I have been watching the outrage and disappointment being voiced on social media and blogs regarding the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise and want to respond. As our family are long-time fans, since I first saw A New Hope way back in 1977, we all went to see the latest film, The Last Jedi, last week.
Warning: Spoilers there will be.
For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it wasn’t too long, the cinematics were beautiful and it was so great to see Mark Hamill back on the screen with an actual speaking part, it was also bittersweet to see Carrie Fisher on the big screen for the last time. Our 8, 6 and 3 year old boys all made it through the whole film and stayed engaged. My 14 year old twins weren’t as impressed, but I put that down to hormones.
So why so much hate? This Vox article by Todd VanDerWerff provides an excellent summary and even references this petition for those hoping to remove Last Jedi from the Star Wars canon. This Vanity Fair article by Joanna Robinson points to the notable disparity between the critic score, 93%, and the viewer score, 56%. Joanna also summarises what Todd says less clearly, that this negative viewer score is the result of ‘Make America Great Again’ white male misogynists who are angry at the films content.
In the context of the #MeToo phenomena and the spectacular recent fall from power of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Don Bourke (Australian TV), Matt Lauer (see the full list here) it feels like society is experiencing the re-awakening of female power. I can see how generations of men who have gotten away with, and even expected, their right to be in charge and treat women however they feel without consequence, might be feeling a little vulnerable.
The Last Jedi was full of recognition of the capabilities of women. From Rey as heroine, to both Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo as leaders and the addition of Rose Tico (a mechanic, Firefly anyone?). So many stereotypes toppled and paradigms shifted. I can see why this would make many men still living in a chauvinist bubble very uncomfortable.
Some specific elements include Leia and Holdo in their disapproval of young hotshot, Poe’s, aggressive approach to everything. The idea that rationality and wisdom, in the minds of women, is better at winning the day than macho action is repeated several times in the film. It is also shown that despite this tendency for rationality, women are equally capable of taking violent decisive action when the situation requires it.
In the scenes with Rose and Finn, it is Finn that is taking the path of a coward and Rose who surges ahead with confidence, integrity and dedication.
Luke has been sulking for many years over a mistake (a stereotypical male response) and it is Rey who draws him out and back into the fight. Without giving too much away about the final scenes, Luke’s means of defeating the enemy is the ultimate in passivity. Take this a little deeper and realise that throughout Luke’s island tantrum, Leia continued to fight the remnants of the Empire and the rise of the First Order.
I think that what Director, Rian Johnson, has done with Last Jedi is a beautiful addition to the Star Wars cannon, and is an excellent reading of the 2017 zeitgeist.
Slightly off the topic of rectifying the balance in the gender relations, Rian also slips in a bit of timely exposure for arms dealers. In my song Charlottesville, I tried to capture the reality that often in any fight between two parties, there is a third party profiting at no risk to themselves. I wonder who that third party is in the current gender war?
Star Wars related, but off the topic of the film, one of my 12 songs for Christmas this year has a Star Wars theme.
I can’t predict where #metoo is headed, if the views of these bizarre feminists, is anything to go by then nowhere, but I am hopeful, that it is the spark of resistance, that it will lead to balance and mutual respect. Long live the Rebel Alliance!
2 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Misogynist”
If this movie is “full of recognition of the capabilities of women”, then it is a testament to why women should never be entrusted with any kind of authority in a crisis.
The people who are touting the awesome feminism of The Last Jedi fail (or refuse) to acknowledge that, without exception, the female characters in this movie are utterly incompetent. Even my beloved Princess Leia, who dresses down and demotes Poe Dameron on the bridge of the Resistance flagship in front of everyone. At a time when the Resistance forces are at an all-time low and morale is failing, Leia criticizes the first pilot to take out a First Order dreadnaught. Regardless that he disobeyed orders, Poe was a hero at that moment, and Leia should have found a way to resolve her disapproval without making the rest of the Resistance aware that obedience is more important to her than results.
Vice-Admiral Anime Hair, is even worse as a leader, trying to maintain a futile need-to-know secrecy when they’re facing Snoke, who can read minds from halfway across the galaxy. When she needs to show leadership and give confidence to the failing Resistance, she offers only condescension to the point of smugness. I’m surprised she didn’t just pat Poe on the head and say, “Now be quiet and just do what Mommy tells you.” In a militia where a PRINCESS dresses like a soldier, a Vice-Admiral who dresses like an aging debutante doesn’t inspire confidence.
Rey delivers herself into the hands of her enemies, because she thinks she can reform her bad-boy crush – AFTER seeing him murder his father in cold blood. She begs Luke to teach her about the Force, but ignores everything he tells her. She nearly kills one of the alien caretakers on Acht-to when she cuts through a boulder while practicing with a lightsaber and the rock falls on the woman’s cart. Rey doesn’t even notice that she nearly caused someone’s death with her sudden impulse. In any other Star Wars movie, or any tie-in novel I’ve read in forty years, if you put a lightsaber in someone’s hands, and their first instinct is to destroy something without thinking about the consequences, it’s a clear indication that person is not Jedi material.
Rose almost gets all of the remaining Resistance fighters killed when she selfishly stops Finn from destroying the battering ram cannon. It’s only by the timely arrival of Luke and the Millenium Falcon that anyone survives her stupidity.
And Captain Phasma? Jeez, do I even need to explain what’s wrong with her? She gets jobbed by a JANITOR in this movie!
But hey….FEMINISM! Amirite, ladies?
Thank you for re-pasting the comment that you have been making on the ‘yah feminism’ blog posts that you have been able to find. (http://gunfreezone.net/index.php/2017/12/21/the-real-sexism-of-star-wars/comment-page-1/)
Personally, it doesn’t bother me that the female characters may have ‘failed’. At least, for the first time in 50 years, they have a seat at the table doing something other than looking sexy in tight clothing (e.g. Jumanji remake). The women in Last Jedi aren’t exactly alone in making bad decisions as that was pretty much the key storyline for the male heros of the first movies.
We cannot underestimate the psychological effect of young women (and young men), just seeing women in a position of power on the big screen. It plants a seed in their mind that their life (or the life of their female partner) could be something more than cooking, cleaning and caring for children.