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(If you have not seen the film, do not read further, there are a lot of spoilers. And also, do watch it already, it’s on Netflix now!)
I’ve been writing this piece for a year and a half now.
The reason why I picked up the notes for this essay again is that I saw a trailer for the Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. J.J. Abrams is back to directing the film after The Force Awakens, and has admitted that the title was chosen for the provocation it will and has caused. With all the speculation and suspense this release was meant to arouse, I rewatched the film, once again, with things Skywalker said in mind. See, because I am terribly worried, that Skywalker is rising. The lack of the article makes it a bit better. If it was The Skywalker that was rising, I would probably lose my mind. But this Skywalker can be presumed to be something more than it merely sounds like, and I am satisfied to live in nervous anticipation for the next six months.
If you’re into the worker’s movement, animal rights, women empowerment, critique on aggressive males—you probably loved The Last Jedi. I certainly did when I watched it back in December 2017. I later understood, while talking to people about it, how incredibly mixed its reception was. The big problem some fans have with The Last Jedi is how it seems to abruptly and almost the-hell-with-itly toss the assumed character arcs away. The fans protest the idea that The Last Jedi is good simply because it exceeds our expectations, that it is a dumb reason to praise it. And, of course, you need to appreciate the fans. They are what made this saga greater than no one ever dared to dream. But the film was also critically acclaimed, received by new audiences, and it made a profit. It was a success in every way.
Nonetheless, when you search Youtube with the entry "last jedi," the first thing on the page is not the film (which is on sale on Youtube), but a video titled Why Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a Complete Cinematic Failure. More than six million people have watched it, which is more than the population of Finland. It would have been viewed by even more people, if the VJ didn’t have to reload the video a year ago due to Disney scolding him for using the theme music. I have not seen the whole video—as a fan of this film, who has been unenthusiastic about the whole franchise until now, as a professional screenwriter and as a feminist, it’s just impossible to watch. As reviews go, the video is emotionally detached to a point of neurosis, poorly argued, hateful, and I could not finish it. I started writing this essay as a result of the video though. I wrote 87,000 characters (without spaces) of analysis, where I carefully deconstructed and argued everything I saw in the first 15 minutes of that review. I was enraged. Why was something that made so much sense to me missed by so many people? What do people hate when they hate The Last Jedi? My mission was based in anger and feeling misunderstood for Rian Johnson, and I just couldn’t finish the essay. I tried to speak to people in my school, at parties, on the streets, everywhere, about the film, but people either didn’t care about Star Wars or mostly disagreed with me.
After seeing the trailer for the new film, I decided to focus on the journey Rey and Kylo and those close around them make in The Last Jedi. As said, I love this film and there are hardly any seconds of it that I don’t consider to be, if not amazing, just completely fine. During the last two years, I have probably watched it about 50 times. The reason why it is possible for me to see the benefit of what Rian Johnson did with the script is perhaps that the original saga means… close to nothing to me. As someone who has seen all the previous films, and never got really enthusiastic about them, I do not share passion and the long-lasting love for the saga that many of the fans do. I was free of expectations when I saw the film and I am somewhat impartial and able to see Johnson’s attempts for what they are.
To all of you who point fingers, blame, and ridicule at Rian Johnson, please remember: No one wanted George Lucas to succeed. No one understood what he was doing. The future fan base of Star Wars then decided something else, fell in love with the story, the characters, the whole infinite universe. Isaac Asimov and whole canon of science fiction literature was behind Star Wars, but the general audience and the film making industry laughed at Lucas.
Because I do not know the entity of the saga (the video games, cartoons, books), I do look at the film with the eyes of a new audience, and I will only reference things that are seen during this film, and this film only (with exception to a few references to the history of Luke, Leia, and Darth Vader from previous films). With all this being said, I am not saying that what I propose here is really true in a way that could be somehow clinically proved by comparing the script versions or checked with the filmmakers. It’s just what I thought when I saw the film. I saw what I wanted to see.
