So yeah, how about that Last Jedi? Never have I seen a more polarized reaction to a Star Wars movie in my life! Usually, Star Wars is universally loved, or universally hated. If there has ever been any polarization, it’s been a lot more civil than it has been lately.
Here and now, I don’t hear a lot about it, but when the movie was in theaters… WOO! People were pissed. And everybody else was pissed that those people were pissed. Then I joined Twitter, and found out that this was another instance of war were declared.
At first, I didn’t get it. I mean yeah, gatekeepers within the fandom aren’t especially new to the 2010s (another reason I feel like this decade was a mistake), and I’ve seen my share of hot button topics in other fandoms. But it seems like The Last jedi just brought out the worst in everyone.
And a popular point of debate is yet another gemstone of the 2010s: inclusion.
The Star Wars franchise has basically been the boys club for the longest time. True, there was Leia, and… Uh… Whatever her name was in Return of the Jedi who was explaining the rebel forces’ mission (I seriously can’t remember her name, assuming they ever gave us one). And that was basically it. Leia was around, and she contributed, but all the focus was on either Luke confronting Darth Vader, or Hahn and Chewie being badass while C3PO acted like an absolute fop, R2D2 helped where applicable, and Leia… Did stuff too, I guess.
The only woman in the prequel trilogy was Padme, and her only real contribution to anything was being Anniken’s girlfriend/wife. There were lady jedis, but the focus of the entire story was mostly on Anniken and Obewon.
Really, the only woman who contributed anything to anything was probably either Ahsoka, or Asaj Ventris from The Clone Wars. And that’s assuming you consider Clone Wars to be canon.
Jump forward to the 2010s, and the new trilogy. And HOLY SHIT! There’s women now! Rae is not just one of the good guys, she’s THE good guy. Holy shit, there’s multiple women within the rebellion who contribute things to the plot! Well what about the bad guys? Surely that’s still all dudes who… NOPE! There’s a badass bounty hunter who, in core concept is basically Boba Fett after getting rule 63ed, but holy shit is she awesome! She’s got the fucking Masterchief battle armor and everything!
So yeah, there’s a lot more women in Star Wars now. And a lot of people are pissed about it, apparently. But why?
Well, when you take away the assholes who make up the MAGA crowd being all MAGA, and the more valid complaints that Rae basically Mary Sues her way through the force, I have a theory about this. Is there any validity to this theory? Hell if I know, but allow me to lay it out before you bitch me out so viciously.
Really, what makes someone a nerd? Exclusion. Exclusion from all the the cool kids’ activities. Everybody wants to be the cool kid, but only a select few ever get to be. And usually, the ones who ARE elected the cool kids end up being absolute dicks. The cool kids only want like-minded individuals, or at least syckophants willing enough to play the part to be in their group. They don’t want a bunch of nerdy bullshit in their club, and back then, Star Wars was nerd city.
The nerds, dejected by their failure to belong, seek escape. Star Wars provides them with an escape. It gives them Luke Skywalker. Or shit, maybe even Anniken! I’ve heard that attitudes towards the prequels are starting to soften. Or at least, towards episodes 2 and 3, anyway. But I digress.
The nerds embrace this franchise because the characters are relatable, the story is epic, and it provides them with something that gives them comfort, and maybe even a reason to live. Yeah, the cool kids won’t let me drink beer with them at Vince’s house, and the hot chick won’t let me anywhere near her because I wear glasses, but here in the Star Wars galaxy, I can fight stormtroopers and hang out with an awesome wookiee companion!
High school ends, and time moves forward. The nerds discover that computers are becoming more and more commonplace in society. Furthermore, the guys who were the cool kids in high school suddenly begin to realize that once we’ve exited the aquarium known as high school, and entired the ocean… Well, the ocean isn’t nearly as cool about things as the aquarium was. The nerds have all the power, and the cool kids are basically pumping gas for a living. JUSTICE!
