Pedanticide: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Pedanticide is a column where we take a widely (which usually also means, ‘inaccurately’) criticized slice of pop culture, and give its most miserly, myopic and frankly munted nitpicks a taste of their own medicine. The goal is to try and ‘clear the air’ a little around the discourse on certain things and maybe even pay the artworks, and artists that created them, a bit more of the respect they deserve while we’re at it (or at least, pay out on their failures a little more accurately).

And yes, that means spoilers. Lots of them.

 

 

Rarely has a film incited so many passionate opinions, that can be so easily refuted by paying attention to the film itself.

The last six months has been an exhausting time to be a Star Wars fan, particularly if you enjoyed the latest instalment in the overarching saga: The Last Jedi (Dir. Rian Johnson, 2017).  YouTube has strained under the weight of melodramatic, barely-cohesive screeds with titles like:

 

 

Think six screen-grabs is overkill? Stretch that feeling over six months: that’s how tired I’m feeling right now. I’ve started blocking channels with videos like this the second they show up on my Recommended list. I’ve never felt the need to censor feeds like this in the past; in fact, I’ve always considered the idea an inadvisable gateway into intellectual isolationism.

The thing is, the ire routinely thrown at The Last Jedi (TLJ) and the people involved with it has been almost unanimously wrong. Ill-thought out, needlessly emotive, and in most cases complete misrepresentations of what’s in the film. Even putting the ‘SJW agenda’ factor aside, this film has been a lodestone for some of the worst, most intellectually bankrupt commentary on a film I’ve ever seen, and it’s been utterly inescapable.

There’s an army of boo-boys out there who’ll pounce on any Star Wars-related social media post of comments section, bellowing their complaints loudly and devoid of context, whether anyone was talking about the relative quality of the film or not. Part of the inspiration for this article was my growing exhaustion at trying to break down these criticisms, and realizing I lacked the energy or will to baby-step random idiots through the painfully obvious over and over again, and that maybe putting all the retorts in one place for easy reference was a much easier way to go about things, for whatever the fuck it’s worth.

So let’s look at some of the most common criticisms of the film…

 

HOLDO YOUR TONGUE

 

Why did Holdo refuse to tell Poe the Resistance’s escape plan? Or anyone else, for that matter?

The answer to this is twofold, explained in two consecutive scenes in the film, in the space of a few minutes.

  1. Poe asks her what their plan is. Holdo is fully aware of his brash and costly decision to attack the First Order dreadnought in the film’s opening battle, and his subsequent demotion. She refuses to tell him on the grounds that not only is he no longer at a high enough rank to be privy to such sensitive information, his actions and temperament make him a liability (Something which later turns out to be proven right, when he blabs about the plan on the communicator to Finn in D.J.’s earshot, leading to the latter spilling the beans to the First Order and leading to the deaths of even more resistance fighters). This sets up a conflict between the two, and establishes Poe’s arc in the film as his learning the thoughtfulness and cool-headedness necessary for command;
  2. The next scene takes us to the ship’s escape pod deck, where Finn and Rose first meet. Here we learn that people have been trying to desert, with enough frequency that Rose has been sent down there with a Space Taser to stop them.  Considering that anyone who ejects is likely to be captured by the First Order fleet currently breathing down their necks, not mouthing off about your super-secret escape plan to all and sundry sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.

This second point is not explicitly stated by any of the characters, but the sequencing of the scenes makes the connection clear. What Johnson does here isn’t some outlandish stylistic quirk, but one of the basic techniques filmmakers use to create understanding of a situation in a non-obtrusive way: establish the situation then show the wider effect, and let the audience infer the pertinent information in the comparison.

‘But if we didn’t get it, that means he didn’t do his job right!’, some have said. This is an increasingly common response to narrative information deployed subtly, and a handy way to dodge being honest about how you may have chosen to view a film. Even if you don’t put two and two together right away, the information is presented closely enough together that a bit of subsequent thought about the film on its own terms, should make that connection clear.

The recurring problem we’re going to see, however, is that when it comes to Star Wars people are rarely willing to approach it for what it actually is.

 

Why does she have that weird purple hair? What kind of military leader walks around wearing a dress like that?

Canon answer: Because like Leia, she’s a politician who found herself forced into a command position in an insurrectionary force, though she doesn’t seem to be as active on-the-ground as Leia has been in the past.