The antagonist of the film, Kylo Ren, is the new alpha that kills all what was before. Just like the new generation of filmmakers. They’re not here to ask the old fans for permission to break the Aristotelian, one-eyed view of what this saga has to be. The trouble with reading or watching the critiques of Star Wars fans is that there is hardly any autonomic thinking; there is just panic of losing control of what’s happening, which leads to emotional outrage.
We’ve been taught to assume that the main character of a film is a man who is destined by the Gods to change the course of the future despite incredible odds and the risk of certain death. We go to the cinema to feel alive and live through the transformative journeys of these heroes, because we never truly face any actual obstacles in our life—or few modern Western people do. Women, perhaps more commonly, people of color, more often definitely. The Hero’s Journey theory, or the Monomyth, adapts the psychological event of a religious ritual, which aims to meaningfully transform an individual from one thing to another, through their intent, inner desire, and antagonistic obstacles. Our screen narratives are still very much a reflection of ancient spiritual practices, that go way beyond current patriarchal monotheism; and The Last Jedi is still very much rooted to this tradition. So, for anyone fearing whether the feminists will come and ruin everything, it is all in your head.
Any film is an attempt to understand the era it was made in. The prequels were made in the transitional era of Clinton and Bush, before and after 9/11. We lived in the rising era of capitalism. We were untroubled, hopeful. And then tragedy struck and it caught us off our guard, and we didn’t understand the reason why the world suddenly collapsed. There was an enemy, a strange culture and dangerous countries with their enemy forces and with their unfamiliar religious beliefs. There was power; it seemed to threaten us, it looked like darkness, like something that would eat us up. It became a fact, a realization that we could not be one as human kind. The natural or beautiful coexistence of beliefs, cultures, and customs was not possible. The polarization of good and bad splashed the world with white and black paint, and everything grey was deemed dirty, impure, and not wanted. The Iraq War was a boardroom war more than perhaps any war before it. The world's politics had been long stagnant, and nobody had any idea what was going on. We still don’t. I didn’t buy into the scenario either of the prequels assumed, and was born too late for the original saga to really resonate with my world.
The Last Jedi was made for me. For anyone, who lives in the age of constant spin. In the era were you fall if you’re idealistic. Where the ones, who understand how the world works might thrive, but not feel too great about it. I hate to hear people saying that The Last Jedi killed the saga, when it finally transformed this saga to the next level. Unlike the other science fiction franchises done these days, it has always had such a special message about spirituality.
The reason Johnson has been able to captivate a new generation, new group of fans, is because he… well, he let the past die. There is no reason to repeat what the previous films did. If you were just to repeat these rules that the former films and Joseph Campbell has set, you would create stagnant work. And for who? If you think this movie is "injected with feminism” or think Holdo looks like a lesbian bookstore clerk, you really should question the way you were taught to think. The one thing that unites the people who have some sort of issue with feminism is that they really, truly, have not read the history of feminism. Some dare even claim they have, that they are aware of what they’re saying, even when it’s complete nonsense.
Behind the view presented in this essay are some of the most famous books about second wave feminist psychology and feminist narrative theory. It’s not a deep dive, but it’s a start, and the book list is mentioned at the bottom of the text. These books are not as up to date to the theory of third and fourth wave feminism, but they do offer a good balance for the traditional film narrative that can be seen to be grossly gender-biased. I did not have the resources to reference page numbers, I just sort of winged this, so you really just need to study them yourselves if you want to seriously challenge my point of view.
So what is a Skywalker anyway?
The prequels showed the political system the Jedi had created and then the destruction of that world by Darth Vader, the former Anakin Skywalker and the one who was prophesied to return the balance of the Force to the galaxy. Vader failed and succeeded at the same time. While he was seduced by his fear and sorrow and dedicated his life, soul, and body to the Dark Side, he also created two children who grew up without his poisonous guidance. Luke became a hero, whose name is known by everyone in the galaxy, and Leia became a general, leader of all those who protect the Light. The Legendary Skywalkers.
