So Love Has Blinded You?

Over the past week I have come to the realization that if I connect with a character in a deep and meaningful way in a Star Wars movie, I become blind to almost all the other flaws within the movie.

I came to this realization primarily with two movies of the Saga:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. The Force Awakens

 

The Phantom Menace

 

With the Phantom Menace, my obsession is with Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon opened up a world to me that didn’t exist prior to the Prequels, and more specifically, the world of the Jedi as a functioning unit/organization.

I loved it. But it was peculiar because I loved Qui-Gon and didn’t care about any of the other Jedi on the Council or within the movie. Obi-Wan generated a shrug and “whatever” attitude from me, but I was obsessed with Qui-Gon.

I think the reason is two-fold: 1) Qui-Gon is a Jedi so therefore he follows some kind of moral compass , but 2) he is not on the council because he does not completely follow the Code and that is deliberate because he marches to the beat of his own drum.

I adored everything Qui-Gon said and did in The Phantom Menace…and I still do. I don’t understand why people dislike TPM because I’m blinded by the fact that Qui-Gon is in the movie and takes the movie to the next level.

There are flaws in TPM though, just like any other movie but there are glaring issues. I never realized this until this weekend when I saw that I have the same predicament with The Force Awakens.

Here are what I believe are the main issues with TPM. Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m only just coming to these realizations this weekend when I tried to take an objective look at the movie.

  1. The characters. If you’re a fan who grew up with the OT, the characters of TPM seem stale, lacking in warmth and connection, and they are not relatable. Whereas with the OT, we can kind of see ourselves in each of the three heroes shoes, with the PT, unless perhaps you followed a political career path, the characters seem less at ease and more distant. And don’t get people started on Jar Jar Binks (though I don’t really mind him but can understand why some people do).
  2. The politics. I have noticed this one before and have written about it. The movie is bogged down in politics to the point that it may become suffocating for some people. There is no simple (or even really linear) plot as everything is shrouded under Trade Federations, senate issues, etc.
  3. Droids. The droids were not as menacing as they should have been. The Destroyers did the job well but the Battle Droids came off comical. Where’s the fear that people had of the Empire? It’s not there in TPM, in fact, other than Darth Maul, there’s no real fear of the Trade Federation.
  4. No greater cause. With the OT, it felt like they Rebels were fighting for something real and a greater cause for the galaxy. In TPM, that essence is missing. There’s no overarching big bad guy to fight.

 

I’m only trying to play devil’s advocate here as many of you know how much I love TPM. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw in theaters and I thought it was amazing. I love that the main character is a child and there are numerous GOOD things about the movie.

But, I also came to realize that when digging deep on why I like TPM it all comes back to Qui-Gon. I blabber on about the Old Republic and the Jedi, but at my core, it’s all about Qui-Gon. He has blinded me to faults within TPM.

 

The Force Awakens

 

I had a very interesting Twitter discussion this weekend with other Star Wars fans. I learned that most hardcore fans are NOT looking forward to the Han Solo movie (this was also slightly confirmed in blog comments from last Friday). On top of that, what I thought was a minority of fans dissatisfied with Disney and the new movies, it’s actually a lot larger and the frustration runs a lot deeper than I had originally assumed.

I know there are people who did not enjoy The Force Awakens and as I was (am) a lot older when I saw TFA vs. TPM, I’m more aware of the issues in present time, instead of finding out years later.

However, I have a similar issue with TFA that I did with TPM: I love Rey. I love her more than I love Qui-Gon. She’s a female character who is relatable, but she can also fight and use the Force. She is strong without falling into a stereotype of a bland, physically strong female protagonist who has no emotion. I loved the character so much that I named my daughter with Rey as her middle name.

People bring to my attention all kinds of flaws with TFA and I have been able to argue or rationalize all the problems. I try to convince people that the movie is actually quite good and they are being bullheaded. But is the movie good? Or is my love for Rey blinding my love for the movie?

Tweeting this weekend with other fans made me take a step back and realize that TFA has some pretty major flaws.

  1. Too similar to A New Hope. This is obvious and even I couldn’t deny this one. The movie practically copies ANH in every way possible, to the point that even my beloved main character comes from a desert planet. Really? Starkiller Base is a bigger, badder Death Star…that gets blown up by the Resistance. Resistance sounds too similar to Rebellion. At least the Empire got a makeover in their name.
  2. Our 3 main heroes never get screen time. If you are going to go to such lengths to copy ANH and pay homage to the movie, why didn’t you give our 3 heroes some screen time together? If everyone survived, we could have maybe hoped for a reunion further down but that has been revoked with Solo’s death and the real death of Carrie Fisher.
  3. Politics…or lack thereof. Whereas TPM delved into politics TOO much, TFA goes in the extreme opposite direction where we have no understanding of the current political climate. At least within ANH we had some mumbles about the Imperial Senate and we understood Empire vs. Rebellion. In TFA there was Republic, a Resistance, and a First Order…but the First Order sounds kind of small? Or is it large? And is the First Order now the opposition group, like the Rebellion was?
  4. Too much convenience. Rey learns to use the Force very quickly. Artoo wakes up at the most convenient time. Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber magically appears at the right moment with no explanation of where it came from. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that you can accept when you see a movie, especially one in the sci-fi category, but TFA leaped and jumped over that line. Perhaps we will get all the explanations later, but if not, this is a glaring problem.

