Doing What’s Right

I’ll be back with my haikus eventually, but for now…

This is more of a personal thing that I’m throwing out there and would like everyone’s thoughts/stories on.

 

Has there ever been a situation where you had to do the right thing even though it was really hard? It could have been unpopular or people could have judged or even had loved ones disagree with you?

In the past week or two, I’ve had to do things that I know are right in my personal life, but it hasn’t been winning me any favors. It’s been hard – especially as people close to me say, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” or “Do you have to do that?” or “Why are you doing that?”

But I know, in my heart, it’s the right thing to do.

I think it helps that I was raised by two very conservative Christians who always were about doing “the right thing”. However, Star Wars has been such a huge influence in my life that I often turn to that legacy and story to see what my favorite characters would do.

One of my favorite moments is when Luke leaves Dagobah to rescue Han and Leia. Both Obi-Wan and Yoda warned against it and thought he should stay to complete more training. He didn’t listen to them and decided to go his own way. It was hard and I wonder if when he was dangling from Cloud City, he thought, “Oh man, I was an idiot.”

I also think about Queen Amidala, who stood up to an entire senate to fight for her people. When she decided to go back to Naboo and was warned against it, she went anyway because that’s where her people were.

I think about Qui-Gon who defied the Council and took Anakin on as his Padawan learner. It’s still debatable on if that was a good choice, but he followed what he believed was right and I give him credit for that.

I think about Leia whose belief that good can conquer all is why she is still in the same battle years after she thought the war had been won. She faces down her only son on the opposite side of the battlefield because she believes in what she is doing so strongly. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could do that. Would I be able to stand against my own child in such strong opposition? I’m not saying I would join them, but I could remove myself from the situation as I’d be too emotionally linked to make good decisions. But the Resistance has so much faith in her that they still accept her leadership without question, knowing that she is on their side.

I look to Rey who has become one of my favorite characters. She left Luke and his subpar training (yes, I believe it was subpar) on Ahch-To because she believed that she could save Kylo Ren. Her belief in doing what was right mirrored what Luke did all those years ago when he left Yoda on Dagobah.

 

So. Tell me. Have you been in a situation before where you had to do what was right even though it was hard? I need some…support.

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TLJ: The Remaining Jedi

This is Part II of IV in an ongoing series where I review The Last Jedi.

 

While we were dealing with the desperate escape of the Resistance, there does not seem to be much optimism with the Rey/Luke storyline, where she tries to convince Luke to return and give the galaxy hope. Luke seems to be determined not to give the galaxy anything, instead he would rather brood on an island, drinking the milk of Thala Sirens. (Really? Did we need that scene?)

Luke

I really wanted to be convinced that the explanation for why Luke was isolated and in hiding was a legitimate reason. I think they convinced me at about 70%. I understood Luke’s shame and his reason for ending the Jedi Order. In fact, that was one thing I strongly came away with from this movie – maybe it was good that the Jedi Order ended. The references to the Prequels and how Sidious masterminded the destruction of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire was a nice nod. To galaxy inhabitants, it was almost 100 years ago (almost, but not quite) and the galaxy had built the Jedi Order and Luke into a legend. By ending the Jedi Order, it opens up a new realm for the way the Force flows. Perhaps there is no dark and light, but a combination of both. I’m hoping they explore that in greater depth in IX.

I understood Luke’s fleeting moment of wanting to kill Kylo because of the dark he saw in him and then the immediate, but too late, regret. It’s kind of like when I’m very, very irritated by something in my business or an email I get and would really love to take my computer and smash it. Like that – but on a much larger scale, haha.

What I don’t understand is why he deserted his friends and family because of this. I could not match that up with the Luke from the OT. Even in ROTJ, where he is much more serious than the previous movies, he still has that optimism within himself. And for someone who spent 20 years of his life yearning to know his real family, I doubt he would have given up on Leia and disappeared on her.

