Breaking the Narrative 78: Stellar Battles of Dropping the Ball! How the Lucas Star Wars Movies Show Male Struggles and How Disney Fails.


Everyone here knows my gaming and video game history but one thing I don’t go too much into unless asked is my own enjoyment of the Star Wars franchise.  I’ve  been a fan of it ever since first watching the original trilogy on VHS with my father as a child during one of the weekends he had me. I am personally of the mind that throughout the past 30 years it has become a prime parent and child bonding experience for millions of people, not just for the amazing visual effects that it pioneered but for the stories that it told, even through its expanded universe!

The story Disney has told with its three movies so far and the Solo story they are about to release to the public, however, doesn’t really fit with the rest of the universe. This isn’t just because of the writing styles or the ideology of the writing staff, or even the draconian attitudes engendered by Kathleen Kennedy. It’s because the current Lucasfilm under Disney doesn’t understand the in-universe culture depicted in the previous pieces of work in Star Wars, and how it’s always dealt with family dynamics. In this, I plan on showing the family dynamics that most of Star Wars has promoted throughout its 40 year history, and how Kennedy tossed that out of the window for feminism. Let’s Hammer This In!

To begin, we should of course deal in the Original Trilogy. There are two major aspects of family dynamics that are expertly covered in these movies. First is how a strong cohesive family actually forms. One thing I was raised with is the concept that the closest of family is rarely blood. This could go from spousal relation all the way to step-parentage. While I hold a strong relationship with my real father I also had a strong relationship with my late stepfather, for example. Throughout the OT you not only had the brotherly relationship that formed between Luke and Han but how Luke dealt with reconciling with his estranged father Darth Vader, even going into finding out about his sister and how that bizarre genetic attraction thing comes about, even if it was unintentional in the original writing of the story. It formed so organically that it is believable due to how these things have occurred in our own reality.

(Twins separated at birth do sometimes entertain an incestuous reaction to one another if they don’t know of the relation at first (sometimes even when they know). This is such a phenomenon that researching it I even found a full forum discussing the subject.)

Also despite the showing of the dynamics in the original movies, the depictions of Princess Leia and Mon Mothma show that even though women in the series aren’t always on the forefront, they can and do easily take command when they earn it. Key word there is EARN! So the idea that the OT was derogatory to women is just ridiculous, especially when you add the first vestiges of Expanded Universe continuity with characters like Darth Lumiya and Mara Jade Skywalker – Luke’s ex and wife respectively. Don’t even get me started with depictions of The Old Republic carrying such women as Bastila Shan, Kreia, and Meetra Surik.

In the Prequel Trilogy, while inferior to the Original Trilogy, there is still a strong showing of family dynamics particularly with the organization of the Jedi as a whole and even the Clones. In Jedi circles there is the grandfatherly oversight of Yoda, the paternal interactions of Council masters over their charged knights, and the elder sibling and younger sibling interactions between master and padawan in the order. On top of that, Naboo culture is clearly shown to be overwhelmingly gynocentric, what with its obsession over elected queens and female senators. In some expanded material, it is implied that male leaders such as Palpatine are rare outside of the Naboo military, though in the Galactic Republic overall, gender dynamics are actually considered a moot issue.

I mentioned the family dynamics of the clones. I mention this not just due to their genetic kinship by being all clones of the Mandalorian Jango Fett.  Mandalorian culture is based heavily on Clan structures, where one’s family isn’t always based on genetics, but on respect and honor. Most Mandalorians are adopted into their respective families, spreading the warrior culture being more important than spreading one’s genetic code. With the clones, this evolved into the unit being the family as opposed to a clan, but its a similar mindset overall.

So how did the Sequel Trilogy screw this all up? By turning the entire Skywalker family post Return of the Jedi (Solo being included due to his marriage to Leia) into a dysfunctional mess with plot holes and such poor explanation of the dramatic elements that it reeks of being forced, and I’m not talking about the Living Force.

This shows some desire from upper management to scuttle the entire basis of the franchise.  It erases any and all development of key characters from the OT, completely ignores others, and just throws away other beloved staples, so much so that at this point many long-time fans are just considering abandoning the Disney version and going back to the old EU, which makes sense due to the prevalence of third party custom light sabers and props.

The cast of the new films do not feel like a family. They just feel like a group of loosely connected associates by comparison. Han cared a lot about Luke, Chewy, and Leia much like the others cared about him. In the ST Rey doesn’t seem to really regard Finn that much and doesn’t even really know Poe. Also they don’t even really explain why Vice Admiral Holdo earned her position, not unless you actually read the secondary canon material. The original and prequel movies you could watch alone and understand where they are coming from. You don’t get that with the Sequels. Even the story of the Sequels is so disjointed you can barely follow wha’ts happening, though this could just be that Rian Johnson as a writer and director is the same quality as Paul Feig. (In short he is shit.)

Now to cover Rouge One: This one is an even bigger mess than the rest. Not only are they basing the one familial relationship in the movie off of forced estrangement, but the main characters hardly relate to one another save for the very forced romance dynamic. They didn’t even mesh well as the guerrilla-style military unit that they were meant to represent. If previews of Solo are anything to go on, it doesn’t look like the new intermediary film is gonna be much better. I guarantee you they are even going to misrepresent the Wookie life debt concept to make some jab about slavery.

So how can they fix this? Honestly I don’t even think replacing Kennedy and starting from scratch can fix what Disney did at this point, and I’m not saying this just because with Carrie Fisher unfortunately having passed away, there’s no second chance with Princess Leia. This is shameful, as she is unable to help redeem the franchise herself.

All good things must come to an end, so we may just have to accept this with Star Wars, unless we want to take the original EU now referred to as Legends into our own hands and make our own continuity out of Star Wars. Return the series to the fans and keep it alive purely within the fandom.

I know this is kind of out of nowhere, but with Solo coming later this month and me going over dynamics in space based sci-fi I figured it would work. Next time I am considering going through another 70’s franchise to show how it has approached male coming of age stories  over its soon to be 40 years of content. So get in the cockpit and lets get ready to launch! Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

By Alex Tinsley

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