 

I have stood up to people’s complaints about TFA just as I did with TPM, but this weekend, I had to admit and accept that both movies have a lot of flaws. Would I love TPM or TFA as much if Qui-Gon and Rey were not in them? That’s where I bite my lip and think…no, probably not.

Qui-Gon was not in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith and I do not enjoy the movies as much as I enjoy TPM. I actually reallllly don’t like AOTC and I enjoy ROTS but it’s not something I usually pull out to watch at odd times like I do with TPM.

With the future Sequel Movies, I get nervous that they won’t capture Rey’s essence as well as they did in TFA. I worry that there will be no character development or that she will become the Hollywood stereotype of a “strong female character” instead of, well, just, Rey. At least there is hope for The Last Jedi and Episode IX, whereas the Prequels are over and done with.

 

Tell me – have you ever loved a character (any movie, doesn’t have to be Star Wars) so much that it’s blinded you to shortcomings in the movie?

Taken From Birth

A lot of my thoughts have lately been around my child (obviously) who is now three months old and how much they really do take over your life.  While the first eight weeks felt stagnant and like I was pouring in energy and getting nothing back, I now see changes each and every day and feel like she is growing so fast.

The first eight weeks was tough.  Yeah, it was really tough.  I began to think about how they did it in a galaxy far, far away.  Did they have droids to help them?  Like, babysitting droids?  Droids that somehow knew the magic touch to calm the baby?

All these meandering thoughts led me to think about the Jedi and the First Order Stormtroopers.

Qui Gon says to Shmi (in regards to Anakin):

Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early, and he would have become Jedi…

General Hux counters Kylo:

My men are exceptionally trained — programmed from birth.

I’ve always admired the Jedi, though as I have gotten older I have seen their many flaws as an organization.  But all this thinking led me to wonder: how different are the Stormtroopers from the Jedi?

jedi younglingsWith the Jedi, I found some information online that says the parent’s permission was always asked, but once the child’s mind was opened to the Force, the parent could not take them back.  However, all this was wiped out with the new Disney canon so we essentially don’t know much about the subject of how the young were actually initiated into becoming a Jedi.

The Jedi Order is supposed to be good and uphold justice in the galaxy.  Yet they had a way of identifying young babies, or children, and taking them from their parents to become a Jedi.  I feel conflicted about this.  It seems almost selfish for a parent to refuse to give up their child to become a Jedi since it’s for the greater good of the galaxy.  When you think of how large the Star Wars galaxy is and how few Jedi there are in relation to the number of sentient beings – there aren’t that many Jedi.  At the same time – it’s your child.  How could you be expected to give it up?  Ever?  I look at ARM and I sometimes wonder to myself if I would be able to give her up if Jedi came knocking on my door.  I understand Shmi’s pain a lot better now when she said, “Don’t look back.”

It’s not just your child you’re giving up, you’re giving up your future.  Dreams and plans you had for them.  Little moments that you’ll never get to see.  You’re not allowed to visit them and they will never know who you are.

Then I began to think…is that more or less cruel than General Hux and his stormtroopers?

I’m assuming that Hux doesn’t give a choice to the parents and he wrenches the babies from them.  Then those children are spoon fed First Order young stormtrooperspropaganda day in and day out to make them completely loyal to the First Order.  Their whole life, all they know is the First Order and they live, breathe, and die for the First Order.

Is that really so different from the Jedi?  There are nuances but I find that they feel eerily similar to me.

Both are taken from birth to serve a higher order and both are entrenched in the doctrine of what they serve.  Creepy, right?

In the end, what slightly mollified me was remembering Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order at the end of The Clone Wars.  I realized that despite the similarities, the Jedi offered something the First Order did not: a choice.  As a Jedi, you had the option to leave the Jedi Order.  If you wanted to give up your life as a Jedi when you got old enough, you were allowed to leave.

I have now begun to wonder if the Jedi who left ever went back to find their family.  If they found them, would they ask why they made the decision to let them go?  Or how hard it was?

The more I think about the Jedi Order, the more jaded I become with them at times.  But did the Jedi do what was right for them as an organization?  Had this been tried and tested many times over the years and they realized that younger children were better to train than older?  Yet, couldn’t there have been a balance between allowing them to know and love their parents while also training to be a Jedi?  Though attachment was forbidden, could it possibly have made them better Jedi in the end (an argument I strongly stand by)?

I don’t have any answers but I do realize now how hard it would be to let my child be taken by strangers, even if they were Jedi.  I’m not sure I could do it, even with how much I love Jedi.  Perhaps that’s the real reason why they had such small numbers – maybe more people had the Force than we know, it’s just that their parents didn’t want to give them up.  😉