Haiku Me Friday! The Outlander Club

The smoke fills my lungs Creatures of all kinds and shapes What? A lightsaber?

The smoke fills my lungs
Creatures of all kinds and shapes
What? A lightsaber?

I did a little twist this week and tried to imagine what it would be like to be a patron at the Outlander Club when Obi-Wan and Anakin show up chasing Zam Wesell.

I love this scene in Attack of the Clones (yes, I just admitted to loving something in AOTC).  It’s one of the few times we get to see the seedy underground of Coruscant and what everyday beings do when it’s time to unwind.  Apparently, just like on Earth, people like to go out and have a drink, possibly gamble, and watch sports.

In this scene, two Jedi show up which must have been unusual.  I feel like Jedi could have been a little like police – when they show up in their Jedi outfit, you know something is about to go down.  I wonder if the reaction to the Jedi was similar to the reaction people had to Stormtroopers 15 years later, but not *as* harsh, since there was a chance you could live when you encountered a Jedi.

I purposefully ended my haiku where I did because I have not yet been able to figure out if Anakin used a mind trick on the patrons of Outlander Club to make them forget their encounter with Zam or if it was an honest statement that it was “Jedi business”.  It’s not like I stay awake at night thinking about this, but I have always wondered (I bet the novelization would give me more insight).  So for the haiku, I had that be the last quick thought before they either go about their business and don’t care, or if they forget because Anakin used a mind trick.

Can you imagine living in a world where this is kind of normal though?  Injuring/killing people like it’s no biggie?  I remember telling my dad that I loved how Han Solo was able to kill someone, flip some extra money to the bartender, and go about like nothing happened.  I’m not sure why I found that cool, because honestly, I wouldn’t really want that to happen in my everyday life, but when I was younger – it was the bees knees!  Now I see it for what it is – a nod-of-the-head to the old Western movies where similar scenes often happened in Saloons.

I’ve said this over and over again on this blog but – I really hope in future movies to see more of the seedy, other side of the Star Wars universe.  We definitely got to see some with Cassian in Rogue One but it still was part of a bigger picture with a fight of Rebellion vs. Empire.  More individual, interesting stories of average folks that make the universe seem as large as it should be would be a good step for Disney to take.

 

Do you guys have any thoughts on the Outlander Club?  Or seeing something different in Star Wars?  Would you want to see stories that step away from main characters, Jedi, Rebellion, and the Empire? 

Rogue One: A Hardened Battle Story or a Soulless Masquerade?

I have issues with Rogue One.  And apparently I have issues completely different from everyone else.

Get ready for a doozy of a review.

My main issue is: I’m not sure I liked the movie.  I keep telling myself that’s okay, and I don’t like AOTC much either, but it’s still weird to realize that I don’t like a Star Wars movie.

The two standout reasons for being disgruntled with the film were:

  1. I did not like Jyn Erso, and
  2. I did not like the cameos of Darth Vader and Princess Leia

I found Jyn to be boring.  Disney and Kathleen Kennedy are doing a great job bringing female protagonists front and center and I really admire them for it.  The whole problem with Jyn is that I don’t believe in her cause.  In fact, did she really have a cause?  Sure, once she saw

This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.

This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.

the hologram of her dad, she became part of a larger fight (the Rebellion), but I’m not sure I believed her.  Her motivational speech to the Alliance fell flat to me and left me wishing for William Wallace to give her some lessons.

I’m not sure where the writers were going with her character.  I felt like we never really “knew” Jyn.  We were given a little bit of background info on her, her parents, family, and that she knew Saw…but it was so small that it hardly led me to believe that she would all of a sudden become gung ho about the Rebellion.

It also seemed like they wanted to make her a “tough girl”.  I love tough girls.  But tough girls that go haywire at the slightest provocation make me roll my eyes.  Why did she beat up everyone when the Imperial transport was stopped and she was rescued?  Further, if you are going to make her a tough girl and you want to stick with that – why did you have Cassian come in and save the day at the very end?  The entire movie was trying to make Jyn seem independent and tough but I never got to see her independence.  Sure, the point of the movie was this was a team job, but it would have been nice to have ONE MOMENT where Jyn shone without anyone else backing her up.

I can’t remember one line from Jyn because everything she said was unmemorable.  And bland.  And meh.