Some of me is also frustrated with the end of the movie and the weird Force holograms. It takes away from his awesomeness. I feel like if he had actually gone to Crait with Rey, instead of being stubborn…all that would have been SO much cooler. Instead, the Force vision/hologram thing cheapens everything a bit. It’s a minor point and I wasn’t as annoyed by it the second time I watched it, but I mean – wouldn’t it have been way cooler if he actually fought Kylo in person?

It is what it is and I reluctantly accept his story line, but I wanted to voice my opinions here. It’s just going to take me a while to believe in it. All that aside, I was happy to see Yoda join Luke for a few moments. It felt like a reunion between old friends…almost as if not much had to be said because they had kind of been with each other the entire time.

Rey

Thank you, Johnson, for not ruining Rey’s character. Thank you for keeping her real and a hero to look up to. I enjoyed her perseverance in getting Luke to come back to the Resistance, but what I most enjoyed were her chats with Kylo Ren. At first it threw me for a loop (as I’m sure it did with many fans) but then I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed her flirtation with Ben but also her flirtation with the dark side throughout the movie. She was trying to understand everything and where she fit into the entire picture.

Rey was unashamed of her call to the dark and confronted it. A few times in this movie, she was invited to the dark side of the Force but did not fall. It had me thinking that perhaps it’s just the lust for power that skews you toward the dark side. Or perhaps you always lean one way or another, but if there is opposition, then there is balance. Kyle Ren is not wholly bad. Rey is not wholly good. Both are heavier in one direction but maybe there is no need for such strict delineation between both.

Rey was a shining example in this movie of always doing what was right, even when it was hard. She didn’t give up on Luke, but she did give up on the training when she knew it was no longer the right path for her. She didn’t join with Kylo Ren after he defeated Snoke, though it was tempting, especially as he tells her that her parents were nobodies and she was a nobody…but not to him.

It was interesting to watch Rey grapple with who she was and who her family was the entire movie. It was almost as if Johnson wanted to say, “Rey’s a nobody, and are you okay with her being a nobody?” There are many fans out there who refuse to accept this is true. There’s a possibility that Abrams may reverse this in the next movie as all we have is Kylo Ren’s word that Rey’s parents were not anyone important.

Even though I rooted for Rey to a be a Skywalker, I also think this could be a good direction to go in. The movie was saying, “Enough with the Skywalkers. You don’t have to be a Skywalker to do great things.” And I believe them. After all, wasn’t Anakin a nobody?

 

Do you think Rey is a nobody? Or do you think there is more to her story that Ben did not tell us?

Machete Theory: Review

I did it. I watched 7 Star Wars movies over 7 weekends. You may be thinking, “Really? That’s a feat?”

Yes. Why yes, it is.

I have a 19-month-old toddler. I run my own business and I’m up early in the morning working and late at night working. We bought a new house that we have been working on. It is the Christmas season.

Dammit, yes, 7 movies in 7 weekends is a lot!

If you remember, I decided to prep for The Last Jedi by watching every Star Wars saga movie in the Machete Theory order.

To recap, I watched them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII. This is not the original Machete Order, but my version because I love TPM and TFA is a new addition.

I also tried to pretend I was watching these movies for the first time and being introduced to Star Wars as a rookie. (This is important as many people suggest showing your children the movies in this order or to people who have not seen the movies.)

My verdict? I was not impressed. In fact, I’m not sure I liked this viewing sequence. I’m happy I did it, to finally get it out of the way because I’ve been obsessed with it for a while, but I won’t do it again.

There are few reasons here. (Excuse my lists lately on blog posts; they help me organize my thoughts cohesively)

  1. It doesn’t make sense.
  2. The flow is horrible.
  3. You can’t get strongly connected to the characters.

 

Before going more into detail on the above points, I do want to point out one tremendous pro to the Machete Order: You get more invested in Anakin as a character.

This is, after all, the point of the Machete viewing. You follow Anakin’s story much closer than you do if you split the trilogies up. I find the character fascinating but I’ve never had the connection I feel for, say, Luke or Rey. Yet over these past few weeks, I’ve understood more about Anakin than I ever have when I watched the movies as single one-offs.