The Last Jedi might be Rey’s story, but in relation to the saga, the movie circles around a Sun called Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill has been openly critical about the way we find the Jedi master as a broken man, and an agitated hermit. This is a man who, until the very end, believed Anakin could be galvanized back to Light. How could he be so foolish, so vain, so corrupted, that he would turn so easily against his own nephew? Luke Skywalker was the epitome of hope, of a hippie generation, of freedom, tranquility, wisdom—but also naivety, and very much open to the perils of egoism. I love that Hamill has made such a fuss about it, though! Don’t believe what they say; a film is never the product of any single writer, director, or an actor, but all of them—the whole crew needs to live up to any great work. Mark Hamill played his role like a pro, even when he was greatly hesitant about the direction Johnson set his character on.
Luke has run off to die alone on the most unfindable place on the galaxy. His spacecraft lies broken under the cliffs of the island, a sight that functions as a hint that cashes in at the battle of Crait. At the final stand-off, the audience can appreciate the dramatic irony of knowing before anyone else, that there is no way he is really there. He has no wings. His decision of denying the Resistance’s quest is nonetheless undone as he meets R2D2, who shows him the old hologram message Leia sent to Obi-Wan Kenobi. At the end of the film, we learn that he also took Han Solo’s dice, that apparently were laid to rest at that distant island. Learning of Han’s death also brings him not only the pain of losing an old friend, but the guilt for what he did to Ben. Luke decides to give Rey three lessons on the ways of the Jedi; and meanwhile, Snoke plans to give three sessions of his own, both to Rey and Kylo.
After significant twitching and squirming, Luke finally confesses to Rey what really happened at the Temple before the creation of Kylo Ren. The truth nonetheless makes Rey think, more than ever, that she could turn Ben Solo. When Luke tried to turn Vader, Vader asked Luke to join him instead. Luke suspects, correctly, that the history will repeat itself. But here is the crease, that cracks and explains it all, Luke’s loss of hope and also the approaching death of Snoke.
As we learn in the beginning of the film, Snoke knows that “a cur’s weakness, properly manipulated, can be a sharp tool.” Snoke confesses later in his throne room to Rey, before torturing her, that he established the strange mental connection between Rey and Kylo to manipulate them both. This arrogant reveal of his hand is the last stab for Kylo, who soon after murders Snoke. Snoke was a fascinating, powerful antagonistic force, and killing him off was another highly protested turn. Fans viewed that Snoke was killed "for no apparent reason." Killing Snoke, along with Skywalker, has been Kylo’s long lasting dream. Snoke and Skywalker bare little difference in his eyes.
It would be a fair guess that Snoke orchestrated the vision Luke had about Ben before almost killing him, since it is otherwise so out of character for Luke. Luke had to fail, in order to teach Rey that she needs to be the one to rise up. Point of Yoda coming back as a projection is Luke’s final lesson. No Sith master seduced or forced Kylo with a threat of a certain death—only his Jedi uncle did. Yoda reminds, that's when he turned on him. Luke taught Kylo something that will grow to be known beyond the life of a master. Luke’s hubris shouldn’t come as a total surprise. He is the son of Darth Vader. It’s natural for Luke to stay in the Light, it doesn’t take much effort—but sometimes, he slips. Leia is also on the Light’s Side, but she is a general of the Resistance. She can act out on her dark impulses in her work. Kylo doesn’t choose the Dark Side because it is easy for him. He is lost in his quest to find himself beyond being an attention-seeking heir of the mighty Skywalkers. Kylo chooses the Dark Side over and over again because he wants to make a definite decision. He does not want to be seduced to the Dark Side due to a horrible trauma inflicted on him. He appears to be a psychotic killer, who leads an incredibly violent life as a First Order officer; but as we learned in The Force Awakens, Kylo is constantly seduced by the Light, very much like his grandfather Darth Vader was. Kylo Ren is actually a broken man who regrets killing his father. This leads him to overcompensate his reasons for his quest in his arrogance and righteousness. It is splitting his spirit to the bone. He is not a Vader. He is a Skywalker. This is why Skywalker needs to die. Skywalkers are easily tempted. When they choose Light, they are seduced by the Dark, and the other way around, too. If his grandfather was destined to restore the balance of the Force by turning against the Empire and reunite with his son Luke, Kylo wants to master his own destiny. Those are Snoke’s last words; fulfill your destiny. And Kylo fulfills it, in the exact same manner as his grandfather; he turns against the ruler of the First Order.
