The Millennium Falcon prepares to jump to lightspeed…. Continue reading Prepare To Make a Jump to Adventure With the Official Solo: A Star Wars Story Synopsis.
Brad Tracy offers a certain point of view on Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
A Review of Marvel Comics’ Rogue One Adaptation
My Personal Thank You to Claudia Gray
Today’s Most Relevant Authors Share Their Views
My Birthday Weekend at Force Friday II and Dragon Con
An Interview with Illustrator Extraordinaire Michael Pasquale
Leia Hugs Kylo, Overrated Jedi, and Who Cares About the OT?
I recently listened to one of my favorite Star Wars podcasts, straight out of the Sanctuary Moon, Bright Tree Radio with Phil and Soph. This particular episode was part of their Thought Bombs series and originally aired on June 30, 2017. In Thought Bombs, thought-provoking — sometimes hypothetical — questions are raised about the Star Wars Universe. The first edition discussed the following issues:
- Does the Original Trilogy (OT) really matter to new fans?
- What if Leia confronted Kylo Ren on Starkiller base instead Han?
- Were the Jedi really all that great, or were they just part of the War Machine?
Disney has apparently found the magic solution to bring onboard new fans each and every day to Star Wars. You may have remembered a time as I do — sometime between 1983 and 1999 — where you would have done anything to get your hands on new material from the SWU. Now, however, Star Wars is everywhere. (I for one am fine with this.) We have the cartoons The Clone Wars, Rebels, and I’m definitely counting The Freemaker Adventures. We have the comic books like Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra. The number of canon books is also growing, including my favorites Bloodlines, Catalyst and Tarkin. With so much Star Wars material now at the fans’ fingertips, how much does the Original Trilogy actually matter to understanding the story?
When Phil and Soph originally posed this question, I thought to myself this is pretty cut-and-dry. Of course you need the OT to understand what Star Wars. I agree with Soph in that the OT, being the original creative masterpiece from George Lucas, is “the heartbeat of Star Wars.”
Then Soph asked, “What is your Star Wars?” This question gave me pause. So much so that I actually paused the podcast. It struck such a chord with me. She consolidated all the reasons I personally love this story into one succinct question. At first I felt a little guilty not thinking the OT was truly “required viewing” anymore, for as Phil pointed out, you don’t need to see Luke blow up the Death Star to enjoy the Darth Bane Trilogy. Or even to enjoy The Force Awakens, for that matter.
But that is what makes Star Wars so great. The movies are more than giant lasers, oversized starships, strange aliens, or even the Force. Star Wars means something uniquely different to each person who watches it. I pride myself on knowing more about the movies than anyone I know, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. If a kid just watches The Freemaker Adventures, that is his Star Wars. If a little girl only watches Forces of Destiny on YouTube, that is her Star Wars. If you only like to read the Expanded Universe novels, that is your Star Wars.
That being said, don’t feel bad if your friends will not watch the OT with you; we’ve merely taken our first steps into a larger world.
“Now for something completely different!” What would have happened if Leia traveled to Starkiller Base and confronted Kylo Ren instead of Han Solo? First off, I can’t tell you how much I love “what if” questions. Nothing gets the brain going like wondering about alternate realities. I don’t want to spoil what Phil and Soph thought, so I’ll just give you my theory.
“Ben!” she cries out from the end of the platform, tears welling up in her eyes. He slowly approaches her, both the light side and the dark tugging at his very soul. “I’m sorry,” she says, softly.
“Why should you be sorry?” he asks defiantly. “It was Ben’s father-”
“Your father,” she pauses for a moment to let those words sink in, “is only human. And he is flawed,” Leia smiles dryly, “like the rest of us.” Kylo Ren’s mother begins to use the Force ever so gently to ensure her words get through to her son. So gently in fact that he cannot sense her using it. But it works. “But I am your mother. And I bear responsibility for everything bad that has happened to you.” The two both begin to cry. Together. “I let you go. I let you go train with Luke. I didn’t tell you sooner who your grandfather truly was — both good and bad — and I should have. I should have.”
