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  1. Hey, if anyone knows what a good trilogy should look like, it's Elijah Wood. Also, those ships were manned by brainwashed child soldiers? Just like Finn and Jannah? That our heroes proceeded to blow up? Awesome. Till the day I die, I will never understand why they dropped the ball on Finn starting a Stormtrooper uprising. This trilogy should have ended with his expertise on Stormtrooper thinking/training and Rey's Force powers being used in tandem to reach out to the Stormtroopers and show them there was another, better way to live, and for them to turn on Kylo (and/or Palpatine) by simply laying down their weapons and rendering the fleet harmless. Can you imagine the power of a scene in which Finn's words gets through to them and they take off their helmets to reveal a bunch of scared teenagers? The faceless characters that have always been treated as cannon fodder and laughed at for their bad aiming skills could have been the key to defeating the Dark Side once and for all, which in turn would have been a beautiful bookend to their original purpose as disposable clones built for war.
  2. Slightly OT, but I think it's more than a little funny that both BtVS and SW ended the same way regarding the ships: trying to throw a bone to all the loud and obnoxious shippers, while being smart enough to realize that their heroine was better off with an arc that valued self-actualization, finding true happiness with her friends, and ending the story as a single woman.
  3. Rey and Finn's faces melting into joy and relief when they find each other again at the end of TROS (yes, Poe was there too, but the real emotion is between Rey and Finn). After all the shit and the separations they went through, they're finally together forever. After all the pointless ship-wars that went on in this fandom, it was immensely satisfying for the true endgame of the trilogy to be this trio, however you chose to interpret their bond with each other.
  4. I don't think it's a matter of age but perspective (which granted, comes with age). I have two good fandom friends that are into "dark ships", but they're mature enough to a) not white-wash or minimize the deeds of the villain, b) not play Ron the Death Eater and make out the heroes to be even WORSE than the villains, and c) know that it's just fiction, and so don't have screaming meltdowns when it turns out that the mass-murderer and the heroine AREN'T going to live happily ever after. They tag their work, stay in their own lanes, and (surprise!) don't harass or get harassed. But I don't think it's an age thing, sadly. I mean, this author is clearly a grown woman and she writes Jasmine/Jafar erotica (which okay, fine) but has this to say about Aladdin: “Aladdin could easily be the villain. He’s a liar, he’s a thief, he engages in slavery—kind of—with the genie. Jafar, while being murderous and evil, is at least moderately upfront about it.” I just hate this kind of moral relativism. In Star Wars fandom this mentality translated to Kylo being praised for "bridal carrying" Rey after he knocked her unconscious, waiting patiently for her to wake up before torturing her, and arguing that him throwing her into a tree was just self-defense. Meanwhile. Finn is practically crucified for grabbing Rey's hand to pull her to safety, because that's an assault on her agency! Also, Finn lied about his identity to Rey, whereas Kylo always told the truth, so who's the REAL villain here?? (No, I'm not making this up. This is actually what they said). I think I would have more patience for villain-sympathizing if they didn't ALWAYS feel the need to drag the actual heroes through the mud in an attempt to make murderers look better by comparison. Also "progressive shipping" is a thing now, where if a person likes a ship, it has to be wedded to some sort of greater cause. I think Reylos settled on their ship being feminist or something, but I honestly don't have the strength to unravel the troll logic behind that. But there's the flip side of it too, where "purity politics" require people to go around forbidding people from enjoying or exploring anything in fiction that isn't totally good and pure and vanilla. At the end of the day does it really matter what people think about fictional characters? Ultimately I think Kylo Ren came along at the same time as a fandom cultural shift in which people were sick to death of violence-is-love romances/white man redemption arcs AND of being told what they could or couldn't enjoy by a faceless crowd of judgmental peers. Which is why SW fandom ended up so angry and toxic (along with the usual misogynistic/racist trolls). In short, fandom is a complete shit-storm these days, but I can't say it doesn't fascinate me.
