Film Corner: Let's Talk About Star Wars (Part 1)

[Rise of Skywalker spoilers herein. This post is from a twitter thread. Part 2, which is an original composition, will go up on my January Patreon.]

Today I go to see and probably hate the Star War. I don't like JJ Abrams and I feel like at this point I'm going out of an obligation to Carrie, so my hopes aren't super high. Things I want from the film:

- More Rose/Finn and Finn/Poe.

- Ace Rey and a continuation of her having parentage that doesn't matter; she's just a random force-sensitive. (Those occur!!) In place of Ace Rey, I will accept Rose/Finn/Rey with Finn having Poe as a romantic ace boyfriend, I am flexible.

- Jedi Finn.

- Kylo to die without redemption. If he *is* redeemed, then immediate death. By which I mean I would prefer Kylo not be redeemed at all, but if they do Because Darth Vader Was then I want him to only be redeemed in death (like Darth Vader was). I don't want him alive and happy at the end of this. (I do think there is a place in society for redemption narratives; I do not think a last minute redemption of Space Nazi Wizard is the time and place.)

I informed Girlfriend of these wants a few days ago and she gave me such a sincere look of pity that I wanted to give her a hug, so I'm not too hopeful.





WELL THIS UNEXPECTEDLY ENDED UP BEING FUCKING TIMELY: [A quote tweet of another of my tweets, this one from a thread on She-Ra, season 4.] Too much fiction glorifies mercy as an uncomplicated good; not enough deals with what happens when you give a murderer "another chance" and they use that chance to kill again.

Excited to report that this movie made me so full of anger and hate that I'm now a Sith, whoops. So here's the thing: I went into this being warned that I'd probably hate it. I didn't realize I would actively *despise* this film, oh my god. The only good thing I can say about Rise of Skywalker is that Disney can competently evoke the music and visuals of the SW universe such that there are a few moments I could lose myself in nostalgia. But they were few and far between. I was in a full theater and couldn't live tweet the film (too many people for me to be on my cellphone) but I'll try to do a dramatic reenactment.

Opening Scroll: "EMPEROR PALPATINE--"

Me, in theaters, out loud because I'm genuinely shocked: "what."

Emperor Palpatine, zombie: "there are some who call the Dark Side....unnatural."

Me: "Really? They didn't just bring you back, they brought you back with DIALOGUE CALLBACKS to the shitty prequels? To piss me off specifically, or just everyone generally?"

*Kylo Ren walks in with his "repaired" helmet*

Me: "Oh, this universe has kintsugi with red pigment. Kinda poor taste to give a Japanese art form to the Space Nazis, especially given what was done to the Asian-American actress in this film, isn't it?"

*Carrie Fisher looks miserable to be in this movie*

Me: *cries* "same, Carrie, same."

Finn: "Rose! Come with us! You'll get more than the 3 lines of dialogue this movie gives you."

Rose: "I can't! JJ Abrams wants to please every shitty white cis male fanboy who harassed people for liking The Last Jedi."

Lando Calrissian: "Hi! I exist and am helping you kids out now."

Me: "I would die for you, but uh where have you been before this? Exactly?"

Kylo Ren: *speeds towards Rey in the desert so she can rip his ship in half with her sword*

Me: "Okay, yeah, that made for a cool trailer scene but how was that supposed to go, exactly? Kylo, you said you didn't want her dead, so...?"

Rey: *accidentally does an Evil Force Lightning, whoopsy*

Me: "That's... no. You're supposed to have to choose to do that. You don't just 'whoopsy I did a dark side'."

C-3PO: "I can read this but my programming forbids me from translating the Sith language."

Me: "FUCKING WHY? WHY THE ACTUAL FUCK? WHO MADE THAT RULE FOR DROIDS, THE SITH EMPEROR? THE SITH WHO BUILT YOU? EXPLAIN THIS BULLSHIT. Okay. Okay. Well, we've always had tension regarding whether droids are people, and how they're treated in this universe, so maybe they'll show C-3PO growing beyond his program--"

Poe: "Let's just forcibly rip his memories out."

Me: "WHAT."

