I still can't believe it . . . .

by Beedo Sookcool
on 2018-01-04, 13:54:49

You hear about it, but you never think it would happen to you. You think, "Nah, that's just an exaggeration," or "That kind of thing only happens to other people." Well, it happened to me the other day.

I was called a misogynist because I didn't fawn and grovel over The Last Jedi.

So here I was, getting into what I thought was a reasonable discussion about the latest movie. The fact that it was on Facebook should've tipped me off that it would devolve quickly. One smug git said there was so much backlash over the Disney Star Wars movies because of "Too many strong women for the fanboys." It went downhill from there.

Now, I never said misogyny doesn't exist. I did not say that there wasn't anyone out there who hated the films because they were misogynists. What I said was, "That's just an easy cop-out to quickly dehumanise and devalue anyone with a differing opinion." Because it is. I had loads of complaints about The Last Jedi (as well as The Force Awakens, and to a much lesser extent, Rogue One), but "strong female characters" was not anywhere amongst them.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Now, before I come across as too negative [Too late! -- Bill], I want to say that there were many things about The Last Jedi that I did like. It was visually stunning; everything about it was a treat to behold. The designs for the new characters, troops, and vehicles were amazing. The acting was of a high standard across the board. The plot hopscotching around to a series of mishaps to show that things don't always go right, even for The Good Guys, was a nice angle. But it was far from flawless.

As Bill pointed out in his review, Admiral Holdo keeping her escape plan secret from absolutely everyone was not only unnecessary, but just plain stupid. I would've said that if Holdo was a male character, too. Because it was stupid.

Speaking of Admiral Holdo, her use of the word "Godspeed" violently jarred me out of Star Wars mode. WHAT?! So we've now got a previously-unrevealed, monotheistic (and apparently Judeo-Christian) religion in a galaxy far, far away?! Even now that The Force has, apparently, Awakened?

Some people have complained about FTL travel, dropping bombs in space, sound in space, and other stuff we'd had before in Star Wars defying physics beyond credibility, and that's all true, but they're all established conventions in the franchise. No, what riled me was the First Order's turbolaser barrage ARCING toward the fleeing Resistance fleet as if it were cannonballs made of solid matter being acted upon by standard Earth gravity . . . while still in interplanetary space.

Porgs. I get that they had to cover up the puffins on Skellig Michael, and that they did so by CGI-ing a bunch of puffin-sized, puffin-shaped critters. But they weren't all that cute (in fact, they all looked downright miserable), they didn't have to be anything other than cheap-and-easy background animals, and they certainly didn't need to be anywhere on the Falcon, other than to hammer in the idea of "Hey, kids! Look how cute and endearing they are! Buy the toys!" And now I'm bitter they still haven't made a 3.75"-scale worrt from outside Jabba's Palace. Grrrr.

I'm not against the exploration of new and different Force powers. The novels have been slowly expanding on those for decades. But I think they went a bit too far a bit too quickly in this one. Projecting one's image / avatar across the galaxy I could get behind, but physicalising it and being able to hand over objects? That's getting into Star Trek teleportation territory, right there. Another person commented: "I thought Carrie Fisher was understated yet elegant (and eloquent) in her final role." And for the most part, that was the case. But she also survived an explosion ten feet away from her, got blown out into the void, then FLEW THROUGH THE FRIGGING VACUUM OF SPACE LIKE SUPERMAN. Not exactly understated, especially for someone who never kept up her Jedi training. Almost makes me want to call her Princess Neo, 'cause that is some Matrix-level shizzle, right there.

Also, people seem fond of saying how TLJ is not the carbon-copy of TESB dialled up to 11 that they feared it would be. And, yes, they did add some original plot twists. But if you look at the basic plot structure, TLJ is pretty much The Empire Strikes Back . . . but in reverse:

TESB: Good guys start out at a remote base. Bad guys attack. Chosen One goes off for training. Everyone else runs for it. Core group of good guys goes to casino city for help. Bad stuff happens. Everyone meets up and goes on the run together.

TLJ: Chosen One goes off for training. Everyone is on the run together. Bad stuff happens. Core group of good guys goes to casino city for help. Everyone else runs for it. Bad guys attack. Good guys end up at a remote base.

Plot-wise, the only change is at what point The Chosen One goes off for training.

Now, one of the things that really rankled with me is the recurring theme of "the past is dead, move on." Recurring theme? Hells, they hit you over the head with it, like a Message Sledgehammer. Repeatedly, just so it would sink in. Your old Star Wars that you knew and loved is dead. Get over it, and buy into our new multi-media empire. Buy, buy, buy! MESSAGE! MESSAGE!! MESSAGE!!!

Which brings us to my final and biggest gripe: Disney doing the Disney thing and trying too hard to manipulate feels.

Say what you will about him and his finished products, George Lucas just wanted to tell his stories. Everything else was a bonus. Reinventing the special effects industry? Only so he could get the space battles looking right. Having toys made? Pretty much just to raise more money so he could keep telling stories.

But Disney? They'd rather concentrate on manipulating feelings than telling a story. The whole Canto Bight sidetrack added nothing to the plot, save for the warm fuzzies of helping some animals (the enslaved children, not so much).

And worst of all, I thought, came from an article in an issue of USA Today (one of the free newspapers at the hotel Greeata and I were staying at) sometime in late November / early December. By that time, there had already been enormous backlash against the enormous backlash of the 2016 Ghostbusters, where a lot of male film critics bashed the trailer and film, and were immediately bashed themselves for being misogynists, because the presence of Strong Female Leads apparently hurts sci-fi geeks. To that, I have just one word in reply: Aliens.

Well, Disney went all out on the offensive, essentially saying before anyone could chime in with any criticism, "This is Carrie Fisher's last movie. If you don't love it, you're a monster," effectively planting the brainwashing seed that any critics who didn't get on their knees and fellate Disney's efforts were to be treated like paedophiles.

So, while I didn't hate The Last Jedi, I didn't love it, either. I've seen the meme were "delicate snowflake fanboys" didn't like TFA because it was too copycat, but TLJ was too different; how could that be? Simple: I don't think Disney has really gotten the hang of Star Wars yet. That's all there is to it. Of the three movies Disney has released so far, I think Rogue One hits closest to the bullseye, balancing the new stuff with nostalgia-gasm rather well, all things considered. But they're still not quite there, yet.

So, SJWs, it is possible to dislike a film with a strong female lead(s) without having to be a misogynist. And if you accuse me of being a misogynist because I didn't like such a movie, you're a moron. My wife simply won't let me be a misogynist. };D





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