I stopped watching the Star Wars films after seeing episode 1 titled The Phantom Menace which, as all aficionados know, was the fourth film is the weird sequencing of that franchise. (Q: Why did episodes 4,5,6 get made before episodes 1,2,3? A: In charge of production, Yoda was.) So I had not planned to see the latest episode (I don’t know what number it is) titled The Last Jedi. But this review by Kate Aronoff surprised me because she says that this film takes a side in the class war.
She says that in past films, the politics was essentially regressive, as you can tell by the comments of some of the worst people in our politics.
In 2002, conservative writer Jonathan V. Last wrote in The Weekly Standard that, “The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good,” calling Emperor Palpatine — the main villain and ouright authoritarian of the original trilogy and prequels — an “esoteric Straussian.”
“Make no mistake,” he writes, “as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator — but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It’s a dictatorship people can do business with. … The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen.” Bill Kristol defended the position at the time and again more recently, tweeting that there remains “no objective evidence Empire was ‘evil.’”
Pinochet was a benign dictator? On what planet was this because it was definitely not on Earth.
Aronoff says that these groups are not fans of the latest film and explains why this might be so.
BEFORE TOUCHING DOWN on the planet of Canto Bight, Rose looks down forebodingly to tell us that it’s full of the “worst people in the galaxy.” Cut to champagne glasses clinking and a casino full of galactic 1-percenters.
With “The Last Jedi,” “Star Wars” has chosen a side in the class war.
What “The Last Jedi” advises is a radical break from resistance as we know it: abandoning old tactics and loyalties and handing the keys — or at least more of them — over to the grassroots: the mechanics, the child laborers, the Ewoks, and the rebel foot-soldiers. The resistance of the “Star Wars” films has never been particularly visionary, operating as a kind of top-down, underground rebellion looking to reconstitute the New Republic of the prequels. Its biggest heroes have been messiah figures, princesses, and the so-called great men.
The biggest heroes of “The Last Jedi,” by contrast, are the proletariat — working stiffs who’ve gotten the short shrift throughout the franchise. They’re also mostly women, and many are people of color — not unlike the makeup of the American working-class. Rebel Admiral Leia Organa stays true to her roots as a class traitor and longtime consort to rebel scum: staying the course and boosting morale in the darkest of times, while occasionally pulling out some crazy impressive force powers for the greater good.
If “The Last Jedi” has a political takeaway, it’s for political revolution and a bottom-up transformation of not just who’s in power, but who gets to decide how that revolution happens.
I expect that many of this blog’s readers have already seen the film and am curious if they too sensed this new and progressive class element in it.
I have also read that some were displeased that so much prominence was given to women and people of color. Based on this review and the fact that it has displeased the right people, I think I will see the film.