My Love For Star Wars in a Party

When I was 11, I received my first copy of Star Wars Insider from Lucasfilm after writing a letter to George Lucas (I did not get reply from him, alas).  Within the issue, they had a section where they printed letters from fans and readers.  One letter started out as:

Dear Insider,

I have been a Star Wars fan for over 20 years…

That sentence has stuck with me throughout my life.  Why?  Because family and friends thought I was going through a “fad” or “stage” in life with my Star Wars obsession.  And there is nothing that irks me more, even at that young age, than people thinking I’ll grow out of something or won’t like something as much in a while.  I saw that sentence and thought, “I want to be a Star Wars fan for over 20 years as well.”

I haven’t reached 20 years, but I’m currently at 18 years.  Actually, technically I’m over 20 years if you count when I first saw Star Wars, but I only count the age when I became obsessed as the starting point in my Star Wars journey.

Throughout this journey I have:

Yup, that Star Wars party happened this past weekend.  Why?  Because what better time to celebrate my true love than around Valentine’s Day?

I know “first annual” is an oxymoron of sorts, but I wanted to make it clear that this is something that will be continual on a yearly basis.  Due to some bad weather the day before, we only had seven people show up (12 RSVP’d as a yes) but I was more than happy with that!  This was blue_milkthe greatest party I could ever throw, in my opinion.

And, oh the discussions!  It was so wonderful to sit with friends, drink some wine and blue milk (yes, I had some blue milk and Yoda soda), watch a Star Wars movie, and discuss Star Wars for four hours.  Heaven.

What movie did we watch?  Ah, the suspense!  No one knew until they showed up and there was a prize for those who guessed correctly.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of ROTS guesses, which I thought was very strange.

But the movie I chose was The Force Awakens for two reasons: 1) In honor of my daughter, whom I hope will grow to be like Rey, and 2) It was the one movie I had not seen and discussed with a lot of my friends.

To reiterate: the discussions!  I have missed talking about Star Wars and guessing what will be coming next with good friends.  Here were my favorite discussions that happened during the party…please chime in with any thoughts you might have as well.

1. The Force Vision/Knights of Ren

When Rey touches Luke’s lightsaber on Takodona, there a bunch of scenes that go by very quickly.  One of them involves what looks like a knights-of-renmassacre by the Knights of Ren, with Kylo leading them with a lightsaber in the rain.  We don’t know where this is or what happened.  Rey sees someone coming towards her who looks like they are about to kill her, but instead gets killed by Kylo Ren.  When Kylo Ren starts stepping towards her, she gets scared and backs up, where the scene immediately shifts to a young Rey being left behind on Jakku with Unkar Plutt dragging her away.

My friend brought up this theory: what if Kylo Ren had, in fact, saved a young Rey (though we are seeing her as an adult) from another Knight of Ren?  That Knight of Ren could have been going to kill Rey as part of the massacre, but Kylo Ren steps in to save her.  He then takes her to Jakku where she is left behind, which would explain why it seems like Kylo Ren knows her.  Why would he save her? That’s the question.  Guilt?  Is he related to her?  If so – why wouldn’t Han recognize her?

When I previously thought about this scene, I thought Rey was seeing some insight into what happened when Kylo Ren turned to the dark side and those were all of Luke’s Jedi pupils.  I never thought about her actually being there, but the more I think about it, the more I like this theory and it seems to make sense.

2.The Force Vision/Artoo Shut Down

This is my theory and I have brought it up before, but it did become a discussion point again at the party.  In the Force vision, we see Luke put a hand on Artoo.  Artoo is clearly “awake” here and not in hibernation.  Is Luke shutting Artoo down and somehow using the Force to make sure the next time he awakes, it will be because of Rey?

This theory is a little far-fetched, but I keep coming back to it, because WHY are they showing Artoo in this vision?  It could be because Abrams wanted to keep Luke as hidden as possible until the end of the movie, but I also don’t think there were any throwaways in this movie.  They could have not had this scene if he wanted Luke to remain hidden.  Why show Artoo?

I believe Artoo was getting some kind of direction here and it is interesting that he is “awakened” just when Rey shows up on D’Qar.

