Jump to content
  • entries
    1,071
  • comments
    2,375
  • views
    404,217

Long Live The Resistance

Ta-metru_defender

354 views

Essays, Not Rants! 299: Long Live The Resistance

 

It's really easy to see the original Star Wars as an anti-establishment film. Han, Luke, and Leia are a trio of rebels vying to undermine and overthrow the Man. And given that the movie is a product of the 70s, it just might be intentional. Empire has the Man crackdown on our plucky heroes, and Return of The Jedi culminates in the final usurpation.

 

Of course, within this framework, any story about plucky rebels can be interpreted as anti-establishment. Mega Man Zero is about Zero and the Resistance exposing Neo Arcadia for the dystopia it is. The Matrix has Neo fighting back against the humanity-controlling Machines. Harry Potter and his friends form Dumbledore’s Army to take on Umbridge.

 

But antiestablishmentarianism is in Star Wars’ DNA, and not just as an idea as in some other examples. And for that, you need look no further than the prequels.

 

Which, sounds kinda odd, because the heroes in the prequels are part of the establishment. The Jedi Order is in full swing and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are members. Padmé is a Queen and a Senator. On the other hand, Tatooine, a planet beyond the reach of the Republic, is a lawless land of slavery. The villainous Confederacy is trying to destroy the peaceful Republic. Ostensibly, it’s the inverse of the original trilogy’s ethos.

 

But the prequels are about the fall of the Republic. And it is not brought down by an external resistance: it is brought down from within. For all the fighting the Confederacy does, they don’t destroy the Republic. The Republic is a corrupt system, full of infighting that prevents anything from being done (as we see with Naboo’s blockade in Phantom Menace). The Jedi Order is all too ready to make the jump from peacekeepers to generals. The Republic is not a good thing: it is old and decrepit, and its conversion into the Empire is a product of its own failings. In the prequels, the heroes may be servants of the establishment, but the establishment is not a good thing. Revenge of The Sith has the Senate, who our heroes have been championing, capitulating to Darth Sidious. No, the prequels don't have Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padmé fighting the Man, instead their loyalty to the establishment is their undoing.

 

The recent movies carry on this point of view. The New Republic in The Force Awakens doesn't believe the First Order to be a credible threat and are so destroyed, leaving Leia and her Resistance to fight on. They were, to an extent, abandoned by the establishment and left to fend for themselves. Rogue One speaks for itself (if you need a reminder: ragtag team of diverse nobodies take on a monolithic empire).

 

So Star Wars is decidedly anti-establishment. Cool.

 

The Last Jedi, however, embraces this ethos with an unrivaled vigor. In the bigger, meta scheme of things, Star Wars is now the establishment. It's no longer this weird sci-fi movie that mixes together westerns, samurai films, and Flash Gordon serials; it's its own thing and its heroes pop culture legends. So The Last Jedi sets out to deconstruct a lot of Star Wars’ tropes, this time turning its anti-establishment lens on its own heroes. The establishment in The Last Jedi takes the form of a variety of legacies; the legacy of the Jedi, the legacy of the Empire, even the legacy of Luke Skywalker. The movie itself challenges our assumptions about these things, challenging us to ask questions about them we may not be too keen to ask. What if the Jedi should end? What does it mean to have been Luke Skywalker? Why do we care so much for legacies?

 

Some of these questions are answered, and some of these have no easy answer. Sure, there's still a plucky Resistance against an indomitable First Order, but director Rian Johnson wants to figure out what Star Wars really is, and that means bringing a hammer to some stuff you'd rather not. It's excellently done and particularly bold given how safe Star Wars usually is.

 

I have A Lot Of Thoughts on The Last Jedi, thoughts that I'll need another viewing and many beer-fueled conversations with friends to mull over. But one thing that's abundantly clear is that The Last Jedi has a very clear image of its identity, and one facet of that is as the culmination of an anti-establishment vision.

 

Which is pretty neat.

  • Upvote 3


6 Comments


Recommended Comments

 

I was hoping for them to go all in with the anti-establishment in this one.  Rey, Finn, and Poe all learn that the "good guys" aren't exactly 100% good.  I was hoping that when Kylo Ren says "join me", Rey says, "alright, let's do it.  Let's make a better galaxy."

 

Then we have our protagonists work together to dismantle a system that has left the galaxy at war for 75 years, fighting against both General Hux and General Leia with the goal of not having good triumph over evil, but of balance between the two.  It would be a war against the star wars.

 

But maybe in the next trilogy...

 

Share this comment


Link to comment

 

I was hoping for them to go all in with the anti-establishment in this one.  Rey, Finn, and Poe all learn that the "good guys" aren't exactly 100% good.  I was hoping that when Kylo Ren says "join me", Rey says, "alright, let's do it.  Let's make a better galaxy."

 

 

Then we have our protagonists work together to dismantle a system that has left the galaxy at war for 75 years, fighting against both General Hux and General Leia with the goal of not having good triumph over evil, but of balance between the two.  It would be a war against the star wars.

 

But maybe in the next trilogy...

 

 

 

But Kylo Ren killed his father and was totally cool with the destruction of an entire solar system full of billions of lifeforms. What has the Resistance done that compares to those monstrous actions? You might as well say that Luke should have taken up Vader's offer too.

 

Share this comment


Link to comment

 

But Kylo Ren killed his father and was totally cool with the destruction of an entire solar system full of billions of lifeforms. What has the Resistance done that compares to those monstrous actions? You might as well say that Luke should have taken up Vader's offer too.

 

 

Those poor stormtroopers and other staff on the dreadnoughts were just doing their jobs. Most of them didn't even believe in the cause, they were just conscripts! The Resistance helps perpetuate the economic inequality in the galaxy, giving rise to rampant child slavery on Canto Bight (and we all know how it ends if a child slave just so happens to be a Jedi!). Also Leia's actively trying to kill her own son. Terrible mother. #TheFirstOrderDidNothingWrong

 

Share this comment


Link to comment

After seeing people saying they dislike it I was unsure what to expect, but the way you've described it sounds like it'll be really interesting (and gives me an idea of where some of that dislike is coming from).  I'm more optimistic about going to see it now.

Share this comment


Link to comment

@Spirit:

 

While I do think that would have been pretty dope, Star Wars is also still pretty clean cut between good and evil. I still think there is a way to go all in on the stopping the machine, but yeah. Hard to villainize the Resistance against an evily evil First Order.

Share this comment


Link to comment

 

 

So The Last Jedi sets out to deconstruct a lot of Star Wars’ tropes, this time turning its anti-establishment lens on its own heroes.

 

Much like what Knights of the Old Republic 2 did with the Jedi, Sith, and the Force, really. It's one of the things that's been in my mind since I watched The Last Jedi.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...