Real-world answer: You know another political/figurehead-style leader who eschewed uniforms? Mon Mothma, and I don’t remember anyone complaining about her walking around dressed like Enya.

 

 

SNOKE CHOKE

 

Wait, they just killed Snoke out of nowhere?

Yes, Snoke’s disposal is sudden and jarring, but the last thing from which it comes is ‘out of nowhere’.

Even from the first trailers, the film has made a big deal of Kylo Ren’s mission statement to ‘burn the past down’. It’s a philosophy, as many have correctly observed, Johnson himself weaves into and questions via the thematic cloth of the film, toying with and, in some cases, outright subverting some staple Star Wars tropes.

The Kylo/Snoke relationship as established in 2015’s The Force Awakens seems designed from the start to mirror that of Vader and the Emperor from the original films, with all the passive/aggressive resentment and scheming Star Wars lore has long established as standard practice for dark side student/teacher combos. A fractious relationship leading to the student murdering the master is as Star Warsy as Star Wars gets, but what’s gotten people’s panties in a bunch here is the fact that it’s been done a whole movie earlier than tradition demands.

 

But what was the point of him? They promised us answers, dammit!

Well, nobody actually promised anything.

Now, there’s every chance that in Episode 9, J.J. Abrams will bring Snoke back in all his gold lamé glory to, as originally expected, fill the role Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine played in Return of the Jedi. But is that the right move?

Sure, the films have been coy about revealing Snoke’s origins – and if there’s one thing geek fanbases love more than complaining about things it’s wild speculation. But making a character nebulous isn’t the same as promising answers, and what TLJ does is call into question whether we actually need Snoke. Maybe Snoke is just the Star Wars equivalent of an old family boss in a gangster movie, an authoritarian roadblock there to be dispatched so that the real antagonist can step up and fulfil their potential?  Kylo’s skewering of his master  is a necessary stage in his efforts to destroy the old ways, a step that brings him where he wants to be: in charge, no longer beholden to any teachings or expectations, and completely free to force the galaxy to conform to his vision – as much as he actually seems to have one, besides ‘reck shit’?

It’s patently clear here that Kylo is going to fail. It’s the way of all villains, and in no way is he psychologically fit to lead anything, let alone a galaxy-crushing army. Vader had the reputation of a despot, but his status as apprentice/enforcer/lackey ultimately conceded ultimate responsibility to Palpatine. Kylo has now surpassed Grandad: he is the master, the Big Bad – and he coudn’t have a less compatible personality for the job. This is the real point of Snoke’s death: to put little Ben Solo in a position up to now only filled by ultra-capable dark side masters. We’re used to Stalins in charge, but now we have a Kim Jong-Un. It suggests that the First Order may develop a character radically different than that of the Empire, and that alone makes for an enticing proposition.

 

LEIA POPPINS

They see me floatin’…

 

What were they thinking? It was so stupid!

What you mean is, you think it looked stupid. Which is fair enough. Fuck them for putting fantastical imagery in our space fantasy movie, I guess?

 

But how can anyone survive in space, even with the Force?

Considering we accept mind control, telekinesis and shooting lightning from your hands as plausible things for Force users to do, I’d say that maybe we can give them a bit of wiggle room on this one.

The fact is, we have as yet been given no solid information on what Luke has taught Leia about the Force, or how advanced she got in any of those lessons. Claudia Gray’s Leia-centric (and, as with all Star Wars secondary materials nowadays, fully canon) novel Bloodline comes the closest, and even then makes only a brief mention of her abandoning the training in favour of sticking to her strengths in politics.

 

I don’t want to know about what some book says! I just care about the movies (and whatever theories are popular on reddit)!

Fair enough. Let’s break this down, based on what we know from the films.

At the time of Return of the Jedi, Luke and Leia are in their early-to-mid twenties. Traditionally, Jedi are meant to be trained from early childhood to avoid issues in psychological development that can lead to a much higher risk of turning to the dark side. Even Luke, the most powerful Force user in history, suffers for starting so late, and barely manages to pull through and reach Jedi Knight status. While Leia’s power level is unknown, it’s safe to assume that as Anakin Skywalker’s other child, she’d be pretty damn strong but not necessarily as innately talented as her brother. Throw in her political career and her looming marriage to Han Solo, and it makes sense that she might not exactly be gung-ho about dropping everything to go all Space Monk.

Gray’s account seems in line with this motivation. Luke gave her some limited training, but it didn’t go much past that. So how would he train her? What would she need to learn?