As for the cameos – I thought both Darth Vader and Princess Leia were unnecessary.  Darth Vader’s spa retreat on Mustafar was weird and do you really think he would have time for weazily little Directors like Krennic?  Even if Krennic is in charge of the Death Star?  No.  Or, if he did want to see Krennic, do you think he would call Krennic to his private sanctuary on Mustafar?  (Please realize I have no problems with Darth Vader having his home on Mustafar and it’s been hinted at before with canon material)

Further, the end scene when Darth Vader kicks some butt is cool.  I agree.  However, it kind of messes up ANH a little bit which irked me.  darth-vader-rogue-oneVader watches the Tantive IV disappear into the galaxy, yet Princess Leia has the nerve to say she’s on a “diplomatic mission to Alderaan”, when they are captured.  Even though we all know she is lying in ANH, now it seems slightly more ridiculous, and on top of that all her statements of being a member of the Imperial Senate makes me wonder…well why were you at Scarif?  Because now we all know she was at Scarif and it’s so RANDOM.  It wasn’t played right.  But okay, I could argue that was minor tweaking of the plot and only something devout fans would recognize.  (It’s not as bad as Leia claiming she remembers her mother, but Padmé dies in childbirth.)

Seeing how Darth Vader was used, I believe it should have been one scene or the other, and even though I have all those issues with the last scene – I would have preferred that scene of Vader kept in the movie versus the Mustafar spa retreat.

Actually, personally, truth speak – I would rather Vader and Leia not be in the movie at all.  I think the movie would have been stronger without them and that Disney should have taken the chance not to pull them into the story and see how people liked it without familiar main characters.

Those are my two issues that seriously detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.  That being done, here is what I liked and didn’t like to smaller degrees.

 

What worked:

  • I liked that Disney took a chance. I like that the movie was different and not what you expected from Star Wars.  It was fun to have new characters and see unexplored areas of the galaxy.
  • No romance. I know this is debatable due to one of the last scenes between Jyn and Cassian, but I liked seeing teamwork and no undercurrents of “Will they, won’t they?” romantic entanglements.
  • Everyone dies! Yes!  I like that!  In fact, I loved it!  I thought the way the deaths played out could have been better.  I’m not sure they really gave the protagonist characters justice with their deaths, but it made so much sense for everyone to die that I really appreciated that step forward in the Star Wars movies.
  • Director Krennic. I really, really liked him.  I thought he was a perfect addition to the Star Wars universe and his death gave his orson-krennic-and-deathtrooperscharacter justice.  The way he strove so hard, yet was kicked and pushed aside by those higher than him really made me feel for him, more than anyone else in the movie.  He was the only one I kind of related to, in a weird way.  He’s very Machiavellian, for realz, but I liked him.
  • Diversity.  I won’t say much on this because it’s been written on plenty by others, but it was refreshing and so totally needed.
  • I liked the revelation of the Death Star purposefully having that exhaust port which is it’s one flaw, done by Galen Erso.  My husband said, “This helps the 4th movie make so much more sense!”  Though I had never really thought about it, it does help ANH make more sense and makes Luke’s victory taste sweeter.
  • CGI Tarkin. I believe I am one of the few people out there that liked CGI Tarkin.  I thought he was really well done and I liked seeing his role in the Star Wars universe expanded on.  I didn’t find his face that disturbing either…I know some people had a lot of trouble with the use of CGI on faces, but I had way more trouble accepting Leia than Tarkin.  Maybe because I thought Leia was unnecessary to the plot, whereas Tarkin moved the plot along so I had no problems accepting the CGI.
  • K-2SO. Thank God for K-2SO.  Without him, the movie would have been very serious and hard to watch.  He was definitely funny and a much needed droid for the Rogue One team.
  • I loved that “Rogue One” could have many different meanings. The fact that Bodhi was the one who made it up, added a completely different layer.  Does Rogue One refer to the rag tag team that goes to Scarif as we are meant to believe?  Or does it refer to Jyn?  Or Bodhi, the deserter Imperial pilot?  Or does it refer to the entire Rebel Alliance?
  • I enjoyed seeing the Rebellion as a more rough and tough team, with Cassian having to murder someone in the beginning of the movie. This guerilla feel to the Alliance felt more real for me.  Cassian was one of my favorite characters, along with Krennic.  I thought he represented someone who had been hurt, knew the price the Rebellion would pay for losing, but still moved forward anyway and would do what it takes to get his team to have home field advantage.
  • The space battle above Scarif. Bravo!  That was wonderfully done, especially the Hammerhead hitting the Star Destroyer.