Here’s a video of the Force vision for your reference:

3. Your favorite 15-20 minutes in Star Wars

This was a question someone asked at the end of the party.  What is your favorite 15-20 minutes out of all the Star Wars movies?

I thought that would be hard and there were scenes that flit across my brain very fast as I tried to think of something.  I thought of Amidala speaking to the senate (“I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die…”), I remembered Luke staring out at the binary sunset, I thought about Vader revealing he is Luke’s father, I thought about Rey rescuing BB-8, I remember Order 66, I remember Leia and Han’s exchange before he went into carbonite (“I love you!”  “I know.”), but then one part of the saga stood out to me the most.

My favorite scene in the Star Wars saga would be the end of Return of the Jedi.  Luke is trying to control his emotions but Vader gets to him when he realizes that Luke has a sister and says he will turn her to the dark side.  Luke loses it and goes after Vader with such hatred and bests him in their final lightsaber match.  He cuts of his hand in anger – only to hear the Emperor’s sinister laugh behind him.  The Emperor is sure of his victory; sure that Luke will take Vader’s place.  And then….Luke turns away from the dark side.  Seeing his own hand cut off, he turns to the Emperor and tells him:

You failed your highness.  I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

It makes me want to woop with joy every time I see that scene.  Talk about good triumphing over all!  Talk about doing the right thing even when you know it means death!  Aggggh that scene – everything about it: the lightsabers, the ominous music, the Emperor’s moment of triumph – only to have Luke come out on top and throw away his lightsaber.

The best.  That is, in my eyes, the best scene from the entire saga.

 

My party was wonderful and I had a great time.  It’s the perfect thing for me to look forward to since I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.  This is a way to celebrate my true love in a way that honors it.

I can’t wait until next year’s party.

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.

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.

 

I’m Looking Forward to Rogue One

I haven’t talked much about the new Star Wars anthology films, but let me say – I’m actually looking forward to them.  I think it’s a great way to branch out of the Skywalker family and jump into a much larger galaxy.  If Disney plays it’s cards right, these films could really appeal to more hardcore Star Wars fans, myself included.  They can keep the Sequel Trilogy (is that what we’re calling them?) movies for the masses and fans, but go deeper with the anthology films.

A few weeks ago, Disney/LFL released a cast photo at D23 from the new movie Rogue One.  If anything, this photo made me even more excited.  I have a few hesitations, but overall,  I think it bodes well.

rogue one cast photo

Here’s why I’m excited:

  • It’s a cool storyline. The plot revolves around how the young Rebellion stole the plans for the Death Star, putting into motion what we see in A New Hope.  It’s been mentioned that the movie is going to be more brutal than most Star Wars movies and it’s going to lean more towards a war movie.  “It’s called Star Wars,” emphasized the director [Gareth Edwards].   Edwards is hoping to show us just what the “Wars” in the Star Wars title really means.  This is new and different for Star Wars and I’m actually excited to see it.
  • The leader of the pack is a woman. I love that Felicity Jones is front and center in this photo.  I would make a bet that she is the leader of the pack here and the one in control of the mission.  What I also like is that she is not glammed up.  She looks dirty, real, no skin tight clothing, and just like I would expect an x-wing fighter pilot to look (if they are even flying x-wings).  My only hesitation and concern are that there are no other women in this photo.  I wish there were 1 or 2 more to balance it out, since I don’t like the fact that I noticed she’s the only female.  On the one hand, I love that she seems to be the leader and that Disney/LFL is giving us Rey and now the unnamed Felicity Jones as leads.  But on the other hand, I’d like to see more females so that instead of noticing and applauding the fact that there are female leads, it becomes somewhat more of a normal distribution.  That said – the casting is obviously not done yet, so I’ll see where this goes.
  • Diversity! This is great…look at the cast.  I also love the Japanese samurai influence on Donnie Yen’s costume.  Donnie Yen’s character also looks like he’s blind and from what I know about Yen, he’s an extremely talented martial artist from Hong Kong, so this could be super interesting.  I don’t know much about Jiang Wen or Riz Ahmed (though I heard great things about his performance in Nightcrawler).  I saw Diego Luna in Y tu mamá también but that was a long time ago, so I’m not sure I can be a good judge of that.  Either way – there’s a strong diversity in this main cast.
  • Less Jedi/Force users. Okay, so this isn’t confirmed, but this seems to be a movie that will probably be lacking the Force…though if there is a blind martial artist in the mix, there may very well be some “sleeper” Force talents.  But overall, I believe this movie will focus on characters that don’t have the Force, but are extremely talented fighters.  Normally I’m all about the Jedi and the Force, but with these anthology films, I think it’s a good time to step away from the mythology and take us into real life within the Star Wars universe.