C-3PO: "Wait, I've thought of a way to do this that DOESN'T involve me losing my memories and effectively dying, what if we--"

Everyone Else: *flips the switch before he can finish his sentence*

Me: *gaping in actual horror*

Woman: "I'm Poe's ex-flame, just to add to the messy pile which is their plausible deniability relationship which you could read as a queer romance or a chaste friendship depending on your personal bias."

Me: " know we think he's BISEXUAL, right? Like, introducing a female love interest for Poe doesn't make us stop Finn-shipping."

Finn: "Rey, we can't die until I tell you--"

Rey: "Wow, we're alive. What was it?"

Finn: "I'll tell you when Poe isn't here."

Poe: *stews*

Me: "I-- They're clearly slotting Poe into the Han Solo scoundrel role, but I have a lot of feels about giving him a backstory as a smuggler with illegal skills, and while I like his old-married-couple bickering with Finn, it's uncomfortably aggressive and assholish."

Kylo: "Rey, you're Palpatine's granddaughter. Biologically, I mean. Palpatine fucks."


General Hux: "I've secretly been helping the Good Guys for a while now, so no one has to feel guilty writing Space Nazi romances about me and Kylo."

Hux: *dies*

Me: *shaking with actual fury at this writing because holy fucking shit*

Rey: "The ruins of the Death Star! Time to pull some National Treasure shit where an artifact has a secret which can be solved with a clever trick that hopes you don't know it's a 1-in-a-million chance the perspective would be lined up properly like this."

Jannah: I live here and know the ocean as well as my own equipment. It's not safe to boat out there just yet."

Rey: *does it anyway, doesn't die*

Me: "Fuck the racial optics in this shitty movie are BAD."

Rey: "Ah, there's the artifact I need."

Kylo: *teleports in to crush it*

Me: "Aren't you supposed to be running, like, the First Order? You just LEAVE and nobody takes over in a coup? And you're magically here now because...why?"

Rey: *loses a fight to Kylo by getting weaker and weaker while he doesn't have to even breathe heavily*

Kylo: "The fanboys didn't like that a girl was stronger than me, so here we are now."

Leia: *dies to distract Kylo*

Me: "WHAT? WHAT. THAT is the send-off you gave Carrie Fisher??? THAT?!"

Kylo: *is distracted by his mother's apparently deliberate death*

Rey: *kills him*

Me: "Well, at least one good--"

Rey: *resurrects him*


Palpatine: "The power of your Reylo bond is impossibly strong. No other couple like you two has existed in millenia. By feeding from your Reylo bond, I can now do magic I previously thought impossible."

Me: *grinding my teeth into powder*

Rey: *defeats Palpatine and then dies for no reason at all*

Me: "We're pulling a Padme, really?"

Kylo: *resurrects Rey*

Rey: *kisses Kylo*

Me: "Wow. I hate everything."

Kylo: *dies*


Jannah: "Finn, let us ride upon the ships with our Space Horses and use our bows and arrows against the empire!"

Me: "I'm-- I don't-- This is...a CHOICE made for the first Black woman in Star Wars."

Poe: "I'm going to save Finn!!"

Lando: "Nah, I got it."

Me: *waving my hands in rage* "Also? How did Palpatine even get a billion secret followers to build him a million secret ships on this inhospitable planet that has no obvious natural resources?"

Movie: "Look! A LESBIAN KISS."

Me: "That looks motherly, have you guys even met--"

Rey: "I'm taking Skywalker as my last name because it's like Luke and Leia adopted me, BUT since Palpatine called Ben a 'Skywalker', the Reylo shippers will say we married and I took his last name."

Me: *leaves the theater rapidly*

So let's recap my list of wants from earlier.

- More Rose/Finn, nope. Rose says maybe 3 lines and Finn persuades her to leave him when he stays behind on a suicide mission.

- More Finn/Poe, nope. They have a bicker-relationship which is plausibly deniable all the way home.

- Ace Rey. Kissing Kylo doesn't make her NOT ace, but we get no explicit ace confirmation and the kiss practically endorses Reylo.

- "Nobody" Rey. Literally the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine.