But he, unlike Vader, succeeds in fooling everyone.
What is a Vader?
The premise of drama is when two opposing sides collide completely. And that there is no way out of that collision. Characters arching is the character; the way they react, think, and live is defined by that collision. This way, the arching of events and individual scenes forming a chain continuum rise to rival the meaning of separate or suspended character arcs in the story. The second act of the film consists of the approach and execution of two hostile takeovers, end with Leia undoing the one Poe committed to Holdo’s command, and the climax of Kylo Ren murdering Snoke. Everything that happens on the Resistance ship is effectively put into motion by Poe, whose quest is to learn to be a leader beyond his exquisite pilot skills. Even regards to Poe, it is Kylo who destroys the Resistance’s plane hangar and rips off Poe’s wings. Everything in the story moves where Kylo Ren wants it to move.
Either Snoke seems to think that Vader never failed at all, or he just knows that this is what Kylo needs to believe. In The Force Awakens, Kylo was very much set on the idea of being worthy in relation to his ancestry. And for that matter, I do find The Last Jedi’s approach to this psychology much more inspiring. But whether Snoke actually drools over Kylo’s bloodline or not, Snoke clearly believes in creating your own faith. Part of that journey, is obviously the taking of a new name. People change their names to become more of what they are. But if you want to rename yourself and start a new life, you really need to choose your new name yourself. Palpatine renamed Anakin. We don’t know if Snoke renamed Ben, but at this stage, it’s probably safe to assume so. Snoke wants to ensure Kylo Ren keeps striving for his potential, and assures him that imitation is not the same as intimidation.
This is when Kylo destroys his own mask, the tribute to Vader he had previously leaned on so comfortably. He does not want to become a new Vader. He wants to become the first Supreme Leader Ren. Even with him still being in recovery from murdering his father, and, of course, from Rey splitting his face in half with a saber, it is clear that Kylo is somehow reluctant to continue on Snoke’s mission. The work he started with killing Han Solo is very much unfinished.
Hopefully, I will never forget what it felt like to see the faces of Kylo and Leia intercut in the film, as he set out to kill Leia, and then seeing Kylo’s finger exhausting from the trigger. That was the moment I fell in love with this film. Kylo could not kill his mother. Murdering of the mother is a psychological suicide. Our fathers function as protectors in a certain jungian perspective, but our mothers birth us—the connection is sacred. This is a clear premonition of Ben Solo returning. It’s obvious that he already regrets everything, all the time. In the new film’s trailer, there is a swift shot of some sort of black mask being welded back together, it seems. This truly concerns me. What does it mean if Kylo Ren puts that mask back on in Episode IX?
The back and forth with Leia almost dying, first almost being shot by Kylo, then being ripped into outer space, then floating back in that much discussed much mocked way does aspire questions. It’s clear Johnson wanted to get rid of the Resistance leadership, but unless he wrote Leia to be in the bathroom at the moment of crisis, he had to figure out another way of killing off everybody but her. I didn’t perhaps love the way it looked, but at that moment, in December 2017, we knew Carrie Fisher had passed away, and I thought that was why they had to kill her off. Let's just say, emotion overcame me. I only later learned she had finished the shooting of the film before she passed, and now we also know that she will even live on in the next film, in a story sequence created with previously unused material. Leia’s return portrays the ways of the Force, and what kind of wonders can occur when balance seeks to find its way from war. Leia’s story is not over yet.