  5. I've just finished watching, so I'm still processing, but I really enjoyed this show (season?) and felt it did a great job of navigating the nuances and difficulties and complexity of the #metoo movement and the culture of silence that has harmed so many women and men. A part of me is angry and annoyed that a talented, intelligent, beautiful young woman had to die just so everyone else could finally get their heads out of their asses, but I absolutely don't believe Hannah killed herself on purpose. The last scene of her alive is her making the call to accept the job in LA - perhaps that was the last bit of soul-selling that drove her to do something stupid, but not deliberately suicidal. I was certain that Mitch was going to get on the air and Bradley would surprise him with the recording of Hannah recounting her events of that night, just so he could finally come face to face with the ugly truth of how used and manipulated his victims really felt (not that he grasped that after the first victim that spoke out on-air), but then that would have been horribly disrespectful to Hannah herself. Instead I love that the coup was done entirely without him, leaving him with absolutely no leverage or power. The whole situation between Hannah/Mitch played out very well: at first we see Hannah seemingly being very much in control of her own life and Mitch passionately insisting that he's never committed rape. Then during the flashback episode I was pretty grossed out by Mitch, but could also see how he could walk away from that situation thinking it was consensual. But what the heck was I thinking??? It goes to show how deeply trained we all are to "see both sides" of every little thing, when CLEARLY the power imbalance was staggering, Hannah was in an emotionally vulnerable place due to the shootings, and how Hannah simply freezes up when frightened. And he not only took advantage of all that, but had the sheer gall to declare that she used HIM to get a promotion. That line she had about how surreal it is when men: "want you but don't give a fuck about you at the same time" definitely resonated. I was also very fascinated by the way this shows understands how catchphrases and language can be used against people. On a couple of occasions a woman (Bradley at the awards dinner, Hannah in the hotel room) finds herself in an awkward situation she doesn't extract herself from, and afterwards is asked by another character: "aren't you a STRONG EMPOWERED WOMAN?" It's a trap, because either you're admitting you're NOT that, or that you ARE and you were powerless to stop something terrible from happening to you anyway. Also, the way that Mitch was always whining about how his victims were "playing the victim" (another familiar refrain) while being utterly ignorant that HE was doing exactly the same thing. He could have stopped and reflected when he realized he was trying to collaborate with his misogynistic statutory rapist buddy on a documentary about accused men, but he didn't. He just kept screaming about HIS LIFE while ignoring his wife, co-star, children and victims. That the women did the coup without him was gloriously satisfying. As was the coup itself. Alex's rage and furiousness, with herself and the men around her, which finally exploded on air with Bradley's help and everyone else keeping Fred and his new henchman away from the broadcast room was fantastic. I laughed so loudly when she threw that glass of water in Marlon's face, and I love that her daughter was watching. Perhaps they can make amends through that.
  6. Kylo's redemption arc didn't come from the love of a good woman. Rey was not able to bring him back to the light. It came from the forgiveness and acceptance of his parents. Sorry, I didn't word this clearly - I meant in general terms this is how Redemption Arcs/Beauty and the Beast narratives play out, and in this instance a lot of shippers clearly thought this is the path Kylo/Rey would take. (Much like Zutara shippers assumed Katara would be the reason for Zuko's redemption in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and also reacted badly when it became clear this wasn't the case). But this story also doesn't fit the B&B mold in that Kylo eventually dies and Rey is free to live her life without him (and clearly isn't particularly devastated about that fact).
