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State of Star Wars: sequel trilogy, over saturation, diversity etc

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Chris Knight, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    Hey gang, didn't know where precisely to place this so the mods can move or delete as they see fit.

    This week I returned to blogging and yesterday composed my first write-up about Star Wars since before The Force Awakens was released. It was kind of an exhilarating catharsis: commiting to the keyboard thoughts and musings about our beloved saga after being away for so long. Seeing in one vista what's happened since Disney took over the franchise.

    Anyhoo, the notion struck that I could perhaps share it on my "alma mater" site. Feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas. Respectful critique and criticism are something that I would appreciate especially after being out of the saddle for so long [face_laugh]

    Sequels, Side-stories, Social Justice... A NEW Star Wars Post!
     
  2. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Nice blog post, very well written. I’m going to address a few of your points.

    I agree with you about Luke and the send-off for him. I liked it. His arc gets a lot of criticism but I liked all of it except for the flashback when he goes after his nephew in the middle of the night. I’m not interested in a “Would you kill baby Hitler” type question in a movie that I see for entertainment, and I thought it was set up just to make Luke look bad. Luke’s ending, however, I thought was on par, twin suns and becoming one with the Force.

    Rogue One has been my favorite Disney/LFL film by a long shot. As far as oversaturation, I’m personally not concerned, because I’ll see what I want to see and leave the rest. Marvel is arguably over saturated and this is my philosophy with its work.

    On “social justice,” I disagree that Star Wars has never been political. The 1977 film had direct anti-Vietnam connotations. And Lucas took a lot of heat for not making Leia sweet and demure enough. I still see those type comments crop up from time to time, that Leia should have been “nicer,” and I consider those comments a load of crap. As far as Wendig, some of his one-star reviews were from homophobic trolls, but many people just did not like his writing style. On dislike for the sequels, some of the opposition is bigotry—“Star Wars is for boys,” “I’m sick of female leads,” etc. (the comments in quotes are comments I have actually seen, and had to moderate due to our policies against hate speech and sexism). However, I think it is possible to say that Rey is overpowered without that comment being related to her being a woman.

    I thought The Last Jedi was not nearly feminist enough, given that Rey took on the “good girl saves bad boy” trope full-swing. The first female Jedi lead deserved better. And Kylo Ren, to me, represents every white male who thinks he is entitled to special privileges—possessions, power, a woman—based on his birthright (which in no way represents the majority of white males, at least in my experience).

    One area where I feel you contradicted yourself is your saying that Star Wars should not be liberal or conservative, but went on to talk about Star Wars fans being from “red states.” If Star Wars should not be liberal or conservative, it should not matter whether fans are from “red states” or “blue states” or other countries. I do think Star Wars should be for everyone—and for that reason I thought reducing Poe to an explosive flyboy who needed to be slapped, was over the top and an attempt to reduce a male character in order to elevate female characters (which could easily be elevated without portraying Poe the way the writers did)—but “everyone” includes women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, so any “belief” that women, POC and LGBTQ people are somehow “less than”, should not be represented.
     
  3. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    Thanks friend. Though we may disagree on some things, I very much appreciate your taking the time to read it and to share your thoughts. And I am very grateful for the kind words :)
     
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  4. yodaman_reborn

    yodaman_reborn Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Feb 7, 2009
    Thank you for sharing your blog Chris. I have just a few things to say. First, there is already a lot of discussion about the quality of the sequel trilogy regarding story, plot and characters throughout these forums and I think your thread deserves better than to become another platform to be clogged up by that discussion so I personally will leave it be. The only thing I will say is that after they decided not to use Lucas’s story treatments that was pretty much the extent to which Lucas has really been involved. I don’t think they’ve consulted him at all which is a shame. But I digress...

    I guess the main point I’d like to tackle is the sociopolitical aspect that has been brewing, especially after TLJ. While I have my issues with the film, I was taken aback about the negativity that was specifically about social justice, feminism and diversity. Has Star Wars been political before? I don’t think Lucas has purposely used modern politics in his films but rather he has taken a more historical view of governance and civilization. I suppose the question is who is Star Wars really meant for? When seen as a mythology, it is technically for children, though obviously adults like them as well. Rogue One strayed from this mythology, but as an anthology film it had the flexibility to do this when compared to the saga films. Otherwise this world is coming from the point of view of a quiet, nerdy, comic book reading male. I don’t think Lucas was intentionally trying to target a specific audience, but I’m not sure it’s surprising that nerdy males were most attracted to the franchise. It’s does have a broad enough appeal that casual viewers like Star Wars, though probably not to the same fanatical level that we take it. And of course this does not mean the women don’t like Star Wars which this forum obviously shows there are plenty of female representatives. Having said that, growing up liking Star Wars as kid, most girls I knew didn’t really care for Star Wars, and in fact probably thought that those that liked the films were on the nerdy side. It’s not to the level of Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s in that spectrum.

