The Last Jedi: A few thoughts

Artwork by the amazing Phil Noto. Seriously, this man is amazing.

Just to throw out my bona fides regarding Star Wars: when I was a kid, my family would find me under the table with my original Kenner action figures. Everyone would ask me what I was doing and I’d say, “I’m off with Luke Skywalker.” For Halloween, I dressed as Darth Vader and Boba Fett – mostly because they had cool armor, and no one could recognize me under the mask. When someone asked me who I wish I could be, I said I wish I was Han and Leia’s kid.

As I grew older, I read the Timothy Zahn books intensely. When I played the West End Games Star Wars game, that’s when I started noting a change in me. I didn’t play a Jedi. I played a solider. Or a pilot. Or a smuggler. A nobody with no real history who knew no-one. That, to me, was where the real rebellion lay. Rogue One’s Cassian Andor — he was one of my characters brought to life.

But I’m no longer the kid under the table, wishing he was Luke Skywalker’s best friend. I’m looking for something more.

I’ve argued The Force Awakens needed to be very retro, and close in beats to the original, because it was attempting to bridge the faith lost with Lucas’ prequel trilogy. But, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is the film I, the adult Andrija, would have made. It had enough cool stuff for the kid in me, but said a lot more. I can see why a lot of folks are not happy with it.

I mean, what are the messages?

  • Legacies can choke you, crush you with expectations, and leave you vulnerable to radicalization by men who prey on your anger and privilege.
  • Think with your head, not with your flight stick…
  • It’s about what you save, not what you destroy.
  • The best examples of the older generation are the ones who realized they failed, but didn’t run from their responsibilities. They owned up to it, and tried to teach the new ones so they could take on the fight.
  • The biggest hive of scum and villainy: It’s Monaco in space, filled with arms dealers and one-percenters. (Irony: An anti-capitalist Star Wars film).
  • And the hope? It’s not in the shiny center of the galaxy. It’s in the kids, playing Star Wars, dreaming of standing up to authoritarian rule by the cruel, callous, and blind.

I’ve supported Rian Johnson since his first film. This is a man who loves filmmaking, and it shows here. There are echoes of WWII films in the opening bombing run. There are samurai films hidden away in here as well – in multiple places, not the least of which are the scenes with Luke at the start of the final act.

And then there’s the use of color. And simple cuts to convey deep meaning. And silence. Oh, the devastating silence.

As time goes on, I’m sure I’ll begin picking apart the structural issues. I can already see them and I imagine the fans & think-piece authors have begun dissecting everything that went wrong. But I will be thinking about this film for a while. I’ll be thinking about the silence in space as true heroes act. I’ll be thinking about Red, White, and Black in stark contrast with each other.

And I’ll be thinking about how true resistance, real rebellion, doesn’t begin with bloodlines and miracle births and money. It begins with people, in small ways, telling stories and dreaming.


Have Yourself An Upgraded Christmas

IMG_20171211_192305_827Once again, I reach a time of year where I’m reflective. Luckily, the day job has been doing its level best to keep me busy, making sure all my energy is spent there and not on frivolities like everything else in the world. But, moments of introspection still creep into my head.  I need to remind myself I’ve actually accomplished a few things:

I’ve been published in two anthologies now. The latest is The Death of All Things and I had the distinct honor of being edited by two authors I admire: Kat Richardson and Laura Anne Gilman. I learned more than I can say working on that story, and have been working on applying those lessons in all future stories.

I’ve got five stories out on submission, and three more in various stages of completion. And, I’m diving back into planning a novel, based on the character from my short story.

My photography has not expanded much this year. I need to change next year, and actually get back to creating and posting images as well as text. But, speaking of images, I’ve made my first AMV in ages. That and a test recording I did had folks suggest I create a podcast which only a few isolated folks will listen to. I think I might mix the two: have the podcast style ramblings but with images I’ve taken, or art by my friends.

But I have to invest more in my writing. And that means moving away from comfort into areas of fear.  It means trying to come back from conferences speaking to at least one person I had not met before. It means making contacts, networking, and all the things my introverted nature hisses at. It means pushing my boundaries. I must improve. I must adapt. I must upgrade.