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Reviews Comments: The most politically progressive Star Wars yet, in an age where we desperately need it The Last Jedi film/book review by Chasem

I loved The Last Jedi. It was the boldest Star Wars movie to date, taking great steps in making sure the franchise would change and grow with the times and to surprise fans while being much better-acted and -filmed than the prequels. Rey and Kylo, two characters who were a bit dodgy in TFA were a lot better here, with more character development and more unique motives. Not to mention the breathtaking special effects and action sequences, which may be the best in a Star Wars movie to date.

That said, the movie has been very controversial, and at first I was hit with a severe case of Critical Backlash: why would this fantastic movie, beloved by critics, be so utterly divisive among audiences that it\'s even more controversial than the prequels?

Then I came across this article, and upon reflection and reading the movie\'s YMMV page on this very wiki, it dawned upon me: The Last Jedi is unabashedly liberal. It\'s pro-feminism: it has four fantastic female leads in Rey, Leia, Rose and Holdo, and the latter\'s conflict with Poe is very symbolic of the feminism vs. toxic masculinity conflict (with Holdo coming out on top). Its overall message is to let go of the past to make way for new developments, and to give the weaker and poorer a chance at life. Canto Bight is an analogy for the wealthy \"fat cats\" and how they live in glitz and glamor but it\'s all corruption and abuse underneath.

Star Wars is an American franchise. As of the time of writing, America is being run by an administration much like the bigwigs at Canto Bight. Bigwigs who demean women and want to restore America to the racist, sexist, classist way it was in the past (like how the First Order wants to restore Palpatine\'s Empire). Bigwigs with a rabidly anti-establishment, white, male, young, angry cult following (like Kylo Ren).

As such, The Last Jedi is bound to ruffle a few feathers with its very clear side-taking on the political issues at the time; I have a feeling that it played a big role in why the Critical Dissonance is so pronounced, since specific criticisms like Luke\'s character normally wouldn\'t be enough to cause such a divide. But we need movies like The Last Jedi more than ever. We need to tell women and girls that they can do anything, even if the GOP wants them to take a backseat to men. We need to teach people to \"let the past die\". We need to teach people that the biggest and richest aren\'t necessarily the best. And what better way to do that than through the most-hyped movie of the year. The Trump administration is already trying to control things like the flow of information on the Internet, and if left unchecked, they\'d happily work their magic on \"liberal Hollywood\" so that every blockbuster is an MRA-friendly testosterone-fest like Batman v. Superman or Bayformers.

Comments

  • JulianLapostat
  • 31st Dec 17
SPOILERS

I think The Last Jedi is a fairly misunderstood film, by both its critics and defenders. It has parts that work well and parts that don\'t. But I don\'t think politicizing its reaction is going to help the film on both a critical and political level. And I say that as someone who shares the politics, mostly because I think we can do a lot better than latch our cause on to a billion-dollar money pit that will ultimately funnel into a corporation and IP that has materially limited the scope of actual American films in the mainstream in both the past and the present.

The film has many female characters but none of them are really the protagonists or central to the story. The character who is considered the most interesting in the film and the sequel trilogy is Kylo Ren who has the most enigma and mystery and not Rey. The Last Jedi\'s conclusion has Luke and Kylo, and Rey is a minor figure in that who doesn\'t get the last scene, or say anything during the climax. So nay feminism as far as I am concerned.

As for the class angle, the Canto Bight\'s big moral lesson is that DJ points out that the people there sell weapons to both sides, and ideologically it\'s not so far from equating the First Order (Space Nazis) with the Resistance, and DJ\'s complaints and whinings and refusal to support the resistance is more or less a kind of white-working class quasi-sympathy, except more problematic what with the fact that the actor who plays him is one of the few Hispanic actors to actually be famous in the mainstream and the only role they give him is a shifty backstabber of the likes from classical hollywood. None of the depth, sympathy, and complexity you get from Lando Calrissian from Original Trilogy. Fundamentally, in The Last Jedi the white characters still call the shots be it male or female, while the diverse characters have no real role in the plot aside from glorified tokenism. The final shot, of that nobody who stares in the skies is after all a white stable-boy, aka, classical Victorian orphan\'s substitute a la Dickens and Oliver Twist, i.e. not the actual poor and oppressed, but an acceptable substitute and vehicle for the audience to buy into. So nay diversity, and class.