We’ve been told since A New Hope that one’s power in the Force is strongly influenced by instinct, and the Prequels established that techniques exist by which Force users can hold off death. From here it doesn’t seem too big a leap to assume that if a politician was to concentrate on getting good at a particular power (and was too decent to pick the Jedi mind trick), something defensive would be the wisest option. It’d certainly make sense for someone like Leia, who has been a target for practically her whole life.

Now throw in a genetically-endowed strength in the Force and a near-death moment that would naturally put one’s instincts into overdrive, and suddenly the whole thing doesn’t seem so outlandish. Some feel that the staging of the scene was too fantastical and Mary Poppins-esque, but I’d call it ‘lyrical’, myself. It plays as it should, ie as a moment of supreme power and beauty wholly appropriate for one of the most formidable woman the galaxy’s ever seen. And what about that moment when she floats through the hologram of Snoke’s flagship the Supremacy, bisecting it in a way that niftily foreshadows Holdo’s manoeuvre later in the film, eh? How’s that for a nice bit of visual storytelling?

 

Sometimes you pull through for me, reddit.

 

But wouldn’t Leia dying here be a more appropriate sendoff for the character? Or even in place of Holdo?

No, for two reasons:

  1. Leia’s role in the film is to guide Poe’s character arc. Poe, through his experiences, learns that leadership is about more than bravado and snap judgements. He learns these things mainly by earning the disapproval of the person he idolizes most: Leia. He disappoints her as a tactician by rashly ordering the dreadnought attack, and then on an interpersonal level by not only misunderstanding Holdo on their first meeting, but harbouring his prejudices to the point of mutiny. Star Wars heroes tend to need their tutors to tell them that they have become that to which they aspire, and Leia does this on Crait when she tells the Resistance survivors to pay attention to him instead of looking to her. The announcement of ascendance by a teacher is a classic trope of the apprentice’s story, and one that if absent, would make the whole feel less complete;
  2. You really think people would be happier if Leia had died without any significant display of force powers, nor getting to reunite with Luke? Especially when those scenes had already been shot? I mean, just imagine the nerdeurysms…

 

 

ILL HUMOUR

Now things start to get really wacky.

 

Poe prank calling Hux was so dumb. That off-the-cuff humour is NOT Star Wars!

 

Finn stumbling around in the bacta suit was so dumb. Physical humour is NOT Star Wars!

 

Those wacky aliens in the casino were so dumb. Wacky creatures are NOT Star Wars!

 

Having so many jokes was so dumb. Regular jokes is NOT Star Wars!

Um… You did notice that Han Solo was in these movies, right? Seriously, there’s only so many .jpegs and .gifs I can post.

 

 

CASINO RILE-ALL

 

Why is the Canto Bight sequence even in the film?

The point of the sequence is to illustrate the fact that not just Force-sodden superheroes can enact change in the Galaxy. Even a mechanic and a sheltered deserter can shake things up where it’s needed, and help inspire a new generation of freedom fighters while they’re at it. Plus, we get some important character work for Rose and Finn, while introducing DJ who, while hardly being the most exciting new character, does establish the underlying moral anarchy of a galaxy at war, and what the good guys must strive to resolve if they’re to have any point.

Star Wars has always been a series that has dealt in universal principles, through an extremely exclusive and isolated cast of characters. Canto Bight gives us a glimpse at how the galaxy’s near-constant state of war both benefits the upper echelons of society (the casino patrons), while ignores the day-to-day plights of its lower ones (The stable slaves, most pointedly Temiri Blagg, a.k.a. ‘Broom Boy’, himself a reminder that Force users aren’t all Skywalkers).

 

But they fail, and they didn’t even need to go on this side trip because of Holdo’s plan. It was all pointless!

So what? First of all, they go to Canto Bight because Poe couldn’t get the details of the plan out of Holdo, and wrongly assumed that she didn’t have one. Again, he feels he can take matters into his own hands and sends Rose and Finn off on a wild goose chase – another example of his not having learned to lead effectively yet.

The sequence also reminds us that being a hero isn’t necessarily about winning all the time. Finn and Rose meet D.J. because they fail in meeting with another codebreaker. However, they succeed in disrupting the comfortable existence of the Canto Bight elites for just long enough to free some space horses, and give hope to a bunch of kids (and potential future Resistance fighters).

