Based on the newest trailer, I can conclude that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is going to be 97% amazing, and 3% porg.
On a scale of Gungan to Wookiee (with the Ewoks somewhere in between), it’s safe to say that the Star Wars fandom has always been somewhat split in their opinion of the franchise’s various furliens.
It’s no secret that Star Wars has always been as much about merchandise tie-in opportunities as about the story itself, and the franchise has since its inception embraced shameless commercialism — to be a Star Wars fan is to accept, if not gleefully celebrate, the ~toys~ as well as the movies in which they are creatively marketed to us. It’s no more exploitative to introduce a stuffed animal waiting to happen than it is to launch a new line of soon-to-be collectible TIE fighters (in fact, in the world of Star Wars, merchandise is such an ingrained part of the package it can hardly be considered exploitative at all).
But there is no denying that the porg in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi IS a merchandise insert; it’s this generation’s Ewok, it’s a stuffed animal made (fake) flesh, and its placement in the trailer — right after the emotionally devastating face-off between Kylo Ren and Leia Organa — was intended to be a moment of levity to distract from the really damn harrowing plot of this movie. Something for the children, and to remind anxious parents that Star Wars is still (ostensibly) a family affair as opposed to a family-killing affair.
And it’s super cute, the way the Porg tries to imitate Chewbacca’s cry. It’s like if baby Groot and the Niffler from Fantastic Beasts had an even tinier, more adorable baby! What’s not to love?!
Native to Luke Skywalker’s exile planet Ahch-To, the porgs are the perfect companions for grumpy old-man Luke, and clearly this particular Millennium Falcon stowaway will be a much-needed new annoying (but in a cute way) little friend for Chewie. Oh, I can already imagine their wacky side-adventures. Forget Finn and Poe — THIS is the dynamic duo the Star Wars franchise wants you to get emotionally invested in!
But it’s also… a little obnoxious, right? A little bit like this porg creature doesn’t really belong in this otherwise dark and engaging story. Even its appearance in the trailer was, you have to admit, a little off-putting. Visually it’s just a little too bright, a little too CGI-heavy next to Chewbacca, and tonally, well… I don’t want to say jar-jarring, but…
And maybe it’s not even just a little, but a LOT obnoxious how overtly and intentionally cute this creature is, so transparently designed to make, in the words of Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, “a lot of people want a porg as a pet.”
Maybe the porg actually feels like the one too-fabricated, trying-too-hard element that each Star Wars trilogy inevitably has — like the Ewoks and Gungans before it — and will make fans groan more and more with every rewatch of what seems set to be an otherwise fantastic movie.
And let’s not underestimate the marketing potential for this clipped-ear Furby-Gremlin. This is just the beginning of the Age of Porg: there’s gonna be toys. Lunch boxes. Backpacks. Giant inflatable Santa-hat wearing monsters. An animated spinoff on the Disney Channel. They’re going to cross over with the Minions some day. They might even attempt another Christmas special.
(Okay, forget what I said before, I now fully hate them. But then, I am also not a fan of Baby Groot, soooo clearly I just have no soul.)
Judging by social media reactions, Star Wars fans either love or hate the porgs already. No, we haven’t seen the movie yet, but we’ve seen this creature before; we know its function in a story like this, and we know how we feel about that. The kids, freshly traumatized from the death of Han Solo in the last movie, will undoubtedly love this little baby Hedwig 2.0, and who am I do deny anyone a little bit of brightness in an otherwise dark and depressing world?
But I’m genuinely curious to see how you, the Hypable readers, stand on Porggate 2017. Do you love it and it is now your precious cinnamon child? Or are you, like myself, a heartless monster who’s just here for the explosions and lightsaber battles and like our Chewbacca as he is, sans probably-clumsy, probably-lethal, probably-feuds-with-BB8-and-it’s-sooo-cute furry baby friend?