“Let me finish. I withheld things from you. I didn’t always love you the way I should have. While I was busy with the Republic and now this Resistance, I let Snoke get to you. And I…am…sorry. But it’s not too late to make things right. You, me — together. We don’t need your father,” she says with a wink. “Come home with me, and help me make things right. Starting with us.”
Light escapes the room as Starkiller Base drains the remaining energy from the nearby sun as Leia and Ben silently turn to leave. Seeing Rey and Finn atop a towering platform, Leia motions to them victoriously and the four of them quickly make their way to the Millennium Falcon.
The group safely aboard moments before the planet’s destruction, Chewie makes the jump to hyperspace. BB-8 looks up quizzically at Leia and Ben sitting alone at the dejarik table. She grasps her son’s hands, kisses his forehead, and simply says, “Thank you.”
As it turns out, my thoughts on the last topic are vast enough to warrant their own topic, so we will save that for later. But to sum up: Phil is right, Soph sounds to me like a Jedi apologist, and the Jedi are responsible for their own downfall. The end.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of Bright Tree Radio’s Thought Bombs. This podcast is fun, entertaining, and like I said before, thought-provoking to say the least. I’ve included the link to this podcast above, and they can also be found on iTunes, twitter, Spreaker and on PodBean.
Let us know what you think! Share this article, leave a comment, and let’s continue the conversation on twitter @StarWarsChief. And as always, may the Force be with you.
Hyperspace Podblast Discusses the Impact of Fandom on the SWU
I recently listened to one of my favorite Star Wars podcasts Hyperspace Podblast hosted by Shelby and Bryan. This particular episode was entitled “Should Fandom Influence Star Wars Content?” (It’s episode 23 when you go looking for it after reading this article.) Before I get into the specifics of this topic, I want to say a little bit about the podcast itself. Even though Shelby self-deprecatingly asks “aren’t you a little short for a podcast?” I think it is the perfect length at about 25 minutes. Great for a car ride to work, or just for those of us with some degree of ADD. Bryan and Shelby are extremely welcoming hosts, so I would highly recommend Hyperspace Podblast if you are looking for a new podcast to tune into (contact information is at the bottom).
Now to the topic at hand: should “fandom” influence Star Wars content? First, the hosts astutely point out that there is a good chance that it already has. Without strong feedback from the fans, there is a solid chance that Grand Admiral Thrawn would never have “come back from the EU dead” in Star Wars Rebels. (If you’d like my take on if he truly needed to come back, please check out my article “Canon Versus Legends…Why It Matters.”) Disney and Lucasfilm, definitely having a solid grasp of their target demographic, have widely increased the representation of various racial and ethnic groups — as well as homosexuals — in their books, movies and cartoons.
As to whether Disney and LFL should take fandom into consideration during the creative process, Shelby and Bryan stress that there needs to be a balance. Where you don’t want Tim Burton making a Tim Burton Star Wars movie (I also especially love the example of Michael Bay), you also don’t want Little Timmy from down the street getting his every fanboy desire. The chances of you wanting nothing to do with those films are high. They’re very high. But I will take this opportunity — my blog, my say — to tell Bryan he is wrong:
Snoke is Plagueis. (There’s an article for that too but far be it from me to be a shameless self-promoter.) But I digress.
All in all, I agree with Bryan and Shelby. To be specific to a punctilious degree — you didn’t think I knew big words — I think approximately 5% of the creative process should be based on what the fans want. When I first started listening to this episode, I immediately thought of the documentary The People Vs. George Lucas. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it this weekend — you’ll thank me.) Uncle George received a great deal of criticism for the Star Wars Special Editions, but who owns the movies? The creators or the fans?
If fans got everything they wanted from the Star Wars movies, here are just some of the potential changes, starting from The Phantom Menace all the way to The Force Awakens:
– There is no taxation of trade routes.
– Jar Jar Binks was never born.
– Midichlorians didn’t exist.
– 9 year old boys wouldn’t be hitting on 14 year old girls.
– 14 year old girls don’t get elected Queen.
– 9 year old boys don’t blow up space stations.
– Darth Maul lives.
