Beneath the orgiastic CGI spectacle, campy writing, and poor plotting in “The Last Jedi” is a mythological grotesquerie that fails to rise to the level of art and instead wallows in the realm of ideological fanaticism and propaganda.
Ideology corrupts art. Modern feminism, like the Marxism that preceded it, seeks a radical break from tradition to achieve “liberation” from “systems of oppression.”
In “The Last Jedi,” as in “The Force Awakens,” this feminist contempt for the past results in a spiritual rot in what ought the most crucial element of the story: the hero. Rey is a failure as the central character. She is, according to The Atlantic, not the first feminine “Star Wars” hero but the first feminist one. And because her creative foundation is ideological rather than mythological, she is inauthentic and unappealing.
As the feminist girl-power archetype, Rey is a strong empowered independent woman who doesn’t need a man. In fact, she doesn’t need anyone. When we first meet Rey, she’s a loner without friends, without family, and even without a last name. Yet she’s also somehow an expert fighter, mechanic, and pilot. The first time she picks up a lightsaber, she defeats a trained dark lord. She learns no lessons, needs no instruction, and never faces any real crisis, external or internal.
For Rey to truly struggle, to encounter an internal crisis that would develop her as a character, would be to make her vulnerable and thus more of a woman but less of a feminist hero. So screenwriter and director Rian Johnson purged her of weakness and dependency. In the filmmakers’ desire to paint her as a feminist badass and girl-power “boss bitch” who can take care of herself thank you very much, Johnson leaves us with a lonely and utterly rootless woman crammed into a hyper-masculine role.
This portrayal doesn’t work because men and women are not interchangeable. Neither are the masculine and feminine hero myths. The feminist effort to shove Rey into the masculine journey results in an essentially transgendered, unnatural, and corrupt character.
What the Original Trilogy Got Right
Compare Rey’s journey to Luke Skywalker’s in the original trilogy. Luke starts as an optimistic but immature farmhand thrust into an adventure far beyond his own horizon. He faces off against evil and wins, destroying the Death Star in the process but with plenty of help from his friends. He is not without flaws, however. In “The Empire Strikes Back” he goes to Yoda, the wise sage, who instructs and molds him, but he fails to heed this needed guidance and his impetuousness and immoderation nearly kills him. His defeat at the hands of Darth Vader, who reveals he is Luke’s father, confronts him with a new crisis. In “Return of the Jedi” Luke finally develops enough as a warrior and as a man that he can face the monster/father in order to redeem him.
Rey, on the other hand, never encounters failure. In “The Last Jedi,” instead of being instructed by a wise sage, Luke, in the tradition of the mythic hero, it is she who teaches him. Luke is thus deprived of the opportunity to pass from the warrior-hero into the mentor-teacher. At the end he is still impetuous, still myopic, still being lectured by Yoda. But Rey—she’s perfect. As Yoda tells Luke as the last Jedi archive burns, there is nothing in “those books that the girl does not already possess.”
In other words, she does not need the lessons of the past or a mentor to guide her. She already knows because she’s empowered. You go, girl! But beyond her inauthenticity as a masculine hero, Rey’s perfection and her cross-dressing deprive the film of another crucial element: a romance.
There are no princesses to rescue in the new “Star Wars.” There is no need for the traditional heroic story of the triumph of good over evil ending in love and children. It is in romance that the masculine and feminine hero journeys unify, resulting in new life. By making Rey a female character in a male role, the movie reveals its own contempt for life-giving femininity and its symbiotic relationship to strong masculinity.
Feminism All the Way Down
But Rey’s crisis of identity is not the only ideologically generated problem plaguing “The Last Jedi.” The ruin wrought by Leftist gender politics extends far beyond the central hero.
Men as a whole, have little role in the new film other than as villains (Kylo Ren and General Hux), dutiful side characters (Finn), or incompetent hot heads (Poe Dameron). On that last count, “The Last Jedi” goes to great lengths to shame and embarrass Dameron, the only token white male among the new batch of “good guys.”
Poe Dameron emerged in “The Force Awakens” as a gutsy rebel pilot in the spirit of Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles. But in “The Last Jedi” his plot to save the Resistance fleet is both mutinous and disastrous. It ends up leading to the deaths of nearly all of his fellow fighters.
Dameron hatches this plan behind the backs of Vice Admiral Holdo, a purple haired, LGBTQQIA, #WomensMarch, leader of #TheResistance who takes command when Princess Leia, excuse me, General Organa nearly dies. Holdo is as bitchy as she sounds. Instead of revealing her plan to Dameron when he first asks, she kicks him off her bridge, calling him a “trigger happy flyboy” that “we don’t need right now.”
Yaaaaassss! Slay, Queen! Bitter, blue-haired feminists everywhere stood up and cheered at her “savage clapback” to Dameron and his “mansplaining,” I’m sure. But the effect on the film is horrendous. This Hillary Clinton clone, complete with the shrill moral superiority, exists for no other reason than to provide a ham-handed moral lesson about the importance of female leadership.
But Holdo is seriously flawed in her own right. While the film wants us to blame Dameron’s toxic masculinity and inability to bend to strong female leadership for the fleet’s destruction, it is Holdo’s arrogance and petty desire to shield her plans for trivial reasons that leads the patriotic Dameron to come up with his own solution to save his friends from certain death.
A Waste of Character—and Warped Taste
Much like real life, the petty feminist desire to attack the “patriarchy” at every turn trumps basic human concerns. Here again ideology triumphs over art.
Holdo ultimately sacrifices herself to save the #Resistance from Donald Tru . . . er . . . the First Order. But once more, the gender politics of “Star Wars” subsumes tradition and meaning with political fanaticism. Admiral Ackbar, a character long beloved by fans, dies an ignominious and unmourned death in the film. Instead of placing him in the sacrificial role where his death might have an actual purpose, “The Last Jedi” chooses a purple-haired lesbian Tumblr meme to take his place.
The original trilogy captured the spirit of courage and optimism of the West in the face of the fascist and Communist totalitarians of the early 20th century. A stark contrast to the spiritual malaise and cynicism growing out of the late 1960s and 70s, Luke Skywalker was an epic hero that Western boys could look up to, much as I did.
“A New Hope” was an antidote to its time. “The Last Jedi” is a reflection of it. The feminism prevalent in the film perverts its artistic value, twisting the epic tale of good and evil into a two-and-a-half-hour diversity training video. For the creators of this bloated mess passing the Bechdel test was more important than writing a good story. Though, unfortunately, their failure won’t harm them much. Fealty to “correct” political causes ensures the good graces of critics. And despite rumblings from the fan base, “The Last Jedi” will certainly become another golden teat on Disney’s latest cash cow.
This is not proof of the film’s intrinsic value but of our own warped taste.
We in the West have lost the ability to distinguish between spiritually healthy and rotten art. That is a far greater tragedy than the ruin of “Star Wars.”