    Maybe now the films are targeting a larger audience. Of course that begs the question of whether they should. To what extent does art and media affect society, it’s perceptions and its biases? Does art and media need to reverse such perceptions and biases? Does attempting to reverse it only create more problems? Should art and media be making subtle and bold political statements at every available chance? By deferring a direct stance on social issues, is a product of art or media complicit to the persistence of prejudice? Is what art and media trying to do a form of social engineering, or is it merely reversing centuries of social engineering? Is any movie doomed to criticism whether it ignores social issues or panders to social issues? Does enforcing diversity feel artificial and detract from a film that is not meant to be political? My answer? I don’t know, but my head hurts now.
     
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  5. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    @yodaman_reborn : I think there are some among the “nerdy males” that you referred to, who have tried to claim Star Wars as solely theirs, which has caused some of the negativity about “social justice”, diversity and feminism. But if I thought for a millisecond that Lucas intended Star Wars to be a boys’ club or even that he wrote it specifically “for boys,” I would not be a fan. That said...Lucas’ portrayal of Leia was enough to convince me that he intended Star Wars for both genders.

    On art and media and social engineering...science fiction as a genre has always addressed social themes; fantasy has as well, although maybe to a lesser extent.
     
  6. yodaman_reborn

    yodaman_reborn Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Feb 7, 2009
    I’m not sure whether it’s a question of including or excluding. It becomes a question of whether the vision of the series needs to adjust to modern social politics. Does it need it try to be more inclusive or not? Do the previous Star Wars films not feel generally inclusive? I suppose it’s like taking a Rambo movie and saying it should diversify its audience. However by diversifying it’s audience would it no longer be a Rambo film any more and would alienate the core audience that originally like those Rambo films? Star Wars of course isn’t to the extreme of a Rambo film, but that’s just meant to be an extreme example.
     
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  7. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    When Kirk kissed Uhura in the "Plato's Stepchildren" episode of the original Star Trek series, that was thought to be the first time in American television history that a man of European heritage ever kissed a woman of African ancestry.

    It was proclaimed and is still acclaimed as a turning point in ethnic relations in America.

    But what NEVER happens in that episode is it blared out with flashing sirens and confetti and air horns "HEY THIS WHITE MAN IS KISSING A BLACK WOMAN!!!"

    Rodenberry knew that the episode was daring and would even offend some. He did it anyway. But Rodenberry was also wise enough to do it with tact, and with a measure of respect toward everyone, especially toward his entire audience. What he did not do was turn the episode into a bully pulpit for his opinions. "Insult" was never his motive or his tool.

    That one quiet kiss between simply a man and a woman, and NOT a "white man" and a "black woman", reaped more positive yield than any overt political statements ever could.

    Going back to the example cited in the post about Chuck Wendig: he DID use insult as his motive and tool in Aftermath. He became an extremist and extremists rarely... I emphasize RARELY... win anyone to their cause. Wendig has indicated in his literature and his blog posts that those who don't hold to his beliefs about certain lifestyles are to be despised and deemed barbaric and at least once he insinuates that they are not worthy of human life.

    That kind of extremism and hatred blinds him from the simple truth that to disagree with a person is NOT grounds or rationale to hate that person. And though I have my own convictions about some issues, I don't particularly care to associate or be associated with anyone, at ALL, who would use that or any other social belief as a platform for hatred and intolerance. Some years ago while working at a TV station I had to spend five hours - as a professional obligation - in a hot humid studio with about 30 members of the Westboro Baptist Church. It will forever remain one of the WORST incidents of my entire life. There was one terrible moment when I had to ask something of Shirley Phelps-Roper (daughter of founder Fred Phelps) and so help me there was not a soul in those eyes. Just a dark abyss radiating a hatred and murdeous rage as I had never seen.