And politically, the film gives us a Republic that is less worthy of respect than in either the prequels and the originals. It took an arch-manipulator like Palpatine to subvert it, the Resistance in the Original trilogy was an actual force, and this one has them lose to weak villains. So overall, it\'s got Democracy Is Bad because it can\'t conceive anything politically to say outside of underdog fantasies. So, nay progressivism.
  • Chasem
  • 31st Dec 17
That's a good analysis, and the events of the movie can be interpreted many different ways (Ren is the one who says "let the past die", for one thing). But on the surface, the most obvious elements - Rey as the nominal main character and most popular new character (though you seem to be citing her as a Decoy Protagonist), lots of females/minorities on the Resistance including the entire main cast of good guys, Canto Bight, and the Poe/Holdo conflict - give the movie an image that makes it appear to be very liberal on a superficial level. So it draws in progressive activists and SJW types, and repulses MRA types who hate female/minority protagonists like that one Facebook troll who took credit for tanking the RT score. Further analysis is required, like what you did here, if someone wants to prove that TLJ is less political or has different messages than what its superficial elements suggest, and the most obvious elements are what most people see.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 31st Dec 17
Should a film merely appear as progressive to matter in the current day and age? I am asking that sincerely, because in the old days, criticism always took this seriously and put movies to higher standards.

See fundamentally as Rian Johnston says, \'let the past die\" is not his message, and that\'s a major Misaimed Fandom among its admirers. Because you can\'t actually do that, and certainly not do it by making Star Wars Episode 8. Kylo Ren is not doing it, because right after he says it, he becomes the new Emperor and Dragon Ascendant.

Politically, Star Wars has always been shallow. Like A New Hope uses Nazi-Triumph of the Will imagery for not only the Empire but the Resistance (the medal ceremony at the end of New Hope is modelled on Nazi aesthetic, i.e. for the good guys). Lucas also said that he intended the Ewoks vs Empire fight to be Vietnam, which means that the Empire is USA and the Resistance is I guess third-world guerilla fighters. The current film says that the First Order is Argentina is Nazi-Land but they forget that most of those went there with the help of anti-communist Catholic organizations, and other parties and served other authoritarian governments. From a generational point of view, Luke and Darth Vader is primarily a Baby Boomer versus Standard \'50s Father fight about the fact that the America they grew into was not as moral as it should have been and Luke is trying to make Dad accept that he is cool and he was wrong. Whereas in The Last Jedi you don\'t have that complexity, the sense of complicity that Luke feels since Rey is just \"nobody\" and that amounts to a populist anyone can be a hero but it also means, \"female protagonist is not worth the time and effort for cool and interesting backstory\" and that also means Rey and by extension, current generation, is not complicit or profiting of the actions of previous one, which is kind of dodgy to be honest, although I guess you can see it as a Milennial versus Baby Boomer fight.

I see the last jedi as being populist...the original Star Wars was populist, the prequels a good deal less so, and the sequels are more populist than either.

  • Chasem
  • 31st Dec 17
\"Populist\" might be a more accurate descriptor tbh. It\'s just very, very, very hard for me not to see a clear anti-Trump message in it in this political climate, but I\'m sure it was the same with the previous movies and people reading anti-Nixon and anti-Bush messages in them. Setting that aside, I think the sequel trilogy repeats that sort of generational fight, but altered somewhat, with some millennials (Rey) trying to enlighten baby boomers (Han/Luke) and opposing other millennials (Kylo Ren).
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 31st Dec 17
Fundamentally, in The Last Jedi the white characters still call the shots be it male or female, while the diverse characters have no real role in the plot aside from glorified tokenism.

While I agree that there's great risk in overpraising The Last Jedi's progressive streaks to the risk of overlooking its many remaining holes, I will point out that Poe is Latino and the movie from start to end relies heavily on him learning to become a pragmatic leader, even capping his character development arc with a shot of the Resistance following him as Leia encourages the passing of the torch.

So nay feminism as far as I am concerned.

I say, not quite so nay. I think the Holdo-Poe arc is very important as for much of a year it was touted that Colin Trevorrow would be directing Episode 9, whose previous blockbuster Jurassic World got a lot of backlash for relying so much on the "hotshot hero mansplains cold boss lady" stereotype. (And the less said about The Book Of Henry, the better.) He's now dismissed from the project, but this film shows through the Holdo/Poe that Disney/Lucasfilm wants to move past that cliche and genuinely evolve the gender dynamics of their storytelling. It's not the world's most revolutionary feminism, but it's nothing to sneeze at coming from the biggest blockbuster series of history.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 31st Dec 17
Well as Lindsay Ellis, or The Nostalgia Chick as she is known here sometimes says, framing beats text. The movie might be progressive but it makes that progressive message by appeals to populism, and so on. The whole Canto Bight indulges the Not in This for Your Revolution and other stuff and The Horseshoe Effect which basically amounts to South Park-level satire by pointing out the obvious. I mean seriously The First Order blows up whole planets, why the hell does this need to be debated. You can\'t take a black and white schema and make it gray by saying \"both sides\"...I mean in The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader is shown to have human motives and complexity, but at no point does the PT, or the OT say that the Dark Side was an acceptable lifestyle choice. And let\'s not get into the fact that Rey wants to redeem Kylo Ren because she has some crush on him or something, it\'s not made clear. I mean there\'s no emotional and psychological reason for her wanting to believe that this scumbag who killed her father figure (Han Solo), injured her friend and put him in a coma (Finn) could be redeemed, whereas Luke had a real reason for wanting to redeem Darth Vader (him being his father). It amounts to a white girl wanting to sympathize and help the alt-right MRA guy, and the film makes Kylo Ren the most complex and interesting character, which is deeply problematic in and of itself. Like somehow you are putting a woman in the film but still making her a Vanilla Protagonist and then expect us to give you a cookie or something.