For that reason alone, I do say every fan should try watching the movies in this specific order at least once in their life.

Now onto why I wouldn’t watch it in this order again.

 

It Doesn’t Make Sense

This was the biggest surprise for me. If you are watching the order in Machete style for the first time, you do not know who Anakin Skywalker is.

Think about it:

  1. ANH – Kenobi mentions a pupil named Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father.
  2. ESB – It is revealed Vader is Luke’s father. We don’t know his first name. (***Please note, I am referring to the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL version of ESB. The scene when Vader speaks to the Emperor via hologram is later edited in the DVD versions to include Anakin’s name)
  3. TPM – Anakin’s full name is not mentioned until…get this…the podracing scene where they refer to him as a “late entry” to the race. He introduces himself as Anakin quickly to Padme in the angel scene and his name is mentioned when Padme says goodbye. It’s not until the podracing scene that they say his full name is Anakin Skywalker. There are a lot more mentions of his last name during the podracing scene, which helps, but right now, I would believe we were following Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin’s.
  4. AOTC – Suppose I skip TPM and follow the original Machete order. We still run into the problem that Anakin’s last name is not mentioned in relation to him! It’s worse than TPM as the only time we run into his last name is when he is looking for his mother.
  5. ROTS – By this point, it evens out and we understand that Anakin’s last name is Skywalker.

As you can see, this is a big problem. If you are watching Star Wars for the first time, it is essential that you understand that Anakin is Luke’s father. The Leia surprise can wait, but it’s vital to the viewing of the Saga to understand who Anakin is. By watching the Machete Order, it would take a long time to understand that Anakin was the father to Luke. Like I mentioned, while watching it this way, I believed I was seeing the story of Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin.

The Flow

There is a reason the audience should watch them I-III or IV-VI, and then VII separately. The most obvious reason are the special effects. The special effects make such a big difference on how we view the movies and I often forget that since I’m so entrenched in the mythology and story of Star Wars.

The Original Trilogy has more of a slow, plot-driven feel to it. Even though the special effects are good, it’s an older movie now and I find myself trying to follow along with figuring out who the Empire is versus the Rebellion. The redeeming part is that the basic plot is easy to understand and the characters are very relatable.

After watching ANH and Empire, I jumped into TPM, AOTC and ROTS. It was very jarring and slightly absurd. With ANH and ESB, I felt like the plot was relatively easy to follow. When I went into TPM – I couldn’t understand a thing. It was much faster; the effects they used made the movie seem like BANG! KAPOW! ZOOM! It made the saga seem disjointed and there are so many new characters. Most of the characters we focus on from the OT are Luke, Leia, Han, Vader, Kenobi, the droids, and Yoda. In The PT we have bounty hunters, the Jedi Council, multiple senators, Jar Jar, and a new species in each movie.

The flow when watching in this order didn’t fit well together. Lucas created these pieces of art in two different times in his life and wanted them to represent two different times of the galaxy. When watching it as a newcomer, it is irritating and it was hard to get into the PT after coming from the OT.

 

Connecting to Characters

This relates to my above point about the flow. One of the greatest parts about Star Wars are the characters. It’s very hard to get a lasting connection to the characters when they are chopped up from their trilogies. There is a lot of character development in the OT, and by taking ROTJ out of its place following IV and V, you get disconnected from some of the greatest feelings you may have when watching the OT whole. By ESB, you are really rooting for the characters. When you turn heel, and move to the PT, you must rework your feelings and do a 180 to understand a completely new set of people.

As with the different flow, the variety of environments and new faces make it hard to really feel for anyone except Yoda and Obi-Wan in the PT. I would also argue that it’s harder to connect to characters in the PT than in the OT. I believe, again, this is because the OT feels a lot more plot and character driven than the PT, which relies more on events to drive the movies.

 

As for TFA, I did not feel strongly one way or another about it, as it followed in the correct sequential order. The one note I did have, however, was I believe it is more different from ANH than I sometimes think. Broadly, yes, it pulled from ANH often. But minutely, not so much. There are enough differences to make it feel like the start of a new trilogy, but still within the same universe.