 

What did not work:

  • Jyn’s character. Boring, unbelievable, and not enough moments to shine.
  • The cameos of Vader and Leia.
  • The entire first half of the movie. Star Wars has a lot of planets, but this movie really jumped around for a while.  They also listed every planet’s name and a description with it, which kind of jolted me out a little bit.  To me, Star Wars is primarily about common themes jedhaand a relatable core. I felt like Rogue One, especially the parts with Saw Gerrera, fell flat in that department.  The beginning was as uneven as Jyn’s ride to the Imperial Base.  It jumped to so many different planets, didn’t flesh out characters, and I even got bored at some points.  I think once they go to Yavin 4 and were trying to convince the Rebel Alliance to steal the Death Star plans and go to Scarif, it started getting a lot better.
  • Motivations.  Not only with the characters but also with the Rebellion.  I couldn’t figure out the motivations of some of the characters and that made it hard for me to connect with them or even care about their death – specifically Baze and Chirrut.  On a larger scale, I had trouble feeling for the Rebellion and rooting for their cause.  I’m a Rebellion girl through and through but this movie made me more interested in the Empire (so weird writing that).   The Empire was where it was at!  They were organized, efficient and had very clear reasons for what they were doing.  I didn’t feel like the Rebellion would inspire hope in me if I was going to choose one or the other.  That left me a little down because I wanted to cheer for who I knew were the good guys, but instead I felt like they needed to get their act together.

The movie and its characters needed more soul.  If this was not a Star Wars movie, would I like it?  Probably not.  I understand why Disney wanted to make this a battle story, and the second half really worked.  But they forgot that what attracts fans and casual viewers to Star Wars in the first place.  If I care about the characters, I care about their fight.  Sadly, I think Rogue One fell short in many aspects of this.

Share your thoughts. Please.

Social Media Bullying

I love Instagram.  I think it’s one of the greatest social media platforms out there…it took me a while to get into it but it’s now a bit addicting for me and I love scrolling through all the photos in the morning with my cup of tea.  (If I find Instagram addicting, can you imagine how I’d be with Pokemon Go?  It may be a good thing that when I’m walking I have the dog in one hand and the stroller in the other – no room for a phone.)

I rarely read comments on large social media accounts but I was caught by surprise when the Star Wars account posted a photo of some female fans cosplaying recently and I happened to read one of the comments.  The comment was not friendly so I decided to go into the comments and read more.  Maybe I’m naïve but I was surprised at how much bullying was going on in the comments.

I want to copy and paste the comments here, but then everyone will know what picture it was referring to and I’d rather not go there.

Instead, what I did was begin to scout the internet for photos of people labeled “geeks” or “nerds” and read comments where it was allowed to see what people were saying.

In one of my more popular posts, I discussed bullying and how there has been talk about how geeks/nerds are now “cool” or that since Star Wars is popular once more, being labeled as a geek or nerd is not as derogatory as it once was.

I’ve now come to realize that though there may be less bullying (if that’s even true; I’m skeptical on what the media says) IRL, the bullying has transferred to online – specifically through social media.

And why not?

cyber bully phoneIt’s so easy to bully someone via the internet.  Bullying in person means you are owning up to what you are doing and it takes a certain amount of guts.  It means that you might get caught and chastised in person.  Online allows all the people who may not bully in person, bully behind a screen and think they will never get caught.  Sure, some people may be caught, but it also allows people thousands of miles away to comment on someone they do not know or never plan on meeting.

What I’ve found from reading comments on photos online is that passionate fans are still labeled a geek or nerd but that seems to be the least of the bullying. I wanted to break it down more concisely.  (PLEASE keep in mind this just from my experience, not any kind of scientific analysis.  Also – Mr. R. says I’m overgeneralizing but based on the comments I’ve looked at over the past few weeks, I don’t think I am.)

First, let’s start with the term “geek” or “nerd”.  It can be used affectionately and I often use it proudly, but it connotes something different and is usually in reference to someone who is passionate about something that is not mainstream.

When a social media bullies uses that term, I feel like that is the first level of bullying and often the least egregious.  I’ve then noticed that it’s broken up very differently between men and women.

If there was a man cosplaying or photos of him at a convention, there were very few comments on his appearance unless the internet trolls thought he was overweight.  And what constituted overweight seemed vastly different between men and women.  If the man in the photo was overweight, then he got labeled “fat” and sometimes there were comments on how he probably lived alone in his mother’s basement playing video games.  (That image has got to go. Seriously. Plenty of men play videogames and do not live in a basement but have high paying jobs and their own place.)

But when you compare it to photos of women, the women have three levels of labels underneath the umbrella term of geek or nerd.