I will point out that Poe is Latino and the movie from start to end relies heavily on him learning to become a pragmatic leader, even capping his character development arc with a shot of the Resistance following him as Leia encourages the passing of the torch.

Yes and in this film, his arc is being put in his place by white women who know best, and whose actions get people killed, and you can see that and say, \"see what happens when you give one of these guys in charge\". Him leading a mutiny, an action which any military in any point of history, in any context, would invoke as grounds for immediate summary execution and which the film handwaves becomes women are all maternal and don\'t take this seriously, is not a good look for the main Latino hero and that entire arc. I mean George Washington executed people for less at Valley Forge. I mean in terms of optics, one Latino hero leads a mutiny, another Latino is a scummy mercenary who has none of the complexity and nobility and cool that Lando Calrissian had in the OT, then Finn started out as a First Order Stormtrooper and in this film is a quasi-deserter and not to mention that he went from being the male lead of The Force Awakens to being Demoted to Extra in the sequel. Rose Tico is an exception but then the Canto Bight plot she has is universally disliked, and that whole final part where she stops Finn is Not Helping Your Case in terms of that. I mean in terms of diversity this is just problematic because diverse characters are tied to some kind of criminality and shiftiness, and unimportance.

Politically I feel this film is a Trojan Horse, and it disappoints me that so many smart people are choosing this as a hill to die on, because it\'s going to be disappointing in the long run. The stuff that is good in this film or at least interesting is more in the small character beats and moments...Star Wars have always been B-Movie with Delusions of Eloquence...George Lucas understood that and owned it with his insistence on making this for children. I mean the Sequel Trilogy with its greater violence, seriousness, and stuff is only going to compromise itself.
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 31st Dec 17
Yes and in this film, his arc is being put in his place by white women who know best, and whose actions get people killed, and you can see that and say, "see what happens when you give one of these guys in charge".

That I feel is an interpretation that ignores the whole third act of the film, where he grows into a mature leader for the Resistance. The movie didn't end with Poe getting zapped by Leia and lying around unconscious for another hour.

While the dynamics of a white woman being positioned as smarter than a Latino can and should be debated, I will point out, speaking as a Latino man myself, that Latino male society does have its problems with misogyny that Poe learns to grow past in this film, such as assumed masculine authority, hotblooded "man warrior" traits treated as superior to pragmatic "maternal" traits, and so on. So I think him learning a lesson to respect women and temper his adrenaline is a good lesson for other Latino guys like myself.

And in terms of optics I'm confident Poe will have much more cultural staying power than DJ, since he's in the film for longer, he's got tons of visibility throughout the rest of the franchise, and he gets to do lots of cooler things than DJ did like fly X-Wings and blow up Starkillers.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 31st Dec 17
And in terms of optics I\'m confident Poe will have much more cultural staying power than DJ,

Not so sure about that because DJ has his comic coming out and so on, Finn got Demoted to Extra after being the male lead of the previous film, and Darth Vader usurped Luke as the protagonist of the Star Wars movies. Rian Johnson likes crime movies and low-budget takes on criminals which he romanticizes in his previous films and DJ and Canto Bight is filled with the same dimestore camp you see in Brick with all his edgelordiness, and it wouldn\'t surprise me if DJ figures prominently in his Star Wars movies, since the whole aesop of Canto Bight (\"both sides suck and so are the same\") is not given a Shut Up, Hannibal! moment once.

That I feel is an interpretation that ignores the whole third act of the film, where he grows into a mature leader for the Resistance.