 

All that aside, if you watch the Machete Order as a seasoned fan, I think it can be enjoyable. I gained new experiences and felt deeply for Anakin in a different way than I had before.

If anything, if you choose not to explore watching the movies this way, I do recommend at some point watching ROTS followed by ROTJ. It was refreshing to watch Anakin’s fall and then his redemption within those two movies.

 

And now ladies and gents…onto The Last Jedi.

Breaking Bread in Star Wars

In Game of Thrones, the significance of meals, soups, and stews cannot be overlooked. I love that important events happen around the table and eating: Joffrey gets murdered/poisoned during feast, the Red Wedding takes place during another feast, many of Olenna Tyrell’s witty and strong speeches are given over food, and some of the secret meetings often involve wine and tea cakes.

Food, in general, plays an important role in literature. Think about Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter’s tea party or Chocolat where chocolate drives village folk to break their Lenten vows. How about Macbeth when he comes newly to the crown and has a feast (complete with scary visions)? And let’s not forget how Harry Potter was denied the ability to sit with his family to eat; often food was shoved into his broom cupboard, or later, his upstairs room, representing a denial of familial blood/bonds.

This of course got me thinking…what about Star Wars? Does Lucas put the same emphasis on meals as our literary friends? I’m going to take a look at the most important scenes involving food.

Let’s analyze!

 

Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The most important meal scene here would be when Qui-Gon, Padmé, and Jar Jar take refuge with Anakin and Shmi on Tatooine due to the sandstorm. This scene is very essential as it ties together some speculations, as we see Qui-Gon revealing to Anakin that he is a Jedi and Qui-Gon’s speculation that Anaking has Jedi reflexes due to the fact that he can drive (fly?) a podracer.

In one sense, it’s a meeting of the past and future. We see the old way of life and the Jedi Order with Qui-Gon Jinn. We see the future and the change in the galaxy with the meeting of this boy.

It’s also a moment where rich and poor come together. We see this clearly with Padmé who doesn’t understand slavery still exists, juxtaposed against Shmi who probably views her as a little naïve for not understanding the Outer Rim.

 

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

There are two specific meal scenes I want to focus on (sadly, I’d like to focus on when Anakin meets Padmé’s family, but since that was a deleted scene, I will keep it out of the picture (pun!)).

Meal 1: Anakin and Padmé on the Coruscant Freighter to Naboo

This is the first time we see Anakin and Padmé have a real, adult conversation that digs a little deeper into the Jedi life. Padmé teases the surface to see if Anakin’s flirtation could ever turn into something more substantial. We see them connect more as adults on an even playing field, versus what was happening earlier when Padmé was still trying to distance herself as the older and “wiser” of the two.

Here, too, there’s a connection of two different worlds and lifestyles meeting each other. There is the secular, political world which Padmé is a part of and the reclusive, temperate world that Anakin has sworn his life to.

Meal 2: Anakin and Padmé on Naboo

This meal is almost as if our characters were leveling up in a video game. They’ve approached each other with caution in Meal 1 and now they’re sparring flirtatiously (or should I say they’re having aggressive negotiations?) in Meal 2. The walls separating their worlds between them both have melted away a bit. Anakin now teases the Jedi and his master, Obi-Wan, slowly pushing aside their world. We see Padmé begin to pull Anakin into her world: not only are they literally on Naboo, her home planet, but also figuratively as he begins to grow more in love with her as a person.

Instead of two worlds meeting, we have two lives overlapping. This scene reminds me of a Venn diagram: Padmé, politics, wealth on one side with Anakin, Jedi, and isolation on another.

 

Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Nothing to note.

 

Rogue One

Nothing to note.

 

Episode IV – A New Hope

The only scene in this movie with a meal involves Luke conversing with Uncle Owen while Aunt Beru silently watches the exchange. It’s here where we find out that Luke has a father, who for some reason, is mysterious and not much is known about him. Luke also vents frustration about staying on Tatooine for another harvest.