    That kind of extremism is hate for hate's sake. It does more than lead to inevitable self-destruction. It also poisons and corrupts any meaningful discussion and dialogue. When others have automatically been declared "racist" or "homophobic" or "misogynist" or "godless" or whatever, it becomes almost impossible to focus on ideas. It becomes about ideologies. And the obsession to inflict those ideologies on others.

    Ironically, in his extremism, Wendig did exactly that with Star Wars. He used it as a platform for his own hatred and intolerance. And his Aftermath trilogy suffered in quality as a result.

    There are many, many people in this world who hold to beliefs which a lot of politicians and most in the entertainment industry do not share. It isn't merely belief or "political opinions" these people have. They are sincere *convictions* which have been arrived at in reason, in knowledge and science, in pondering ethics and morality, in earnest faith. And they hold to them without any hatred whatsoever toward others.

    If a sincere conviction about something is wrong, you can't just beat that person into submission about it. You have to PROVE to them beyond any reasonable doubt that their conviction, albeit in good candor, is not right. And setting out to do that can never be done in wrath and disdain toward others. Hatred has no part in that. It is, however, an act of nothing more or less than love.

    Do that for someone you know is wrong, out of respect and sincerity and love toward that person, and that person WILL appreciate the gesture if their heart is in the right place. At best, you will have convinced them and each of you goes away the better for it. At worst, you earn their respect. And that isn't bad either.

    To be honest, I don't see how Star Wars can attempt something like that in regard to a social or political issue in this time allotted ourselves. It doesn't need to either. But that's not to say that there aren't ideas that Star Wars can't touch upon and encourage thinking about. Indeed, there are. They are multitude. And I cannot think of many better modern-day parables out there to explore them with than Star Wars.
     
  8. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Star Wars isn’t Rambo, and if the mere inclusion of a female lead, an LGBTQ character or relationship, or a mixed-race relationship alienates an old fan...that’s not the fault of the writer or director who included the female lead, LGBTQ character or mixed-race relationship.

    I’m personally not interested in killing sexism, homophobia or racism with kindness; that’s not my job. And on the sexism front, trying to do as much would involve conversing with someone who thinks I’m a second-class citizen due to my gender, and I definitely have better ways to spend my time.

    I only saw one or two of Wendig’s blog posts, and the one that stands out to me, was the one in which he posted a picture of two men kissing and told all the people who had sent him hateful homophobic reviews on Amazon to look at it. I thought that was hilarious. Given the nature of the reviews, I don’t think Wendig was under any obligation to be diplomatic, although I would agree that saying that someone is not worthy of human life is not OK.

    There is enough Star Wars material out there that people who have religious convictions against LGBTQ couples can always skip Wendig’s books, or not finish them. Saying that it’s not OK for an LGBTQ couple to appear in Star Wars at all is completely different, and in my mind unacceptable. I see this similar to the way I handle book challenges on my job; if I parent does not want his or her child to check out a specific book, I always honor that request, but I take great issue with the idea that one parent should be able to prevent all other children from checking out a particular book that the parent disagrees with.

    Star Wars isn’t ruined because Sinjir likes men or because Jom was raised by two women. I can see how it would be jarring (albeit still without ruining Star Wars) to toy around with the sexual orientations of established characters—giving Luke a husband, for example—but that hasn’t happened.
     
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  9. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    I saw that episode when it aired (and since) and it was not quite so "quiet" as you paint - Kirk "the Flirt" was plainly forced to kiss Uhuru against his wishes. I totally agree about that being a turning point, and how daring it was, but let's not forget it was **drum roll** FORCED ***drum roll."

    Yup, totally agree.

    I quite agree - in general. If you can have a truthful, honest, SINCERE discussion with someone, you might get a conversion or softening of stance (yours or theirs). But as AFS says (more or less), sometimes there is no room for debate on one person's/group's part; to counter their attempts to legislate their viewpoints on all is something that needs to be fought against. And folks like AFS are under no obligation to persuade anyone, though unlike her, I think it worthy to attempt to do so as a first step.

    There's some extremely thoughtful posts above and i appreciate this kind of discussion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  10. Darth Bridge 167

    Darth Bridge 167 Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Nov 13, 2017
    I will address oversaturation of the SW franchise. SW to me is nothing different then a TV show I DVR every week anymore, meaning I'll get to it when I have time. That is sort of how I feel about SW in that I will never turn my back on it, but I don't have to rush out to see it opening weekend anymore. That is what oversaturation has done is that it isn't special anymore, as the build up and lead up to each movie is gone.