At the end of the film, Kylo Ren and Luke meet in the battle of Crait, supposedly for the first time, after he killed his friends and burned down Luke’s temple. Kylo is greatly distressed from the mere sight of Luke, and even before that, furious about seeing the Falcon still gliding in the sky. “Did you come here to say forgive me? To save my soul?” Kylo mocks Luke as he faces him. Kylo wants to tell Luke he doesn’t feel betrayed and he can’t be saved. Thoughts become things, but you can only be in control of all those things if you originate them. He was not created. He made a choice. “Strike me down in anger and I will always be with you... just like your father.” And just like your grandfather, one might add. This is Luke’s way of saying: Don’t fool yourself. You are not an executor of some fine plan. You are not above it all. You are a victim of your own hate. You are blinded by grandiose. And Luke knows this…. because he has lived this.
Looking at Kylo Ren opening up to Rey and trying to turn her to the Dark Side really makes me wonder about what it means in the Star Wars universe to balance power and higher knowledge. These are in a sense one’s opposites but they still exist in this fantastic realm, the two pillars that hold the dualistic world in place. The natural law of said world proves again and again that it has also evolved beyond dualism, perhaps into some form of monism, that still manages to encompass the variety of all the things that can be. When Rey arrives to Ahch-To, she gets a hang on meditation pretty swiftly, perhaps to demonstrate how the human race has evolved mentally. They are more connected to conscious powers. The Dark Side should not be seen as the opposite of said knowledge of Unified Field, but as a form of shadow of the idea of self, of ego, if you please. Kylo Ren is not a senseless lunatic, who acts out his violent impulses. Criminal psychologists actually argue that human beings do not have an instinct to violence, not in the same way we do have an instinct to eating and sex. Violence is always a form of failed thinking.
Rey meditates and finds the cave, “the dark place under the island” during her first lesson with Luke, right after the first connection with Kylo. It is clear that Luke also senses Kylo’s presence in Rey, which is why he becomes so terrified. During their second shared communication, Rey is outside, in nature, enjoying the rain, while Kylo inhabits his industrial domain. Kylo is very much in command of what transpires here, he looks Rey in the eyes and speaks softly, confirming to her something he is terribly proud of, that he is a monster. It’s pretty convincing, so I’m thinking it is a lie. A self-suggestive spell. It pleases him that Rey thinks so, though. The others see him they way he wants to be seen. A psychopath cannot exist, unless other people reflect him back to him.
The third time they connect, Rey is crying, close to hysterical, demanding to understand why Kylo murdered her mentor, his father, Han Solo. Kylo doesn’t acknowledge her distress, does not sympathize with her, does not react, doesn’t even answer her at first. In a broken mind, there really are no other people. To a psychotic person, everyone just exists for them, and if someone else expresses something that doesn’t originate in them, it does not resonate in them. This is also why Kylo wanted to kill Han Solo, and why it was possible for him to do so, even if some part of him regrets killing the man who presumably raised and nurtured him. Kylo then infects Rey with the dark truth about Luke and ridicules her parental heritage and her desperate need to know them. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.” Kylo is envious of Rey’s background, because it resembles that of Anakin’s.
After Kylo fights alongside Rey against Snoke’s guards, he once again declares death to all things on both sides… all except for the First Order. He never talks about dismantling his army, never envisions what kind of regime he would run instead, what kind of politics he would propose. He mentions order, not freedom. He mentions rule, not peace. I am incredibly anxious to find out how Kylo’s story continues in the upcoming sequel. Despite all his monstrosity, I still pray that Kylo could also find his way, and be free from petty, vain, and dusty entitlements to what he believes he needs in order to be his own man.
What is a Rey?
The new trilogy tells a story about a young woman attempting to become a whole person. Rey is the victim of a system. She is not from a long line of royalty (that we know of), the one destined to solve anything. She is one of the oppressed. It makes more sense that the character who rises to the center stage supposedly from nothing is a woman in this film that is trying to tell its audience about our contemporary world.
