Criticizing Empire Like It’s The Last Jedi

I don’t normally do this, but this time, I’m going to start with my conclusion. Because I want you to know where this is going before you get into the pointed jokey part. So here’s the main point I want to make:

You are allowed to like or not like any Star Wars movie. But it’s time for you to acknowledge that your preferences are emotional, not rational.

Those of you who hate The Last Jedi (even if you’re not an utter jerk about it) are doing so for emotional reasons. All the rational criticism you like to throw around is what your brain does to legitimize a decision you’ve already made. This is not an insult, it’s just how human brains work. We fool ourselves into believing that we make logical choices, but most often those logical chains are built to justify rather than to decide.

I’m going to show you how this works by criticizing Empire Strikes Back in all the same ways that many people have criticized The Last Jedi.

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Themes and Lore of The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi has been around for a couple of weeks now, and everybody seems to have a strong opinion one way or the other. There have been plenty of good and even a few great articles written about how the disruptive nature of its narrative is a positive direction for the franchise, while some supposed fans have complained that it is too much of a departure, that it is somehow no longer Star Wars.

This latter complaint is the one I want to address, because I believe The Last Jedi to be VERY much in line with Star Wars lore and (more importantly) its thematic elements. Those who want it removed from the canon are not only ridiculous but also clueless about the fact that this movie continues traditions that are in every part of the canon.

I will not be addressing scene-by-scene questions that other people have called “plot holes” in the movie. I have found that multiple viewings with these questions in mind demonstrate that Rian Johnson already put the answers to nearly every one of them in the movie itself (from “why doesn’t Holdo tell Poe?” to “how does DJ find out about the shuttles?”). Nitpicking lesser details may be possible, but that’s true of every Star Wars movie, including the supposedly holy Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars has never been perfect.

Rather, I want to talk about two primary themes of The Last Jedi and how they relate to the rest of the canon. I will talk far beyond the 9 theatrical movies and delve into shows and books and games as well. You see, I like Star Wars. And I am tired of people who only like two and a half movies trying to tell everyone else what Star Wars is about.

[SPOILERS below for pretty much all of Star Wars.]

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Narrative Innovations of The Force Awakens

I have mentioned in the past that I really love all of Star Wars, so there was no question that I was going to enjoy The Force Awakens. I could go on for hours about all the wonderful things in it (and I have).

But then people started posting all these complaints about how this movie is just A New Hope all over again. Ignoring for the moment the easy response to this that Star Wars is supposed to be cyclical, I still find this complaint to be extremely superficial. It ignores the amazing new things that TFA brings to Star Wars that none of the previous movies had. Since I am a writer, I am particularly focused on characters, and I wanted to take a blog post to just examine the main characters and the narrative innovations they bring to the Star Wars universe.

Spoiler warning. We are definitely entering spoiler territory. Continue reading

On the Liking of Things

What do Star Wars and My Little Pony have in common?

I could jump into a cultural commentary about how both have been at the center of recent attempts to un-gender fandoms and (more importantly) children’s toys and clothes. I could compare the writing between the various animated properties of the two. I could even talk about how both of them make excellent use of music, with specific examples. But I won’t. I’m going to go much more personal than that.

Star Wars and My Little Pony are both things that I love unequivocally. They are also both things that people have given me a lot of crap for loving. Continue reading

Welcome!

That’s all very well! But finally, after years of stagnation, the TV people have woken up to the need for locally-based minority programs! Made by amateurs! And perhaps of interest only to two or three people! It’s important, right? It’s now! And I want to watch!

-Rik Mayall, “The Young Ones”

This is – at least for the time being – the home of my new writer’s blog. This is where I will post all of my thoughts about writing that don’t necessarily follow a specific product line (like Steamscapes) or that discuss projects that are still in the embryo stages and may not be ready for the primetime marketing push of an official website. I may also discuss theatre, gaming, education, and other topics of interest to me, but always at least partially through the lens of writing.

You are welcome to comment, of course, though honestly I don’t expect a lot of general traffic here. More likely I will post things so I can refer to them later. If you’ve come here from one of those references, feel free to poke around the random pile of thoughts, or just hightail it to more interesting corners of the internet.

-Eric