So, apparently I’m still fuming about Star Wars (whenever I set this to post, anyway).
This take at WaPo makes some assumptions about what Star Wars is and the themes George Lucas subscribes to which lead the write to make some questionable conclusions. Let’s look at two of these assumptions.
- There is a central theme to all Star Wars trilogies: ‘an obscure, powerless individual on an impoverished planet is suddenly thrust into the most important and pivotal political struggles of the galaxy.’
Have you watched anything except Episode IV and I? Do you only let those films define the whole of the story. Further, do you only allow two characters – Luke and Anakin – to define the story and that separate of their familial background (Luke’s not so obscure and powerless in light of the end of Empire). I mean, this sidelines Leia and Han, Kenobi and Padme. It ignores the struggles with identity and desires present especially in Empire and Attack of the Clones. It ignores the temptation to righteousness by might (the Third Temptation of Christ) that defines the third films.
Star Wars is so good because it doesn’t have a simple central theme (well, it does, but modernist secularists are willfully blind to the transcendent). It is rich and complex – at least richer and more complex than our modern illuminati believe a call back to pulp-era space opera should be capable of.
And in the original trilogy, Luke, Leia, and Han AREN’T dealing with politics in the modern sense. All three movies concern events that are extra-political, points in time where action is called for – the rescue of a princess and destruction of an enemy weapon in; gaining self-understanding or fleeing from the enemy; making a desperate assault on an enemy weapon.
If you want politics, you need to go to the prequels, which is where error number two comes in:
- In previous trilogies, the Jedi were viewed as the proper galactic elites; the best parts of “The Last Jedi” are devoted to tearing down that myth.
Let me summarize what this sounds like: “I haven’t watched the prequels”.
The prequel trilogy is, from beginning to end, a damning of all elites. Lucas recognizes the tragedy of civilizations in decline, of powers too confident to see the cracks in their own system. The politics of the prequels enacts the “tearing down” which The Last Jedi only gestures at and squawks about like an undergraduate history paper.
And the Jedi are the ones who take the damned-stick hardest. They don’t have a grumpy old man wagging a finger at them – they have their military compatriots turn on them, their most powerful shamefully defeated, and one of their own become the right hand of their hated enemy. Like Oedipus, they can only look on in horror as their own actions set all they’ve built to the torch.
Complain all you want about the terrible, horrible execution of the prequels (terrible dialogue, crappy acting, questionable side-plots), but under all of it there’s a rock solid foundation. It’s almost opposite for TLJ which does little more than badly ape and poke sticks at the themes of the past.