Ian Harris writes a piece in The Michigan Daily entitled, ‘The Last Jedi’ and the state of film criticism.
I find myself in the same place, but for different reasons.
I’d have to disagree. Rather, it seems to be the Sequel Trilogy that is now generally loathed, with the Prequel Trilogy having mixed opinions.
Before it was released in theaters worldwide, “The Last Jedi” boasted a stellar 94 percent on the critical aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. That number has since gone down to a still impressive 90 percent. But for whatever reason, audiences didn’t take to the film in the same way. The audience score on the same website currently sits at a middling 49 percent, the worst ever for a “Star Wars” picture.
That reason is politics. As the recent Oscars demonstrated, those working within the industry are ruled by the political fashions of the day. It affects absolutely everything they do. Critics are no different; they have based their reviews of the film on the political lectures they received which they found agreeable, to the exclusion of genuine film craft considerations.
But rather than a productive debate about the merits of the movie’s themes, commentary on its characters or possibly what it was actually trying to say and whether or not it succeeded in it, much of the discussion that surrounds “The Last Jedi” resembles that of a political debate or a Twitter feud between celebrities.
That’s because the Star Wars franchise has now become the latest skirmish in the much larger cold culture civil war.
One of the prominent narratives that surrounds this film is that the people who don’t like “The Last Jedi” don’t like it for one of the following reasons: All of its main characters are either women or people of color, it doesn’t respect white males and makes all the male characters stupid and they can’t let go of the old “Star Wars” they remember from when they are kids.
That of course is entirely incorrect. No such narrative exists, prominent or otherwise. Rather, that is a purely imaginary point that SJWs have wholly fabricated in order to have something to argue against, in an effort to defend the political messaging in the film.
Think about this logically for a moment.
What sense would it make for long time fans to be upset over the inclusion of female or non-white characters, when both female and non-white characters have been in Star Wars throughout its entire 40 year history, going back to the very beginning.
What sense would it make for any fans to be upset over the inclusion of female or non-white characters so suddenly with The Last Jedi, when its predecessor The Force Awakens was generally well received? Why would they suddenly become enraged over such things now?
Of course it doesn’t make any sense, which is why SJWs believe it to be true. None of what Harris is contending here has any basis in factual reality. I understand that SJWs believe that it’s still 1968, and really want it to be. But in reality it’s actually 2018. These battles were fought and won 40 years ago or more.
Now let me preface this by saying that by no means are these the only criticisms being leveled at the film’s detractors, but they are the ones making the loudest splash and the ones that are most dangerous for allowing us to have a meaningful discussion about the film itself.
No. What’s actually making the loudest splash are the SJWs arguing against these non-existent points, much in the same way that they virtue signaled one another over the equally imaginary black stormtrooper controversy.
That’s one of the more fascinating aspects of SJW psychopathology. SJWs are compelled to argue against points that no one is making.
The author’s argument essentially boils down to this: “Because there is no central criticism of this film that everyone agrees upon, the reason people don’t like it must be sexism.” She points to the prequel films as examples of films everyone agrees are bad for the same specific reasons and uses that to explain that if “The Last Jedi” were actually a bad movie, everyone would have the same criticisms of it.
To which I explain:
Not necessarily. This assumes that there’s a heated disagreement as to why The Last Jedi is bad. Rather, what this merely shows is that there’s multiple reasons why The Last Jedi is bad. Moreover, movie viewers are allowed to have differing opinions as to why they might not like a film, just as they are allowed to have differing opinions as to why they might like a film. This really isn’t evidence of anything more than the existence of differing opinions. Differing opinions are what happens when people aren’t forced to comply with the consensus of the collective.
Actually, that is entirely incorrect. The notion that art is entirely subjective is a myth that is pushed primarily by those with no education or training in the arts. Art has objective standards that one can be trained in and judged by. Therefore, art cannot be entirely subjective. It’s that simple.
Taste is subjective, art is not.
It’s perfectly reasonable to like bad movies. Many people do; the fans and producers of MST3K for instance. But it’s important to recognize that a movie is bad, even when it’s liked. One of the worst movies ever made, Highlander II: The Quickening, is one of my favorites. It’s such a clusterfarkle of bad ideas that I find it wholly entertaining to watch. But I’m able to recognize that it’s not a good film despite the pleasure it brings me. I don’t allow my personal taste to affect my objectivity.
