Friday, January 8, 2016

The Force Awakens: One Big Politically Correct Recycling Machine

The Force Awakens: One Big Politically Correct Recycling Machine

Given all-time box office records for The Force Awakens, it’s pretty obvious almost all comic-con and Star Wars fans in particular do not bemoan in the least the lack of innovation in the latest franchise installment. In fact many seem to have enthusiastically embraced Abrams & Co’s decision to rework, with some new - but not too new - clothes of course, essentially the same trite story material of earlier films. For these fans, familiarly breeds praise. Still there is a considerable contingent of Star Wars fans who are deeply disappointed by this installment, arguing in fact that the film betrays the legacy of the original trilogy, IV, V, and VI, and is profoundly formulaic and unoriginal. The most analytic of these comes from Nicholas Spargo, whose youtube video, Why Stars Wars The Force Awakens is Worse than the Prequels, has gone viral.

But it’s hard to deny that Stars Wars: The Force Awakens, no matter what the film’s audience reception, is one big mother of a recycling machine. And not just in storylines and innocuous themes culled from the first two movies in particular, which in turn culled from countless other recycling literary and film factories, but in obvious character types who have not - as they could have been - repurposed, including a recycled dark side guy called Kylo Ren, with a redesigned black mask but the same flowing black cape and megaphonic voice (the flip side of the dark side father, a dark side son) but with a politically correct cast: one young black male lead (Finn), one young “strong” woman lead ( Rey, the flip side of Luke), two old people (four if you count the bonus characters, Lor San Tekka and Maz Kanata (named after a suburb of Ottawa [lol] and the the flip side of Yoda), one a woman (Princess Leia) and one a man (Han Solo) - both played by purposely recycled actors - one (two if you count the new flip side of Darth Vader, Kylo) young white dude (Poe, channeling Luke in the Top Gun sequences even as Ray and Finn channel Luke in countless scenes), one unintelligible tall hairy purposely recycled endearing guy (Chewbacca) and of course a cute recycled asexual droid standing in functionally for a plucky, courageous child, BB-8 (the flip side of R2-D2).
So what politically correct categories can we safely check off? Racism, gender balance, feminism, ageism, token young and old white males, big hairy guys, and very short rotund asexual droids.
May I suggest, then, that in addition to the strategy to recycle familiar-to-fans story material, which will inevitably turn out to be a mistake I predict, such adroit character choices might have something to do with marketing the film to every conceivable being - including hairy guys and droids or at least people who dress up like that - in the entire film galaxy?* 

*Despite this obvious effort to be politically correct, notice the absence of a gay character - no doubt also a marketing decision for various reasons.

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