The meal itself seems normal enough if you’ve ever had a meal with a teenager, but the difference with this meal is the emphasis on Luke’s father. Luke is clearly interested in knowing more and is intrigued by the detail that Old Ben knew him, but Uncle Owen squashes that conversation quickly.

The main difference in this meal is that while the meals in the Prequels are pulling people together, this meal seems to be pushing people apart.

 

Episode V – Empire Strikes Back

Meal 1 – Luke eats a meal in Yoda’s hut

Again, similar to ANH, this meal is one of discord and tension as opposed to harmony. Luke is impatient and wants to find a Jedi Master. This little green being has invited Luke into his home and is trying to be hospitable, to bring warmth and friendliness to the meal, but all Luke wants to do is leave. How horrible! It reflects so poorly on him. Yoda also seems to be gauging Luke to see if he will open up to becoming more patient and is testing him.

Instead, the meal falls apart to the point that when Yoda is revealed to Luke, Yoda almost refuses to train him. The two Force-sensitive beings are pushing apart at this meal instead of coming together as they should be to save the galaxy.

Meal 2 – Lando’s betrayal

There’s not much to this meal time, but damn is it memorable. This is the Star Wars version of the Red Wedding. Han and Leia think they are going to a friendly meal with Lando, only to find that he betrayed them all.

Interestingly though, this is the first and only time we really see formal dining in the Star Wars movies. If anyone is wondering how the meal turned out, you should watch this version.

Out of all the meals in the Star Wars movies, this has to be the biggest antithesis of what meal times should be. Meals should be about coming together, letting bygones be bygones (temporarily) and as we saw in the Prequels, worlds meeting in a friendly manner.

We definitely have different worlds meeting together in this meal, but it is the opposite of opening your mind, sharing warm conversations, and attempting to be friendly.

The Empire and the Rebellion stirred together with some betrayal left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. (That was the greatest line I’ve ever typed)

 

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Though not necessarily a meal, I wanted to include the scene of Leia handing Wicket the rice cake because it speaks back to my theme of bringing different worlds together. In this instance, which is different from the Prequels, Leia’s act of sharing a meal with someone completely different is what saves her life and topples the Empire.

It is often mentioned that food is a great way to bring together different cultures, even if they cannot speak the same language. We see this with Wicket and Leia on Endor. Despite their differences, the food helps Wicket overcome his hesitation to befriend Leia. In turn, he helps her take down a scout trooper and she goes with Wicket to his village. This helps her save her friends (who were also going to actually become the meal), disable the shield around the Death Star and bring down the Empire. And this all became possible because of a rice cake, imagine that.

 

Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Meal 1 – Rey’s solitary meal

For obvious reasons, this meal was shown to emphasize that Rey was alone. She was a girl on a lonely, desolate planet. I think this meal, though it could have been cut from the movie, was important to show us how isolated she was on Jakku.

In some ways, eating meals by ourselves is sometimes viewed by others with pity. Not many people go to restaurants alone, and even eating at your desk sometimes feels a little shameful. As human beings, we were meant to eat as part of a community. Though, in some ways, I think the American culture has forgotten (or ignored this as we prefer to place an emphasis on being busy), we still put an importance on eating together on holidays.  At our root, our cultures like to take coffee breaks, tea breaks, water cooler breaks,  so that we have a chance to connect with other beings.

Rey’s act of eating alone in a desert (another place that often symbolizes lack of life) forces us to acknowledge how secluded she is.

Meal 2 – Maz Kanata’s castle

This meal mirrors the meal from TPM slightly. We have four people from greatly different worlds, pulled together around a table for a meal. Whereas TPM was a happen chance, this meal was forced by Han Solo. Finn is an ex-First Order Stormtrooper, Rey is a loner from Jakku, Han is a smuggler, and Maz is…a Force-sensitive being (and totally also a hoarder – say what you want, but if you read any description of her, she belongs on TLC).

