Nerd Commentary

Episode 8

A Nerd Commentary

Episode 8 either makes a massive political statement or no politics at all, depending on how politically minded the viewer is and from what political perspective they're coming from.

Movies are always a reflection of the culture of their time and so naturally certain cultural and political messages will make it in, since the writers have their own views.  All of that's perfectly fine, but it's important not to insert views that aren't intended just as it's important to be aware of what's being said.

One of the observations I've heard is that Episode 8 has a feminist narrative and this is reflected in the leadership of the Resistance, and the way Poe is slapped down for his aggressive approach to the problems. 

Do I agree?  Meh... I really don't know.  Female leadership in the Rebellion isn't new.  Mon Mothma and Leia were in charge throughout the original trilogy.  Leia has often taken a dominant role and her reaction to Han Solo wasn't very different from how she reacts to Poe's behavior in the latest film (putting aside the romantic angle between herself and Han, of course). 

The whole racial diversity thing... well that doesn't really feel contrived to me either.  It's true that earlier Star Wars films tended to have mostly Caucasian actors, but it never felt like that was meant to be some kind of rule.  It doesn't seem weird to have a larger variety of races represented in the film.

I think people who are concerned about politics in the film are being a bit oversensitive, but it's also  understandable.  Popular culture has been shifting in a very obvious way over the last several years and it's hard not to think about it when watching movies, listening to music or playing games.  It isn't that people have a problem with female leaders or characters of different races, it's that people don't want to be preached to about it, and that's what the criticisms are focused on... The perception that there's some kind of lesson being taught instead of a story being told. 

And this is a movie about lessons, with a very strong overtone of "out with the old, in with the new" that can be taken in a lot of ways.  It's easy to see the burning of the Jedi texts as being a commentary on religious scriptures and the perception of them being in opposition of new ways of thinking and behaving. 

For me, I don't think that's what's happening here.  (Or if it is, I don't see it, i see something else.)  What I see here is an acknowledgement that Star Wars isn't going to be what it was back during the time of the original trilogy.  It can't be because the kind of story that worked in 1977 isn't going to work in 2017.  It's a different world and a different time.  Stories are told differently now.  I'm not speaking politically here.  I'm speaking about the way the world itself has changed and culture with it.  In 1977 there was no Internet, no cell phones, no social media as we know it.  The world population was much smaller, there were far fewer entertainment media outlets and very few people had computers or video games in their life, let alone their pocket. 

So Star Wars changes because the world changes, and that's the subtext of this movie for me.  It's a graceful farewell to the era of Star Wars as it had been, and striking off in a new direction.  Luke Skywalker saw the twin suns of Tatooine one last time before becoming one with the Force, and that's the close of an era. 

I'm old enough to have seen all of the Star Wars movies in the theater so I grew up on this stuff, and this movie felt like a fond and tearful farewell to what was.  Star Wars will continue, but it will be a different Star Wars from what came before.  That's okay.  No hard feelings, no anger, just a nostalgic sadness that acknowledges what's true.  It's different because it must be.  Godspeed, Star Wars.  Thanks for the memories.

If I see Episode 9 in the theater, it'll be because my kids ask me to take them.

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