How The Last Jedi Defies Expectations
The, last Jedi, is a movie, that's designed, to, subvert to audience expectations. Nowhere. Is this more evident than, in the way the film handles, it's three male hero's x-wing. Pilot poe dameron, renegade. Stormtrooper. Finn and the, legendary, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Initially. All three, characters seem like they should fit neatly into familiar archetypes, for, men in action-adventure, films. In. Poe, we expect, the hotshot, fighter pilot, who's, celebrated, for blowing up the bad guys. In. Finn we, expect, the noble, defector, who's determined, to take down an unjust, system and, in. Luke we, expect, the wise warrior, who wields, tremendous, power, in the, name of fighting evil. But. In each case the. Last Jedi doesn't, deliver on those expectations, at, least, not immediately, instead. Director. Rian Johnson, throws, fans, a series of curveballs. Over. The course of the first act Finn, reveals his self-centered. And defeatist attitude, Poe, proves, that he's reckless and arrogant, and Luke. Is so consumed, by paralyzing. Guilt that he's renounced, the Jedi and become a hermit. These. Unexpected, character, twists, are part, of the reason why some Star Wars fans left, the theater in a state of shock, which. Rapidly mutated. Into fits of rage on, the Internet. Now. To be clear we're, not talking, about people, who just happen to dislike the, last Jedi, maybe, is after all not a perfect, piece of cinema. No. We're talking about the subset, of mostly, male superfans, who felt, betrayed and. Personally. Disrespected. By this movie, anything. Else, the. Objections, from that particular group are wide ranging, the two were accompanied, by a go but. They often involve an obsessive. Level of scrutiny when it comes to female characters. Girls. On. The, more extreme, end of the spectrum fan, complaints, have a tendency, to devolve. Into wild, conspiracy theories. About. The Disney Corporation pushing. An agenda of, forced, diversity, or feminist. Propaganda. But. There is a common thread running through, much of the backlash, that speaks, to an underlying anxiety, and. Anxiety. Rooted. In deep-seated, insecurities. About masculinity. Let. Me briefly explain what, I mean by that. Leading. Men in action adventure movies are expected. To be decisive. Righteous. Respected. And to, take charge in most situations. Men. Are expected to achieve success. By. Becoming progressively more, and more powerful. As the, story unfolds. This. Expectation, is, part of a long-running, tradition in Hollywood, and, the. Formula is so entrenched, in mass media that, many fans feel aggressively. Entitled, to, seeing that particular, version, of manhood, reproduced. On the big screen but. As, the last Jedi begins, it, quickly becomes, apparent that, this, movie isn't interested, in catering, to a simple, vicarious, power fantasy. All. Three, male heroes are presented, as vulnerable. In, their phal ability. With. Each displaying, their, own set, of rather significant. Character, flaws and inadequacies. Now. Flawed heroes, in and of themselves aren't. All that unusual in, speculative, fiction in, fact, failure. And then learning to overcome that, failure is, just the, standard, recipe for.
Structuring, A basic, character, arc. I'd. Argue the intense, fan, hate surrounding. The last Jedi has a lot more to do with the fact that the male heroes in this movie are directly, challenged. On their failures by. Women. This. Is not something that's supposed to happen, to. Space cowboys, or space, wizards in Hollywood. Blockbusters. Women. Aren't, supposed to interfere with. A man's heroic, journey. So. Let's dig a little deeper, into the unexpected, ways that, men are held accountable for their behavior in, each, of the movies three intersecting, storylines. As. Many. Critics noted when the last Jedi first hit theaters the theme of women, challenging. Male bravado is, most, evident in the character arc of Poe Dameron. Poe. Is a hotshot fighter, pilot, he's impulsive he's. Arrogant. And. He cares more about being, a big damn hero than, he does about effective, strategy, or even, the lives of his compatriots. The. Gung-ho rebel, pilot, is a familiar archetype. In Star Wars media and as, a result we think we know how it's going to play out. Audiences. Expect, the good guys to bring down the enemy death machine in, a giant ball of fire and. We. Expect, to revel in the joyful, spectacle, of impossible. Explosions, in outer space. But, instead of framing, pose daring, raid on the dread-nots as cause. For celebration. The. Movie suddenly, pulls the rug out from under, us. You're. Demoted. There. Are things. Blowing. Something, up. Po. Is rebuked, for his apparent victory and by, extension the audience, is rebuked for enjoying the fireworks. Those. Explosions, that we were taking such pleasure in just moments, ago are abruptly. Reframed. As cause, for self-reflection, and, sadness, and, we. Find ourselves suddenly. Confronted. With, a narrative about consequences. For. Some Star Wars fans it, must have felt as if Princess, Leia had, just reached out of the movie screen and personally. Slapped, them across the face. Now. It's