It seems like women cannot be only labeled as a geek or nerd.  The trolls have to go one step further and give them another label.  I found that either a woman is a “hot” geek, an “ugly” geek, or a “fat” geek/nerd.  Sometimes fat and ugly are used at the same time.

All three of those labels are an indication of their looks, as opposed to the men who only had one reference to their looks and one for their lifestyle.

Social Media Bullying

I can’t speak for men obviously since I am not a man, but I will say that as a woman, our society puts a lot of pressure on us to obtain this Western notion of “beauty” – i.e. thin, large breasts, no wrinkles, etc.  We cosplay in what we hope is a judgement-free zone and when people take photos of us, we hope that if it ends up online, the comments are on our outfits, not our looks.  (I do want to point out that there are definitely comments out there on the outfits, but unfortunately, a lot center around looks as well.)

We can’t control what other people say about us online…especially on open social media platforms like facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  What we CAN control is teaching our children about cyber bullying.  I feel like as a society, we are still playing catch-up, in some ways, to the Internet.  Only in the past 5 or 6 years has cyber bullying begun to be brought to the forefront of our attention as social media has become more of a norm in our society.

You might think that this is extra sensitive to me all of a sudden because I just had a child.  Not so.  When I was at Mount Holyoke, located in the sleepy town of South Hadley, a girl at the local high school committed suicide due to cyber bullying.  It brought back my years in middle school and how I was tormented for loving Star Wars and I wondered what it would have been like if social media was as rampant as it is today.  I think it would have been worse.  Much worse.

I’m frustrated at what I’m seeing online, especially as more and more attention has been brought to bullying in schools and how there has been a decrease of it.  However, cyber bullying still seems to happen more to females than males.  The last place I want it to happen is on a Star Wars social media account.  (In all fairness – starwars.com has been doing an amazing job with showcasing all kinds of different cosplay on shapes and figures of all sexes. The problem is with the trolls, not LFL or Disney.)

By starting early, when our children are under our care, I think this would help prevent bullying in adults.  Is it so hard to put rules around your children’s social media accounts?  I look at ARM and I think about social media and the rules that will be placed in our household revolving around it.  I know a family where the dad allowed social media, but insisted he have the password to all his 14 year old daughters accounts.  When she changed it once and refused to tell him her password, he took away her phone and shut down the internet at the house.  Is it so hard to be strict nowadays and monitor your children?  Combating any form of bullying should not just be left up to the school but should start at home.

I will be monitoring ARM’s use of social media as well.  I hope and pray that she is never one to bully others online and I intend to educate her very early about bullying.  But on top of that, I hope I raise her to be a confident woman, so much so that if she is ever bullied, she knows that she is better than any comment on an internet page.

Going “Rogue” with Star Wars’ Tone

noto rogue one

Have you been following the news about the Rogue One reshoots? The latest article I’ve read can be found here. The gist of it is this: Disney is not happy with the tone of Rogue One and has ordered that a rumored 40% of the movie be reshot.

I’m personally remaining optimistic about this. That’s a lot of reshooting, but some degree of going back behind cameras is common to big budget films. And certainly Disney has a lot riding on the first official live action venture outside the Saga films. The rumors swirling here are mostly regarding the films tone, and bringing the final act more inline with the tone of A New Hope. Apparently, the events of Rogue One are supposed to take us up to within 10 minutes of the opening of the original trilogy.

My biggest concern here is that Disney wasn’t certain of what they wanted at the beginning. I enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, at least on a purely visual level. It was a big spectacle film that still managed to keep the danger of giant Kaiju brawls felt at a human level. From the beginning, he has been saying this will feel like a war film set in the Star Wars Universe. So setting it so close chronologically to A New Hope does seem jarring. Could you imagine binging Star Wars films and you finish a stark war film only to jump into Threepio’s opening banter?

I don’t blame Disney for trying to align the films a little more closely. I don’t blame Edwards for trying to pursue a vision of something we haven’t really seen from Star Wars. I’m still hoping we get an awesome adventure set in the Galaxy far, far away. What do you think? Do you want to see Star Wars films with a wide range of themes and tones? Or do you want a strong tonal cohesion between all the films regardless if they are Saga or Anthology?

In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke

General Hux

I think I’m in the minority out there…but I really like General Hux.  I’ve been reading many reviews that label him as a superfluous character in The Force Awakens but I would like to argue that people who are writing about that are missing the point of who he is.