  7. I liked Jesse Eisenberg's neurotic, hyper take on Lex Luthor in Batman vs Superman. Sorry.
  8. I think anyone can have a redemption arc, but the amount of work that goes into it has to be proportionate to the amount of harm that person does in their lifetime. So if you're just a bit of a jerk, like Mr Darcy, Han Solo, Steve Harrington (Stranger Things) or the Beast from Disney, then you can get your shit together in the space of a movie or season of television. People like Eleanor Shellstrop and Prince Zuko need a bit more work since they're incredibly selfish and toxic people to start with and have really hurt a lot of people. They have to WORK for their redemption by acknowledging the pain they've caused and putting in the hard yards to atone for it. Once you get to murderers, things get much harder, as most writers either end up downplaying their crimes or trying to justify them by claiming "bad childhood" or "outside their control". This leads to a spectrum of redemption arcs that can be either good or bad. So you've got Angel who sadistically killed thousands of people - but it was a soulless demon that was really responsible, and once he gets his soul back he uses his immortality to atone. Or Faith from the same show, who kills two men, one accidentally and one in cold blood... but eventually goes willingly to prison for her crimes. Bucky Barnes is off the hook because he was clearly a brainwashed victim himself, but the likes of Vader and Kylo Ren have to die immediately after their redemption because their monstrous actions are too horrific to properly quantify. Had they lived, the good guys would have been totally justified in executing them for war crimes, because the excuse "an old man manipulated me into doing it" just doesn't cut it. They had free will in a way that Bucky didn't, and made the wrong choices. And the worst possible scenarios involve characters like Regina, an unrepentant rapist and murderer whose victims have to coddle and forgive her endless self-pitying bullshit until she's crowned Queen of Everything in the desperate hope she'll finally stop complaining about how hard her life has been to people whose suffering matches or even outweighs her own (and in many cases, was CAUSED by her). Basically, the redemption arc must fit the crimes, which is why "redemption equals death" is such a prevalent trope - because a lot of writers go too hard with the "villainy" side of things, and then can't see any other realistic ending for their characters but life in prison should they survive. Edit: and ursula is right in pointing out that most of the characters who GET these redemption arcs are straight white males, who are inspired to become better people by the love of a good woman, which I don't need to tell anyone can have dire consequences when it's played out in a real world context. (Which in turn I think is why so many people are getting sick of this kind of story).
  9. In "The Fellowship of the Ring" when the group is climbing the mountain and Frodo accidentally drops the Ring right in front of Boromir, and there's an awkward moment when Boromir picks it up, is instantly hypnotized by it, and then hears Aragorn say: "give the Ring to Frodo." Boromir tries to laugh it off... but then we cut to Aragorn's hand... which was on the hilt of his sword the whole time. I loved that moment, it still gives me chills every time I see it.
  10. This is a long one, I promise to give it a rest after this! Everyone brings their own perspective, baggage and personal history to these films. Heck - ANY story we read, hear or watch will be absorbed in a different way by each individual. For me personally, I'm simply tired of being asked to care about cruel, violent people who commit murder, and in this current climate, a villain who belonged to an organization seeped in Nazi imagery, who murdered all his classmates while they were at school, and who repeatedly assaulted a much younger girl in the midst of the real world's #timesup movement, just hit WAAAAAY too close to home. Obviously not everyone felt the same (and that's fine, it's just fiction!) but after TFA I honestly thought these films were doing something incredibly clever in depicting the true nature of evil: it's not grand and awe-inspiring like Vader, it's just whiny privileged self-absorption that thinks the world owes it everything. Evil - REAL evil - is banal and pathetic. But my initial interpretation was clearly not one that was ultimately supported by the writing - we were, apparently, meant to see Kylo as a victim. The thing is, I don't want to see HIS victims as nobodies who exist only as symbols of their murderer's internal rage and suffering. I mean, I CARED about Max von Sydow's character. I was charmed by the way he said of Leia: "she'll always be a princess to me." I was impressed by the way he stared death in the face and didn't flinch when Kylo murdered him. (And apparently, the original plan was for this character to be Wedge Antilles!) I cared about Korr Sella (Amaya from Legends of Tomorrow!) Leia's aide who gets sent to Hosnian Prime, and I felt her fear and horror as she stared at incoming death while others screamed and panicked around her, unable to do anything but wait for the inevitable. I cared about Rose's sister who clutches her half of the necklace as she blows herself up for the greater good. I cared about the terrified nameless rebel soldiers in Rogue One who nevertheless held their ground against DARTH FUCKING VADER just to buy their comrades