The dust has settled, box office records have been smashed, and there can be little doubt that Star Wars Episode VII will go down as the most necessary and important film known to mankind. For the first time in the history of cinema we get to see a female in a lead role and this is in fact the narrative that drives the whole movie, and rightfully so. However, call me old fashioned and hard to please, but I felt like there may have been a few parts of the story that were, frankly, a bit clunky. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to point some of them out.
The film starts off by introducing us to the character of Rey. A young scavenger on the planet of Jakku whom has taken on the burden of aspiring to be a role model for young girls. Painfully aware of the damaging message that her body image can send, Rey struggles to gain weight in an environment where resources are scarce and pity for women even more so. It’s truly a powerful allegory for the world we live in today, but I thought that the choice to break the fourth wall and criticize her own casting might have been a bit on the nose.
The movie quickly makes up for this, however, with one of my favorite scenes in which Rey courageously rails against the gender pay gap and shows that she is truly an empowered woman that will not be silenced.
Rey then enjoys a moments respite to eat her paltry rations and we fade into a poignant dream sequence in which she imagines herself on a lush green planet at her ideal body weight. I defy you not to cry here.
Unfortunately, the good times are short lived and I have another grievance in the following scene. While it’s about time we have a film that tackles the topic of women’s unpaid emotional labor, I did find the choice to push a twitter hashtag suspect, as for me it somewhat pulled me out of the fantasy world.
This is where the film really starts to pick up pace. First Rey shows us once again what a truly progressive hero she is by befriending a young, lost black man and then really ups her game when she gives Han Solo the dressing down he has always deserved but refused to acknowledge, as the straight, male son of white colonialists.
Things quickly culminate in a final clash between good and evil. In typical Rey fashion she quotes notable feminist Susan Brownmiller – not that I have to tell you guys that, you caught it, right? I thought it was a really bold decision to rename the dark side to Gamer Gate, bold and logical, considering it was 2015.
In the end Rey gets Kylo Ren thrown in intergalactic prison for force raping her with his male gaze and returns to Jakku where she is finally able to achieve her ideal body weight and live happily ever after. Or does she…to be continued…
Crazy, right? But what if I told you the above isn’t so crazy, and is in fact the future that geek culture is headed for if we don’t take a stand? Hi, I’m aspiring shitlord, mediocre blogger and ineffectual e-beggar Lyndon Perry. I originally had an idea to write a scholarly-ish article on the colonization of geek culture by Social Justice Warriors and their socio political agenda. But the more I thought about it, the more boring the idea started to seem, so I decided to write this piece of satire instead.
Some people reading this will understand where I’m coming from, and some will think I’m going way overboard. First off, I’d like to make it clear that I enjoyed Star Wars. I’m a huge geek and seeing the original cast return to their roles was like a childhood dream come true for me. I also want to make it clear that in spite of being a white male, I really don’t have issues with diversity in casting. I thought the characters of Rey and Fin were perfectly fine. So what’s the problem, you may ask?
The problem is the focus on identity politics in the media is making it hard to just enjoy being an old fashioned geek in what should be my moment of glory. I’m one of those crazy people that thinks real progress will be shown when we’re able to not obsess over stuff like gender and race, and just enjoy the stories that we love. In the words of Morgan Freeman, stop talking about it.
But not only do we seem unable to do that, there is also a trend to mock and denigrate anyone whom, like myself, doesn’t want geek culture to be overrun and consumed by identity politics. We’re labeled as whiny, emo reactionary white boys, that are angry about women infiltrating our ‘space’. That is asinine. I love women. All I ask is that if you want to geek out, then learn how to geek out, and leave your politics at the door, because they have no place here and they are a fucking drag.
Don’t believe me? Try googling “Star Wars Feminism”. There’s enough reading there to keep you going for months, and pretty much every single early review I saw touched on it in some aspect. The only early review I stumbled on that managed to avoid the topic all together was Kevin Smith’s. Now there’s a guy that knows how to geek out properly. Watch people. Watch and take notes.
UPDATE March 11, 2016: If you’re here about the Daisy Ridley body shaming story, you can read my follow up here.