They then infiltrate the Supremacy in an attempt to crack its systems and give the rebels a window in which to escape – which again fails, due to Poe and his big mouth. This, however, does put the already reluctant Finn in the worst possible position, by making him confront the regime that raised him. By facing his fear of the First Order, it makes him accept his own accountability in the conflict – first, by incorrectly thinking that he should sacrifice himself by kamikaze-ing into the battering ram laser on Crait, and then by accepting Rose’s lesson that “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love”.

Kind of how in Empire, Han, Leia, Chewie and the droids spend most of the movie trying to reach a guy who ends up screwing them over, but it ultimately strengthens Han and Leia’s relationship.

The point is, failure doesn’t always lead to wholly negative results. A certain green Jedi Master may have opinions on this later in TLJ

 

 

Yeah, but the whole Finn/Rose ‘love story’ angle was a bit rubbish, wasn’t it?

I… Well, okay. I’ll pay that one. John Boyega and Kelly-Marie Tran have great chemistry; it’s just not of a kind that feels particularly sexual. For me , the only real stumble in the film’s writing and direction is trying to set up this relationship, while having Finn determined to the point of obsession to save Rey. It plays like Finn’s actually in love with her, and it never feels like poor Rose ever has much of a chance. Now this could be deliberate, and be leading to something in Episode 9, but we’ll just see.

 

But the Canto Bight scenes were just soooo sloooow!

While the Canto Bight sequence is undeniably slower than the rest of the film, a lot of the complaints seem to come from the knee-jerk film-school-pedant belief that ‘slower’ automatically means ‘worse’. This section of the film is packed with a lot of key thematic information that directly references the rest of the story in ways that are both obvious (particularly Finn’s arc as he learns to look at things past his own fear and narrow perspective) and under the surface, as theme should do for any story.

 

 

THE LUKE QUESTION

 

Why?? Why did he drink from the alien boobie?

Because it’s hilarious. Funny how selective people can get about their Star Wars. It’s always been a franchise that’s revelled in the weird and at times, slightly unsettling. The Mos Eisley Cantina was seen as pretty wild, back in the day. And don’t tell me you never wondered what Jabba might’ve had Leia doing while she was in that metal bikini. Oh, and:

 

Rian Johnson RUINED Luke Skywalker! Skywalkers don’t quit!

He got old. He lived life. He got his arse kicked a bit. It happens.

Failure, and how that affects both one’s learning and ability to teach, is one of the film’s main themes. It all comes together in the scene with Yoda, who apparates to teach his old student one final lesson as he finally gives up on the Jedi way, and resolves to burn down the Force tree housing the last remaining Jedi texts:

 

Yoda’s force ghost appears

LUKE: Master Yoda.

YODA: Young Skywalker.

LUKE: I’m ending all of this. The tree, the texts, the Jedi. I’m going to burn it all down.

He approaches the tree, flare in hand. But at the last second he hesitates, doubt crossing his face.

Yoda summons lightning to strike the tree. Luke jumps back as the tree explodes into flame. Yoda giggles at Luke’s dismay.

YODA: Ah, Skywalker. Missed you, have I.

LUKE: So it is time for the Jedi Order to end.

YODA: Time it is for you to look past a pile of old books, hmm?

LUKE: (Protesting) The sacred Jedi texts!

YODA: Oh, read them, have you? Page-turners they were not. Yes, yes, yes. Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess. Skywalker, still looking to the horizon. Never here, now, hmm? The need in front of your nose.

LUKE: I was weak. Unwise.

YODA: Lost Ben Solo you did. Lose Rey, we must not.

LUKE: I can’t be what she needs me to be.

YODA: Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.

 

Of course, when Yoda says that the library contained nothing that Rey already possessed, we later learn that she stowed the texts onto the Falcon. But there’s also a double meaning here: it’s not just the learning, but how you apply it. Luke became, in his own way, just as cloistered and out-of-touch as the Jedi were in the Prequels, just as wrapped up in his own hype. As he earlier tells Rey, concerning the loss of Ben Solo:

“I became a legend. For many years, there was balance and then I saw Ben. My nephew, with that mighty Skywalker blood. In my hubris, I thought I could train him, I could pass on my strengths… By the time I realized I was no match for the darkness rising in him, it was too late… I failed, because I was Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master. A legend.”

