Ever since The Farce Awakens hit the scene in 2015, I’ve been kind of dreading the arrival of The Least Jedi.
Okay, scratch the kinda.
From the age of five, when I first saw Star Wars in 1977, I was a full-blown fanatic for the series, eager to catch midnight premier showings of each new installment and happily taking in each new episode multiple times during their theatrical runs (yes, even the prequels). Then along came The Farce Awakens…and everything changed.
That incomparably (pre-Least Jedi, anyway) lazy, lame, incomprehensively incompetent nightmare of a flick singlehandedly shifted me from a lifelong happy, enthusiastic Star Wars nut destined to haunt cinemas for a week or two around the launch of each new release into…well…more of a “maybe I’ll Redbox it later” kind of guy. (And even the potential Redboxing was more of a morbid curiosity inspired deal.)
After J.J. Abrams’ and Kathleen Kennedy’s brutalizing/cashing out of a once beloved sci-fi franchise (which I discussed in a post here), the magic was gone. Or, to be more accurate, crushed; ground under heel of that most sithy of sith lords known as Mickey Mouse.
I know that it isn’t exactly Breaking News to proclaim The Least Jedi awful. Many have noted this fairly obvious reality already, and a lot of good, teachable moments have been seized already through some intelligent critical analysis of the film and why it’s significant to the culture and the trajectory of the culture, whether one is a fan of Star Wars, sci-fi in general, or movies at all.
The fact is that Star Wars matters.
As such, I hope to get around to an at least-semi-through examination of the sequel to The Farce Awakens in the not too distant future. But since I don’t yet have my review/examination ready to roll, and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate The Least Jedi‘s dip below the 50% fan approval mark at Rotten Tomatoes, I wanted to take a sec to share what I believe is a very insightful, sound, and important review posted a couple weeks back by Dominic Tennant.
His article, The Last Jedi is the first successful leftist porno, begins strong and only gets better from there. Check this out (with bold emphasis added):
“Many leftist films and TV series are pornographic, of course, and Fifty Shades of Grey was even a literal porno. But when I say The Last Jedi was a porno, what I’m talking about is something a little different: it has all the hallmarks of a dedicated pornographic project, without any of the actual erotica.
A porno is not a vehicle for storytelling. Indeed, watching a porno for its story (or reading Playboy for the articles) constitutes a long-running joke in the Mos Eisleys of the internet. Because a porno is not a vehicle for storytelling, but rather for erotica, one would—if one felt so inclined—judge the writing and acting by a different standard than the usual rules of movie-making.
And this is exactly what you must do if you see The Last Jedi. If you expect it to be a vehicle for storytelling, you will be (in many cases bitterly) disappointed. The vast number of 1- and 2-star user reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes attest to this. It takes a special amount of outrage to prompt so many people to sign up to review sites just to vent and warn others. I can attest to this personally despite not even being a Star Wars fan—here is the brief 1½-star summation I felt compelled to post on Rotten Tomatoes:
“Beautiful sound design and visuals that really feel like Star Wars are not enough to salvage this social-justice feminist-fest. Every male character is a parodied buffoon who must be saved from himself by feminine wisdom, dished out by cardboard clichés; major plot arcs from the previous movies are callously brushed aside without regard for audience expectations; and one of the twentieth century’s most iconic young heroes is knelt down and made to suck the kool-aid of his own toxic masculinity, transforming him from a matured, resolutely hopeful and merciful leader into a grouchy old bastard with homicidal urges responsible for creating an emo man-child with rage issues. Meanwhile, the story swings wildly between incoherent or irrelevant arcs as egregious plot holes are repeatedly ignored, and even the pretense of scientific literacy is entirely discarded—until the whole heaving mass begs to end in a series of third acts where characters you don’t care about make increasingly irrational decisions, the one character you do care about dies meaninglessly, and the entire facile assemblage eventually flops onto the credits with the kind of listless sigh that I imagine a four-teated sea-cow would make as it dies of ennui.”
Some of what makes The Last Jedi so execrable is the way in which it flagrantly disrespects the universe that gave it life. Detaching it from the broader Star Wars mythos does make it marginally more tolerable—but it’s still only a good movie if all you’re interested in is two and a half hours of spectacular visuals and sound. If you’re looking for good storytelling—i.e., compelling character arcs woven into a coherent plot—you’re SOL because it simply doesn’t have these. It is not—and I don’t believe was ever intended to be—a vehicle for storytelling. Rather, it’s an extended, high-budget SJW propaganda piece. A leftist porno.”
Tennant’s article shines from one excellent point to another.
His consideration of the laughably SJW dream creature known as Vice-Admiral Holdo is particularly good (again, with bold emphasis added):
“Perhaps the most overt example—what really compels me to assume that The Last Jedi is an intentional leftist porno—is Laura Dern’s Holdo. It is not all that unusual for a director to put a woman in a major role of authority these days; but usually he makes an effort to do it nonchalantly. He wants his audience to pick up the message subliminally—defer to female authority. If he rams it down their throats they tend to choke. In a porno, however, storytelling is not the point, and so there is no need for subtlety; characters are generally caricatures of their mainstream movie selves.
