Have you heard that sound? It’s the gnashing of teeth and beating of (Storm Trooper) breast (plates), the fart of adult disappointment as the crushing weight of reality falls once more on our shoulders. Yes, it’s that time of year when millions of middle-aged fanboys and girls wet themselves at the anticipation of another Star Wars movie. When The Force Awakens was released two years ago on a wave of trailers, Comicon events, and interviews, the reaction was almost orgasmic: the fans and critics agreed this was another great Star Wars movie; sure, there was the odd voice of descent (George Lucas’s included), but generally it was agreed the franchise to end them all was back on track. Next came Rouge One, and the wagon wheels were well and truly greased. Now, the latest instalment has been released, and the voices of descent are back and louder. Suddenly there seems to be something wrong with the cosy nostalgia love-in that Hollywood has been only too happy to indulge us with, as well as helping to set the ball rolling in the first place with endless reboots and pre/sequels. It would appear, after the universal success of The Force Awakens, Disney allowed director Rain Johnson a little slack on his leash and he duly delivered a movie which has divided fans. Yet, the ones most divided are the adult fans who grew up with the original trilogy and for whom these classic films were as an integral part of their childhoods as playing on their bikes or their first kiss.
There has been a backlash about plot holes, film length and the fate of certain characters and how they are portrayed/betrayed. As a Star Wars fan, I can partially agree with and understand these points and grievances, but it think there is a bigger issue at the heart of this, rather than whether the whole subplot with Finn and Rose was necessary or whether Leia should have done a Mary Poppins, and it’s this: In the words of Mark Hamill, no less, when asked recently about the film he said: “It’s just a movie.”
This nostalgia culture we are all currently basking in is clearly a buffer to a world in an endless grip off economic crashes, terrorism, internet hacking, global warming, the rise of right-wing politics, the continuous growth of inequality, I could go on, of course. According to the media, this is the world we live in. You only need watch a news channel, social media feed or read the free paper on the bus to work to feel depressed, angry and scared. It seems that just as Trump has promised to “make America great again”, Disney has duly set out with a similarly hollow mission statement for Star Wars. Hollywood tried also to second guess that we might even pine for a sepia-tinted view of a dystopian future i.e. Blade Runner 2049.
And so, I come back to the gnashing of middle-aged teeth, gnawing away in impotent anger, not at a system which disregards the many, or the earth we share but instead at another middle-aged man, namely, Rian Johnson the director of The Last Jedi and a newfound figure of hate: I even saw a thumbnail for a YouTube video depicting Johnson as the devil. I think we need a little perspective here: the earth is being systematically raped by psychopaths for their own short-sighted goals, a billionaire with the IQ of a ten-year-old is in the White House, because politicians are no longer relevant, and genocide and ignorance has never seemed so rife. I don’t have to fill you in on the horror which is happening around the world every second of every day just as it has for the last 50,000 years or so. The problem is that we have become so “informed” that our consciences are now saturated and no matter how many charities we donate to we know that next Christmas while we are half-heartedly polishing off another box of chocolates, a celebrity will be asking us to once again tend to the collective weeping wound of the world by sending money to somewhere like Syria or Myanmar or where ever else democracy hasn’t quite taken hold. We will know all this, and we will know that, despite our best efforts, there is simply nothing we can do to stop the world from going to shit. I mean, are we really going to rock up to the White House to give Trump a piece of our mind or to Myanmar and take their leader to task for mind boggling hypocrisy and psychopathic behaviour in letting a fresh genocide happen. No, of course not, where would we find the time off work and the child care, for a start, and even if we could, it would make no difference.
So, instead we grasp onto something which we still have some influence on; something in which we feel our opinions are valid, as apposed to the intricacies of world politics and the string pullers under which it seems, we all live. We take our anger out on a children’s film, the latest in a legacy which in some ways feels as if it belongs to us; yes, it did once, but that was a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away?), now it belongs to the children it was originally aimed at. Our childhoods, as magical, in parts, as they were are over and there is nothing we can do about that. It may seem there is nothing we can do about our lives or the state of the world, but if we keep obsessing over things we have no control over i.e. the passage of time, and keep to a default mindset of pettiness and unfocused anger then, then yes, we have no power, and nothing will ever change. Except it does.