a few precious seconds to get the Death Star plans to safety so they could save countless lives. I even cared about the "many Bothans who died to bring us this information", due to the sad, venerable way Mon Mothma speaks of them. And fine, some people don't care about any of those people. About a year ago I saw a Tumblr post that argued Kylo's participation in the genocide of all those planets shouldn't get in the way of his redemption because we didn't know any of the people on those planets, so who cares? A million lives is a statistic and all that, especially in a made-up story. But what's the point of having people (even fictional ones) die tragically if we're not supposed to care about it? If people are going around saying "Ben Solo deserved better!" like he's an ACTUAL person, then my only response is: "Yeah, you know who else deserved better? All the people he killed." I just wish films would stop trying to have it both ways: for a villain to murder scores of innocent people to demonstrate how "evil" he is, and then expect the audience to root for their redemption anyway. (There's been so much debate in the last few years as to why Prince Zuko's arc in Avatar the Last Airbender is considered the absolute BEST redemption arc of all time, and a huge part of that is that he doesn't murder anyone. He had a sense of honour and purpose and integrity (even at the beginning of his story) that Kylo couldn't DREAM of possessing, and despite all his bad deeds, he never crosses the line into taking someone else's life. Can you imagine Kylo risking his life to save Hux? Because Zuko does that for his own Hux in the very first season). I don't want to dislike TROS, and in time I might be reconciled to the choices it makes regarding Kylo Ren. I mean let's face it, ultimately the guy DID run out of second chances. If he had gone with Han in TFA, he would have been fine. If he had gone with Rey in TLJ, Leia would have found a way to protect him. But he didn't, and by TROS he's lost the chance to go home: the only option he has left is to die as Ben Solo. And despite the muddle of themes and motivations in these films, there is one thoroughfare that I appreciate: in TFA Kylo spots Luke/Anakin's lightsabre and petulantly shouts: "that belongs to me!" and then is visibly shocked when it nearly whacks him in the face on its way to Rey, its rightful owner. In TLJ he tries to undermine her by saying: "you're nothing, you're no one. You have no place in this story." There's a sense here that somewhere deep down, he knows he's not as important as he thinks he is. And then finally, his redemption hinges upon the fact he finally realizes that Rey's life is more important than his, that she (on a meta level) is the main character, not him. They're not "yin-yang", they're not "the Force in balance", they're a person who deserves a second chance, and a person who has wasted all of his, and so the ONLY good thing Kylo/Ben EVER does in his life is finally put his narcissism aside and die so that she can live. The bad guy eventually understands that this girl can and should exist outside of their messed-up relationship, and so gives her that opportunity. I... don't hate that? I mean, if it's any consolation, those misogynists and fangirls are STILL furious, because the final word in this trilogy is that Rey is the protagonist, the true Skywalker heir, the saviour of the galaxy, even though they've spent the last four years convincing themselves that this whole thing was Kylo's story, that he was the main character, and that Rey was only his life coach/emotional support/"prize" for his redemption. That this isn't the case clearly does not compute with them. They're still doing mental gymnastics trying to reconcile what they thought was going to happen (Ben and Rey living happily ever after, uniting both sides of the Force, raising the next generation of Jedi) with the reality of what HER story actually conveys: that she doesn't need him; she never did. She's nineteen years old and she's gonna be fine. She's the one that gets to grow up, and find more friends, and fall in love, and have children, and travel the galaxy and have as many adventures as she likes. She has a clean slate and a found family that loves her and permanent freedom from the Force-bond that I assume was what kept compelling her to return to Kylo. And on THAT subject, my friend had an interesting theory: that the Dyad-Force-Whatever was imposed upon Kylo and Rey to ensure a favourable outcome for Rey - the Force KNEW that she would at some point have to face Palpatine, and that she wouldn't survive the experience. She would need someone of equal power to be invested enough in her safety that he would literally give up his own life to save hers, which is exactly what happened. So Kylo is redeemed for the sole purpose of saving Rey's life. His entire purpose in life (and this story) is to basically be the life insurance that the Force took out for Rey. It was never about him! Again, I don't hate that. The more I think about it, the more I kinda love it. And I'm not saying that Finn wasn't EXTREMELY ill-served from the moment Kylo knocked him out so the focus could switch to Rey/Kylo as the main protagonist/antagonist, but he's alive, he's Force Sensitive, he gets to spend the rest of his life with the no-longer-distracted girl and hot X-wing pilot he adores, and I really, really hope that one day John Boyega will return in some capacity for the story his character deserves. Whew, okay I'll shut up now.