The more I see and learn about this movie, the more I’m excited about it.  Even just looking at the picture, it’s dark, grey, and gritty.  They are emphasizing the difference in tone versus the other Star Wars movies already.  I was nervous about the standalone movies at first because I was thinking they had the chance to be really dumb…and honestly, I’m not as excited about the Solo back story.  I’m interested in it, and I’ll watch it, but I like stepping away from the characters we know and love.

What are your thoughts?  Yay, yay, Rogue One?  Ugh, why a movie on x-wing pilots?  Yawn?

Idolizing the Original Trilogy

I’m getting a little nervous.  It seems like as we move closer and closer to December 18th and this new world of Star Wars (aka post-Disney takeover), the more I realize how much of an emphasis we are placing on the Original Trilogy.

Of course I’m a fan of the OT, but it seems like ever since Disney took over the franchise, they want to bury the Prequel Trilogy six feet underground.

star wars canon timelineIt started with Star Wars Rebels that takes place 5 years before the Original Trilogy.  This is leading us up to The Force Awakens, set around 30 years after the Original Trilogy.

We then have news of the first in the Anthology series, Rogue One, which will take place before A New Hope (no one seems to be quite certain on how soon before) and it involves stealing the Death Star Plans…which is basically what all of ANH revolves around.

Most Star Wars comics and books that are part of the new unified canon since Disney has come onboard take place after ROTS.  The only novel prior to ROTS is Dark Disciple, released next month that follows the unfinished story of Asajj Ventress.

I understand where Disney is coming from.  They want to play it safe and they want to start with a bang.  George Lucas, unfortunately, ruined the beloved Star Wars universe for many die hard fans when he brought the Prequel Trilogy into the world.  It was so different from the OT that it was almost a whole new breed of sci-fi movies, almost unrelated to the Star Wars universe they knew and loved.

But what Disney is currently staying away from, and what I hope they realize eventually, is that the PT also brought Star Wars to a whole new generation of fans, myself included.  I had seen the OT before, but I didn’t fall in love with Star Wars until I saw The Phantom Menace – many fans least favorite film of the Saga.

Let me phrase it this way:

The Original Trilogy is a universe I could see myself living in.  The Prequel Trilogy is a universe that I hope to someday live in.

The PT was clean, had interesting costumes, the ships were sleek, shiny, and new, and we got to see a government that star wars nubian prequel shiphad functioned for thousands of years crumble to the ground.  It was a universe of the future, even if it was the past in the complete Star Wars saga.

My main concern is that I don’t want Disney to forget that the Prequels are part of Star Wars too.  I know I’ve said this multiple times, but when you love something, you love the whole thing – good and bad.  I admit the Prequels are definitely not as strong as the Originals, nor are they as good as a whole.  That doesn’t mean that I think we should lock them in a broom cupboard and hope no one knows they exist à la Harry Potter style.  If anything, we should embrace those movies and if Disney really wanted to, perhaps they could work on repairing some of the damage that was done to the reputation of the PT and make it almost as beloved as the OT through Anthology movies and Expanded Universe releases.

I believe strongly that the PT universe has a lot of potential to breed very, very interesting stories, while still appealing to the Prequel haters.  The Jedi could produce an interesting action movie; we saw examples in The Clone Wars.  Any bounty hunter during this time would be interesting to watch from AOTC all the way to the fall of the Republic.  I’m guessing bounty hunters probably flourished more when the Republic was dismantled so seeing that transition could be fascinating.  There’s a lot you could do with that time period and I hope that Disney realizes this and explores the Prequel era with Anthology movies.

If there’s one thing I know, if you stretch an elastic too tight, eventually it will snap back.  The extreme focus on the OT time period will hopefully ultimately lead to an extreme snap back and willingness to re-open the Prequels.