– Jango Fett lives.
– Anakin and Padme don’t get married after a five minute ultra-awkward romance.
– Anakin stops whining.
– R2-D2 can’t fly.
– C-3PO has his humor chip removed.
– Aayla Secura lives (okay, that one’s mine).
– Padme lives.
– Jyn Erso lives (okay, that one’s mine too).
– Lyra Erso is a Jedi.
– Chirrut Imwe is a Jedi.
– Luke stops whining.
– The Death Star misses Alderaan.
– Porkins lives (okay, no one ever said that).
– Tarkin lives (that’s my last contribution to the list).
– *No changes to ESB. It is perfect in all aspects and is the hallmark of cinematic genius.*
– Boba Fett doesn’t die like a chump.
– Ewoks never existed.
– Kylo Ren stops whining.
– Han Solo lives.
– Snoke just admits he’s Plagueis (I lied, I get the last recommendation).
While some of those might be decent recommendations, what is the end result? We have a completely different Star Wars saga. And minor differences aside, I hope we can all admit we love the Star Wars saga.
Should the creators have their fingers on the pulse of the fans, be in touch with them, and know what they like? Absolutely. But what if someone walked up to da Vinci while he was painting the Mona Lisa and said, “Hey man, she should be showing some teeth when she smiles!”
Needless to say, people would not be traveling halfway around the world to see a Renaissance gal with a big ol’ grin taking a cheesy selfie.
Enjoy the movies for what they are. You can bitch about them later.
So what do you think? Do you think fans should have an input to the storylines? Leave me a comment or continue the conversation on twitter @starwarschief. Now, thanks to Medium, I can finally say show your support for this article and give me “the clap.”
If you’d like to tune into Hyperspace Podblast, they can be found at:
Twitter and Instagram: @hyperspace_pod
You can also find them on iTunes, YouTube, Podbean, Stitcher, Google Play, Podchaser or your favorite pod-catcher app!
And as always, may the Force be with you.
There’s no complicated reason they keep missing. You just missed it!
Chapter 1: Mildly Aggressive Negotiations
In the three weeks since the destruction of both Alderaan and the Empire’s planet killing Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has been fleeing to all corners of the known galaxy, desperately attempting to evade the crushing grip of Imperial forces. Where Grand Moff Tarkin believed in rule by fear, now Emperor Palpatine has demanded complete submission or suffer annihilation.
Political leaders outwardly or suspected secretly of supporting the Rebel cause have been arrested and publicly executed following lengthy and thorough interrogations. More and more corporations believed to be supplying weapons and resources to the insurgents are being nationalized every day. Hope, if there ever was any for the Rebel Alliance, is quickly being extinguished.
Senator — or for a short time, former Senator — Bail Organa was killed along with 2 billion of his fellow citizens when Tarkin decided to test the full strength of the Death Star on his homeworld. Now Mon Mothma is the indisputable leader of the Rebel Alliance. Having abandoned Yavin IV, the former home of Rebel Alliance HQ, she has been coordinating both planetary attacks and evacuations onboard Admiral Ackbar’s Mon Calamari Cruiser Home One. She is joined in the main briefing room by her intelligence director, General Draven, and a newcomer to the Alliance, Carlist Rieekan.
Mon welcomed him with a warm smile, as she was known to do. “Carlist, I cannot tell you how devastated I have been since the…loss of your home. How are you?”
Carlist cleared his throat, and forced himself to return her smile. “As well as can be expected, Senator,” his voice clearly shaking. “I’m just sorry I couldn’t have done more for my people.”
Draven sat silently, his eyes continually shifting between his two compatriots. In conversations such as this, he was inclined to not say anything until something directly pertained to him. Until then, he preferred to read other’s faces and learn more about their motivations.
Mon moved to stand behind Carlist and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. “First of all, I do not believe the title of Senator has suited me for some time,” she said in a mildly sarcastic tone. “In regard to your people, there is nothing you could have done to mitigate the Empire’s vile actions. However, you can still honor their memory by helping to destroy that which took so many innocent and beautiful lives.” She returned to the head of the table. “Carlist Rieekan, will you honor us and the good people of Alderaan by joining the Alliance to Restore the Republic?”
