Vain Wars


'Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi' is a genuinely bad movie. Anyone familiar with the Star Wars series will immediately notice that considerable portions of the plot were recycled from past movies. The entire climax scene in which Rey, Snoke, and Kylo Ren face off in a duel of conversion, betrayal, and power is obviously purloined from 'Return of the Jedi.' This scene is followed closely by a reenactment of the Battle of Hoth from the beginning of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' The movie is also unnecessarily long, which becomes truly annoying when one realizes the plot leads nowhere and produces no satisfying conclusions.

'The Last Jedi' can easily be interpreted as an attack on the entire Christian and identitarian worldview. The movie features both shallow and deep assaults on our values and identity. On the shallow end is a silly miscegenational romance between a new female Asian character named Rose and #BlackStormTrooper, but in keeping with the films meaningless plot this childish bit of late modern decadence still doesn't resolve the question of whether #BlackStormTrooper is homosexual. The interracial friendship between Rey and #BlackStormTrooper becomes a tedious farce throughout the movie. Both characters continually ask about the well-being of the other despite having spent so little quality time together and having no substantial connection to one another. The relationship appears to have no reason for existing other than to push the agenda of interracial harmony and bonding. #BlackStormTrooper is also ugly, and he's a terrible actor. If he was simply eliminated from the film everything would improve.

Among the most ridiculous scenes in the movie involves Yoda returning in ghost form to burn what are presumably the last original copies of the ancient Jedi religious texts. Why he does this is never explained, but Yoda justifies his pointless act of destruction by claiming the texts are boring and Rey already knows the truths they contain without having read them (because Rey is the only person who might ever want to read them?). The significance of this scene will not be lost on faithful Christians who follow the Bible. The implication of Yoda's words and act is that we should move beyond ancient sacred wisdom because we have all the truth we need already within us. We should guide ourselves and ignore boring useless tradition. One is reminded of the constant refrain from the book of Judges: "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."

The Judges period of Israelite history was characterized by moral and social anarchy. The era culminated in the disgusting gang rape murder of a concubine, her subsequent dismemberment, the mailing of her body parts to different tribes, and the resulting genocide of the Benjamites. The end of the chaos was brought about by the united monarchy period in which three kings ruled for 112 years resulting in the centralization and ordering of Israel's nation.

The Rebel Alliance of Episode VIII is a coalition cobbled together to promote and sustain chaos. The First Order is able to organize the galaxy, but the Rebellion is capable only of disrupting that organization. The rebels can't create anything. Until Episode VIII it was easy to imagine the rebels sought a more just order and wanted to build an alternative to the Empire, but after Episode VIII this idea becomes almost untenable. It's clear from the behavior and philosophy of the "good guys" in 'The Last Jedi' that the promotion of chaos is actually part of the program. This is exemplified in the movies most important scene after Kylo Ren kills Sith Lord Snoke and saves Rey's life. In an act of almost loving reconciliation, Kylo Ren extends his hand to Rey, tells her she's important to him, and offers her a chance to rule the galaxy with him (maybe as his queen) in a post-Jedi post-Sith universe. This is a moment of Rebellion triumph. They finally have a chance to remake the galaxy's ruling order after converting the new Supreme Leader back to a semblance of good. They have a chance to end the Judges period of Star Wars history. Astonishingly, in an act of unexplainable stupidity, Rey rejects this offer and promptly incites a violent battle with the man who just saved her life and destroyed her movement's greatest enemy. In other words, Rey consciously chooses chaos over order and prolongs a destructive war her allies almost certainly cannot win. Kylo Ren is the peacemaker, and only he is willing to compromise to bring order, only he wants to move toward a solution and build something better. Kylo Ren's angsty Gothic realism is capable of acting in the real world, whereas Rey's emotionally guided idealism is only able to prolong the galaxy's suffering and spread anarchy.

The Rebel Alliance's increasing stupidity is probably related to its being increasingly composed of woman and minorities. The First Order, under Kylo Ren, is dominated by white men, while the Rebellion is led and operated by a coalition of the "oppressed." Episode VIII affirms this beyond reasonable doubt by killing off Luke Skywalker (the last strait white male rebel leader). Skywalker's "death" doesn't even make sense, and he effectively offs himself for no reason whatsoever. It seems the writers just didn't want white males in the story anymore, and this suspicion becomes more probable when considering Han's death in Episode VII. Meanwhile, Leia Organa remains an integral part of the plot despite her actress' real life death. Something profound might be said about how the two white male characters who were killed off still have living actors to portray them, but Leah is being kept alive on screen only by a creepy zombiefication technology that imitates deceased feminist Carrie Fisher.

The fighter pilot Poe Dameron is another example of the new Star Wars writers desire to ridicule and displace men. Poe's ethnic identity is somewhat hazy, he's too swarthy to certainly be considered white, but he's white enough that humiliating him won't be condemned as a racist taboo. Poe is made to look like an idiot after he launches a mutiny against Leia's temporary replacement (a women who literally has purple hair) because she appears to be leading the last Alliance ship into inevitable annihilation. Leia then awakens from a coma, stuns Poe with a gun, and reveals that her purple haired replacement really had a brilliant plan she was hiding all along. In the end Poe was just an idiot while the woman are clever and "in the know." Poe is demoted by Leah for his incompetence.

'Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi' is fundamentally disappointing. Nothing epitomizes this more than when Rey's long lost parents are revealed to have been nothing more than drunken junk traders. Her ancestry means nothing. There is no back story, and Rey has no identity or connection to any of the other characters. Rey is simply a rootless individual without even a surname. She has no father, nor any man to give her direction and meaning. When Kylo Ren offers her a secure and important role in the world she lashes out against him.

The original Star Wars trilogy was based on the hero's journey outlined by Joseph Campbell in 'The Hero With a Thousand Faces,' but that timeless journey requires traditional archetypal elements to speak to people's hearts. Star Wars VIII, however, seeks to invert and undermine tradition and identity, and so its not shocking that it fails to leave a meaningful impression or inspire constructive behavior. I asked my brother what he thought of the movie as we exited the theater. He said he needed time to think it over. The reason he needed time was because the film mirrors other elements of contemporary society in that everything is off balance. Modern abstract art and architecture, feminism, racial egalitarianism, the celebration of rebellion against tradition, secularism, and philosophical liberalism are all imbalanced and cannot sustain harmony or order. All that's left is vapid recycled scenes leaching off the old Star Wars symbols. Like the post-Christian West, both Star Wars Episode VIII and its hero Princess Leia are zombies feeding off the corpses of past greatness.

Comments