Snowflakes! Snowflakes everywhere!


I’ve already expressed my opinion on Star Wars: The Last Jedi: it was a movie. It was OK. I’m not as enthused as some.

But still, there were some excellent notes in that movie that only sunk in after a while. It did a great job of inclusion. As we all know, representation matters, and also, it’s silly to assume that the science fiction future (or in a galaxy long ago and far way) would be a little bubble of contemporary American culture.

Also, the heroes of the story were all women who were representing caution and restraint and careful planning, while the bad guys were all paragons of toxic masculinity. Look at Kylo Ren, with his temper tantrums and his obsessions; Snoke, who could have been Tywin Lannister for all his greedy scheming; even the two good guys, Poe and Finn, were impulsive dumbasses whose half-baked ideas for sudden victory all failed and almost wrecked the brilliant, well thought out plans of Leia and Holdo.

And now there is the predictable petition to strike Star Wars Episode VIII from the official canon. You have got to be kidding me. Someone is taking Star Wars way too seriously.

This is not a chapter of your holy books. It’s a movie that a lot of people liked very much. There is no inviolable body of dogma; Disney did not slap an official label of “Sacred Precepts of the Prophet George Lucas” on the title screen that you can have scraped off. People will decide whether they like it or not without regard for its sanctioned status in some imaginary list of “real” Star Wars movies.

Over 35,000 people have signed this inane petition.

I should start a petition to damn all the people who signed that petition to hell. It would have as much effect.

Comments

  1. says

    Reminds me of Asimov attending the premier of Star Wars. As he himself told it, at the intermission (yes, it had an intermission) it was already clear what was going to happen, and Asimov started complaining “They’re breaking the First Law! They’re breaking the First Law!” A friend sitting with him replied “So why don’t you strike them with lightning, Isaac?”

  2. mnb0 says

    “I should start a petition to damn all the people who signed that petition to hell.”
    Replace hell with Solomon Islands (for instance Nuatambu) and eternity with two weeks (paid for, with sufficient though minimal supplies) and I’ll sign.
    Not that I’ve ever seen one single SW movie. Ever.

  3. says

    {sarcastic, cynical, and still somewhat serious}
    It’s fascinating that the Star Wars universe depicts a revolution with no aspirational core other than “Not the Evil Empire or anyone else like it!” — and has no disaffected university professors or other intellectuals hanging around anywhere to either pontificate on values and collateral damage or act as combination comic relief/martyrs to the cause (usually depicted as “funny Danton” in what passes for fictional depictions of revolutions). Or, for that matter, actually develop a strategic plan that — because it has been properly disclosed to the key subordinates, along with the information necessary to improvise upon contact with the enemy — can actually be implemented if there’s a casualty at or near the top.
    Maybe it’s that midichlorians displace grey cells, so the more one focuses on the Force the less capability one has to focus on rationality. Which, come to think of it, explains a lot of teh stoopid throughout all eight films and the Expanded Universe… not, perhaps, as well as “none of the screenwriters had as much education as did Luke Skywalker,” but it’s a nondisprovable alternative explanation!

  4. kimmer says

    I haven’t seen this one yet – spoilers are getting harder to avoid, so I’ll need to see it soon – but I’d be happier if they would eliminate Eps 1 through 3 from the official canon.

  5. blf says

    There’s an “official canon” for Star Dreks? What is it, “The last movie must be worse than all the previous ones combined”? Or “Any plausible physics or biology, or coherence, is accidental and shall be corrected in later movies”?

  6. cartomancer says

    How about abandoning the idea of an “official canon” entirely? There are all too many people obsessed with this idea that everything has to have some kind of legitimising official imprimatur to make it worthwhile. I blame a combination of Christian religious dogmatism and capitalistic trademarking culture.

    I get this a lot when I’m teaching Greek literature to teenagers. They find it difficult to get it into their heads that there is no “official” version of the myth of Achilles, or Theseus, or Jason and the Argonauts, and that Greek audiences for plays based on these myths expected no such thing. It seems to me that any story that aspires to the status of a mythos cannot be trammeled up and limited by such pedestrian notions as officialdom and canonicity.

  7. Gregory Greenwood says

    The movie had its good points and weak points for me, but some of the reaction, especially online reaction, is ridiculously excessive. Some of the fans are acting as if Rian Johnson just murdered one of their family members in front of them, and their ‘reasoning’ (not that such a grandiose terms for their nerd rage tantrums is justified at all) is so very peculiar.

