12:00 pm EDT, December 17, 2015

I lost my Star Wars virginity in 2015: 7 days, 6 movies, 1 epic review

‘Episode IV: A New Hope’

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  • Okay, so Chewbacca is sentient — this is a thing a thing I’ve never been sure about, if he was a furry alien with personhood or if he was like, a pet.
  • The droids are also more sentient than expected, to a degree that’s both charming and disturbing. The fact that they’re given so much personality makes the prejudice against them quite uncomfortable. This is a factor that the series never goes on to address — it’s never really explained if their reactions and initiative are genuine free thought, or if they’re just programmed to perform their purpose in a way that humans find pleasing. Is it, in fact, no better than slavery?
  • I also assumed, for some unknown reason, that R2-D2 and C-3PO had always been Luke’s little buddies, but it turns out they’ve been freaking everywhere.
  • Vader is such a drama queen and it’s amazing. Not what I expected AT ALL. The fact that the Empire goons don’t really believe in the Force and that he’s seen as a semi-crazy religious fanatic was a new and interesting factor that took me totally by surprise.
  • While we’re on that subject, the use of the Force is super sketchy, even by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Like, even using the Light Side is kind of ethically questionable when it comes to mind tricks. Is this not a problem for anyone else?
  • I’ve heard “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced” parodied so many times that I had subconsciously assumed it initially came from a comedic source, like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • The impression I expected to have of each of the main trio turned out to be 100% wrong.
  • I expected Leia to be the kind of damsel character who becomes a bad-ass eventually but has to like, learn that she can save herself. Instead, she’s more competent and tough than the boys from her very first scene, and is basically 1000% done with them all the time. Han is kind of a dick, a genuinely self-serving character who severely rubbed me the wrong way from the get go. And Luke isn’t a cheesy, boring, cock-blocking, whiny kid, he’s lovely: a clever, long-suffering, subtle, natural hero with an old soul and beautiful integrity.
  • It’s worrying to me that the narrative being shared by the prominent voices in pop culture about these three is so opposite to what I ended up seeing on screen, and I think it says a lot about who those prominent voices have been for the past 40 years — namely, idiotic boys who idolize the wrong aspects of Han as the pinnacle of manhood, therefore projecting a false image that discredits the value of all three leads. I really like them all, and I hate nerd culture for lying to me about them.
  • It should be noted that even when watching, I totally did not notice Han coming back to help with the final fight — I lost track of all the rebel pilots and when he greets Luke in the base afterwards, I literally thought it was just like “Look! I stayed around and waited for you to return, great job buddy, I’ll totally have your back from here on out!” I had no idea why he was being awarded with a medal until someone filled me in. Oops.
  • Also, Obi-Wan does pretty much nothing but die and Yoda isn’t even in this movie — with all the fuss surrounding them, I thought they’d be much more prominent from the get-go.

‘Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back’

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  • The main thing I took away from this movie is that Han Solo has likely been responsible for the gross behavior of several generations of geeky men.
  • Let me break that down. Leia is a super fantastic feminist character. It isn’t like “a product of the time” that women weren’t powerful or something — when Empire opens, she’s in command of the rebel base. It isn’t portrayed as unusual that she is respected by everyone.
  • Except Han.
  • The way he “flirts,” the fact he pushes and pushes and presumes and rejects her agency, despite it genuinely ang/ering her, is flat out unacceptable in my books.
  • It’s super obvious to me that Leia falls for Han despite that behavior, not because of it. She values who he is when that nonsense falls away — his bravery and loyalty and whatever, his good heart, the way he went out to save Luke. He’s pretty decent, that’s plain to see. But his outward demeanor is terrible. It’s not like Han wears her down with that stuff and that she finally finds it charming. The whole point is that they come into their true feelings once the stakes are raised and the bullshit is stripped away.
  • However, I can see very plainly the way that Han’s aggressive surface behavior has been emulated by many terrible men, who think that this is the way to be attractive and confident and what will end up making girls want them. It doesn’t. It’s just mean and creepy.
  • Congratulations, nerds, you have missed the entire point of Han Solo, Leia Organa, and character development in general.
  • Enough about that. Luke remains my main bae. Little things like him continuing to call Obi-Wan “Ben,” and him talking to the droids like they’re people of value, continue to endear him to me, as do his attempts at patience when with crazy-cakes Yoda.
  • I’ve just finished covering The Legend of Korra for Rewatchable and I cannot believe that NO ONE mentioned to me the fact that Luke’s experience training with Yoda in the swamp is something that Korra directly copies in a way that has to be intentional. One of the most interesting parts about this experience is seeing just how many things I love have borrowed from Star Wars.
  • I really liked the bit where Vader can sense the Falcon (sans Luke) due to Leia’s presence — it’s a great bit of foreshadowing.
  • The most significant thing that it turns out I didn’t know about this entire series is that Vader isn’t the biggest bad — Palpatine is. I was aware of the existence of an Emperor but didn’t know how significant he was, and it turns out that he’s the absolute worst in a way that creates a little empathy for Vader. This is much clearer in II, III and VI, but the hints start here.
  • Vader trying to pitch the idea of turning Luke to the Dark Side — does he genuinely want to harness his power, or does he just want him not to die? How long has Vader known that Luke exists? This aspect seems really inconsistent.
  • I didn’t know when in the Original Trilogy the father reveal took place — I kind of assumed that it happened at Vader’s death, and was not ready for the fact that Luke had a whole other movie to reflect on that and try to redeem or rescue his father.
  • If someone says “search your feelings” one more time I am going to cut off my own hand with a lightsaber.

Next: ‘The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Attack of the Clones’

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