A personal retrospective on my feelings regarding The Last Jedi and my participation in the fandom over the last two years. No spoilers have been included.
This has been an incredibly strange week to say the least. I spent the last two years painstakingly following and analyzing the unfolding narrative and then attempted to project the unrevealed background story and The Last Jedi itself. As the first leaks started to roll in I dismissed them as impossible, how could this be the movie I’ve waited two years for? What I was hearing broke all storytelling conventions, the mythic structure of Star Wars and appeared fundamentally out of sync with what had come before. First, I thought it had to be a deliberate fakeout to hide the real plot of the movie, but as reports continued to pour in that said the same thing, that hope faded.
It was on Wednesday that a member of our blog finally saw the movie and reported back – it was all true. This sent me into a new cycle of raging against the movie and casting about for some sign the narrative I had been carefully following hadn’t been shredded and thrown away. All of this was interspaced with apparent acceptance and the resolution to abandon the franchise, just to change my mind hours later.
I finally saw the movie Saturday night, a week after the premiere and was sent into a new round of rage and despair. This time however, there was something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until it dawned on me in discussions with other seemingly disenfranchised fans – I was examining the movie in completely the wrong way.
The realization I had was the individual plot points aren’t what’s important, it’s the movie itself. I had been trying to analyze it like I would any other saga film -by examining the story from all sides and trying to figure out its place in the overall narrative. Yet the reality is it deliberately avoids that. Yes, things happen, but at the end of the film we’re essentially back to where we started with the same questions, but with a very different looking start point.
The Force Awakens gave us the same story that had come before because it had to and The Last Jedi took that story and completely rearranged it because it needed to, yet it’s still the same story as it was when we left off in TFA. This movie seems so completely different because it knows it isn’t really part of the narrative and can do that. Once you understand that, you realize things like how Luke is portrayed are fundamentally irrelevant because the film knows it can do whatever it wants and it won’t actually matter (this isn’t to say any criticisms are wrong by any means). The narrative has simply been paused – it’s a reset without actually resetting anything.
Undoubtedly this movie will be torn to shreds by fans eager to find every clue and analyze every plot beat. There will doubtlessly be some truth in these efforts, but that all fundamentally misses what this movie is and its purpose.
For my part, I think the narrative is fundamentally what I thought it was before this movie. At the same time I’ve learned some valuable lessons. For one, this had become an unhealthy obsession for me and it had consumed my life far beyond what one can consider healthy. Two, I had placed my happiness in the hands of something I had no control over while forsaking the parts of my life where I did. Three, I had worked out the story I believed was happening and had become impatient to see it come alive.
While I again believe I will eventually get that story, I need to restructure and reassess my interest in the story. What should have been just a hobby became a dangerous obsession. For my part, I will continue to be an active part of the fandom and follow the developing narrative. However, I will not make the investment I did before, because I cannot. I’m going to begin blogging about things outside of Star Wars.
As I still want the story I speculated would happen and am rather happy with what I developed for the The Last Jedi, I’m going to use it as the basis of an alternate continuity. There are many people who wanted what I did and are incredibly disappointed we didn’t get that – yet. So, rather than wait for something that may or may not happen, I’ll build it myself. If the story does go in the direction I want and think it will – great. If not, then I will have my own version of the tale that suits me and that isn’t a bad thing by any means.
Picture taken from here.