Burn it Down: An Intergenerational Conversation and Review of Star Wars Episode XIII: The Last Jedi
With the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi we decided to see the movie independently with our families and then not talk about it until we could sit down and turn a microphone on to record our first thoughts about the movie. On Wednesday Dec 20 we hit record at a table with Dan, Jeff and his two sons Auggie and Aidan. We later transcribed a version for you to read.
Dan- You’ve already heard some general trash talking about this Star Wars from your peers, you’ve been seeing things about it Facebook, what are the naysayers saying?
Auggie- The funny thing is because of spoilers and the fear of spoiling plots people won’t tell you what they specifically like or don’t like. No one really says on Facebook why they don’t like it.
D- They don’t have to show evidence that they don’t like it, or give reasons in the name of not giving out spoilers. Convenient.
Au- I’ve heard some people responding to people who don’t like it because of anti-feminist ideas
D- So people don’t like it because they see it as too feminist?
Jeff- Like the trolls we know on Twitter, some think it’s too preachy, or too much in your face
D- I’m interested in the evangelical response to most things, and Star Wars in particular.
J- yes, and the Trumpist
D- Yes, but these are not always the same
J- This anti-feminist wave is mostly the alpha game, vox.com, “hate the snowflake”, types. Aiden, what did you think?
Aiden- it’s one of the best Star Wars movies.
Au- if you don’t like this one but you like the others, I don’t trust your opinion on how you evaluate these or any movies. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I just wouldn’t trust someone who didn’t like this movie.
J- I was so happy that the kids were raving about this one. I This is the first time I was able to see a Star Wars movie and have it not be like church for the kids, when you are waiting for the certain parts of the liturgy for it to be over. My kids were never really into it.
Ai- I was never really into it that much.
Au- I was into it.
J- You liked getting the toys.
Au- I suppose.
J- I liked it, but I shouted boo out loud a few times during the first twenty minutes. This is not a myth, this is like Guardians of the Galaxy. The prequels lacked the aesthetic of my childhood, but at least they still told myths.
Au- No it wasn’t telling myths, it was telling stories about the Trade Federation. Which, frankly I find to be the more interesting parts of the prequels.
D- Like how the Republic turned into an Empire, the political story and all that. But, Jeff, you didn’t like the banter in the new one? The jokes?
J- Sometimes it was too self referential and self knowing. I can see why young people would like this and my generation would be mad. They took something out of it. And spoiler wise- they got rid of the whole f****** point of star wars, which is the difference between the Jedi and the Dark Side.
Au- You don’t like that they burned it all down.
D- I’ll admit, Snoke being killed and then Kylo Ren fighting with Rey, that was exhilarating .
Au- The Supreme leader is dead, long live the supreme leader
Ai- It’s no longer Sith versus Jedi and the illusion of who is right and wrong so you can figure out who ism right and who is wrong
J- It rejects an “Us vs. Them” mentality.
Ai- It’s like at the casino, the arms dealers are selling to the empire and the rebels. That’s reality.
J- I was going to go to the movie and see it as a tarot card, a rorhshach test for deciding what I’m going to do with my life.
D- And the movie is about saying eff it, and burning it down. Ha.
J- Should we burn it down? Not Jesus, but religion. Maybe religion burns. Take for instance St. Francis as the good pope, everyone’s favorite pope. But he’s going to the funeral of the Cardinal who covered up the priest sexual abuse cases. This is the face of evil. It happens everytime, though. You get your hopes up You get a Padawan and he is trained and grows up and starts cutting things down. Or they end up getting killed.
D- The question is, when do you reform, when do you burn it down? The Republicans and Democrats have recently had reckoning’s with this question.
J- and Christendom has as well.
J- the world of orcs and wizards, the world of pure good versus pure evil is over. And we can’t trust the old institutions to necessarily guide us.
D- I’ve been off some social media- is there a religious right response like there have been to other Star Wars films that is negative. Is there this kind of talk?
Au- I can see why the religious right wouldn’t like it.
D- When Yoda was referring to the Ancient texts “did you read these books? Not page turners are they? Burn it”.
J- It’s like some might see the Old Testament, ha!
Au- He’s not getting rid of the force.
J- He’s saying, “kill the structure, the religion needs to go”.
Au- the systems each believe they have the ultimate truth, but they both have flaws.
D- So Kylo Ren’s moodiness is justified? He’s legitimately torn?
J- It’s like [Philosopher Slavov] Zižek says, you don’t choose between corrupt Hillary and the corrupt reality show host. [Heck] no, we need to blow the whole thing up.
Au- The Jedi are supposed to be the heroes, but they teach that you can only join them if you have enough control of the force. It’s about power. And you alienate those who are force sensitive but might not be full blooded Jedi legacys.
D- So we all like it and see it as a tearing down of the old guard. Any pet peeves? For me, General Holdo not telling Poe that her plan was to sneak down to a planet with armaments would have maybe saved him a lot of hassle.
J- There were some plot holes…
D- The force is doing a lot of things these days… and wait, Ackbar is dead!
D- He died. That’s an underreported tragedy.
L- Is Leia dead?
D- No, she used the Force to fly across space, and then you had Luke’s deal with the Force when he fought Kylo Ren.
Au- Yeah, and it killed him.
J- It was a one time gambit.
Au- it’s like Obi Wan disappearing when he was hit by Vader’s light saber. The Force has always done things like this.
D- Ok. So we agree, this is a good star wars and an iconoclastic Star Wars.
Dan is the director of The League of Faithful Masks which produces the Virtue in the Wasteland podcast. He received his PhD in 2008 from the University of St. Andrews and was recently a professor of history and political thought as well as Assistant Dean at Concordia University, Irvine. He is the author of Monsters: Addiction, Hope, Ex-Girlfriends and Other Dangerous Things.