He led a counter-attack against the first order with outdated technology that reduced the Resistance to two handfuls at the Battle of Crait, i.e. he repeated exactly what he did in the first act. He led a retreat that amounted to following some cute ice-foxes down a mine, only to them be saved by luck since Rey arrived in time and lifted the rocks. None of that is really mature and it\'s filled with jobbing, and with luck rather than anything. All I am saying is that having diversity and crediting a movie that does it is giving a cookie for people to do the bare minimum. Making a movie where the major black hero of the previous film (who started out as a storm-trooper which is itself problematic, but I will leave that one) ends up shuffled into a subplot where he\'s the object of his own Satellite Love Interest and gets to do no heavy lifting is not good enough. Having the representative of \"toxic masculinity\" or whatever the hell that is be the major Latino who furthermore disloyally commits a mutiny, i.e. a major act of military crimes, is incredibly offensive, even leaving aside the incoherence of that entire subplot as the film\'s YMMV page tackle.

The movie is incredibly cliche\'d, tokenist, and conventional in most of its gender and diversity issues. If this was there in any other movie it would be called out for that, but The Last Jedi has a lot of people wanting it to be the \"good one\", the best-since-<INSERT HERE> and other blinkers, and now people are making this a political football, a position it was not designed to be, and not intended to be, and not useful or beneficial in both a critical and political sense to be.
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 31st Dec 17
Not so sure about that because DJ has his comic coming out and so on

REALLY pales compared to Poe having multiple Lego sets and action figures and comic series about himself and his parents and greater spinoff potential. Also helps that Cassian is another Latino hero in the franchise, so in terms of Latinx male rep it's a good start.note 

Rian Johnson likes crime movies and low-budget takes on criminals which he romanticizes in his previous films

Looper was more "cowboy mafia" than DJ's "space Jack Sparrow", honestly. I also think it's unfair to dismiss the character as "a scummy mercenary who has none of the complexity and nobility and cool that Lando Calrissian" had, given that much of the tension with DJ's character in the film comes from "will he be a Jerk With A Heart Of Gold or Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk". DJ isn't Lando, he's Han Solo if he never had his Changed My Mind Kid moment at the end of A New Hope.

[Poe] led a counter-attack against the first order with outdated technology that reduced the Resistance to two handfuls at the Battle of Crait, i.e. he repeated exactly what he did in the first act.

Poe repeating himself would be if he never retreated at all, and if he led the attack explicitly against orders. Finn imitated Poe more than Poe imitated Poe.

He led a retreat that amounted to following some cute ice-foxes down a mine only to them be saved by luck since Rey arrived in time

He led a retreat that came from him using his senses and logic to determine a course out, then came to a landside that they probably could've cleared with their blasters or grenades had Rey not shown up. It's not as if the foxes came up to him and demanded he follow them; he used his mind. Nor would he be a more capable leader had there simply not been a rockslide.

Having the representative of "toxic masculinity" or whatever the hell that is be the major Latino who furthermore disloyally commits a mutiny, i.e. a major act of military crimes, is incredibly offensive

I mean, I don't speak for every Latino, but I don't think it's good rep to have a character I'm intended to relate with be perfect and never make any mistakes they can learn from.

One last note: I highly disagree that Canto Blight's theme is "both sides are equally bad". Not only is this said by DJ when he's already established to be shady and greedy, but also because seeing DJ sell them out is what inspires Finn to actively fight for the Resistance itself, not just for friends like Rey. If anything, Rogue One had way more "both sides are bad".
  • Matt620
  • 1st Jan 18
This analysis is so forced and silly and full of Does Not Like Men that the real bias is from the author\'s own hatreds made manifest.I think the author, before she starts casting blame, should look deep within herself and ask why she excuses plot holes, bad scripting, and out of character moments just because the author likes seeing women in charge (regardless of competence) and hates the GOP.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 1st Jan 18
One last note: I highly disagree that Canto Blight's theme is "both sides are equally bad". Not only is this said by DJ when he's already established to be shady and greedy, but also because seeing DJ sell them out is what inspires Finn to actively fight for the Resistance itself, not just for friends like Rey.

The whole point of that scene is to remind Rose and Finn who have naive ideas about resistance and fighting that there is a different reality. Rose mounted a stampede across Canto Bight that destroyed property thinking she was fighting the power but ultimately the same power also sells stuff to the Resistance.So for that moment to work and have meaning, we have to agree that DJ is right, and the fundamental premise and concept i.e. some people sell weapons to both sides and the Resistance isn't looking too closely on how Canto Bight's economy works, works on an equivalence. And the message most people have taken is that this is a gray moment when it isn't, and it amounts to more or less confederates claiming that industrialists backed the North during the Civil War.

I don't think it's good rep to have a character I'm intended to relate with be perfect and never make any mistakes they can learn from.

It's not good representation to have the supposed hero conduct mutiny against his superior officers, lead many of his soldiers to death by his command, and prove himself by his actions to be recklessly insubordinate. None of the heroes in the OT were this much of a Military Maverick and the film makes that entire plot work by absurd contrivances, Idiot Plot and Informed Wrongness anyway.