In the reality of Star Wars, the women have always been disenfranchised, much like women have been in the Western civilisation and around the world. Leia was the only active woman in the previous films, but also a strongly sexualised object in her gold bikinis, falling in love with Han Solo, and kissing Luke. Rey is not here to flirt with anyone. But just like Luke and Leia, who were drawn together because they felt the sibling connection, Rey is attracted to Kylo Ren, her equal in the Dark, the most important piece of the puzzle for Rey whose mission it is to help the Light win. He, on the other hand, is a gifted seducer. ”You’re not alone. You have no place in this story. You come from nothing, you’re nothing—but not to me. Join me.”
This, of course, is a horrible pitch to someone who wishes to become a whole person. She has no place in her own story? Rey doesn’t even flinch, but her heart changes at that point. Kylo has now presented himself as someone who has a false origin story for her, and who tries to use that past to bend her knee. She has no intention of acting out this self-fulfilling prophecy. She chooses wholeness and manages to escape from Kylo. What is written, can be read, and if you are set in your ways, your mind can be read like a book. What is in flux and a secret, cannot be read. Her mind powers match his now. She is now a legit threat to his rule.
In the midpoint of the film, Rey finally asks her question in the cave. "I should have felt trapped or panicked. I knew it was leading somewhere, that at the end it would show me what I came to see.” She asks the place to show her, her parents, but she gets no answer, because the question is not the right one. She should have asked: Who am I? She has previously asked the question out loud repeatedly in the film; but after Kylo messing her up, she can’t get it out now. She sees the long continuum of her own reflections, which I assume symbols the chain of mothers and daughters before her. At the end, she sees two shadowy figures becoming one and emerging behind the glass to touch her hand… which then turns into a mirror reflection of her alone.
This vision was there to show her that one’s background or heritage do not have to define your actions or your place in the world. We all make our own decisions. The claim that she does not become her own person with this revelation has no grounds. She is not ready to accept what this means: That it is all down to her. She might not have parental support on her quest, but her lacking this, her weakness, should never grow into anything of significance either.
The surrounding spectacle around Rey’s hidden heritage and lineage is quite bothersome, and even incomprehensible, to me. I just do not understand why it matters so much? I do understand that not knowing where you come from causes great pain. It is sensible to question everything Kylo Ren tells you, and it is somehow in his interest to convince Rey that she is not the great descendant of some ancient family of warriors.
The revelation and the way it is achieved was unpleasing to many fans. It seems random and supposedly “made no sense.” The modern Western audience, who might not practice any religion, respect any spiritual rituals, and who do not understand magical thinking cannot, perhaps, understand the simple yet powerful symbol a mirror as a continuum of self-reflection. The same people think modern witches are emotionally unstable hipsters.
It was not her time to understand this answer, but without this disappointment, she never would have shared her visions with Kylo. Both believe that the other can be turned. What they envision as their hands touch is their own projections and hopes for the other person. After this, Rey leaves her master Luke and never sees him alive again. Luke’s death was another thing that a large body of the fans resisted, but resisting the inevitable is futile. Luke lives on. I have high hopes about Rey’s story in the final film, since her character has still merely sparked the engine at this point. She needs to grow a lot before she will become to my generation what Luke Skywalker was for the previous one.
Rey travels to the snake pit in a pod, that looks just like a coffin. She effectively goes there to die a certain kind of death. She has now followed the path of her master, Luke Skywalker, convinced that she will turn her enemy. When Snoke breaks her, her original quest is finalized and, in effect, failed. Her fortune then turns as Kylo murders Snoke, and for a brief moment, both of their visions come true as they fight alongside one another. And all of these events, all of these occurrences, are also instantaneously happening with Leia, Poe, Finn, and Rose.
Snoke has opened something that will not close. There is a link between Rey and Kylo now. Their final glance at one another happens at the battle of Crait, after Rey rescues the remaining Resistance from the mine by lifting the rocks that stand in their way. The fact that the Jedi can levitate objects is sort of a hypothesis of an existence which is not dualist, but where mind and matter are one. Magic is not to be taken literally as a supernatural force. It is in the very core of our symbolical thinking, the base of all art and even science. Imagining something into reality, when there is no authority or previous existence to verify it—that is magic. To this day, most people around the world live or have lived and based their complex societies on similar abstractions. The Star Wars universe is free from the dualist law that holds mind and matter separate.
