written by Alastrom
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might be the greatest Star Wars trailer I’ve ever seen. Of course, I’m leaving out the trailer for Episode IX: Something something something Skywalker because I made a commitment not to see that flaming trash pile of a film and I’m sticking to my guns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain it’ll be the best Star Wars film to date. Of course, if it’s being compared to recent work that’s not exactly a high standard to live up to. And yes, I appreciate the irony that I’m praising an EA game while simultaneously bashing a franchise that I’ve been a part of since I was seven years old. While Fallen Order “looks” great, I think that’s only because it looks completely divorced from anything that Disney has put out in the past few years. I find myself at odds about whether or not I should choose to ignore this game as well and just remember the good times that I had with things like Star Wars Galaxies, Knights of the Old Republic and the Dark Forces series. Disney has, without a doubt, poisoned the Star Wars. I, for one, think we should all stop lining up to take a drink.
Star Wars is a religious experience. Some people may scoff at that statement, but it fits all the criteria. It has a world-wide following. The lore and characters are known, studied and mimicked. It even has spiritual dates like May 4th or any day that happens to coincide with the release of the new film. Fans dress up to see these films and we perform rituals when we watch them, like gathering around a bowl of popcorn. While there is an actual Jedi religion, it simply enforces the greater ideal that Star Wars has penetrated our lives and has become a part of our culture. With Disney’s acquisition and the “new direction” that Star Wars films have gone, I feel confident in saying this religion has been corrupted. It’s no surprise that some fans dislike the decisions being made with what many are calling “New Star Wars.” Every plot thus far has been garbage, filled with boring characters who bounce back and forth between being entirely useless and only be useful enough to push a political narrative. Kathleen Kennedy, chief dumb-ass in charge of New Wars, has managed to construct more weaknesses in the series than a Death Star built out of exhaust ports.
Watching these new Star Wars films is like playing a game of MadLibs where you fill in all the blanks with previous Star Wars characters and inter-sectional feminism. Episode VII: The Force Awakens was basically an experiment to see what would happen if you rewrote Episode IV with a larger budget. Fans, myself included, allowed it to happen with the hope that Episode VIII: Purple Hair Goes to Space would build upon the foundation and take the series in an unexpected direction. Don’t get me wrong, I love surprises. Learning that the character you played in Knights of the Old Republic was actually Darth Revan but had his mind wiped was a great surprise. I loved it. Fans loved it. But surprises need to fit within the expectations. If you go to a restaurant and order a steak, you’re allowed to be upset when they serve you a pickled cow fetus. That’s not a surprise, it’s just disgusting and someone should probably call the health department. Rian Johnson, director for “The Last Jedi” has said time and time again that his goal was to play with audience expectations. What we got instead was a post-modern approach to Star Wars where half of the fans loved it and half of them hated it. I have no doubt that Johnson is quite pleased with this outcome but in spite of how much Disney played with the franchise, it was never their playground to shape in their direction. It belonged to all of us.
Star Wars is a part of our culture and as far as I’m concerned, Disney wants to subvert that until the message has been twisted and turned into something more marketable. It’s been said that George Lucas originally conceived Star Wars following a foray into Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Campbell’s work categorizes “The Hero’s Journey” and details just how every story effectively follows that narrative. I’ve spoken on the Hero’s Journey in a number of articles but you can find examples of it in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Game of Thrones, your own life, your dog’s life, the Bible and nearly every other piece of work conceived by man. Not in New Star Wars however. They decided to throw the Hero’s Journey out of the window and instead just wing it. Statistically speaking, they should have accidentally made this film somehow incorporate Campbell’s theories but they even managed to screw that up. I can only assume then that this was an intentional deviation and while I don’t like to attribute to malice what I can to ignorance, it’s hard to imagine the latter is true of a multi-billion dollar company.
I remember the first time I saw Star Wars. I was at my childhood friend’s house when his father made a Star Wars reference and I stared blank face and starry eyed at him. He realized that I had never seen the films so he sat us down and we watched all three in succession. Glued to the screen for an entire afternoon, I became hooked on all things Star Wars. Years went by and Star Wars dramatically shaped my life. In high school I spent hours with the game Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO that became the first and last of its kind. I saw each of the prequels the night they released and, with a few exceptions, I own nearly every Star Wars game ever produced. In college I would have a life altering knee injury that forced me to walk with a cane for the rest of my life. That cane is modeled after Luke’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi. Star Wars gave me direction and helped put me on the path I am today but I’m not alone in that journey. I personally know individuals that, because of Star Wars, they went on to become pilots, firefighters, doctors, artists and film directors. These are people that were allowed to dream when they were younger and those dreams carried us all into the future. Right now, there are people working on sending us to distance parts of our own galaxy not because they had a drive to expand humanities reach as a child, but because they saw Luke pilot an X-Wing back in the ’70’s. Despite Walt’s early belief that children were the future, the present day Disney Company no longer shares that mentality. At least, not in the same way as before. Dreamers can and will change the world but they’ll do it in their own fashion. That’s an unpredictable business model and it’d be much better if the next generation simply shut up and did what they were told. That is, after all, the apparent message of New Wars. No one is special. There is no good and evil. Nothing matters unless we say it does.
So why bother talking about any of this? I’m not going to pretend that I have the reach to command a Star Wars boycott and I’m not even sure I care enough to try. People are still going to see the new Star Wars film. They’re going to continue buying the Star Wars games. When Disney opens up Star Wars land sometime later this year, the lines will be a few hours long. Star Wars is fine and I’m sure that even with fans abandoning the series in droves, Disney is still making a pretty penny off the franchise. So why not just give in and keep trying to find what little joy I can in the series and keep my mouth shut? The answer is simple. It’s my own one man Rebellion against the evil Empire. I’m done pretending that I owe Disney any loyalty because they’re the controlling interest. In my mind, there are only six Star Wars films. Kyle Katarn stole the Death Star plans. Luke went on to rebuild the Jedi Academy. Han and Leia went on to have a fulfilling relationship completely devoid of stupid space dice trinkets. While I will stop being a part of the Star Wars universe, it will never truly stop being a part of me. Perhaps you feel the same and if so, I welcome you to the Rebel Alliance and leave you with these few words…
“The Force will be with us. Always.”