Star Wars The Last Jedi was an awful movie. There are plenty of things that we can’t point at to show how bad it was. From the poor comedy choices, to the complete misunderstanding of what the other 7 movies (and TV series’) have built, to the seeming need to make every choice “unexpected”. The Last Jedi was just a textbook case of how not to make a franchise movie.
I won’t say that Star Wars The Last Jedi was all bad. The cinematography was great, as was the camera work, the visual effects (although it was sad to see how much CGI they went back to on this film. At some points it looked like I was watching Star Wars Rebels), the costumes, etc. It is obvious that this was a professional production made be people at the top of their craft being led by a director who had no clue what he was doing working from a script penned by an idiot.
I expected Disney to push their “social justice” causes into the Star Wars franchise in unnecessary ways. (I mean, Star Wars was always a progressive franchise with strong women leaders and an amazing amount of diversity.) But I never expected the writer/director Rian Johnson to be so inept that his attempts at social justice would turn into misogyny. In a film that we are supposed to root for the rebellion against the first order, we end up rooting for the male heroes of the rebellion that are rebelling against the incompetent female leaders of the rebellion.
This Film Is About The Dangers Of Putting A Woman In Charge
Let’s start at the beginning. As the rebels are leaving the base on the planet the First Order shows up with the Dreadnought. This ship is referred to as a fleet killer. The rebellion has a plan to take out this ship, but Leia tells Poe to return to the ship so everyone can evacuate together. Poe doesn’t listen, and although they take heavy casualties, they do manage to destroy the Dreadnought.
So Poe saves the fleet by disobeying an order from Leia that was not based on any sort of tactical expertise but on her emotions. Leia laments the loss of the rebel pilots and bombers in the attack on the Dreadnought, but if they had not taken the Dreadnought out, they would have lost the whole fleet. Poe was right, and Leia was an inept leader following her emotions instead of common sense.
Next, we have Holdo. The fact that she talks down to Poe, and doesn’t share her plan is evidence that she is insecure, or power hungry. She doesn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to second guess her plan. Whether this is because she is not sure of it herself, or she simply wants all the credit, I am not sure.
If Holdo had discussed her plan openly, maybe she could have provided some insight that may have helped Finn and Rose (I’ll get to Rose) with their plan. Maybe someone would have mentioned that autopilot or even a droid would have been a better option to pilot the cruiser into the enemy ship…
Holdo comes across as a woman with a deep-seated insecurity that is more concerned with what others think of her than anything else.
Next, there is Rose Tico. First, I want to say that I read about the internet shamming the actress who played Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) off of Twitter… Shame on you. This woman did a fine job with a horribly written part. You can’t blame her for that. She was a struggling actress before she landed a part in a Star Wars movie, and I guarantee you she never saw the script until after she signed the contract.
That being said, Rose is an awful character. Like most things in this film, she starts off strong. Her sister just died in one of the bombers that took out the dreadnought, and while mourning her loss, she catches Finn trying to sneak away in an escape pod. She gives him a great speech about knowing right from wrong, and not running away when it gets hard. She constantly has the moral high ground. She reminds us over and over that rebels are fighting for the good of all, and that sometimes self-sacrifice is necessary for the good of the resistance.
It seems to finally get through to Finn as when there seems no way to stop the “battering ram canon” Finn decides to full-on kamikaze it and make the ultimate sacrifice to save the resistance… just like Rose would have wanted… but then Rose rams his ship to stop him because she fell in love with him. Rose literally put the entire resistance in imminent danger because of her emotions. She threw out all of her convictions, all of her honor, all of what made her a strong female character because she fell in love.
And then there is Captain Phasma. I’ll admit, before The Force Awakens came out, I was really excited about Captain Phasma. Here was an instantly iconic character. A Storm Trooper commander in a chrome Storm Trooper outfit. When I found out that is the part was being played by Gwendoline Christie… Brienne of fucking Tarth… I couldn’t wait to see how badass this character was going to be. But The Force Awakens dropped the ball with Captain Phasma. Gwendoline Christie was severely underutilized in The Force Awakens, and then returns for nothing more than a glorified cameo in The Last Jedi to play out a distraction fight for Finn that could have been any stormtrooper. And what makes matters worse, Finn, who has been in a coma since the end of The Force Awakens, is easily able to defeat his former commanding officer Captain Phasma.
What you end up with in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, are 4 characters that are supposed to be “strong female role models”. The problem is, the all suffer failings that are misogynistic in tone. Leia makes bad choices based on her emotions and ignores reality, Holdo lets her insecurities dictate her actions making her come off as a cold-hearted bitch that ultimately dies because she couldn’t stand to let a man help her. Rose gives up on all of her convictions and betrays her cause because she got the hots for some guy. And Phasma is the toughest woman in the First Order… who still can be easily beat by a rookie underling man who ran away.
What About Rey
Rey suffers from so many misogynistic cliches that she seems to have been written as an amalgamation of Rian Johnson’s perception of the motivations of every woman he has ever disliked.
Rey starts out this story as an obsessive girl with a crush pining for attention. When Luke finally gives her attention and tries to train her, she doesn’t listen to him and acts as if she knows better while plotting behind his back with Ben.
(Now make no mistake, Luke is horribly written here as well, but this article isn’t about that)
Next, Rey leaves Luke (who is trying to protect her) to be with the literal “bad boy” who she thinks is just misunderstood. (Ben even gives her the standard abusive boyfriend speech about her being worthless… accept to him).
To Round Things Up
To be fair, I doubt it was the intention of the filmmakers to be so misogynistic with this film. From what I have read, Rian Johnson was given creative control over the project. If you look at Rian Johnson’s body of work (Brick, Looper, and some TV episodes), nothing seems like he really has a grasp of feminism. So to think that someone from higher up at Disney or Lucas Film told him to make sure this film had strong female characters, yet still give him final say over the script was a mistake. Hell, giving this guy final say over the middle movie of a trilogy is a mistake, and giving him final say over a film in a beloved series of 9 films is simply stupid. Having creative control over a standalone movie is fine, but a trilogy needs an arc, and someone needs to oversee the entire 3 picture arc 9and make sure everything gels with the entire 9 lore of the series). And the last thing you want to do, if you have handed over creative control, is to demand the inclusion of subjects to someone with creative control (and no previous expertise in those subjects).
Rian Johnson wrote the “strong female” characters in this film to be stereotypical “dumb broads” that seem to be based on someone’s ex-girlfriends.
- Rey is the naive young girl who thinks she knows better than everyone else but gets into abusive relationships because she thinks she can change him.
- Rose is the militant feminist who throws all of her beliefs out the window when she meets a hot guy.
- Leia is the “chick boss” overcompensates to prove that she is just as good as any man, but still abandons common sense to follow her feelings.
- Holdo is the bitter, jaded woman who won’t ever trust a man because she thinks they are out to get her. She makes bad choices because she doesn’t want to collaborate for fear of having a man take credit for her work.
- Phasma is the big, strong intelligent chick that is still no match for a man with half her training, courage, or knowledge.
Way to go The Last Jedi: You made Star Wars a woman bashing film. You have made a film that seems to say strong women will never be as good as average men.