    ****SPOILER WARNING***

    Some of them can’t stand the sequence where Luke milks the alien sea creature on his island retreat. None of them seem able to articulate why that scene is so supposedly offensive to ‘true’ fans, other than they consider it ‘gross’ for nebulous reasons never explained. I mean, the hypothetical self made castaway would need to survive somehow on his small Island, and the movie shows him milking those critters and catching alien fish – what is so unreasonable about that?

    Other’s engage in the perennial objection about the diversity of the movie as an ‘SJW conspiracy’ .They are overwhelmingly made up of the usual suspects, and thus exactly the kind of posturing idiots poisoned by toxic masculinity you might expect.

    The movie’s approach to humour riles up even more of them. While no one is claiming that the humour on display is the stuff of comedy legend, it is not as though other Star Wars movies don’t have an equally cringe worthy history in this regard – have they all really forgotten about the crypto-racist, nails-on-a-chalk-board abomination of Jar Jar Binks? And what about the original trilogy’s fare of Ewoks (almost exclusively played for cheap physical comedy, and not exactly brilliantly so) or characters like Salacious Crumb? I don’t see anyone exactly rushing to hand out comedy awards for those creations either.

    Many are angry about the fate of Supreme Leader Snoke, saying that we know next to nothing about his character and he died without sufficient fanfare. They seem to forget that this is only the second instalment in a trilogy (and possibly further movies after that, though they have yet to be confirmed) and so there is plenty of time to explore who Snoke was, what his plans were, and how his manipulation of the character of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo came to pass. This is all assuming he is even permanently dead – there are several fan theories surrounding Snoke’s decrepit, seemingly partially rotted appearance that has lead some to suggest that he might somehow transfer his consciousness from body to body (this is a sci fantasy setting after all where scientific credibility is not a primary concern), and all that was killed was a host shell. It is far too early to tell what the writers have in mind, and yet the tsunami of impotent nerd-rage continues unabated. Even if Snoke is dead and gone from the fiction, does that even matter all that much? The focus is simply then on Rey’s journey as a hero and Ren’s as a villain (with the possibility of a redemption arc), and the not entirely convincing CGI Emperor-analogue has served its narrative purpose already.

    One of the biggest bug bears of the movie’s more vociferous critics (another overly generous term) is Luke’s arc. They are angry about how Luke’s precognition (again; a sci fantasy movie, and it is not as though the trap of foreseeing the future isn’t already established as a plot line in sci fi stories – the Dune saga says hi) bred a fear in him of how Ben Solo could become Kylo Ren, and the horrors he would then commit. A fear so intense it drove Luke to contemplate killing Ben Solo in his sleep to avoid that outcome. They see it as some kind of character assassination, rather than one of the better character moments in the movie that explores how even a principled person can know a moment of doubt and contemplate a monstrous course of action as the lesser of two evils – that no one is perfect. It seems any move away from the most glaringly, childishly simple moral perspective of a sharp and easily perceived divide between flawless good and cartoonish evil is a bridge too far for them.

    Also with regard to the character of Luke, the manufactured outrage is particularly focused on how the movie ended, with Luke using a form of Force enabled astral projection to out manoeuvre and out think Kylo Ren, rather than resolving everything with a conventional Light Sabre duel. They seem to think they have been cheated somehow, or it doesn’t fit the in universe continuity, even though this is surely the same principle as a Jedi Mind Trick, just on a larger and more impressive scale. Misdirection being favoured over violence, especially violence toward Luke’s own nephew, seems wholly consistent with the mentality Luke shows in the movie. The fact that the strain of this feat – appearing by some kind of illusion with absolute visual fidelity to hundreds of people simultaneously over an interstellar distance of many light years by the usual Star Wars space magic – proves too much for the older, more wearied Luke’s body to handle seems to inflame the entitled man children even more, despite the fact that both movies so far in the new trilogy have had very clear indications that one of the major themes of the contemporary arc is the passing of the torch from the old generation to the new.