Rieekan stood proudly, straightening his uniform. “There would be no greater honor.”
“It is settled then. Effectively immediately, you will be commissioned as a General of the Alliance. Congratulations, General.”
General Rieekan’s smile was finally genuine. “Thank you.”
Draven stood at last, extending his arm to shake the hand of the newly appointed General. “Congratulations, General.”
“Thank you, General Draven,” he replied enthusiastically.
“Of course what Mon forgot to mention,” he said as he sat back down, “was that this was all my idea.”
Mon Mothma shot her eyes at him, but did not protest. “Well, as much as it pains me to agree with General Draven, for once he is correct. Now we must move on from these formalities. I am sure the two of you will adequately celebrate the occasion this evening in the ship’s cantina.” The two officers looked at each other and then nodded in approval. “Now however we must discuss our next maneuvers.” She activated her intercom. “Control, this is Mon Mothma. Please make a general announcement for Admiral Ackbar to report to the briefing room. Thank you.”
Draven pushed a button that brought up a holographic map of the galaxy. “While we wait for the Admiral, I will first discuss the status of our ground forces. In short: not good. Troops on those planets in open rebellion are mired in combat with Imperial forces. Losses thus far have been substantial.”
General Rieekan rubbed his chin, “I assume you are also still heavily involved in humanitarian efforts on those worlds and more.” The door slid open and Admiral Ackbar entered the room.
Mon greeted him, “Thank you arriving so quickly, Admiral. Please be seated.” She returned her focus to Rieekan. “Yes, General, where possible we are assisting in evacuations on worlds that have recently fallen under Imperial control. In the cases where the blockades have made such endeavors impossible, we have been smuggling in basic necessities such as food and medical supplies.”
The intelligence chief turned to his colleague, “Thus making any major land offensive implausible at the moment.”
Carlist thought for a moment. “You could withdraw from some of the outlying planets so we could centralize our forces-“
“Out of the question,” Mon snapped. “I will not risk the lives of billions for a pyrrhic victory.” Quickly redirecting, she added, “Admiral, if you would be so kind as to brief the status of our fleet.”
Admiral Ackbar rose. “Yes, ma’am. Good evening, everyone. Unfortunately we lost many good ships over Scarif. Darth Vader decimated the fleet of Admiral Raddus. We must be thankful that we even escaped with the Death Star plans.”
The rest of the room responded with a collective, “Hear, hear!”
“As with our ground forces, our fleet is currently too widely scattered to launch a major attack against the Empire. We may be able to attack smaller targets such as low output shipyards, but I fear our losses would be far too great to risk our ships and crews.”
“Then what do you all propose we do?” Rieekan exclaimed as he slammed his fists down on the briefing table. “The Alliance just won the greatest naval battle in galactic history, and now you all just want to climb under a rock? Surely Bail-“
“General, please,” Ackbar pleaded.
“No, Admiral I will not. My planet was just obliterated with no warning! If we do nothing, the Empire wins.”
“No, General,” Mon said calmly, “if we squabble amongst ourselves, only then will the Empire win. I stand here with three of the brightest minds in the galaxy; surely between all of us a successful strategy can be developed.”
Silence fell on the room. For the moment, all the brilliance that was in the room was being overshadowed by the colossal, if not impossible, task at hand.
“On Tatooine,” she continued, “they have a particular saying that suits our current situation very well. ‘When eating a bantha, a flea must simply take it one bite at a time.’”
“But right now that flea is getting stomped into a pulp,” Rieekan replied sardonically.
“I have an idea.” The whole room turned towards General Draven. “While it is true that we cannot yet afford to engage in any large scale maneuvers, smaller, more focused attacks on key targets throughout the Empire might spark the galaxy-wide rebellion we desperately need.”
“How is this any different from Saw Gerrera’s Partisans?” Ackbar inquired.
“I think perhaps Saw sometimes killed just for the sake of killing, Force bless his soul,” Mon said somberly. “What exactly are you proposing, General?”