I think that it is important that we as liberals not (to quote “Revenge of the Sith”) become the very thing we want to destroy. If we attack anyone who criticizes a movie that features a woman in the starring role simply because the movie features a woman in the starring role, we do ourselves a disservice.
Yet that’s what you do anyway. Read the sentences you wrote above about the purely imaginary points that you’re arguing against. You cannot help yourselves.
Do I think there are probably some crazy people out there who hate “The Last Jedi” because it’s about a female Jedi, a Black stormtrooper and a Resistance led by women and people of color? Yes, of course, there are those people. But those people probably also hated the similarly diverse “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One” and neither of those movies created the kind of division that “The Last Jedi” did.
And yet, genuine posts that openly state such things can’t be found. We can’t be certain that the few that have been pointed to aren’t posted by SJW activists perpetrating a hate hoax in order to prove a point that doesn’t exist, as was the case with the De-Feminized Fan Edit.
My issues with “The Last Jedi” involve basically every single part of the film, but what I do not have any issue with is the casting or the nature of the characters. Far from it, I believe these characters and these actors have been severely underserved by the story they were given.
I agree, and have said so multiple times on this blog.
Her character really wasn’t any better in The Force Awakens, once the nostalgia goggles are removed.
Rey basically sits on the sidelines for the entire third act of the film, in which Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren take center stage. Her entire storyline revolves around needing a man to bring back to the fight (first Luke, then Kylo).
Yes, but she then gets to lecture that man about what he’s done and why he did it, as though she were there or has any wisdom of her own, then prances off as Yoda informs the audience that she already knows everything in the Jedi books. But remember, she’s not a Mary Sue.
Nobody does. But it probably makes you feel bold to type that sentence out anyway.
I believe that it is bad because it doesn’t feature its main character (who happens to be a woman) nearly enough. It makes Rey into an agent of Luke and Kylo’s storylines, rather than using them as supporting players in hers.
All Luke did was milk some alien nipples and project a Force Doppelganger. Are you sure that you understand the distinction between main and supporting characters? Do you know what an ensemble is?
“The Last Jedi” wants to be seen as the most progressive and forward-thinking “Star Wars” yet, but in the last act of the film, it gives up on all of that to fall back on everything it claims it wants to forget. The film purports to be about realizing your heroes were flawed and not looking for an old man to come and face down an entire evil army, and then at the end of the movie Luke Skywalker comes out of hiding to face down an entire evil army.
Seemingly the entire point of Benicio Del Toro’s character was to show that this isn’t a conflict with straight lines of good and evil, but one filled with shades of grey. And yet at the end of the movie, we are left with good guys vs. bad guys, one side that blows up planets and one side that saves lives. Rey and Kylo Ren are supposedly conflicted characters grappling with the darkness and light inside of them, but at the end of the movie Rey is unquestionably good and Kylo is unquestionably evil. There is no moral ambiguity about the ending of “The Last Jedi.”
That’s the result of stupidly insisting on a fan-ficish “remnants of the Empire” scenario. Good vs. evil is the only possible outcome in that setting.
Even the movie’s attempts to critique the Han Solo archetype Poe Dameron fell flat on its face. While he is chastised early on for having a dumb plan that gets a few people killed, he later initiates an even dumber plan that leads to all but 10 members of the Resistance getting killed and nobody seems to care.
Not even the women in charge who lead all but a dozen or so Resistance fighters to their deaths.
Ahh. The commonly parroted “space wizards” remark. The remark that demonstrates that SJWs should never have been allowed anywhere near this franchise. Before the Sequel Trilogy was released, Lucasfilm advertised TFA as “The Cinematic Event of a generation.” Now that the franchise sucks thanks to ridiculous things like Kal-Leia, it’s just a movie about “space wizards with laser swords.” Go read some Joseph Campbell for Pete’s sake, will ya?
Seriously though, a reasonable conversation with people who make and perpetuate false accusations in an effort to protect political messaging is highly unlikely.
Or that you’re racist, sexist, and/or misogynist.
I understand that Harris is trying to articulate his dislike of the film from his liberal point of view. But pay close attention to the nature of his complaints. For Harris, the film wasn’t liberal enough. If Harris had his way, the film would be far far worse. So much so that he might have even named the main character Rey Bechdella.
Thanks to SC Reviews for finding this article.