This is what happens in The Last Jedi. It is as if director Rian Johnson googled typical feminist and goddess of wisdom and told the casting director to create a mashup of the first page of image results. Everything about her, from her hair to her dress to her dialog to her mannerisms to her story arc, is a comically ham-fisted effort to literally embody the feminine mystique. It is her job to cut the action-taking traditional male hero, Poe, down to size by femsplaining to him how the toxic masculinity of a “flyboy” like him puts everyone in danger. It is her job to share a moment with Leia after she stuns Poe for insubordination, in which she is equal parts serene and condescending in agreeing that they like him, as a master might like a noisy but well-meaning dog. And it is her job to flip the narrative and reveal how feminine wisdom transcends—and is nearly destroyed by—masculine problem-solving
While other parts of the movie rub our noses in the SJW agenda perhaps even more carefully, it is Holdo’s story arc that most clearly shifts The Last Jedi from a bad leftist film into a really classy leftist porno. As I’ve said, in a porno, story doesn’t matter—whatever advances the actual goal of the film is what the director will choose. So with Holdo: it didn’t matter to Rian Johnson that it made no sense whatever to keep Poe, the commander of the Starfighter Corp, in the dark about Holdo’s plan—because her character was not a vehicle for story, but rather for a revelation about feminine wisdom that would put men in their place, laying bare their toxic shortcomings and arrogant assumptions.
Throughout the second act, we are led to believe that Holdo is an incompetent coward who has effectively frozen under pressure—stuck in a holding pattern rather than chancing anything risky in the hope of saving the fleet. An entire story arc is developed to support this assumption, where Poe takes matters into his own hands with a dangerous hail-mary—building to a great anti-climax where this B-plot finally flops instead of paying off as the audience expects, and Holdo is revealed to have had a better plan all along. Many reviewers have expressed their frustration at how pointless this lengthy arc was—a misdirect and plot twist for the sake of saying “gotcha” rather than creating a payoff in terms of character development or plot advancement. But they are interpreting the movie through the framework of what makes a good story rather than what makes a good leftist porno. From that perspective, this was feminist gold.
In a scene reminiscent of Isaiah 55:8–9, the revelation of Holdo’s providence is unveiled—a mystery kept secret for long ages. We discover that she has been leading the fleet to a secret rebel base all along, sacrificing ships like chess pieces along the way in order to establish an unassailable stalemate in the end-game, rather than lose the king. (Sorry, the queen—in this chess game, the king and the queen swap places—obviously.)
It is the perfect feminine plan: one without fighting, in which the security of the collective is ensured. And by contrast, we see that Poe’s plan was reckless and foolhardy—pointlessly risking the lives of Finn and Rose (who herself serves no particular purpose except to meet the racial-diversity-body-positivity quota), on a gambit that ultimately failed. His masculine impulse to solve the problem through direct action blinded him to the greater feminine wisdom. Worse, it nearly cost the entire Resistance their lives, as he sabotaged the female leadership through mutiny—and it did cost Holdo her life, as she had to buy the Resistance time after Poe’s plan backfired and alerted the First Order to the fleeing transport ships.
But why didn’t Holdo just confide her plan to Poe in the first place? Because she shouldn’t have needed to. Ultimately, Poe’s greatest sin was not his taking action—it was his taking action out of a failure to recognize and trust in the transcendence of feminine wisdom. His sin was faithlessness. Masculine arrogance prevented him from faithfully submitting to Holdo.
And because the entire arc is told from his perspective, the audience is exposed as being guilty of the same faithless misogyny. “Oh, you thought Poe was the hero? Gotcha. We still have so far to go until sexism is truly a thing of the past, don’t we?”
Lest you think my interpretations extreme, allow me to quote from one representatively ecstatic review to press the point home:
“If the Universe was run by women, The Last Jedi‘s clear subtext runs, things would be kinder, more humane, better organised and a lot more peaceful. What a perfect tribute to Carrie Fisher and what a wonderful message in 2017 for young women, at a time when it’s becoming clear that the film industry has long been stacked against them. . . “
Then there’s what The Least Jedi did to the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker.
Tennant does a fine job elaborating upon the many fundamental problems with Disney’s understanding and treatment of the characters born in George Lucas’ Star Wars, many of which are made painfully plain through simple comparisons between Luke and Rey, the central character of The Farce Awakens and The Least Jedi:
“There are many features of this film that constitute such genuine skubalon (cf. Phil. 3:8b) that it’s hard not to rant—but the final truly notable one is in the contrast between Luke and Rey.