“Shipyards like Kuat are impenetrable. The academies on Coruscant and other major systems are too heavily guarded. We need to hit low to medium value targets throughout the Empire. The Imperials will start to reallocate their forces accordingly so eventually we can hit the bigger targets.”
“What sort of ‘low to medium value targets’ are we talking about here, Davits?” Carlist said, suddenly using the General’s first name.
“Supply depots. Communications outposts. Refueling stations. Governors. Officers. Moffs.”
“Moffs?” Mon said, exasperated. “Come now, General. This truly does sound like Saw. I will not have marauders raging across the galaxy on behalf of our Alliance.”
“Oh, for once will you please drop the moral superiority? We are at war-“
“I will not,” Mon said definitively. “A just war is fought for a just cause, and equally by just means.”
“With all due respect, Mon,” Rieekan replied sharply, “tell that to the guy who just blew my entire planet.”
“I am sorry for your loss, Carlist. You know I am. But if we stoop to the Empire’s level, how can we possibly convince the galaxy that we are any better?”
“There is a middle ground,” Ackbar said, loudly enough to get the attention of all those debating in the room. “There is truth to what all you have said. Guerrilla warfare has proven highly effective in previous conflicts, but we must not allow ourselves to become simple terrorists.”
“And we cannot allow ourselves to become that which we wish to destroy,” Mon added.
“Therefore,” Ackbar continued, “I suggest we set up a strike force to hit those targets General Draven suggested, but those targets must be carefully selected. I recommend all targets be chosen by this council, specifically by Generals Draven, Rieekan and myself. Your Excellency will of course always have veto power.”
“And who shall lead this strike force?” Mon asked.
“I’ll do it,” General Rieekan said promptly.
“I do not think that would be prudent, General,” Mon replied. “You are new to our operations, and I plan to have you coordinating more of our large scale operations.”
“I understand. What about Garm Bel Iblis? This sort of thing seems to be right up his alley.”
Mon looked down for a moment, regretfully, and then once again lifted her head. “Suffice it to say our relationship has been less than amiable as of late. Perhaps one day he will come around.”
“This is my territory,” Draven said plainly.
“General, are you sure?” Mon asked with a highly concerned tone. “After what happened with Scarif-“
“After what happened with Scarif,” he paused for a brief moment, “I’ve never wanted to so badly to destroy the Empire. Besides, Mon, you know I’ve always exceled at morally questionable activities.”
“Maybe if you were a little less morally questionable, Alderaan might still be here,” Rieekan said venomously.
“I did my job. Well. The Death Star was destroyed with minimal casualties.”
“If you consider 2 billion ‘minimal,’ then I suppose you’re right. That was the most egregious intelligence failure in the history of the galaxy. And you wiped the Erso family from existence. From the reports I’ve read, that young woman would have made an excellent operative.”
Normally cool and collected, Draven could take no more. He leapt the table and grabbed Rieekan by the collar. Their faces were mere inches from each other. “I didn’t kill those people! The Empire did! Now I like you, Rieekan, but do believe me when I say I am the last person you want to cross.” He let go, and dusted off Rieekan’s uniform. He looked as if he was going to say more, but instead just gave Rieekan a courteous smile and returned to his seat.
“If you gentlemen are quite finished. General Draven I will agree to you coordinating these efforts, but I do not want you on the ground. I still need you here, coordinating the big picture. You will need to choose a squad commander.”
“Oh, I’ve got the perfect man in mind,” Draven said devilishly. He sneered at Mon.
“Oh no. Please do not tell me you are referring to our Kage…friend.”
Mon protested. “General! That man makes Saw Gerrera look like an Angel from the moons of Iego.”
“Then who better to strike fear into the hearts of the Empire? Palpatine himself will be shaking in his dusty old boots.”
Rieekan interjected, “Can someone please tell me who the hell we are talking about here?”
Draven grinned from ear to ear. “Ad Aileron.”
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Was the Death Star more of an inside job than you can possibly imagine…?