The venom and self-loathing with which Mark Hamill spits those last few lines should hit the hearts of anyone with a decent amount of life experience like a dagger. We construct certain narratives about ourselves in life: Who we are, what we stand for, what’s coming to us. But life has a way of foiling these ideas, and even the best of us have moments where our own self-image is so fundamentally upended, it can leave us doubting who we ever were. Is it such a surprise that Luke, a farmboy who grew up with the responsibility of continuing the legacy of a sect already prone to self-destructive hubris, might inherit that same tendency?

Oh, and a quick sidenote: Rian Johnson didn’t put Luke on that island – J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and the Lucasfilm Story Group did, when setting up The Force Awakens. People have (sometimes valid) gripes about the former’s chops, but Kasdan is the second-longest serving writer in the Star Wars saga below Lucas himself, and in many people’s eyes its best. Hell, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were allegedly fired from Solo for discarding parts of Kasdan’s script for that film, something that’s usually daily routine for Hollywood directors. Johnson’s job was to pick up the baton and find a reasonable explanation for Luke’s situation. If we’re going to apportion blame, let’s spread it appropriately.

 

But he was going to murder Ben Solo! Luke would never do anything that evil!

You’re right. In all the time we’ve known Luke, he’s always been the perfect image of stability and emotional fortitu-

Oh.

Just because Luke conquered his own anger and fear in Return of the Jedi, doesn’t mean it was banished forever. Baggage like that takes a lifetime to deal with. So many people talk about how Luke has remained an inspirational figure when facing problems in their own lives, so why should he get a psychological ‘magic button’? In the Rashomon-style multi-perspective retelling of the night Ben destroys Luke’s Jedi school, we learn that Luke has a disturbing vision of his nephew’s future:

“I looked inside, and it was beyond what I ever imagined. Snoke had already turned his heart. He would bring destruction, pain, death, and the end of everything I love because of what he will become. And for the briefest moment of pure instinct, I thought I could stop it. It passed like a fleeting shadow. And I was left with shame and with consequence. And the last thing I saw were the eyes of a frightened boy whose Master had failed him.”

We’re not given specifics of what Luke sees, but it’s safe to assume that his being closely involved in the resurgence of the very same planet-killing force of evil he spent years vanquishing, would be more than enough to cloud his judgement. Ditto, the realization of such tragedy meaning his own failure to steer his nephew onto the right path, and the collapse of years of his own work learning the ways of the Jedi. Now throw in a genetically-inherited propensity towards fear and anger, and is it really that outlandish that for a split-second, he might be tempted by the chance to prevent it with one death?

Besides, it was, as Luke himself describes it, ‘the briefest moment of pure instinct’. He knows he fucked up, too. He’s spent years in self-loathing over that act. That’s also very Luke Skywalker.

Oh, by the way: another cool bit of visual foreshadowing happens at the start of the scene, where we get a glimpse of Ben’s student lightsaber with what looks like a pen laid across the hilt, suggesting the crossguard design he will eventually adopt as Kylo Ren:

 

 

Just another thing I like to bring up when people talk about this film as being ‘badly-made’. The thing is positively dripping with detail. In fact, I’d call it the most visually well-crafted Star Wars film of all. But then again, I try not to look blindly for sticks to hit things with.

 

But! That’s! Not! Luuuuke!!

Okay, simmer down, Shatner. The tendency towards fear, anger and pessimism? The overreaching sense of principle that manifests in self-flagellation? The idealistic core that leaves him ultimately swayed by a purer, less jaded voice? That all sounds like Luke to me. Look how his demeanour softens when reunited with Chewie, Artoo and Leia (with credit to Hamill’s performance, which really sells these moments). He’s just lived thirty years: got old, made a bunch of mistakes and had his heart broken. Are any of us who first made contact with the franchise in the 70s and 80s honestly going to say they can’t relate to that? How is that inferior to what some fans seem to have wanted, which is a ‘boy in a bubble’ version of Luke who’s stayed in emotional stasis since 1983? A version of Luke who represents a moral standard that’s simply fantasy (and not necessarily the good kind) to anyone with a few decades’ life experience?

Besides, he ultimately rises above his funk, steps up at the crucial moment, saves the Resistance and passes on to the afterlife the man he was always meant to be: a true legend, and an inspiration to the oppressed across the galaxy. ruminating on where he starts and not where he ends is missing the point of his entire arc, and fundamental aspects of what his character has always been.