The original Star Wars is noted for being a paradigm example of the hero’s journey archetype (sometimes, and in my view misleadingly, called the monomyth). In the new trilogy, this theme is recapitulated with so little creativity that it is almost a beat-for-beat remake of the original—only without any of the character effort that makes the archetype work in the first place. Leaving aside the well-worn parallels between The Force Awakens and A New Hope, The Last Jedi continues to rehash everything that Johnson presumably thought made Empire and Jedi watchable. As my wife observed:
“Heroes visit a wretched hive of scum and villainy? Check. Scary villain on scary chair in scary throne room taunts the hero with “I’m gonna turn you evil!”, hero is tempted but eventually goes “Never!”, villain sneers “Well then, you will die”, other bad guy saves hero? Check. Prolonged sequence in which the heroes are chased through space by villains? Check. Hero goes to remote place to find mentor, who is initially reluctant to help, and undergoes a series of physical and psychological tests including entering a mysteriously Force-sensitive cave? Well, that seems bizarrely specific, but whaddyaknow, they did all that too.”
The last item is actually comical, because it suggests that Johnson understand the hero’s journey archetype so poorly that he failed to realize the cave element is not literal. But the larger point is that it’s not enough to just send your protagonist on some kind of quest—you have to actually go to the trouble of creating the various points of development that constitute the archetype itself. Simply stepping Rey through the same sequence Luke followed, so you can tick the boxes, doesn’t actually constitute development.
I shan’t rehearse the complaints about her being a Mary-Sue; this strikes me as such an obvious feminist trope as to go without comment. Rather, I want to focus on what this ends up doing to Luke—because this is precisely why The Last Jedi’s treatment of his character is so offensive. What happened here can easily be understood as the conjunction of two basic tenets of feminism:
1. Women have a natural attunement to reality through intuition and emotion, and are thus privileged with wisdom and harmony that men cannot attain.
2. Men, because they are afraid to tap into these feminine feelings, try to control the world through violence instead.
Since Rey is a woman, and therefore does not need to work at developing her skills and wisdom—they are inherent and she just has to liberate them—she has no need of a mentor. Yes, lip-service is paid to the idea for the sake of the archetype—but as travesty-ghost-Yoda observes to Luke, there is nothing in the Jedi books that Rey doesn’t already know, and Luke himself hasn’t even read them!
This is why Luke’s own hero’s journey from the original trilogy is effectively reversed in The Last Jedi. Using Campbell’s nomenclature, his achievement of the Master of Two Worlds is rescinded—thus retracting his entire transformation and returning him to the initial selfish and resentful state in which he started. We can’t have a man achieving genuine wisdom and empathy, or the ability to stand between two worlds and balance or harmonize them. That’s a woman’s job—and if Luke appeared to achieve such a vaunted status in the original trilogy, it was only a matter of time before his base male nature dragged him back down. For example, when he sensed darkness in Ben Solo.
The Luke we know, who spent two movies resolutely convinced that there was enough good left in Vader to turn him back to the light side, would never for a moment have contemplated killing a young student as he slept. But the Luke that feminists know was just hiding his true self during the original trilogy, and quickly reverted back to that violent impulse the moment he felt threatened by something he doubted he could understand or control. In other words, Luke failed to permanently become a woman. Thankfully, now we have Rey to do the job properly.
This would be bad enough, but since Rey is already a woman the film doesn’t bother to replace what it took by making her undergo any kind of meaningful transformation. She has no genuine mentorship, because she doesn’t need it as a naturally wisdomous female. Her supernatural aid is shoehorned in without effort on her part or explanation of its use, because greatness just comes naturally to women (because they deserve it). The road of trials element of her journey is therefore a yawn-fest—there is no real sense of danger, so there is no real tension. Worse, when the film does manage to muster a modicum of tension, it immediately takes it back with the other hand in the form of “twists” and “reveals” that serve no story purpose—thus making any supposed developments meaningless to the viewer, who gives up trying to understand the filmmaker’s intentions.
This is, of course, not a concern to Johnson & crew, because their intentions were not to write a good story. Rather, they have dutifully fulfilled the feminine directive of their own leader/wisdom goddess, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. She wanted a leftist porno—and they made the best one yet. As another feminist commentator observes:
“The Last Jedi has a clear message: The nearly all-white, overwhemingly male, privilege-based way of thinking that celebrates war culture and toxic masculinity and that created the First Order has to go, both in the larger world and as it’s internalized in our hearts and minds, and in its place will be something entirely new, created by diverse young people who are walking away from war culture, walking away from toxic masculinity, walking away from systems of privilege. . . “
We’ll have to wait until Episode IX to see how much of an audience there is for this sort of thing. Judging from the user reviews, it might be less than Kennedy, Johnson, and their breathless shills think. The world is still just full of misogynists.”
There’s a whole lotta gold here. My only real complaint with Tennant is that he gave the movie one and a half stars in his otherwise excellent Rotten Tomatoes review. I can see the half star, or maybe the one star, but one and a half?
That said, I’m very thankful for Mr. Tennant’s thoughtful and important contribution to what really is (like it or not) a very important, culture-shaping subject.
The abandonment and/or murder of good storytelling as an inevitable consequence of the SJW/Feminist/Anti-Christian mindset dominating our culture is a point worth dwelling on. I hope to dive into that more in future posts.
Until then, may the Truth be with you.
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