General Hux is a bad guy, sure.  He’s not the main antagonist like Kylo Ren and, possibly in the future, SL Snoke, but he falls more in the realm of a secondary antagonist.  Maybe J.J. was trying to create him to be the new Grand Moff Tarkin but he fell short.  Not in a bad way necessarily, but just because General Hux is different from Tarkin.

General HuxHux represents a new generation of the Empire.  He is the ideal First Order candidate.  Similar to Finn, he was raised with Imperial propaganda as his breakfast, lunch and dinner.  General Hux sincerely believed that the Empire saved the Republic from the Clone Wars and the current New Republic is weak.  He grew up as a beast frothing at his mouth, trapped by the New Republic.  He’s what I would label a First Order Fanatic (FOF…nice ring, right?).

This is where he is different from Grand Moff Tarkin.  Tarkin worked strategically to get the Empire where it was.  Hux believed it was his God given right to rule the galaxy as one of the best Generals in charge of the biggest, baddest base.   Tarkin was someone who firmly believed the Empire should rule the galaxy.  Hux believes the First Order is there to wipe out anyone who doesn’t agree with them and he should be leading it.

He’s a maniac. I love it.

All his thoughts and actions are surrounding the First Order in a way that reminds you of a deranged serial killer.  He’s obsessed with bringing the First Order to the height that the Empire once was.  He steals kids from birth to brainwash them into being perfect stormtroopers for the First Order!  Wow.

Everything he says and does is purely for the First Order. Starkiller base and it’s troops are his tools that he works into perfection.  Even Kylo Ren does not live up to his expectations, possibly because he knows that he has not completed his training or maybe it’s because of his heritage that involves people who so vehemently opposed the Empire, and now, the First Order.  Though Hux makes mistakes, you can see that he genuinely believes he still has the best army in the galaxy, unlike Kylo Ren who shows a moment of weakness when Hux accuses him of purposefully letting BB-8 escape in favor of taking the girl instead.  General Hux hates weakness and hates mistakes, especially large blunders like the one Kylo Ren made.

All this leads me to talk about why I loved his speech.  There were a lot of complaints out there about how it was badly written, but I didn’t even pay attention to what was said.  I was enraptured with Hux’s face because in that moment, he is in his glory.  Everything he has worked so hard for over 30 years is coming to a the epic climax.  His eyes fill with tears and you can see he means every single word of what he is saying to the core of his being.  This is his moment to show the galaxy that General Hux and the First Order are not ones to be trifled with.

He’s crazy.  I love it.

 

Supreme Leader Snoke

There are rumors going around that Snoke is Darth Plagueis.  He looks like someone once dead and most importantly, people are arguing that Snoke’s theme is eerily similar to the music played during ROTS when Palpatine and Anakin discuss Plagueis at the opera.

I sincerely hope that Snoke is not Plagueis.

Why?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

Because the more I’ve written in this blog about Palpatine, the more I love his character.  Lucas did an excellent job intertwining Palpatine’s story between both trilogies to see that he was an absolute genius and mastermind in creating the Empire bringing the Sith back into power.  He was, in supreme leader snokeshort, a genius the galaxy had never seen.

Palpatine, as we know, also learned everything he could from his master Darth Plagueis, and then killed him.  He stole everything he learned.

Do you really think that Palpatine would let there be a chance that Plagueis could return?  By doing so, it shows a weakness in Palpatine’s planning and takes away from how amazing and intelligent 60+ years of his life was.

The music being similar is a good argument, but LFL and Disney has a bunch of tricks up their sleeve.  Remember that the previews led us to believe that Finn was the Force user, as opposed to Rey.

Or perhaps Williams is getting up there in years and forgot he already did a very similar piece.

I just don’t like the idea of Snoke being Plagueis because it takes away from Palpatine’s greatness.  I much prefer Snoke being Palpatine resurrected but, for some reason, I just don’t think that’s the case.  I could be wrong, but I think that would be yawn-worthy and hope they don’t do it.  I like Palpatine’s story just the way it is and I don’t think he should be brought back.

It would also be somewhat out-of-character for Disney to bring in a character that was only mentioned in the PT when they are focusing so much on pulling similarities from the OT.  I will argue that the opera scene is one of the most interesting and best acted scenes in the PT and I don’t think anyone could argue with that so perhaps if they take anything from the PT, they go with the Plagueis storyline since it is canon.

If you’re interested in reading all the theories out there on who Snoke is, combined into one place, click here.

But please don’t.  Leave Plagueis to history and leave Palpatine with his body in fragments across the galaxy after the second Death Star was destroyed.