‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ and Moving Beyond Nostalgic Ownership

To properly analyze Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you have to go beyond the trappings of fandom and look at the movie as a part of a larger product of Disney/Lucasfilm storytelling. Approaching this as anything other than a corporate juggernaut mainly concerned with moving merchandise and building the next generation of consumers will result in total anger, confusion, and regret. This might sound cynical and cold, but it’s only the acknowledgment that Hollywood cinema is big business and sometimes actual art will slip through the image factory despite their best efforts to curtail imagination and wonder.

I’m not saying The Last Jedi lacks imagination or wonder, but there’s definitely a middling corporate influence throughout the movie that simultaneously keeps the movie in an inoffensive zone of bland character moments while setting up Rian Jonhson’s long-term vision for the Star Wars franchise.

What makes The Last Jedi interesting, though, is that it deliberately erases the nostalgic underpinnings of the Star Wars saga being about the Skywalker clan. Now this is where you see a lot of online outrage regarding The Last Jedi (even when you remove the knee-jerk right-wing racist backlash to the movie being “too diverse“) with the main complaint is that it “feels different” than previous Star Wars films.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

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The Star Wars Liberals Want

As is customary whenever a new Star Wars film is about to come out, Vanity Fair runs a special edition with gorgeous photographs by the renowned Annie Liebovitz. The Last Jedi is no exception since the magazine just released four special variant covers to this year’s Star Wars issue. They’re all great, but one photo definitely stands out the most for us nerds of color:

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The Significance of Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars Episode VIII

Last week was a pretty discouraging one for the APA community — and for all POC folks — with Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, Tilda Swinton as a bald Tibetan monk, and Nat Wolff as Light Yagami. There has been massive outrage on many fronts and thankfully, the concern has been taken seriously by major publications such as the Hollywood Reporter. Over here at NOC, it’s been covered numerous times, so it’s safe to say that the anger and frustration is still very much present for many of us.

Let’s, for the time being, look at a happier place; to a story where a relatively unknown Asian American actress by the name of Kelly Marie Tran has been cast to play the new female lead for Star Wars Episode VIII. Not much is known about the role but being an actor in Los Angeles, it helped knowing a few folks who went in when auditions took place last September. The role was open to ALL ETHNICITIES and was surely for the new female lead in the upcoming Star Wars chapter. Whoever would get the role had to have a chemistry test with John Boyega (whether it’s a love interest for Finn or someone who is best friends with him is unknown) and once they nailed that, the rest would be history.

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