Since Star Wars first came out in 1977, we were all perplexed as to how the Empire could make an omission allowing direct access to the Death Star’s main reactor via a 2-meter wide thermal exhaust port.
Now that Rogue One has been released, the suspicions of conspiracy theorists like myself have been confirmed; the Death Star was an inside job. Reluctant Imperial scientist Galen Erso purposefully built this flaw into the blueprints to allow the Rebel Alliance a chance — infinitesimal as it may be — to destroy this planet killer.
But could the traitorous plot to destroy the Empire’s premier battle station go much, much higher than we previously thought? Could it might go nearly straight to the top: Darth Vader.
After a test fire of the super laser destroys the Holy City of Jedha, Darth Vader makes his feelings known in a conversation with Director Orson Krennic while in his private palace on the planet Mustafar. When Director Krennic pleads for a face-to-face with the Emperor to discuss the Death Star’s “remarkable potential,” Vader quickly responds with, “It’s power to create problems has certainly been confirmed.” He would rather make the false claim that Jedha was destroyed in a mining disaster rather than taking credit for having a Death Star.
Following Princess Leia’s daring escape with the secret plans, Vader is “unable” to recover them, his weapons officer foolishly refusing to shoot down an escape pod from her ship on the flimsy reasoning that there were no life forms onboard (knowing their mission was to recover the stolen Death Star plans). Shortly thereafter, Darth Vader reveals more of his feelings in a meeting with all of the high-ranking military officials of the Empire in a conference room onboard the space station. “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed,” he says to Admiral Motti. The Dark Lord continues, “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”
These may be all strong opinions against the Death Star, but are they strong enough to call them a motive? Probably not. What other reasons would Darth Vader have to allow the Death Star to be destroyed?
Remember the nature of the Sith master/apprentice relationship. Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side was based on a lie. Darth Sidious had told the powerful Jedi Knight that he held the knowledge to save his wife, Padmé, from certain death if he would become the Dark Lord’s apprentice. After helping to kill Jedi Master Mace Windu, Anakin ultimately became Darth Vader and learned an unfortunate truth: Sidious apparently did not hold that knowledge.
Sidious was then able to convince his apprentice that he would have to hunt down and kill all the Jedi to have enough dark side energy to save Padmé. All of this culminates with Vader nearly being destroyed by his former master on Mustafar, becoming “more machine than man” and being told by Sidious that he was responsible for his wife’s death. He would never even learn that his wife had given birth to their children until years later (see the in-canon Marvel comics coverage of this revelation).
In the Sith master/apprentice relationship, it is the master’s responsibility to give the apprentice knowledge, but never enough to use that knowledge against the master and keep them yearning for more. It is the master’s responsibility to make the apprentice stronger and more powerful, but not to the extent where the apprentice could possibly destroy them and take their place. Conversely, the apprentice must relentlessly try to become stronger, smarter and more powerful to one day destroy their master and take on their own apprentice. The Rule of Two.
In short, Darth Vader knew the destruction of the Death Star would weaken his master and the Empire, and it would embolden the Rebel Alliance. Why would he want this? As always, to overthrow the Emperor. Before he even made his infamous offer to Luke Skywalker, he made his intentions clear to Padme shortly before her death. “I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor. I can overthrow him, and together you and I can rule the galaxy.” Just think about how much the next few years would make him want this even more.
So, that is motive — how about opportunity? Darth Vader already knew full well that the Rebels had the plans to the Death Star and would know how to blow it up. When he sensed how strong the Force was in the X-Wing pilot ahead of him while he flew in his TIE Advanced, he had his opportunity. All he had to do was not kill him.
If you watch that scene again, you can see how easily he takes out the other ships. He has plenty of time to kill Luke. He takes shots at Luke though, right? Notice how they are all non-critical hits (well, unless you ask Artoo). Never forget how talented of a pilot Darth Vader is. Did he do this on purpose? Sure Luke may have been strong in the Force, but at this point, he still was nowhere near as powerful as Vader. Did he let Luke live, and let his son do the rest?
Now, I have provided you with motive and opportunity.
Maybe — just maybe — you’ll join me in pondering Darth Vader’s complicity in the first Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin and 300,000 of its most loyal service men and women.