noteworthy that blowing, up the space fascist, death ray isn't, framed, as morally. Wrong. Instead. We're, asked to consider the tactical, and human, cost of that, violence. If. Ever a beloved, leader is incapacitated. We, expect, our brash hero, to, suddenly find themselves in, command, but. That doesn't happen either the chain of command is clear. Should take her place. Vice. Admiral holder. Of. The cruiser ninka vice, admiral hold o is even, less sympathetic, to pose attitude, than. General Leia I've. Dealt with plenty of trigger-happy fly boys like you you're. Impulsive. Dangerous. And. The last thing we need right now, she, harshly, chastises. Poe for his recklessness and rightly. Dismisses, his antics as a, liability, to, their mission and this. Is really what's at the heart of why so many angry fans tend, to hate Vice at will hold those characters, so much. Rich. Poe. Dameron's, story is that, of a cocky headstrong. Never. Tell me the odds style, male hero who. Is repeatedly. Reprimanded. Until, he finally learns, to listen to and trust. Women, in positions of power. As. Episode, 8 begins Finn, is a man obsessed he. Wants nothing more than to find his friend ray and then get as far away from the war as he possibly can. Finn's. Intentions, are selfish, and driven. By a lack of faith. He's. Convinced. That the fight against the first order is a lost cause. Sorry. But. This fleet is doomed it if my friend comes back to it she's doomed to enter. Rose Tycho, a low-ranking. Maintenance, worker who's. A fan of Finn's, exploits, from the force awakens. When. She realizes, he's, not really the committed resistance, hero that, she's heard stories about her.
Disappointment Is palpable. Rose. Takes on the role of Finn's, guide and, mentor. Look. This whole place is beautiful I mean come on. What. You hate it so much. Look. Closer, she's, the one who pulls back the curtain to expose, the oppression, festering. Just below the surface of the galaxy. Who. Do you think these people are. There's. Only one business in the galaxy that'll get you this Ridge. Unlike. Leia and hold Oh Rose, holds, no formal, position of power but. She does speak from a position of moral authority I, wish. I could, put my fist through this whole lousy beautiful, town she, articulates the political, and moral, reasons, why, the resistance, is necessary, and in. Doing so she inspires. Finn, to, finally, identify as a rebel. Rebels. Go and. It's. Her role as moral, compass, to both Finn and to, the audience that's, responsible, for a good portion of the rage directed. At Rose's character, from, the more toxic side of Star Wars fandom. Many. Of these guys can't, help but view a woman who, is serving, as teacher to a male hero as anything. Other than preachy, annoying. Or, emasculating. Academy. The. Fact that Rose also, happens to be played by an actress of color only magnifies. Their anger. The. Other reason for the backlash against, Rose is because. She interrupts, Finn's big heroic, sacrifice. During. The film's final battle, Finn, embarks, on a self-destructive. Charge. His. Heart is finally in the right place but, his judgment is clouded by, his eagerness, to act on his newfound convictions. As. The. Movie makes clear Finn's. Suicide, attack is doomed, to fail, hotels. Him so. Rose. Tells him so. And. We, see Finn's rickety, air speeder falling, apart around him but. Finn is so focused on striking a blow against, the first order that he can't see how ineffective, this, strategy, is. Understanding. That his action amounts to a noble, but senseless. Sacrifice, Rose, steps, in to save Finn from himself. The. Heroic sacrifice, is part of a long tradition in media wherein, death is framed as a way for men to prove, their bravery their. Convictions. Their, love and even. Their manhood. And. Movies. Tend to romanticize images. Of men going, out in a blaze of glory. Even. When their sacrifice, is senseless. Ineffective. Or, unnecessary. This. Notion that death and violent. Death in particular is. Redemptive, or restorative. For men is, so deeply, ingrained in media that many angry fans are adamant, that Finn's misguided, kamikaze. Attack would have succeeded despite, the film explicitly. Telling us otherwise. These. Fans are incensed, that a woman, got, the big damn hero moment, and, she, got it in their view by, robbing. A male hero of his, chance, at martyrdom. When, Ray finally, meets her hero the, legendary, Jedi Knight isn't at all what she expected. Luke. Skywalker, has, become, a cynical, old hermit, a. Man. So consumed, by fear and guilt, that he's turned his back on the resistance and closed, himself off to the force. Needless. To say this, comes as a tremendous, shock both. To Rey and to the audience. Like. Rey many, Star Wars fans were expecting, Luke to appear as a triumphant, badass the. One they remember, or rather, miss, remember, from the original trilogy. The. Thing is Luke was never really depicted, as a great, Jedi warrior. When. Luke says this think, what I'm, gonna walk out with a laser sword, and face down on the whole first order, his, words are a reaction, to Ray's assumptions, but, those lines can also be read as a response, to fan expectations.