    Basically, none of their complaints make any real sense, and the real issues the movie has are, for the most part, shared by most of the other Star Wars movies and the genre as a whole, mostly consisting of endlessly recycled plot lines, often overblown melodrama, and a stubborn refusal to even try and deal with the physics of things like space flight in even the smallest degree, taken so far that even the explanation that this is a sci fantasy setting begins to wear thin.

  8. Larry says

    Has anyone seen the movie in 3D? The local theater has both the regular format and in 3D with latter costing a few bucks more. The difference in cost is inconsequential but do you get a better experience with 3D or should I stick with the regular format?

  9. microraptor says

    Larry @12:

    What’s your usual reaction to 3D movies? If you enjoy them, this one probably will look really good in 3D. I will warn you that it’s a long movie,so you may be feeling some eye strain by the end.

  10. says

    Marcus:

    I just saw a thing that the new oceans 8 is a gang of women. Including Cate Blanchett. I will see that one just to smell the bro-tears.

    Me too! Especially as I didn’t see the all bro one.

  11. screechymonkey says

    I’m not saying that there aren’t valid criticisms of this film, but I get the impression that a lot of the critics would not be happy with anything other than “Elderly Han and Leia fly around in the Falcon trading screwball comedy romantic banter while running from the bad guys, with Chewie and the Droids around for comic relief, and elderly Luke does cool Jedi stuff and kicks the bad guys’ asses, until they all team up at the end and blow up something big belonging to the bad guys. Everyone from the original trilogy who can conceivably make an appearance does, and no new characters are allowed unless they are mega-cool bad guys with neato lightsabres like Darth Maul.”

    And the same people who are so eager to point out this film’s flaws overlook the many flaws of the original series. The repetitive plot devices (“let’s build a second Death Star”, the Empire had laid a trap all along, etc.). How it spends two films building a love triangle before revealing that Luke and Leia were siblings. How Obi-wan and Yoda are all “you can’t face Vader yet, you need to complete your training!” when Luke leaves for Cloud City, but when he returns, they’re “nah, it’s cool, your training is done. Oh, except that you won’t be a true Jedi until you face Vader again.” Until the prequels came along, the Emperor was just as much a cipher as Snoke is in these films. And I saw all these things not to run down the original trilogy — those films overcame those flaws because they were fun and exciting, just as I think the latest trilogy is.

    I loved the fact that, while still showing love for the series, this film seemed willing to question some of its previous received wisdom. The Jedi did kind of suck, and not just in the hated prequels: Obi-wan and Yoda were pretty shitty mentors to Luke. The entire light side/dark side morality was a childish worldview, that you’re either good or evil, and that one bad act can “turn” you evil. That the way to stay on the “good side” of the Force was to avoid attachment to other people. There’s even some nods to the idea that a rebellion needs to be fighting for something that people can believe in, not just blowing up the bad guys’ superweapons.

  12. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    kimmer,

    I’d be happier if they would eliminate Eps 1 through 3 from the official canon.

    I’d suggest forgetting you ever saw them. That won’t take anything away from your enjoyment (or lack thereof) of the movie, or any of the others for that matter.

  13. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    Personally I’m glad (NO, REALLY, SPOILERS, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK) that Snoke is out of the picture (and not just because one of the best people I ever worked for was surnamed Snoke). Powerful pure evil characters can be cool, but they really don’t add anything to the story. Kylo Ren is a much better antagonist as someone who at several points in the story has to make a conscious choice between good and evil actions (and who doesn’t always choose evil).

    Here’s hoping that JJ Abrams doesn’t think the events in this episode need “fixing” in the next.

  14. Gregory Greenwood says

    Marcus Ranum @ 15;

    I just saw a thing that the new oceans 8 is a gang of women. Including Cate Blanchett. I will see that one just to smell the bro-tears.

    And in addition to the always gratifying bro-tears, it seems like it will be a rather fun heist movie with a slightly tongue in cheek sensibility on its own merits into the bargain. As James’ Corden’s character says in the trailer – its a two-for…

  15. rietpluim says

    There’s an “official canon” for Star Dreks?

    My thoughts exactly.

    The Last Jedi is to be considered apocryphal?

    Wow.

  16. antigone10 says

    Meh, I don’t have a problem with fandom using “canon”. It’s to indicate the difference between “fanon” “canon” and “headcanon”, or what is widely accepted among the fandom, what is the officially published information, and personal beliefs about the material.