But despite this paradigm shift of sorts, you never forget your roots. You and your friends went from the geeky kids getting swirlies in the trrlet, or getting bodychecked into the lockers for not being cool like us cool kids, to the thirty-somethings doing computer stuff that makes you the most useful dudes in society. Maybe you’re working on top secret computer equipment for the CIA or NSA. Maybe you just got hired to fix Ms. Johnson from next door’s computer, and found out the only thing wrong with it was that she switched off the powerstrip by mistake. Either way, you nerds of yesterday have more influence now than you used to. Hell, the cool kids of the current generation hold significantly more respect for nerds, knowing that they may have to depend on you one day. Now it’s the theater kids’ who get swirlies in the trrlet, and bodychecked into lockers. But that’s beside the point.
Regardless of what you do professionally, you never forget. You and your friends still talk about Star Wars to this very day. You check out all the new movies and TV shows, you post fan theories on message boards or Facebook groups… Hell, maybe you even write fan fiction. The important thing is Star Wars was the geeky little obsession that helped you cope. It gave you something to look forward to when you got back from school, it gave you something to talk about with friends, and it factors in to your identity as a human being. Because apparently we do that now in the 2010s, hyperfocus on our identity.
And speaking of the 2010s, the 2010s come along, and you begin to notice a new trend: inclusion. You’re starting to notice more media is beginning to include black characters, gay characters, trans characters… And yes, even nerd characters. This seems fine. These communities have been pretty poorly portrayed on screen over the years, and you can sympathize with the fact they’ve ALSO been excluded, or portrayed as the punchline of every joke about their community. So good on them for finally getting some positive portrayals in media. I mean yeah, there’s The Big Bang Theory, but everybody hates that show. It’s like the Will and Grace, or BET of nerddom.
But then, Hollywood discovers the delicious flavor of memberberries. They become addicted to the delicious taste of nostalgia, and begin remaking movies left and right. Including several nerd franchises like Transformers, Robocop, and so on. These remakes all suck.
As time progresses, the remakes only get worse. Furthermore, the inclusion concept becomes less of a concept, and more of a fad. Suddenly, all the Ghostbusters are chicks, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space is a girl, the yellow ranger from Mighty Morphing Power Rangers is sort of an allegory for transsexuality (according to a fan theory I read once), a popular British comedy movie gets remade shot for shot but now has black people instead of British people… Not only do these remakes suck out loud, but inclusion slowly but surely becomes a dirty word.
Hollywood isn’t interested in catering to the fanbase it established with its original versions. Rather, they’re interested in bringing in NEW fans. Specifically, bringing in a variety of new fans. Including the very people who used to give you swirlies in the trrlet and bodychecks into the lockers. Suddenly, the franchises you’ve known and loved are now the stomping ground for the very people who made it their mission in high school to ostracize you, exclude you, and remind you that you’ll never be one of them.
Star Wars too falls victim to remakxploitation. Episode 7: The Force Awakens, is basically episode 4 with better special effects and, gasp, inclusion! There’s a lot more women than there used to be, there’s black storm troopers… I vaguely remember the fan community theorizing Po and Finn were going to shack up at one point, but I think The Last Jedi shattered those hopes the moment Rose got introduced… But I digress.
You have been conditioned to hate inclusion, because inclusion is a gateway for those very people who hated you, ridiculed you, and made you unwelcome in an environment you had to go to come in to YOUR domaine. So what do you do? Well, you COULD be the bigger man, and welcome the new fans with open arms… Or you can do what the vast majority of Twitter seems to be doing, and keep the gate.
And thus, we find ourselves where we are now. The nerds have become the cool kids, and the cool kids have become the nerds. In this new age, words like DIVERSITY and INCLUSION have become dirty words. Because according to the current gatekeepers, “where the fuck was all this inclusion and diversity when I was the one getting my ass kicked? Huh? Where was inclusion when I was being excluded from literally everything, you fucking dicks?” And as a result, we find that no real peace has been established, but also, that the pendulum has swung to the other side.
But that’s just my theory. This is coming from the guy who was absolutely wrong about the summer of 2018 being “The Summer of Math Horror”, after all, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.