  11. This was my experience as well! I had watched the OT as a kid, but had no real emotional connection to it, until TFA came out and suddenly I was a mega-fan. I went back and watched the OT and PT, I tracked down The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, I loved Rogue One... and then TLJ happened and it was like cold water getting poured over me. And then I COULD have learned to love that movie if TROS had actually committed to the plot-points it made: namely that Rey was a nobody and Kylo had definitely chosen the Dark Side, but of course these are immediately walked back again. From a plot perspective, TLJ has no real value, and you can skip it completely without losing anything except the particulars of Luke's death. It's definitely been around longer than this: my first run-in with white male "himpathy" came with the BBC's Robin Hood about ten years ago: Guy of Gisbourne was played by Richard Armitage (white? check. brooding? check. handsome? check) who was also creepily obsessed with Maid Marian and ends up STABBING HER TO DEATH when she finally has enough of his bullshit and tells him she loves Robin Hood. The reaction from fandom was that she was a cruel stupid bitch who should have married poor sad Guy when she had the chance. This was my first fandom, and seeing where the audience's sympathy lay was pretty disconcerting. (And yes, he eventually gets a redemption arc). And I remember being SO EXCITED when Rey snatched the lightsabre from Kylo in TFA and proceeded to beat the snot out of him with it. Because after Snape and Loki and Moriarty, I thought finally - FINALLY! - we would get a story where the white dude really isn't worth redeeming, and the future belongs to teenage girls and black Stormtroopers and Latino X-fighter pilots. But nope, it's just white dude redemption arc #578,984,089, and everyone else gets shortchanged in service of that. (I mean, we could have had Finn organize a Stormtrooper uprising, working under the assumption that if he could break his conditioning, so could others. How cool would that have been, PLUS something that's never happened in a Star Wars film before. Instead SO MUCH real estate is wasted on Kylo Ren, when the two directors were clearly at odds about who he was and whether redemption was on the table - because you can bet your ass it wouldn't have happened if Johnson had directed 9).
  12. Also he ordered his troops to open fire on villagers on Jakku that clearly included children, even though he had what he wanted and they posed no threat to him. I just... if you're going to plan to redeem a character, then why have them commit crimes that are so heinous that only the usual White Dude Apologist Committee are capable of the mental gymnastics required to gloss over it all? The second he hacked Max von Sydow to death with his lightsabre I knew that he wasn't going to survive the trilogy because you DON'T come back from cold-blooded murder without having to pay with your own life. And weirdly, the films seemed to consider Han's murder the worst thing he ever did. It really, really wasn't. On another note, it's interesting that Trevorrow's script has Kylo murdering Rey's parents, which is something I theorized on this thread way before the film opened. I wonder if that was his answer to the scene in Rey's vision in which Kylo and the Knights of Ren killed that man in the rain. It seemed important, and I imagined it was probably her father, though now it's just another dangling thread.
  13. Lol. You wrote this in 2016 and GUESS WHAT.
  14. This franchise has always been impossibly contradictory as to whether the Dark Side is a corruption of the Force (like fallen angels becoming demons) or whether Light and Dark are two equal powers in perpetual balance (like yin-yang). Blame Lucas's mushing of Western religious beliefs with Eastern ideologies and everyone else trying to stick their oar in. It's like mixing oil and water.
  15. Mercifully Kylo died immediately afterwards, and by the time Rey got back to Finn and Poe she seemed pretty much over him. I honestly read the kiss as less romantic and more of an acknowledgement of what he had just done - like Kiera Knightley kissing Andrew Lincoln after his declaration of love in Love Actually. It was a thank you and goodbye kiss, and I don't believe for a second she would have done it if she hadn't known he was about to die. (But let's face it, this franchise is full of TERRIBLE kisses, whether it's a queen kissing her bodyguard after he drops the line "I hate sand", a twin brother and sister kissing in order to make a third party jealous, the vaguely non-consensual kiss between a smuggler and a princess who keeps saying "no",* a random chemistry-free kiss from a (probably) concussed girl and a baffled ex-Stormtrooper that got dropped like a hot potato in the next movie, and (if you watched Star Wars Rebels) a drugged-up pregnant woman and her baby-daddy seconds before he dies. Oof. Honestly, the best Star Wars kiss is the one that never happens between Jyn and Cassian). I was also in the Finn/Rey corner, as they were incredibly cute and clearly what the first movie was setting up. Unfortunately, I think by the time TROS rolled around there were too many ship-related balls in the air and Abrams was too afraid to commit to any of them. A part of me kinda liked the fact that all surviving characters were still single by the end of it, with an emphasis on friends and found family... but I'm going to hold out hope that we might one day see a Finn/Rey limited series on Disney+ that gives them the love story they deserve. Heck. if it takes another thirty years maybe the world will be ready for a polyamorous relationship between Finn/Rey/Poe. * I love Leia/Han, but that first kiss will always be just a TAD dodgy, which is infuriating since there WAS a cut line from Leia in which she verbally consents:
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