Compare that to actual interesting characters like Lando Calrissian who had good reasons to do what he did and became a hero for believable, compelling, reasons, I don't think Poe and DJ really work. Or you know Mace Windu was believably flawed but noble and heroic in the prequels. The series has already given better and deeper characters in terms of diversity to which we can measure Last Jedi too and find it vaunting.

  • EchoingSilence
  • 1st Jan 18
Wasn\'t the problem with Batman V Superman that the conflict between them made no sense, and that a conflict of ideologies where the two still didn\'t want to kill each other but had to fight would have worked better. That and Batman V Superman tried to cram too many subplots into the movie leaving us with empty space that could have been easily cut?
  • JulianLapostat
  • 1st Jan 18
The problems with Batman V Superman is entirely separate and divorced from The Last Jedi because you are dealing with entirely different contexts. In the former you are dealing with 7 decades of comics, and a bunch of different movie and cartoon and game adaptations made over the decades...In the case of Last Jedi you have the Original Films, the whole fanbase and theology built around it (i.e. its supposed practical effects and fetishization of the Used Future look) and you have JJ Abrams and The Force Awakens to consider, and Rian Johnson\'s own work as a director in his earlier films.

And in any case none of that has anything to do with the original review here which is about Last Jedi being some kind of political landmark in SW, which I think is giving the movie far too much credit for far too little work, and represents a lowering of barriers and norms. The movie\'s plot problems arises from the fact that the franchise has to simultaneously close out the Original Trilogy and give the original Power Trio some kind of finale, has to develop the new characters of the previous film, and for marketing, sequel, and World Building reasons, have to introduce new characters (because new characters means new merchandise for the Disney Corporation to sell and make a killing)...so it had a lot on its plate and trying to make this an Empire-Strikes-Back-esque Stern Chase (again for franchise and branding reasons) was obviously not the best choice for sequel plot.

In the case of Batman V Superman, the reasons for that making was that the director disliked Superman, and was bored with making a Superman sequel so he decided to use it as an excuse to make a Batman movie because Wolverine Publicity. That it ultimately failed in its purpose is down to its distinct brand of incompetence.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 1st Jan 18
I loved the Holden-Leia feminism thing, probably my favourite part of the film, their unabashedly feminine supportive relationship with each other, but I\'m unsurprised The Last Jedi was written by a guy, because it commits a complete own-goal at the end. (disclosure though: I hated The Last Jedi).

Leia the competent female still-capable leader of the resistance, tells everyone that they should follow Poe now - the guy. And just before that, when Poe was supposed to have learned his lesson, after screwing up the whole film and ignoring his female commanders, did he ask Leia if he should turn back? No, he did his own thing again, not caring to consult her opinion. His biggest act of magnanimity in the whole film was just to acknowledge that Holden was doing the right thing when she heroically sacrificed herself.

So really The Last Jedi\'s plot is about a guy who listens to feminists for 5 minutes, and then takes over because he thinks he can do feminism better.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 1st Jan 18
It\'s probably made worse because one of The Last Jedi\'s biggest problems is that Poe never learns his lesson, despite it being the most central story arc. Right at the end of the film he\'s still making rash decisions that get all his pilots killed and risks destroying the entire resistance. The choice of actions he takes - to charge out with his pilots and then retreat just _before_ they complete the crucial objective - is literally the worst series of decisions he could have made and is just as rash and impetuous as his decisions at the start.

At the start he risked himself and his pilots doing something that would save the resistance, and only after he completed it did Leia tell him to head back because risking even more just to score a point against the First Order was needlessly wasting lives. Instead of learning to be a leader not a hero, Poe just learns \"retreat from things\". Destroying the ram was a necessary action to save the resistance (and took a literal miracle and heroic sacrifice to save them once he\'d failed), but he didn\'t lead, he didn\'t recognise what was an important objective and what was showboating. He just learned he could get brownie points for calling off an attack. (Incidentally, despite Poe _and_ Finn being criticised for trying to sacrifice themselves to stall the First Order, Luke is praised for doing the exact same thing like 3 minutes later). It\'s a very confused film.
  • LDragon2
  • 1st Jan 18
Can't say I agree with this review in the slightest, and if the interpretation is true, that just makes the film even worse in my eyes. So Holdo, despite basically being a complete idiot for failing to tell Poe about the plan, is somehow a "pro-feminist" character. And that the whole point of the film is essentially Pro-SJW and Hollywood Liberalism? Yeah, that doesn't sit well, and this is coming from someone who supports equal rights. For that matter, why exactly has there been such a push against masculinity in recent years?