It leaves us asking the question, which Skywalker really played a bigger part in the destruction of the first Death Star?
I’ll leave you to ponder that one for yourselves.
The development of female role models in the Star Wars universe
Violence erupts in the Holy City of Jedha. Stormtroopers representing the Imperial War Machine have been ambushed by rebel forces in a coordinated attack masterminded by the extremist Saw Gerrera. Explosions rock the city streets, but the debris, shrapnel and laser fire caused by the conflict do not discriminate in terms of whom they kill.
All around innocent civilians of all races and species are wounded, and many perish. In the middle of it all, a small girl frozen by fear cries for a mother she can’t find. Laser bolts zip by just inches away from her face. Just as it seems she will be another nameless casualty of this endless violence, a young boy watching the fighting from far away points and happily exclaims, “Jyn Erso is going to save her!”
That young boy is three years old, and he is my son.
His name is Dylan, and I am confident that in about two years, his knowledge of Star Wars will exceed my own (and I’ve been immersed in the SWU since 1983). His favorite movies in the saga are Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and Return of the Jedi. He is also a huge fan of the Star Wars Rebels franchise and has seen every episode. What I am most interested in, is the fact that some of his favorite characters are Rey, Princess Leia, Sabine Wren, and the aforementioned Jyn Erso.
As a father, you have many proud moments. Your daughter gets on the honor roll in school. Your son gets his first hit in little league baseball. Oddly enough, one of my proudest moments came a few months ago when I took Dylan shopping for toys. Obviously our first stop — and usually our only stop — was to the Star Wars aisle. Searching for another action figure (because a few hundred just isn’t enough), I always let my kids choose their own toys.
My proud moment came when Dylan passed up no less than five male characters to pick Jyn Erso, and the sheer look of joy when I placed the package in his hands. I looked at him and thought, “My God, that is amazing”, and in writing this I get the same goosebumps as I had that day.
I began to do some introspection as to why I found that simple act so powerful. The fact of the matter I believe is: it shouldn’t be. A little boy choosing a female action figure over her male counterparts because he admires her more should be the norm. Sadly, however, even in 2017 it is not the norm.
In a previous article I wrote entitled “A Hero’s Journey” I discussed how George Lucas gained much of his writing inspiration from famed mythologist Joseph Campbell. Campbell was a major proponent of matriarchal societies. On numerous occasions he talked about the significance of powerful goddesses such as Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
Moreover Campbell explained the significance of the philosophy of Gaea, or “Mother Earth.” Whereas Man destroys life, Woman creates life. As all life starts in the womb, the woman was therefore put on a pedestal. Ideas were also seen to start this way, and hence why ancient authors would plead to the muses (also female characters) for inspiration. It should be noted as well that although both Athena and Ares were gods of war, the soldiers and generals chose to worship and plead to Athena because she was the goddess of war and wisdom. Ares on the other hand was not well respected by gods or man because of his arrogance and immaturity.
George Lucas took Campbell’s teachings to heart. They influenced how he created the iconic character of our now beloved Princess Leia. 40 years later Lucasfilm continue to put women at the front and center of the franchise.
The job, however, is far from finished. As I write this, Disney has just announced a new Star Wars project called “Forces of Destiny,” focusing on characters such as Rey, Leia, Jyn and Ahsoka have had on their universe. That is certainly encouraging, but considering some of the anti-feminist backlash that has already occurred because of this announcement, it looks like we still “have a long ride ahead of us.”
Oh great, another feminist article, some may think, and what’s worse from a dude.
I feel I needed to write this short post though; after all, it is because of characters like Ahsoka, Jyn, Sabine, and Hera that my daughters — ages 13 and 10 — have no inhibitions about jumping right into “Jedi versus Sith” in the backyard and not feel weird about it, or not go to school wearing their “I Rebel” t-shirt and be ashamed of it.
It allows my son to feel comfortable opting for the female character in the toy isle.
More importantly it teaches all children that there is nothing in this galaxy that they cannot accomplish if they have the heart and determination to do so.