Modern science has answered many of our questions, but when it comes to deep hidden fears rooted in our ignorance and lack of total understanding, elements and life beyond our dimensions, we’re left feeling alone, forgotten, and scared. We are afraid of death. I am somewhat tired of people discussing religion. It’s one of the most occurring subjects in stand-up shows, and questions and emotions about religious practices are dealt with ignorance, arrogance, and incorrect assumptions, allegations, and allegories. To be fair, most churches are built and sacred texts written by men, and not all of them are really spiritual servants. Young people especially have little to no connection at all to their spiritual communities. Organized religion can be a harmful regime, what with all the issues concerning marital rights and questions of gender and sex, and the church has little to nothing to give to people who are actually struggling with these issues. If this keeps on going, the secularization will be complete—or, if we continue with all these fascist regimes rising in the Western countries, we might all end up back to Puritanism and some sort of messed up hetero-fundamentalism. In other words, we’ll turn to the Dark Side. One truth to rule them all.
Spiritual practice aims us to put things into perspective. We live for something bigger than ourselves. We live to keep our beliefs alive. To keep our species alive. This is why people on both sides of the Star War are so willingly sacrificing themselves, constantly embarking to battles they know they have little changes of coming out alive from. They both think they are right and they die with the knowing that their death is not in vein. The Jedi are like the Buddhists, who know that what we, as humans, think we know is illusory, brought up to us by our senses. It is meant to keep us alive so that the spirit can live through us. The Force will live on, the spirit is never just us, and death is nothing. There is a huge pro-social outcome for all self-sacrifice, and our brains reward us for said behavior. It has been a topic of research, how our brains also differ in this according to our gender. The male brain rewards selfishness more, which is why some men need to fight against it a bit more in order to really be at a place of peace. Women also need to understand when self-sacrifice just leads to nothing and helps no one, and they need to be given a chance to realize that. This research does inspire some musings of the monotheist patriarchy we live in, but all of this kind of research of course needs to be inspected with great caution. Evolutionary science has been historically harnessed as a mean to naturalize the torture of women. Redefining our differences as people based on our gender is a dangerous and, most likely, useless track.
The Rise of Skywalker—What does it mean?
At the end of the film, all the characters have outdone themselves, learned their lessons the hard way, sacrificed friends and family, and still, they are staying true to their cause: protecting the Light. The final thing we see are the children in the Fathiers race stables at Canto Bight, who are now telling stories of Luke Skywalker and a young (assumed) boy secretly carrying the Resistance sign in his ring, gifted by visiting guerrilla heroes.
I’ve heard that the events of the following film will be based to a time one year after the final battle of Crait. Kylo Ren rules the galaxy as its benevolent leader. Leia is being buried at the beginning of the film, and her passing might force a new surge of war fight from the Resistance. Poe, Finn, and Rose are naturally commanders and probably more by this point. And Rey is on the path to enlightenment, more resilient, light-shining than ever, and horrifyingly powerful—and recruiting for students, the future Jedis. It sounds beautiful. But we really have no idea what is going to happen. Will Ben Solo return? Will the Resistance thrive? Can balance be restored to the galaxy? Perhaps there will be some sort of a tie. It wouldn’t mean that Kylo and Rey couldn’t be equally triumphant and tragically defeated while achieving a sort of balance. The game is infinite, the players are not.
And that laugh, at the end of the new trailer. The laugh of Palpatine... I place my heart in your hands, J.J. Abrams. Please don't flush it down the toilet.
Literature on feminist psychology and feminist narrative:
- Maureen Murdock: The Heroine’s Journey
- Helen Jacey: The Woman in the Story
- Clarissa Pinkola Estés: Women who run with the Wolves
- Maria Tatar: Beauty and the Beast - Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World