Being against this movie has absolutely nothing to do with politics when it comes to all of the critics.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 2nd Jan 18
I would NOT go so far as to say that being against this movie is entirely apolitical and innocent. It\'s just that works that provoke a political response often do so for the most trivial reasons and have very little to do with artistic content and artistic intent. Like The Dark Knight Rises had that whole Bane/Bain Capital controversy during the 2012 elections, which briefly gave the film some kind of liberal reputation until people saw it and realized that it\'s anti-Occupy.

The Last Jedi is a basically safe and innocent and Star Wars movie that is agreeable and enjoyable on a first viewing. Getting anything deeper than that is only going to be irritating for people, since there\'s not much in the movie that works outside of the toxic context of Star Wars fandom, with its whole prequel hate and so on.
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 2nd Jan 18
I dislike how dismissive TLJ commentators are of Star Wars fans. It feels like a weird and slightly horrible form of gatekeeping.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 2nd Jan 18
The entire sequel trilogy is fundamentally a form of gatekeeping...it\'s entirely built on nostalgia and appeal to the legacy of the first two films, and is seen as a penance to those prequels which were yes flawed, dopey, and glorified B-Movie for kids like Star Wars always was and always intended to be...and these sequels for all its good casting and good moments...mostly exist for the edgelords who don\'t want Star Wars to be kids, so you have this more \"gray\" look at a resistance in Rogue One, as if a conflict against a bunch of planet-destroying fools can ever be gray in any meaningful sense.

Star Wars should be fortunate that it has a large fandom that it can make a new trilogy to speak and appeal entirely to those fans of the first films in these sequels, since it doesn\'t have anything to say to anyone with an external frame of reference.

  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 2nd Jan 18
I just don\'t think looking down on anyone is ever a good move. It\'d be nice to move past the cycle of \'those people are rubbish, no those people are rubbish\'.

  • JulianLapostat
  • 2nd Jan 18
A little amount of fan criticism and even back-and-forth insults so long as it isn\'t personal (by which I mean it isn\'t attacking you personally but attacking you as an umbrella of a particular rubric i.e. Star Wars fans) is fine, and I do that too.

But doing that and trying to make yourself into some crusader for a grand cause of progressivism when fundamentally the film you are defending is a multi-billion dollar merchandise-selling Cash Cow Franchise plagued by Sequelitis and that you are somehow a new breed of special, superior version of the same cash-shilling demographic, is not a sustainable position, and not any grounds for reasonable criticism.
  • GraymanofBelka
  • 2nd Jan 18
I think the main problem is that there\'s a lot of name calling on behalf of both the supporters and detractors of the film. The defenders of the film tend to call the detractors alt right neo nazi toxic masculinity fueled neandrathals who cannot understand the subtle intricacies of the film. And the detractors call any supporters of the film brainwashed sjw feminazi Disney shills. While some supporters/detractors of the film are sjws/neo nazis casting all members of one side as morons while believing that your side is in the right is hurting intelligent discussion of the film.
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 4th Jan 18
Following the discussion here about Poe\'s arc, I decided to write more on how I feel about the significance of his actions in this film, from a Latino perspective. Several other Latinxs have also responded and concurred. http://theladyvalkyrieskyeart.tumblr.com/post/169253001929/on-poe-in-the-last-jedi-and-latinx-men
  • JulianLapostat
  • 4th Jan 18
That link isn\'t working. But this one is (http://theladyvalkyrieskyeart.tumblr.com/post/169253001929/on-poe-in-the-last-jedi-and-latinx-men) I dug around and found it, and I thank you for sharing it. I have posted myself here and here. If you watch this video which is long but play it at 2 speed and it should be shorter and still hearable in less than a hour, you can have a more coherent and legitimate criticism of Poe\'s arc from the view of military verisimilitude by someone who knows the stuff. I will respond to that post on tumblr, since this isn\'t the place for that...but thank you for sharing it. To get back...

To me having a hero in a Star Wars movie, which is heroic fantasy fundamentally, and which even Last Jedi is, commit a mutiny and somehow make that into a subversion of the same Mildly Military underdog resistance story you are telling, and then play it straight at the same time is well confusing...and to me then getting a medal for diversity when said poorly written arc is given to one of those same heroes, as are the other poorly written stories (Rose/Finn) and the only story you have left that works is about Kylo Ren and Luke...is not a good look.

