as other mediums. However I personally did not see that here, other than in the background with the staff writing the story. Yes there was social commentary that was unneeded and maybe that’s where the outrage belong. The inclusion of Rose Tico was not only unnecessary, but really hurt the movie more than anything. It would have been better to send Poe with Fin. This is especially true since the best scene in The Force Awakens was the Tie Fighter escape scene. Poe and Fin working off each other was very fun and light-hearted. So opportunity missed.

The defense of Rose, saying that she is a strong character is laughable at best and her flaws are on display for all to see. That being said, this is the problem with the skeptic community and those who don’t buy into the identitarian and social justice narrative; they have their own sect of outrage police. These people were looking for something to blame on the current political trend and when they didn’t find it, they went after one of the easiest targets; Admiral Holdo. The evidence isn’t there and while she may not have been a great character, what she’s accused of being is a stretch at best.

So if you want to be mad at Star Wars for inserting politics and social commentary where it was inappropriate, that’s fine. Hate on Rose and hate on the casino scene. You want to hate on a character that made questionable decisions, fine, hate on Holdo. Just make sure you’re hating on them for the right reasons…

Oh and please do not start attacking the actors and actresses, especially not with hateful comments. They really did the best they could with what they were given. If they’re on social media, feel free to let them know why you agree or disagree with their performance. Constructive criticism is always a good thing, but attacking is not right and completely unnecessary.

Anyway, what does everything think? Am I right or way off?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

11 thoughts on “In Defense of the Last Jedi

  1. raistlin0903 says:

    I am going to be honest in saying that I absolutely hated the Last Jedi. I have been a fan of Star Wars for more than 25 years and have never said one bad word about it. But this time…I just really didn’t like this film. But there is a difference in writing your feelings about the film itself, and downright getting personal about the people that made the film. And that difference is respect. Even though I hated the movie, I have respect for the people that loved it as well. A movie experience is personal. I would never force my own opinion upon someone who loved the film. I’m happy for them if they enjoyed it. And that brings me too my point: respect. Attacking people that enjoyed it, the director, actors or anyone else involved just lacks respect. You can doubt the choices that a director made for instance, or even hate those choices, but it’s different if you become personal and start calling names or stuff like that. In the end it’s just a movie, and everyone is simply entitled to their own feelings for it. As long as everyone just talks civilised and is able to discuss it normally the world is a happier place so to speak. Great post! 😀

    Like

  2. Karandi says:

    I had issues with the story of The Last Jedi but it is a fun film. Besides, it isn’t as though there were no wasted characters or scenes in other Star Wars trilogies so this isn’t a unique problem to The Last Jedi. However, I do think the conversation needs to stay around the film itself and it doesn’t need to turn into a personal attack against anyone. Some people really loved the film and that is a good thing. Some people disliked it or even hated it, and they are entitled to that view.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Despite its entirely forgivable flaws, to which EVERY movie is prone, _The Last Jedi_ is my favorite _Star Wars_ movie to date.

    Like

  4. Lola says:

    I enjoyed The Last Jedi. Yes, the casino scenes were completely pointless and the porgs were light relief the film really did not need, but overall I enjoyed it a lot.

    I actually quite liked Rose as well, maybe BECAUSE she is a bit silly and teenyboppy and a bit outside of the norm for a Star Wars character. I could relate to her and her geekiness, as I am sure many other women/girls can.

    I think so far this trilogy is pretty strong.

    Like

  5. I still have NO IDEA what people dislike about the Last Jedi, is there a review or an article anywhere that sums up what people don’t like?
    All I’ve read is the constant social media headline “people don’t like the new star wars” etc, but I really have no idea of the specifics and what would like to read anything intelligent that sums it up.

    Like

  6. Itchy says:

    Women did not ruin Star Wars. Feminists did. It’s a very important distinction to make.

    https://disneystarwarsisdumb.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/did-women-ruin-star-wars-or-just-feminists/

    You hit the nail right on the head when you wrote, “It shouldn’t, but in this day and age, diversity is too often used as substitute for good writing. It seems these days that writers seem to believe that as long as they have a diverse cast, the story will be good by default with little to no effort.” Indeed.

    https://disneystarwarsisdumb.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/where-have-sjws-been-for-the-last-40-years/

    Like

  7. This is a wonderfully written post that significantly expounds upon the Feminist critique of the film. I admired and liked The Last Jedi a lot because it digs beneath the surface of the space fantasy franchise, finds its mythological heart and puts it on a monumentally beautiful canvas. You can find out more in my review below:

    If you find the piece to your liking, then please comment and follow.

    https://sgsonfilm.net/2017/12/15/review-star-wars-the-last-jedi-2017/

    Like

  8. […] the worse it got… and honestly, that’s fair criticism. Upon seeing the backlash to it, I wrote a post defending the Last Jedi. I stand by what I said at that point, though even I have to admit that each time I watch it, it […]

    Like

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