    For example, we are one month away from Solo and I still haven't even talked to my friends on plans to see it. Before we used to plan 2-3 months in advance: OK, we will see it Friday night at this time or that time, that way everyone could find a babysitter, or make sure they are off from work, etc. Right now Solo is not on anyone's radar as I MAY see it the 2nd weekend it comes out, maybe the 3rd at this point. If it gets bad reviews then I may even wait for BluRay/Cable/Streaming at that point, as there is no burning desire that I have to see this film.

    That is the difference between now and the PT is that I HAD to see those films opening night, I had to see TFA opening night, etc, but something has been lost with the oversaturation of the franchise. Now the franchise will survive and Disney could really care less if I see it or not, because it's almost too big to fail at this point (I'm not one of these fans who makes a threat and thinks it will actually make a difference). But there is a cause/effect of releasing these movies without a nice break to build up the next one.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
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  11. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    Kinda parallels where I'm at with the SW animated series. I've barely seen any of 'em! I'd like to sometime but that's been a lot of time in recent years that hasn't been much of to invest toward a new TV series. But it's not really necessary anyway. The heart of the saga is being told through the movies. Anything more is an extra bonus.

    Although, sometimes I wonder how rock-solid canon the non-film material is at all. Darth Maul surviving into the ANH era is among that. However kewl he looked he was still a one-trick pony to help introduce the Sith as the antagonists of the prequels. He did his job, anything more with him than that is unnecessary and even waters down the character. Besides, they want us to believe that a punk like Maul survived bisection at the waist for decades and an ancient Dark Side Force of nature personified like Snoke didn't?!? :confused:

    Maybe some of the Clone Wars/Rebels stuff "happens" but didn't really. My personal theory about the dumber episodes of Star Trek, like "Spock's Brain" and "Turnabout Intruder" were actually joke entries that Kirk was making into the captain's log as a prank because he got bored at times. Then centuries later his log is found by Starfleet historians and believed to be historical accounts. That could be Star Wars too. Sometimes weird stuff gets attached to legends. But it doesn't have to take anything away from the legends, right? :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  12. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Or "The Apple" (I think that was the title) with the Space Hippies. Trippy, man. But young me, whose brother was the watcher and I was mainly in the room so kind of watched as well, remember several episodes as real eye-openers (at least then): the rock creature who was trying to protect her young from miners, the Frank Gorshwin episode with two men, each half white/half black contemptuous of each other - there were some real gems in there.

    The Star Wars TV series - it's complicated. I enjoyed them as TV. I did not always like the artistic choices/characterizations/narrative choices. Of course, I'm exaggerating here, but the "young know better than the old," (deference to Ahsoka - not always, of course, but too often for me), the too frequent portrayal of the Jedi as not just misguided at times, but wrong/bull-headed to a fault and if they only listened to Ahsoka and Anakin, how rosy it all would be...ahem. Overplaying Obi-Wan's sarcasm and stubbornness and minimizing his compassion and warmth.
     
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  13. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    HERBERT!! HERBERT!!

    (Sorry, couldn't resist [face_laugh] )
     
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  14. wobbits

    wobbits Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 12, 2017
    I am probably in the minority but I don't think Star Wars is over saturated. At least not compared to Marvel. There's a new Marvel film it seems like at least once a year and its been that way for the last ten years, since Iron Man in 08 if I remember correctly. Now there are 3-4 additional Marvel tv shows floating around Netflix. I just remember how the long drought felt between the OT and the PT then the PT and the ST so it still seems like an infrequent occurrence to me.

    In my case this also may be due to the fact that I didn't read the majority of the EU novels and never started any comics until this year. I remember learning early on that the content of the EU novels was not necessarily George's story so I wasn't in a hurry to pick up any of the books that directly handled the OT characters. For me the heart of the story takes place in the films so I held out for George to decide to tell more of his story in that medium. (The only EU novels I read were the Darth Bane trilogy until this year when I picked up Bloodline)

    I waited a couple of years before I even watched the Clone Wars tv series. I couldn't reconcile the idea that Anakin had a padawan so it took me some time to start the show. I held off on Rebels too because I didn't care for the animation style.

    I will definitely be seeing Solo on opening night and many thereafter if it's as good as I think it's going to be.
     
  15. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2009
    "Because so far that has happened... the sequels are proceeding EXACTLY as George Lucas meant for them to go!"

