A lot of people who are sick of Hollywood's increasingly annoying tendency to push liberal political issues in their movies, have taken umbrage with some of the writers and producers of the new Star Wars movie Rogue One. Kathleen Kennedy, the feminist CEO of Lucasfilm, pointedly stated that she felt no need to cater to Star Wars' male fanbase, and two of the writers posted tweets, now deleted, claiming that the Empire was an evil white male supremacist organisation and that the Rebel Alliance was a bunch of courageous multiculturals led by brave women fighting for freedom asgainst white male oppressors. They also took the opportunity to take a swipe at recently elected USA President Donald Trump.
As a result of this ludicrous attempt to politicise what should simply be a fun fantasy sci fi movie, a lot of people who are sick of the liberal-progressives and their authoritarian, white-male demonising agenda, have decided to boycott Star Wars. It's obviously had an impact; on opening night in Adelaide, the cinema was barely a quarter full. Despite this, after being invited by my brother to join him at an opening night screening, I decided to give it a try.
I am an MRA and staunch anti-feminist and I had no real problems with Rogue One, even though I went to see it fully expecting to be treated to a two-hourpropaganda-fest (in fact the only reason I went to see it at all was because my brother asked me, and since I don't see him much it was a chance to catch up.) So here is my analysis from the perspective of someone strongly opposed to political correctness and the general anti-white-maleness Hollywood has been pushing of late.
I will start by saying this is not a review of the movie in the conventional sense. Plenty of reviews have been written about Rogue One's production values by people eminently more qualified to judge such things than I, so there's little point to my adding another voice to that mix. The purpose of this post is to examine the movie from a political standpoint, from the view of those who are concerned about the recent politically correct pushiness in Hollywood movies of late. If you are a liberal, feminist or SJW, there's nothing here to interest you. Have a dig at me for going on about white male characters if you must, but I tell you now you'll simply be ignored if you do. This is for people who see political correctness for what it is and want to know if it will affect their enjoyment of the movie.
I was pleasantly surprised. The female lead Jyn is a believable, relatable character with limitations and flaws. Yes, she beats up a couple of stormtroopers and shoots several more with a blaster, but her ability to do so is readily put down to her childhood training under a Marine-like mentor after her parents are killed. But it is within canon; unlike Rey, she isn't a Mary-Sue who just magically masters the Force with no training or experience. She's really not much different in attitude to Leia in A New Hope, except there is no romantic tension between her and the male leads as with Leia, Han and Luke. In fact there's no romance or love-interest in the movie at all, a fact I actually found quite refreshing, because it also precludes the "every man needs a woman" mentality that pervades such movies. Score one for thes!
One thing I did notice is that the cast is a lot more racially diverse than in A New Hope, where the actors were almost exclusively white. The cast of Rogue One is a real "Big Bowl O' Tokens" with almost every ethnic group represented - Asians, Middle-Easterners, Europeans and Africans. But this doesn't detract from the story as no one group is demonised - much (see below.)
Notably, there's little of the "all white males are evil/stupid/weak" mentality that has plagued Hollywood releases of late. There are two sympathetic main white-male characters: Jyn's father Galen and Andor, and two villainous main white male characters: Tarkin and Krennic.
I did note that there were no evil women or racial minorities though - there was still that subtle suggestion that while not all white males are evil, all evil is white male. So they've diversified the good guys but not the bad guys. But this is a minor irritation at worst; the fact that they did have a couple of good and effective white males helps to counter it, and this is quite a concession for the normally white-male-hating hard-liberal Hollywood.
Another thing I noted was the relative emasculation of the white male good guys compared to A New Hope. There's none of Han Solo's brash roguishness in either Galen or Andor, or any of Kenobi's sage wisdom; both characters are fairly ordinary. They show some ability to care about others; they do get in on the action, and they get things done when they need to, but there's little that points up their masculinity. Contrast that with 'African' Guerrera's almost Rambo-like prowess with his huge machine-gun, and 'Asian' Imwe's Bruce Lee-like kung-fu ability, and both white male characters seem fairly tame in comparison, although in their favour they are neither weak nor stupid. On the upside, there's none of Luke's childish whininess or naivete either.
That said, one really redeeming scene has Andor quite neatly put Jyn back in her place when she gets on her soapbox, and follows it up with "Anyone else?" to see if the others want to have a go. So although not portrayed as a big masculine hero, he is shown to be witty, assertive and intelligent, which more than makes up for it. A white male good guy wins an argument against the female lead. Kudos to the writers for that one!
Additionally, Galen makes a very heroic decision that points him up as a wise and forethinking character. Without posting spoilers, he weighs the consequences of his participation in an action with those of not participating, and chooses a path that will ultimately be for the greater good even though it costs him both his dignity and the respect of his peers. His capacity for self-sacrifice in this regard is admirable and well-written.
Aside from the minor gripes above, I didn't notice any overtly PC statements from the movie. Nobody identifies as, or behaves as, gay or trans, and there's no reference to heterosexuality either. There are no symbolic castrations or shooting or kicking guys in the nuts, no systemic demonisation of all white males as evil/stupid/weak (aside from the white-maleness of the Empire), no snide gender or race remarks or "jokes", no political commentary about tolerance or diversity, nothing you can really point to as SJW preaching.
In the end, from an anti-PC perspective, I think Rogue One is about as good as you can expect from today's Hollywood. I would like to see a bit more race-gender diversity among the bad guys as well as the good guys, I'd like to see a bit more male-positivity in the white male characters, but as it stands I really didn't feel that I was being preached at or alienated by this movie.
So my final recommendation is: don't let the writers' and producers' idiotic political commentary on social media put you off. Hollywood's usual rabid liberalism is quite muted here. Of course, if you are a rank misogynist or white supremacist then you certainly won't like this movie. But if like most of us you're simply sick and tired of SJW white-male bashing and just want to see everyone treated equally, including white males, then there's really nothing here to keep you away. It's an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, and it really does have much of the feel of the original trilogy, albeit with modern special effects, exciting space battles, relatable characters, and a reasonably well-written story.
I'd give it 8/10. 10 minus 2 points for the lack of diversity in the Empire and the pacified nature of the white male good guys compared to the non-whites. Other than these minor niggles, both of which are reasonably countered for anyway, it's very well done, and a very enjoyable watch.
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