Fundamentally the character with the most interest and attention in this one is Kylo Ren, who director Rian Johnson called a co-protagonist for the series. From watching The Force Awakens by impression was that Finn, Rey and Poe were the protagonists and Kylo was the bad guy. And in The Force Awakens, Finn was the real male lead of that fil, and here he\'s Demoted to Extra with Rey, the white female lead deciding to try and redeem the same guy who put him into a coma is absurd. Poe Dameron gets more Character Focus here than Finn even if he was a minor character in the first film, and his characterization requires a lot of jobbing and Idiot Plot to work. And Rey herself doesn\'t have the final last words of the film of which she is the hero, she doesn\'t have the final scene...she is basically made as important as Broom Boy. And for me, while I like the idea of her being The Unchosen One, in terms of the whole project of bringing diversity to the SW-universe, having the first female lead Jedi be unconnected to anything in the overall mythos, while intended as a great democratic statement, ends up having the opposite effect i.e. one non-male-non-white is as good as any other and that a woman can\'t be the hero of the same kind and quality as the male, and that the main arcs minority characters can have is as an ex-Stormtrooper, a maintenance worker who breaks her own aesop, and as a Latino hero who commits mutiny, and that a huge chunk of the plot is once again staking the fate of the galaxy on redeeming a Skywalker only without the human and three-dimensional version of simultaneously redeeming your Dad and avoiding becoming just like him that you had in the original film.

  • frogwidget
  • 7th Jan 18
The irony of claiming The Last Jedi is good because of progressive / liberal values while being a Disney production kind of speaks for itself. You know - the company that is currently trying to purchase Fox and make itself into more of a monopoly and literally donates baby merchandise to hospitals so children are conditioned from the cradle to love the mouse.

But it\'s all right so long as they\'re talking the talk I suppose.
  • Theokal3
  • 7th Jan 18
@frogwidget: while I don\'t necessarily agree with what this review says, I think you \'re kinda going into conspiracy theory here. Yeah, right, donating baby merchandises to hospitals couldn\'t possibly have anything to do with just being generous, or if you want to get more cynical, giving themselves a good image; it HAS to be so they can condition kids. And while the whole buying Fox and monopoly thing is a problem, I fail to see how it connects to being anti-progressive or anti-liberal. But what do I know.

Anyway back on topic, I do think Chasem might be looking too much into this movie. Don\'t get me wrong, there was some obvious social commentary, and they clearly tried to put diversity into the movie, but I am not convinced about the whole message thing. To me they were mostly trying to tell Star wars fans they should stop clinging so hard to nostalgia and try embracing new things.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 7th Jan 18
The funny thing is Rian Johnson says the opposite. He insists the whole \"burn the past\" thing that Kylo Ren says is wrong, and the way some have latched on to it is very much Misaimed Fandom. Now what exactly Rian Johnson\'s real message is hard to say since it\'s very confused, and filled with all kinds of Indecisive Deconstruction, Broken Aesop and pretty shoddy World Building to achieve it. More or less, it\'s about \"learning from the past, not getting too upset about failure and so on\" or as he says in interviews. I am glad he said that because you can\'t \"burn the past\" while making a movie titled Star Wars Episode 8, you can\'t do that when your entire reason for being is to cash-in and fleece the wallets of the last of the boomer-crowd by cashing in on Nostalgia Filter by recycling the same look of the first films without any addition or innovation.

Remember The Man Is Sticking It to the Man always...so i have no problems with Disney being friendly and nice to little kids with free toys. I just think people need to remember that corporations are always looking for new audiences to market their hooch too, and fundamentally \"diverstiy\" is just a means of selling merchandise, no less than the Ewoks and the Gungans...in their eyes at least. What matters is if the movie is actually doing something and giving those actors good stuff and so on...my belief is that The Last Jedi doesn\'t do that, and indeed throws it away and it amounts to glorified tokenism. None of these characters are as well-developed as Lando Calrissian in the first films, or say, Mace Windu in the prequels. And of course I am talking about this in Star Wars terms, because these are always B-Movie on Epic Movie budget and none of these characters are really deep...not even Vader in the original. Lucas insists these movies are made for 12 year-olds or the 12-year old in adults.fe
  • frogwidget
  • 7th Jan 18
@Theokal 3 - It\'s as others have said, token gestures of goodwill meant to show progressive stories but at the end of the day, means very little. Disney\'s aim isn\'t to enhance women or to espouse liberalism; it\'s to sell tons and tons and tons of merchandise. Even Rose isn\'t necessarily diversity for diversity\'s sake - it\'s to help with the Asian markets which are now becoming more lucrative whereas US audiences are declining.

Cynical? Absolutely. But then again, at its core a lot of modern-day media is using diversity and liberal values to make people feel good about themselves while still using the status quo to their advantage.

Julian Lapostat is phrasing it better though. I just can\'t overlook TLJ\'s problems because \"Progressive values!\" (which I wholeheartedly support... just not by buying cynical merchandise)
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 7th Jan 18
In terms of core representation, I think The Force Awakens was better. Rey and Finn are the protagonists and the heroes and they\'re inviting and admirable characters. TLJ goes backwards with both of them and failed to make Rose feel as necessary and important.

