Saturday, January 16, 2016

When I became a man, I set aside childish ways.

Some of the YAs were talking Sunday night about ST: TFA at dinner.

I've written of Jing Yong; in his wuxia novels, male readers are supposed to identify with the male hero, who is usually the main character. There may be kick-ass women, who can be the equal to men in fighting thanks to qi (upon which Lucas's Force is based, plus some added "mysticism), but they are usually secondary, though I can think of at least one exception, Siu Lung Nui in 神雕侠侣(神鵰俠侶) -- I suppose female readers may identify with her.

Conservatives (or Catholics) who luv the film and praise the repetition as essential to story-telling or try to rationalize away the Mary Sue aspects of Rey...

Didn't Joseph Campbell first gain notice by outlining what was supposed to be the archetypal hero's journey? Isn't that what influenced Lucas? Whom do boys and young men identify with? Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. How are boys supposed to identify with Rey? It is clear that Disney has made Rey into a Jedi Disney princess, while expecting boys to love her character as well, in the name of egalitarianism and the obliteration of sex differences.

It has been claimed that Rey is a bit of a Mary Sue character -- she is a spectacular pilot, knows how to fight and easily learns to use the Force, with her skill exceeding that of mere padawan? Does she also takes to killing rather easily? The same critique could be said of Luke, who had lived a rather peaceful life on Tatooine and wasn't raised to be a citizen-soldier. We are not talking about killing at a distance, but at a rather close distance, even up close and personal with the lightsaber, with very little psychological preparation beforehand. I suppose the Rebels have enough of a warrior culture that Luke would not suffer much PTSD. Still, Luke never learned how to dehumanize those he had to kill (though it might be easy to do so since they would the armor of stormtroopers). How many have the psychological wiring to be able to make such a transition so quickly? (See the work of Dave Grossman.)

I would have to watch the movie carefully, and I'd rather not, so I don't know if Rey is shown actually killing anyone.

An alternate explanation has been advanced for the Mary Sue-like qualities of Rey, namely that her abilities are not innate but enhanced by the Force, that she has been chosen by the Force to be the new savior of the galaxy. The Force is now more like a god than an impersonal field permeating all things, like qi. What are the real-world implications of this? How many feminists will accept this interpretation instead of believing the movie to be an endorsement of their view of reality, than women are just the same as men, if not better, by their very nature?

Star Wars is more than a swashbuckler set in space -- training to be skilled in the use of the force may be similar or not to qi development in martial arts but it is as unreal. (Though those who are devoted to Asian martial arts may disagree.) I tend to favor reality-based fighting, and would prefer a movie show that. One could claim that the viewer can abstract from the Force and the Force training and focus instead on the development of skill and habit. But like wuxia novels, Star Wars seems to be appropriate for a certain age or stage of maturity and not beyond.

Given the problematic metaphysics of the Force (not such a problem in fantasy novels if one supposes the powers of magic are given by the Creator), and Disney's obvious SJW agenda, it is time for men to give up the franchise. We should have stories that encourage us to be heroic, but with the finite amount of time we have, why choose an inferior product? (Similarly, why let our children read Harry Potter?)

Related:
Star Wars The Force Awakens: JJ Abrams responds to criticism about the film being A New Hope 'rip off'
Star Wars: Episode VIII is ‘Much Darker’ in Tone, Says John Boyega

Just like ESB is darker than A New Hope...

Thought the author would apply Campbell to critique the new Star Wars movie, but he doesn't. So there is more than one kind of story... who would have known?
First Draft: Is Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey Dead in Screenwriting Today?


A side note:
I did see James Gandolfini's last movie, The Drop; I don't think one is supposed to identify with the protagonist -- the story is hardly an uplifting one. What is the moral? What is the point of making such a movie? Voyeurism? A glimpse into the life of a criminal? One could argue that the main character's life is hardly a happy one, and that it is doubtful at the end of the movie whether he can even find love. But it is a bit ambiguous, after all -- it seems that the women he has been dating may take another chance on another bad boy, one who is a real bad boy, even dangerous.

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