As. I mentioned earlier it's, assumed that Hollywood, heroes especially, men will, grow exponentially, more, powerful over time. The. Expectation. Is that once, a man has conquered, his demons, those. Demons, will stay conquered, forever. But. Even though Luke rejected, the dark side back in Return of the Jedi. His. Struggle, to resist, the temptation, of absolute, power isn't. Over and for the briefest moment of pure instinct, I could, stop it and he's. Still scared of the darkness, hiding, inside himself. Just. As he was as a young man back on Dagobah. Although. This older version of Luke Skywalker, is consistent. With his characterization from, the original trilogy, angry. Fans still believe that the last Jedi represents. A downgrading. Of his power and his, status. The. Fan Fury is exacerbated. By the fact that it's a young untrained. Female, Jedi. Who. Challenges, this mythic hero on his failures. Not. Only does this young woman reprimand, the great Luke Skywalker. With. Hope, if. She was wrong she deserves, to know why. She, directly confronts, him and inspires. Him, to reconnect, with the force. Later. On Yoda, offers, guidance to but. It's Array who, opens the door for Luke to overcome, his paralyzing. Self-doubt. So. Instead of seeing the old Jedi, Master, teaching. Rey how to wield the awesome, power of the force. Audiences. Are treated to scenes in which rey reminds. Luke what it means to be a Jedi. Galaxy. May need a legend, of. Course Rey isn't a more powerful Jedi, than Luke and she, ends up being wrong about her ability, to fix kylo, Ren but. She does possess something that he's lost. Rey. Still has hope she, still has conviction. And she, still has clarity, of purpose. The. Idea that a young woman like ray would, have something important. To teach an older mythic. Male hero like Luke Skywalker, he's erroneously, viewed by some male fans as, emasculating. It's. Worth pointing out that angry, fan defensiveness, isn't. Necessarily, just, a reaction to women existing. In popular, science fiction, stories if. Women are included alongside. Male, heroes, in a way that doesn't overshadow, upstage. Or interfere. With traditional, expressions, of masculinity, let's, do one thing straight I'm in charge out here you do everything I say exactly as I say yes just relax, then. We don't see these same kind of extended, temper tantrums from male fans. Especially. If the female characters, in question are, cast as young white. And conventionally. Attractive. The. Last Jedi isn't. Satisfied, with simply including. Women it. Goes much further and puts. Female characters, in positions. Of institutional. Power or, moral, authority, over. Male heroes. The. Movie then has those women leverage. That power to. Challenge and ultimately. Force change, in men's, behavior. And. That. Is almost, unheard of in a major blockbuster film. In. The end our three, male heroes face, up to their mistakes and overcome. Their failures. Poll. Earns from Leia and hold o to put aside his desire for heroic, short-term, gains go, away and. Instead consider the bigger picture. It's. Only through roses moral insights, that, Finn comes to believe in something bigger than himself, and, Rey. Succeeds, in inspiring, Luke to be the best version, of him self again and, ultimately.
To Do the exact thing he, mocked her for earlier in the film, Luke. Does indeed end up walking out with a laser sword and facing. Down the whole first order. Despite. What the reactionary, conspiracy. Theorists, claim this. Is not an agenda of masculine. Inferiority. Women. In the last Jedi hold. Their male counterparts. Accountable. Not. Out of animosity, but. Because they genuinely care about them. Male. Heroes are not being diminished or erased in this movie in fact. A lot of time and effort is devoted, to giving men transformative. Arcs. The. Last Jedi is a story, about men, learning. To trust women's ideas, and decisions and then, becoming better people and better heroes. Because. Of it and, while. That might be an unexpected message. For a Star Wars story, it's. A vital lesson that men need to learn if we are to achieve gender, equality. Thanks. For watching these. Video essay is take a ridiculous, amount of time to write edit and produce so. If you'd like to see more of them please, consider going over to patreon and helping, to fund my project, there there's, also a link to Pay Pal in the description below in the. Coming months I'll be working on a few new video essays one. Of them on gun, culture media, and masculinity, and another. One on the way is that sexual assault against, men is often, played for comedy, in Hollywood, so. Until then thank, you all so much for your continued support.