This meal is a meeting of the worlds, but not an overlap. Everyone still has their boundaries firmly in place once they leave. Yet here at this meal, they learn a little bit more about themselves. Instead of learning about others as we saw in most of the meals in Star Wars, they each understand a bit more about who they are and what they may have to do.

 

I was hoping to come away from this analysis feeling like there was a deliberate reason for each meal scene in Star Wars. I think that’s the case for some, but not all.

What I enjoyed observing the most was that the meals in the Prequels were focused on bringing together people from very different ways of life, into an open discussion and understanding of each other.

With the Original Trilogy, meal times were focused more on strife, discord, and a sense of unbalance. The meals highlighted tension for our characters and the larger political scene at large. Leia’s sharing of the rice cake with Wicket is the only instance in the OT where we see something closer to what we saw in the PT.

With TFA, I think the meal scenes were much more deliberate and placed within the movie for a reason: to help us understand the characters better.

 

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, food plays an important part in our lives. Though we love to gather around our tables and eat during the holiday season, do we also keep an open mind and realize that at any meal, we have a meeting of the worlds? Do we try to keep ourselves from discord and tension (and hopefully betrayal)?

 

Did I miss any meals that you think should be part of this list?

 

Haiku Me Friday! I can’t relate to Obi-Wan

The pain sears through me
I’m filled with horror and shock
I thought I knew him

I can’t imagine what Obi-Wan went through when he realized that Anakin was the one who killed the Jedi in the Temple. There are times, even though this is in a galaxy far away, where I can somewhat relate to the characters.

I relate to Luke staring out at the sunset and yearning for something more. I relate to Padmé’s drive to believe the good in her husband. I relate to Leia’s decisive personality. I relate to Rey’s loyalty to her friends. I relate to Finn’s lies to cover up who he really is.

But I cannot relate to Obi-Wan when he finds out that Anakin has turned to the dark side. Not only turned to the dark side, but killed numerous in Jedi in the temple. In fact, when I think about it, there are very few moments that I do relate to Obi-Wan throughout the saga. I can understand why he is some people’s favorite character, but he’s not mine. The only moment I have ever been able to relate to Obi-Wan is when he is arguing with Qui-Gon about training Anakin. I’m a stickler for rules, so I understand his pushback to Qui-Gon’s stubbornness.

Yet, this betrayal of Anakin to Obi-Wan goes deeper than many of us have ever experienced or will experience. When thinking about the feelings he must feel, the only thing that may come close is if I found out my husband was cheating on me with multiple women and then murdered them all. Gruesome, right? I don’t even like thinking about it but it was the closest train of thought I could go down that might possibly provide the same feelings.

Not only is Anakin’s betrayal a betrayal of the Jedi and a way of life, he was also his best friend. He was someone whom he trusted and loved. And this trust is different from a trust that you or I might have with a friend – they were in situations where they constantly trusted each other with their lives.

I always watch their last exchange before Anakin turned with a pang of sadness. Watch it one more time:

When Obi-Wan says, “Goodbye, old friend,” is the Force that speaks through him that gives him a touch of foreshadowing?

And what about Anakin’s looks? He apologizes for his behavior but as Obi-Wan leaves, is that … defiance? Anger simmering below? Resentment? Conflict? There’s something there and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Obi-Wan leaves with kind, wise words of encouragement in their last conversation. This is his last impression of Anakin before Order 66. It’s so painful. He truly, really believes in Anakin, which is what makes this scene of realization hard to watch. Yoda understands right away, but Obi-Wan does not want to. The denial is there. “Who could have done this?” he asks Yoda as they walk through the temple. Yet, as they continue their walk through and recalibrate the code, he knows. How he knows, I’m not entirely sure. The Force, most likely.

And I can’t imagine how he feels when it’s confirmed. I know there are people in this world who have suffered atrocities at the hands of loved ones, and perhaps they can watch this scene with greater understanding. I am lucky enough that I hope to never, ever relate to Obi-Wan in this scene.

 

How have you processed this scene? Can you relate to Obi-Wan (no need to share)? Have you ever had a good friend betray you in an irrevocable way?