    Fandoms have stricken things from the “canon” before- Love Never Dies is widely considered to not exist among Phantom of the Opera fans, but it doesn’t really do anything other than mark wide consensus. Occasionally, you’ll get retcons that also strike things from canon. And I’ve never heard of a top-down approach working- ie, fans petition the company to retcon it or to convince the rest of the fandom to not like something.

  17. consciousness razor says

    Gregory Greenwood, #11:

    Some of them can’t stand the sequence where Luke milks the alien sea creature on his island retreat. None of them seem able to articulate why that scene is so supposedly offensive to ‘true’ fans, other than they consider it ‘gross’ for nebulous reasons never explained. I mean, the hypothetical self made castaway would need to survive somehow on his small Island, and the movie shows him milking those critters and catching alien fish – what is so unreasonable about that?

    I just thought it wasn’t necessary. It was brief and not bad compared to some other scenes, like the pointless chase/stampede at the casino for example. However, that’s time which wasn’t spent on telling the story, revealing interesting things about the characters, or doing anything very useful. They made a choice to put it in the movie, instead of things that would help us understand what we actually needed to know about about Luke (or anybody else but it was especially lacking for him), about what led to the current situation, and so forth.

    They also didn’t show how/when/where Luke takes a crap, but I can surmise that somehow over the years he managed to do so, at times/places and in ways that are probably not very interesting or relevant. (And where’s the bathroom in the Millennium Falcon? Once again, I don’t care.) That’s not something we needed, in order to understand the story, why the characters are acting the way they are, how this fictional universe is different from the real one, etc. It’s just useless fluff, in a movie which has too much ground to cover and precious little time to spend on such things.

    Many are angry about the fate of Supreme Leader Snoke, saying that we know next to nothing about his character and he died without sufficient fanfare. They seem to forget that this is only the second instalment in a trilogy (and possibly further movies after that, though they have yet to be confirmed) and so there is plenty of time to explore who Snoke was, what his plans were, and how his manipulation of the character of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo came to pass.

    Well, Snoke certainly is a character (like Luke, see above) who’s in a position to set the stage. He could offer at least some hints about the broader context of events across the galaxy (past and present) that aren’t part of the main action taking place on-screen. He could really be used for storytelling or for developing SW’s mythical setting in various ways, not just be a stereotypical and uninteresting bad guy who’s eventually defeated. The problem here isn’t that we weren’t given enough of a spectacular fight, but that we still know practically nothing about how epsiodes I-VI (plus Rogue One) ended up leading to the events in VII and VIII. It’s as if they forgot that they were continuing a generations-long saga that had been building up over the course of seven movies. Snoke’s perspective would’ve been very valuable, along with Luke’s and several others’, but it was wasted.
    Sure, it’s possible that in the next movie, they’ll have extended flashbacks or whatever — something that makes use of his character as anything other than a generic bad guy — although I doubt it. There is time for it, but so far they just haven’t been making the time for things like that. You seem to be saying that, for all we know, they might (or might not) appreciate this kind of criticism and try to address it eventually. Well, okay … but that certainly doesn’t suggest there’s anything misguided about bringing it up or that criticism like this doesn’t “make any real sense.”

  18. consciousness razor says

    myself:

    Snoke’s perspective would’ve been very valuable, along with Luke’s and several others’, but it was wasted.

    I mean, this is of course part of a larger pattern, in which stories are Disneyfied and somehow about “action,” while containing very little drama about semi-realistic adult characters. Han and Leia were also seriously underutilized, and characters like Rey or Finn are supposed to be more or less outsiders or newcomers, like the audience. But, fuck, it’d be good if at least somebody in the whole galaxy did the job. I’d settle for one minute of Admiral Ackbar or R2-D2 or pretty much anybody giving a little bit of exposition or backstory, about anything other than what I can already see is happening on the screen, to do a little world-building and ensure the things I can see are put into context. There could be interesting and non-obvious things for characters to say and do, but if it’s all designed for ten-year-olds who want chases and explosions and swordfighting, then I don’t think they’re doing the best they could with the material.

  19. Pascal's Pager says

    I guess I must be an idiot for really enjoying this movie. I mean… it’s a movie.

  20. says

    I can’t think of anything more off point for a Star Wars film to worry about than the actual physics of space flight. If a screenwriter brought that up as something they wished to explore they should be fired, immediately and with impunity.