Kylo Ren vs Cancel Culture

Ben Solo is going to get redeemed. You can count on it, at least if JJ Abrams understands even the smallest thing about the moral universe that George Lucas created in the first six Star Wars films. Redemption is as baked into the DNA of Star Wars as lightsabers and space battles, and to swerve away from that in the supposed final chapter of the Skywalker saga would be far more shocking than killing off all the characters at the end of Rogue One. Whether that redemption involves a love scene with Rey remains to be seen (don’t count on it), but by the end of the film Kylo Ren will have returned to being Ben Solo, and he will have found redemption. 

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“Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try.”

For years Yoda’s famous advice to Luke Skywalker on Dagobah vexed me. “Do or do not, there is no try” always struck me as fatally reductive, and too results-oriented. It felt less like spiritual wisdom and more like corporate motivational drivel.

In fact, the phrase calls to mind Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, center of one of the most famous ad campaigns of the 20th century*. But as is so often the case with stuff that gets printed on motivational posters or superimposed on images of ladies doing yoga on the beach and then shared on Facebook, there’s true wisdom in there. You just gotta get past the bullshit to see the beauty.

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The Tragedy Of Han Solo

This contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Fans complain that The Last Jedi did Luke Skywalker dirty, but I think that the end of Luke’s story tracks really nicely. Luke was never one for the hard work – he was always imagining some other life for himself. When he was on Tatooine he wanted to join the academy, when he was on Dagobah he wanted to go be in the fight. These were the times in his life when he needed to hunker down and do the hard work, the unglamorous work, and his instinct was to take off and find something more romantic and exciting. What’s more romantic and exciting for a holy man than fucking off and becoming a mystical hermit? When his new academy failed, Luke didn’t decide to put in the hard work of trying again (or tracking down Kylo Ren), but rather disappeared to a small island to live out his monastic fantasies. And for Luke to feel like a failure is perfectly in character – look at how quickly he quits on Dagobah. Luke’s first instinct is to give up.

Now Han Solo on the other hand… that’s a character who got done dirty, and I think Solo: A Star Wars Story makes his end even sadder and his final days even more pathetic. I never liked what JJ Abrams did to Han in The Force Awakens, but now it feels downright disrespectful.

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Droids Are People Too: The Life And Metaphysics Of L3-37

This contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Droids are sentient. We’ve known this since 1977, when we first met R2D2 and C3P0 and saw them make decisions as the Tantive IV was being boarded. It became clearer on Tatooine, where R5D4 faked a blown motivator to keep the two friends together, and it was quite clear when we learned about restraining bolts, devices intended to keep droids from making their own choices.

As the Star Wars saga has gone on we have seen that droids have rich emotional lives. R2D2 seems to shut down in response to Luke going missing. K2SO has a deep camaraderie with Andor. C3P0 suffers from what seems to be generalized anxiety disorder. And yet every character in the saga treats droids, at best, like pets. Most of the time, though, they’re treated like slaves. 3P0 especially is consistently dragged into situations that he does not want to be in, fighting for a cause that has no bearing on his existence.

Enter L3-37. Lando Calrissian’s droid co-pilot, L3 is a robot who is, in the parlance of the modern era, becoming woke. When we meet L3 in Solo: A Star Wars Story she is already sickened by the way droids are treated in the STAR WARS universe, and we see her trying to break up a bot battle in a seedy cantina. She appeals to the droids in the ring, and she threatens the referee. “You’re being exploited!” she cries (I’m paraphrasing here), a sentiment familiar to many marginalized groups over history. Droids are not allowed in that bar… except to fight for the death.

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Heavy Spoiler Review

This contains complete spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, and begins spoiling right from the first sentence.

There will likely be more from me about this movie in the days ahead, but I think that the structure and the form of the film make it hard to write about properly before the sequel is released.

This is your last chance to turn around.

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A Likely Ill-Advised Ranking Of All STAR WARS On-Screen Canon Works

With the absolutely awesome conclusion of Star Wars Rebels I think it’s time to go back and do that most destructive and pointless of all possible tasks: ranking! Chatting with a friend about where Rebels falls in the screen canon of Star Wars has gotten me itching to revisit a ranking of the entire Saga to date; I should wait until Solo comes out, but I’m concerned that the movie is going to be a bit of a bummer. So why not do it now, while I’m on a Rebels-induced Star Wars high?

This is a ranking of screen canon only – ie, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars is not, from what I know, actual canon in the post-Disney purchase world. The new novels and comics are technically canon, but a) I haven’t read most of them and b) they can potentially be overwritten by future movies and TV shows, so I tend to not think of them as hard canon.

Yes, this is nit-picky nerd shit. Anyway, on with the ranking:
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The Tao of the Jedi

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

Among the exciting things that Star Wars: The Last Jedi does for the larger Star Wars universe is that it expands and deepens the mythology of The Force in a way that we haven’t seen since The Empire Strikes Back. And it does so in a way that has learned a lesson from the fiasco of Midichlorians – The Last Jedi returns The Force to its status as a mysterious and truly powerful concept that is far beyond silly tricks like picking up rocks. In fact, it returns it to a concept that is far beyond such silly tricks like violence and physical force in general.

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