The thing is, the hero declining later in life is a recurrent trope in mythology, and we all know how big a thing drawing on common mythological tropes is in Star Wars. Luke’s hubris is reminiscent of Beowulf’s overreaching pride, and his problems with Ben/Kylo draw strong parallels with the King Arthur story: both are given watch over a younger relative (in Arthur’s case, his son Mordred) but are unable to stop them turning evil, in the process destroying everything they’ve built. As with Arthur, Luke’s redemption comes by besting his young nemesis in a legendary final confrontation that leads to his death, but also cements his legacy.

 

Aha! But the film contradicts the whole ‘kill the past’ manifesto by having Luke show up and save the day at the end, and Rey keep the Jedi texts!

Only if you you take that phrase in the most superficial context possible, much like Kylo does. The point is that the healthiest way forward is to keep from the past what works, but don’t be slavish enough to it to remain dragged down by its destructive elements. Kylo wants to ‘kill the past’ to rebel against his own, which has nothing to do with Rey’s arc, which is refounding the Jedi using the knowledge of the old guard, but the wisdom of today. Surely we know enough about narrative drama by now, to know that if the bad guy keeps banging on about a particular philosophy, it tends to end up being bullshit (at least in the context to which they cling)?

 

But my childhood!

Fuck your childhood. No franchise as long-running as Star Wars gets this kind of longevity by perpetually catering to one constant, perpetually-ageing demographic.

Case in point: Marvel. Marvel Studios has taken their roster of comic characters and completely rebooted and repackaged them for the modern cinemagoing audience, to the point of building a completely separate universe for the movies. If people – young people especially, with their all-important entertainment spending power – had felt beholden to fifty years’ worth of comics in order to enjoy the movies, you can that bet far fewer of them would have gone to see those movies.

The brutal truth is, when you’re sustaining a continuous franchise for this long, you’re eventually going to need new heroes, and at that point the role of the old crew is to set the stage for them. It’s why even the biggest, most successful wrestlers always retire on a loss: you need to put over the new guy.

Besides, how do you keep a story going without generating new conflicts, new crises for the heroes to overcome? How do you do that, if the original crew are still awesome and nothing went wrong? If the Force stays balanced, you don’t get new Sith, or Dark Jedi, or whatever flavour of bad guy for which you’re pining from the old Extended Universe. Failure’s not just the greatest teacher; it’s also how you keep the stories coming.

 

 

The Last Jedi did that thing we assume to be a prerequisite of art: it made me think. It made me think of age, and how easily the wrong sets of circumstances at the wrong times can send us veering wildly off the courses we set ourselves. It made me think of failure, which Yoda quite rightly describes as ‘the greatest teacher of all’.

Most of all, it made me think about stories, the heroes who populate them and what we expect from them. Did I want to see Luke as a glorious, heroic Jedi Master Super Saiyanning his way through the First Order? Sure, at first. Would’ve made for one pretty awesome scene, at least. Was I taken aback to see my first fictional role model so broken and cynical, his ultimate redemption a Force-projected facsimile of the godlike display of power I’d craved? Absolutely, at first. But expectations shouldn’t be the sole bar by which we judge the stories we enjoy. Keeping Luke a demigod in an emotional bubble would’ve been a quick fix, a sugar rush, but ultimately would’ve left the new trilogy’s new heroes overshadowed, and instantly neutered. Anyway, I seriously doubt if that version of Luke would’ve spoken as much to me as the person I am now, as this one has.

I’ve never been huge on the idea of nostalgia for its own sake. As much as I love seeing the stories that defined me continuing into my adulthood, I’m in it to engage as the person I am now. It has to resonate with me, now. The Last Jedi certainly did that, and did it in a way that felt all the more mature for letting new heroes rise for another generation to enjoy. I’m fully confident that with time, it will come to be seen as one of the highlights of the franchise, but for now it’s going to just have to weather being the symbol of this era of fandom’s apparent inability to read a work that doesn’t provide easy head-canon validation.

 

But the movie was just badly written.

If after you read this article, you can’t see the amount of detail and thematic juice poured into the structure of The Last Jedi, nothing I or anyone else can say is going to make you think differently. Besides, ‘badly written’ is often bandied about like the way some people criticize things for being ‘soulless’: just lazy shortform used by people who can’t just accept that they simply didn’t like something, and are scrambling for a quasi-intellectual-sounding totem that makes their subjective reaction an objective flaw, removed from their own responsibility.

 

No, it’s just badly writ-

Oh, shut up.

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