I’m a Star Wars fan. A big one. And as you might imagine my interest in it goes deeper than just space ships and laser swords. Star Wars has always been (as intended by Lucas) political and social in nature. The much maligned prequels are actually filled with excellent political commentary. Of late the new movies have been bashed by fans for “caving in to the SJW agenda”. This, I do believe, is not true.
Some point out that because Rey is a woman it must mean Star Wars is now cramming strong women down our throats! They seem to forget all the strong women in Star Wars before Rey. Remember Princess Leia – when she was being “rescued” by Han and Luke – had to grab the blaster herself and make an exit. When Han was extolling the virtues of his escape prowess, she was the one who figured out they let them go and placed a tracking device on the ship.
Feminists complain about the golden bikini Leia finds herself in. They conveniently forget how she found herself there. She headed up a daring rescue of Han in the heart of Jabba’s palace. She boldly played a role and threatened the gangster with a bomb. She only ended up dressed that way because the dominant male figure (Jabba) who loved dancing-girls and sadism, put her in it. They also seem to forget that story arc wraps up nicely with Leia wrapping her own chains around Jabba’s neck and choking him with it until he rattle his death throes with his tongue – the one he licked her with – now lifeless hanging out of his mouth. Now that’s one strong woman!
In the prequels when Obi-Wan was in trouble it was Anakin who wanted to obey and stay put and Padmé who came up with a plan. She told Anakin, you’re job is to protect me, I’m leaving to help Obi-Wan, if you plan on doing your job then you HAVE to come with me. Smart. Then of course there has always been Mon Mathma the female leader of the rebellion who was in the very first Star Wars movie. She was a senator that risked everything for the rebellion.
Then there is the scene from The Last Jedi that so many fans complained about where hotshot pilot Poe Dameron is taken to task for disobeying orders. I’ve read more than one complaint that this is a social justice plot to neuter males. Ha! If we are to be honest, he deserved it. But, that aside, he’s not the only male to screw up in Star Wars and need to get a talking to by a strong woman but now it gets complained about even though it is in keeping with the history of the franchise.
Politics have been the mainstay of Star Wars from the very start. George Lucas wanted it that way. His original screen play for A New Hope was actually a lot more like the prequels with politics galore. Palpatine’s rise to power was only made possible through his manipulation of the political and banking systems which played on the selfish interests of the politicians seeking power.
And of course Star Wars gives us one of the greatest lines, “So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.” How apt for our modern world. People are begging to have their rights taken away while the rest of us look on in stunned disbelief. Point after point the prequels predicted the very problems we find ourselves in. We may not have a clone army but we have an army that continues to fight in conflict after conflict due to a resolution (like Palpatine’s emergency powers) that allows a president to use force based on that resolution passed some 17 years ago and not addressed again. Power once given – which is the message of Star Wars – is never given back. It is the very thing that gave Germany to Nazi control after the fire at the Reichstag.
Lucas studied anthropology and is fascinated with social systems. Star Wars reflects that love. He said it’s not the science, the aliens and space ships that interested him, but how people react to those things. The rebels – he said – are based after the Viet Cong. The little guy, the farmer, fighting the massive army. He said, if you like, that it can be also like the Americans during their revolution too. The little guy, the underdog, against a massive empire. America, during the Vietnam War, said Lucas, was the empire. His wanted to explore all that and he did a great and wonderful job at it.
Science fiction is meant to explore social themes, that’s what it does best.
So yes, there might be a droid in Solo that wants to free other droids and acts like a sassy feminist. So what?
Are you so twisted up in your own world view that you can’t see a character in a movie with a different one and not be somehow threatened by it? The existence of a feminist robot does not mean everyone watching Solo is suddenly transformed into feminists because they watched it. I don’t like it when Hollywood casts women just to cast women, which they sometimes do as in the new Ghostbusters movie. But we also saw that when it is forced, not thought out, and unnatural to the franchise, it doesn’t work.
The author of the linked article complains for the opposite reason as other Star Wars fans. The author thinks that the robot’s great message of liberation and female empowerment was used for laughs. The other characters didn’t take her seriously. Lando only allowed her to stay that way because her database was useful. In the end she was blasted to smithereens and the one thing of use, that database, was download into the Falcon. The author writes, “… what particularly stands out about L3 is her political self-awareness. She recognizes that she is part of an aggrieved class of creatures in this universe. Asked what she wants, she shoots back, “Equal rights.”” then goes on to sadly say, “Here’s the problem: This is done as comic relief…Imagine making a big-budget American film in 2018 in which a main character’s recognition of her subjugated status, her efforts to liberate others in her predicament, and her calls for equality are played for laughs.”
Why is no one happy?
Because they only care about their own politics and not the story being told. They don’t see the robot as a character with a part to play. Nor do they see how that part is important to the other characters or as a McGuffin for their escape. They don’t see an exploration of politics in general, they just see an attack on their own politics.
I continue to be pleased with the stories being told in the Star Wars universe and look forward to more of the same. Lucas is a great story teller. Terrible at writing dialogue but great at putting the pieces of the hero’s journey together. But that doesn’t mean that the other stories, not his anymore, are not also good stories. They are. They really are. What was done with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi was great story telling. Seeing Rey, in The Force Awakens, sit against the fallen AT-AT that was her home, wearing the sand filled helmet of a fallen x-wing pilot chewing on her simple food, so hard-earned and lorded over her, in silence and alone, was great story telling.
A book or a movie is a ride. You take that ride but you aren’t driving. You are just along for that ride. If you want to create a story that falls into place just exactly how you want it to – then write it yourself. But I find it more enjoyable (and less work) to see the stories others present and take the time to learn just where they might take me.
Source: We need to talk about the woke droid Solo addressed the ugly metaphor at the center of the Star Wars universe — and not particularly well.
VOX.COMWe need to talk about the woke droid – Vox