    Erm... no. They aren't. They discarded his story, decided to do something else, and because of that he played no part in what ended up being developed and released. If anything, that's the opposite of what he meant them to be.

    "Rian Johnson didn't play it safe at all. He incinerated the garden. Then he burned down the house for good measure. Sometimes you have to destroy utterly so that you can rebuild and grow and make it better. "Let the past die, kill it if you have to". It was time to let Star Wars grow and blossom into something it had never been before but was always meant to be."

    But that's the whole problem. "Meant to be"? To whom? Who gets do decide what it's meant to be? Who decided that it wasn't already what it's meant to be before these sequels? And there is a difference between not playing safe or pandering and incinerating it completely, as you put it. The fact that they have so far done nothing but those two extremes, without any general purpose, direction or vision, shows the whole endeavour for what it is.

    "And that wasn't possible if it was still clinging to our own expectations."

    Why would it need to cling to anyone's expectations? Didn't they have an original story, from the source itself? Right now, it's clinging to the expectations of whoever the next guy happens to be, as it was with the previous two.

    --

    Regarding the social agenda, I completely agree with you. The characters should be treated as individuals, like people should. Right now it's pandering to a particular set of people, those who promote group thinking, quotas and identity politics. Worse, they are arguing/reacting against something that Star Wars never did or promoted. And not only are they doing it, but they are doing it in a blatant and subversively enough way that people noticed it and rightfully criticized it.

    Those that say that "Star Wars has always been political" as justification for what they are doing, are missing the point. There's a difference between having politics/political events inspire the story and using the story to shoehorn/preach political views, directly or indirectly. Star Wars is not and never has been the latter.

    --

    On your appreciation for TLJ, can't save you there. :p The lack of internal logic (not even talking about their approach and decisions, but the story itself) to what they decided to do keeps me from taking it seriously enough to argue about it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 8:54 AM
  16. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    The Canto Bight stuff seems more and more a misstep. That could have been handled better. Even excised from the script entirely. Johnson said at least once that he wanted a casino planet. Hey, I want a free dinner at Ruth's Chris but I doubt THAT is going to work out either [face_laugh]

    The only positive benefit from Canto Bight is that it set up the stable boy in the very last shot of the film, how he reflects the inspirational legend that Luke has become. Still, Johnson could have found a better way to lead up to that moment.
     
  17. Darth Bridge 167

    Darth Bridge 167 Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Nov 13, 2017
    This would have been perfect for a standalone film or a new trilogy, but not for 7,8,9. 7,8,9 are the continuation of the Skywalker Saga (whether you like that story or not) and burning down the 'garden' in part 8 of 9 has never made sense to me. The whole point of the 1-6 story is that there is a continuous narrative that flows from beginning to end, and that is why it still works today. To throw a bunch of curveballs in Part 8 just to take the Saga into this sharp right turn, may work in the short-term, but I don't know if it will hold up in the long-term.

    My point is that the narrative/story are the most important thing of a movie, because that is what will hold up years from now. People don't watch ESB now solely for the 'twist' with Darth Vader, they watch it because it's a great movie that continued the narrative after ANH. I worry that alot things in TLJ will look out of place 5-10 years from now when fans revisit this story, because Part 8 will look SO out of left field compared to the other Saga films.

    I really liked TFA, but the movie doesn't hold up as well for me now after TLJ. And the reason was that many of the plot points in that movie were setup for the rest of the Trilogy. So they worked in 2015-16 when you had to guess that this will happen or that will happen, but now the movie looks different. When I watch it now, alot of the questions are answered, or they are answered in an odd way. That is why a movie can't rely just on Twists or Mystery Boxes, because the narrative is the most important thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018 at 3:30 PM
  18. Chris Knight

    Chris Knight TFN Humor Staff star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1998
    TLJ did give us in the end the fulfillment of a potential that had only been teased and tantalized for over three decades:

    The Galaxy is now under control of the Skywalker family.

    Ben has achieved a power that Sidious tempted Anakin with and that Vader in turn tempted Luke with. But Vader never had that full power.

    And now his grandson does. The Galaxy has fallen to Ben Skywalker, Supreme Leader of the First Order and wielder of the Dark Side of the Force.

    If THAT isn't a development in the tale of the Skywalker clan, I don't know what is. The situation is as bleak as it's ever been. Just hope that IX won't be anticlimactic.