Culture

Star Wars: Revenge of the Social-Justice Warriors

Rey (Daisley Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) on the run in The Force Awakens

With the long-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening tomorrow, news outlets and social media have been abuzz with the expectations of a new generation of fans. But with The Force Awakens as the first of the films to be released in the age of social justice, the question must be asked: At a time when the slightest violation of PC orthodoxy can set off a deluge of listicles, cable-news segments, and general media outrage, can Star Wars survive such an onslaught launched from the Social Justice Media’s veritable Sarlacc Pit — more commonly referred to as Twitter?

The filmmakers and cast would serve both our own galaxy and the galaxy far, far away well by telling the Vox-splaining concern trolls, who will doubtless be poring over every story arc and line of dialogue in search of microaggressions, that they’ll get no such social-justice pleasure from them, but alas, that is probably too much to ask. The original Star Wars was celebrated as a pop-culture revolution that brought the country and the world together in a way a film and brand hadn’t done previously. But that was before the dark times. Before the Social Justice Empire. Never will Star Wars have encountered a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. One can already see the trending “hot takes” on the film flying out faster than an X-wing through the Death Star trench.

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All this was brewing well before the film’s release week. Immediately following the release of the first teaser trailer, journalists conjured up a phantom menace of supposed mass outrage over the idea of a black stormtrooper (played by British actor John Boyega), when very little evidence beyond sporadic, anonymous YouTube comments was presented as proof that such widespread sentiment actually existed. Adding fuel to that fire, a small band of rebel trolls on Twitter began using the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII, in an attempt to bait progressive media’s all-too-giddy instincts to make political points about the casting decisions of director J. J. Abrams. Abrams admitted one of his goals was to bring more diversity to a universe criticized in the past for a lack thereof. 

We’ve also had to endure all too many musings on the delicate matter of properly assigning a gender to . . . a droid (yes, a fictional robot). I guess once you start down the path of questioning a droid’s sexuality and gender identity, there’s no turning back. For the sake of progressive activists, let’s hope The Force Awakens shows C-3P0 celebrating the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision.

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Disney, which purchased the merchandising and film rights to Star Wars, was rumored to want to do away with any and all costumes, action figures, and references to the iconic “Slave Leia” costume featured in Return of the Jedi. Down the road we may see it digitally erased from the film completely in yet another round of obsessive tinkering by George Lucas. One can already picture Princess Leia draped across the throne of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt, this time dressed as Ariel in The Little Mermaid as Disney shamelessly attempts to capitalize on the tie-in merchandising rights themselves.

And then there was the most widely missed story this side of Alderaan: Digital Cinema Media, a company who provides advertising to most of Britain’s movie theaters, banned an ad by the Church of England from showing before The Force Awakens upon its release. In a statement to CNN, DCM stated:

Some advertisements — unintentionally or otherwise — could cause offense to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith . . . in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally.

Think of the horror that audiences seeing a film about a mysterious celestial “Force” that binds the galaxy together and is safeguarded by devout monks might feel from viewing an ad put out by a religious organization.

Exploring another social-justice angle, the Australian noted that at the heart of the new trilogy is a heroic female protagonist, British actress Daisy Ridley: “She rides hover-bike thingies, she shoots space pistols, she wields space spears. She’s the female Luke Skywalker.” Ridley certainly looks willing and able to carry the load of a new trilogy, but let’s not forget that from the moment Princess Leia commanded flyboy Han Solo into the garbage chute, Star Wars has always featured an independent, strong female lead. The franchise is hardly a beacon of sexism for feminists to direct their ire at. (Speaking of strong female characters, let’s not forget how National Review’s own Katherine Timpf pushed back against the attack of Star Wars–nerd clones she experienced after making a joke on Fox’s Red Eye concerning “space nerds” and their “space nerd sticks.”)

#share#And let’s not forget that the anti–Star Wars revolution will be televised, as was demonstrated by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry this past weekend. During a segment titled “Star Wars: Race and Gender,” Perry waded into the supposed racist intentions of the filmmakers concerning Darth Vader and the actor who provided his iconic voice, James Earl Jones. Unlike the Force itself, Perry’s incoherent rant has to be seen to be believed:

Yeah, like, the part where he was totally a black guy whose name basically was James Earl Jones, who, and we were all, but while he was black, he was terrible and bad and awful and used to cut off white men’s hands, and didn’t, you know, actually claim his son. But as soon as he claims his son and goes over to the good, he takes off his mask and he is white. Yes, I have many, many feelings about that, but I will try to put them over here.

Darth Vader was not based on James Earl Jones, nor was the actor who wore his suit black. George Lucas rightfully decided that Englishman David Prowse’s heavily accented and somewhat silly-sounding voice was nowhere near as powerful or intimidating as the role demanded. So he had Vader’s dialogue dubbed over by Jones, and the rest is history. A black man did not cut off the hand of a white man (Luke Skywalker) as suggested by Perry, as the character of Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father (spoiler!) was white. Harris-Perry’s argument boils down to being about the color of Darth Vader’s costume and nothing more. #SithLivesMatter

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Ever since the universally rejected prequels, race in Star Wars has been a topic of discussion for progressive elites, but it’s clear the aim of Social Justice Media is to bring it more into focus. “What does a black stormtrooper’s wielding a lightsaber finally say about ourselves and our culture?” the headlines will read. Black Lives Matter will start waving toy lightsabers during their protests while chanting, “Hans Up, Don’t Shoot First.”

Black Lives Matter will start waving toy lightsabers during their protests while chanting, ‘Hans Up, Don’t Shoot First.’

We can surely expect our celebrity president to weigh in as well, not to mention our current crop of 2016 candidates. One can already imagine the Darth Trump graphics being created for “explainer” journalists and cable-news segments. Bernie Sanders will still say he finds the idea of a giant walking space dog to be unrealistic. The Hillary Clinton campaign is already focus-grouping to death the many ways she can tweet out to her fandom without coming off like Emperor Palpatine. If Ted Cruz appeared on the campaign trail dressed in Jedi robes, would it really surprise anyone?

If all of this is enough to make loyal fans want to turn to the Dark Side, they could hardly be blamed. But once fans start down the dark path, forever will social-justice narratives and intentions their destiny dominate.

#related#Star Wars has always been something we’ve cherished, both as individuals and as a culture. We stand and cheer when the Millennium Falcon roars in underneath Cloud City to save Luke, and we cringe in embarrassment when Darth Vader screams “Nooooooooooo.” We pass it on to new generations and celebrate its thematic elements of good vs. evil, no matter which side you root for. The scourge of Social Justice Media tempts us to give in to our anger and aims to tear us apart, along with everything else we hold dear as a collective society, and mold it in their own image.

But J. J. Abrams seems to have re-ignited our passion for the original films that hopefully once again transcend the politicization of media. While waiting in line for a morning ferry, I witnessed two seven-year-old kids, one boy and one girl, greet each other and then attempt normal awkward-kid conversation. The boy asked the girl out of the blue if she had a lightsaber yet and told her that his favorite was the “green one.” She told him she liked the “red one.” Maybe there is a new hope for us and Star Wars to put the SJW age behind us after all.

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