It is somewhere though that commercialism and liberalism can intersect happily. Kennedy will be happy to have made Star Wars more female friendly because it brings them more money, but I also think it helps the world if culture is less segregated and blockbusters become a bit more diverse. Donnie Yen being in everything might be a naked grab at the Chinese market, but it also introduced me to a great actor.
  • Tuckerscreator
  • 7th Jan 18
Even Rose isn't necessarily diversity for diversity's sake - it's to help with the Asian markets which are now becoming more lucrative whereas US audiences are declining.

Kelly Marie Tran is Vietnamese-American, which affects absolutely nothing about big international markets like China because China and Vietnam don't really get along and Star Wars has always underperformed in China. Currently the most popular American actor in China is Chadwick Boseman.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2017/07/31/china-vietnam-relations-fall-to-a-one-year-low-over-a-new-maritime-dispute/

http://variety.com/2018/film/news/the-last-jedi-china-box-office-1202655733/

https://shadowandact.com/chadwick-boseman-crowned-most-popular-u-s-actor-in-china-black-talent-does-sell-overseas
  • Theokal3
  • 7th Jan 18
It\'s as others have said, token gestures of goodwill meant to show progressive stories but at the end of the day, means very little. Disney\'s aim isn\'t to enhance women or to espouse liberalism; it\'s to sell tons and tons and tons of merchandise. Even Rose isn\'t necessarily diversity for diversity\'s sake - it\'s to help with the Asian markets which are now becoming more lucrative whereas US audiences are declining. Cynical? Absolutely. But then again, at its core a lot of modern-day media is using diversity and liberal values to make people feel good about themselves while still using the status quo to their advantage.

... Yeah, that\'s pretty much what I said; they are doing it for their image. But accusing them of \"conditioning\" kids is absurd. HOW DARE THEY MAKE KIDS LIKE A CARTOON CHARACTER MEANT FOR KIDS?! What do you expect them to do, market the mouse for adults?

And yeah, I am well-aware corporations are doing it to sell their product. So? Trying to make money isn\'t a crime in itself, in fact it\'s kinda required to keep functioning. It\'s when you do it to the detriment of someone else that it starts being really bad. I honestly don\'t care that much if they are using the whole diversity shtick to make money; it\'s a bit annoying, yeah, but in the end it might still help.
  • YasminPerry
  • 7th Jan 18
^ So, it\'s just more cynical capitalism. Check out the documentary Pride Denied, it might teach you something.
  • Theokal3
  • 7th Jan 18
Again, why should we friggin\' care? In this specific situation, the result is what matters. Doesn\'t really change much if a corporation is promoting diversity out of genuine concern about it or because they think it can help them make more money; in the end they are still promoting diversity, which I personally feel is a good thing.
  • JulianLapostat
  • 7th Jan 18
This article [http://www.indiewire.com/2015/12/hyper-tokenism-the-force-awakens-while-the-black-man-sleeps-162287/] from a few years back conveys the faux-progressivism of modern movies, with what is called \"hyper-tokenism\":

This is the main argument which I excerpt below about Finn\'s role in The Force Awakens:

Hyper-tokenism increases the profile of the Black character(s) within a White film with greater screen time, greater involvement with the circumstances, but – and this is very important – in the final act of the film, dramatic agency must be completely controlled by the White characters...the films in these franchises will remain White films. In the context of the “Star Wars” franchise, full dramatic agency (the ability to influence, change, control and survive the dramatic circumstances within the story) is defined ultimately by a “selected” character’s ability to wield “the force” by intuition or training – the decision to not give Finn this final defining characteristic forces (no pun intended) this character into a supporting role for the Whites who are wielding this power. But when we add the fact that Finn is rendered unconscious for the final act of the film (not even able to applaud the efforts of his White cohorts) it can be said that we were not really following the heroic exploits of the Finn character so much as we were being led “by the nose” as it were, to a point where dramatic agency is ultimately still the providence of the White characters in the film.

It gets worse in The Last Jedi where Finn is more or less Demoted to Extra and becomes a Satellite Character to Rose Tico and Poe Dameron and where nothing he or Poe Dameron achieves has anything to do with the plot. Rey is herself a Satellite Character to Luke and Kylo Ren. If after building up a mystery in Force Awakens you are now saying that there\'s no mystery, you are more or less diminishing a huge chunk of what defined that character, especially becomes the only significant bit of revelation in the film doesn\'t concern Rey, but Kylo Ren.
  • marcellX
  • 9th Jan 18
On one hand ulterior motives, empty gestures and pandering make for a bridle foundation. On the other hand the progress to equality is more often than not a slow and imperfect one, hell Susan B. Anthony and Gandhi were racist against black people.

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