- Jedi Finn. You can absolutely read him as Force Sensitive, but in "First Trilogy Leia" ways. By the way: Leia trained as a Jedi but gave up her path because of a premonition that it would lead to her son's death. FUCK.

- Kylo. He dies eventually, but not before switching sides from Space Nazi to Rebellion and quite literally saving the day because we needed a white cis man to save everyone.

I hated this movie more than the prequels, and that should tell you everything you need to know. It's more *watchable* than the prequels, to be clear, because the prequels don't even feel like Star Wars, but I hate it more. I cannot emphasize enough that Kylo is evil up until the moment Rey resurrects him and then fucks off, at which point he is Team Good. It's the fastest turn ever. And if he kept killing people, that would've been ON HER HANDS. AND the resurrection heals his facial scar, so there's some fun stuff there about scarred people being evil, which. *stares in surgical scars*

I just realized that with Rise of Skywalker you could now very easily view Kylo as the protagonist of the trilogy and Rey as his antagonist*, and I'm just sick with Abrams. (*Reminder that "antagonist" and "villain" are not synonyms.) Rise of Skywalker was so bad we now have people out here seriously arguing that the prequels were good and compelling. This is how 2019 ends. Not with a bang, but with earnest defenses of that racist endurance slog of smelly shit.

[Re: a thread about it being okay to have pantsfeelings for villains.] I think this is a good thread, but I'm gonna add that for ME there's a big difference between fans being Reylo and the fucking canon being Reylo. And in the case of Kylo Ren, we still really need to look at how Star Wars sidelined a Black protagonist into a supporting character so that a white Nazi could save the day and get the girl. "But, he dies!" isn't enough to make that okay.

It's worth asking whether Star Wars would've gone that route if it hadn't been for the popularity of the Reylo fanbase. I don't know, I really don't; I doubt JJ Abrams gives a shit about horny teenage girls, but I'll bet he cares a lot about white men who imprint on Kylo. We can't really discuss Kylo Ren saving the world and getting the girl without talking about the fact that Finn DIDN'T. And that the fans harassed Finn's actor and Rose's actress to a terrifying degree.

I've never shamed people for writing Reylo fiction if that's what gets their mouse clicked, but a lot of the fans in the aggregate wanted Reylo for reasons of racism, and I don't know how we grapple with that whilst not kinkshaming. I don't know. I really am sympathetic to the girls who want to fantasize about being wanted so much that a bad boy turns good. For me as a kid, it was Mozenrath (look him up). At the same time: it still means that Rise of Skywalker is a romance story about a fascist dictator.

So we're back to the fact that I don't mind Susan Rando writing Reylo for her blog but I mind JJ Abrams making it canon very very very fucking much. And there needs to be a way to draw that difference without us sliding into "everyone who likes this flavor of fanfic is a Bad Person" because that's not really fair or helpful.

Anyway, Rise of Skywalker sucked. And IF you're upset it didn't end with Kylo alive to make little Kylo babies, I want to really urge you to consider that happy endings for fascist dictators are maybe not a good thing? AND WHILE I'M AT IT, fuck Disney for giving us a Star Wars romance with a fascist dictator before giving us a Star Wars romance with queer men of color. Like, I'm not JUST salty that Kylo is the worst person in existence; I'm salty that he's MORE palatable to society than good queer heroes. Fuck everything.

Gonna add: even if you wanted Kylo to be redeemed before death for Leia's sake, he did NOT need to be the galaxy's savior and he certainly didn't need a kiss from Rey. All those things were choices. Kylo could've had a meaningful redemption arc with Finn's help: Finn turned away from the First Order and Kylo could've talked to him about that in various Jedi combat action scenes. Lightsabers! Tense dialog!

I don't think Finn and Kylo even speak once in canon. Such a waste. Kylo is head of the fascist regime that kidnapped Finn, brainwashed him from a baby, and forced him to fight. He's the Hordak to Finn's Adora. And they never speak?? Never have a confrontation about that?? Finn doesn't have to grapple with anger and hatred, as a Force sensitive? No, instead we have a rare magic love bond SORRY FORCE DYAD because something something shirtless fascist. It just feels like such a waste.


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