Rogue One’s Rebellion against the White Patriarchy

Following the convoluted plot of Disney’s latest Star Wars movie, and finding its place in the larger chronology, is a bit like navigating an asteroid field in the Millennium Falcon. Suffice it to say that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place immediately before 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. The grand villain of that original film was the vast, bureaucratic empire. Having displaced the galaxy’s ancient republic, Imperial creeps enforced their absolute power with the Death Star -- a space station capable of destroying any planet that resisted. For any who missed it, the heroic rebellion prevailed against the Death Star’s tyranny when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) managed to lob a torpedo into a stray exhaust pipe and blow the thing to space dust. Rogue One sets out to explain how the rebellion found the pipe.

The empire of Rogue One is the epitome of the Anglocentric patriarchy. Darth Vader can hide behind his black suit and voice (for which James Earl Jones returns), but the testosterone-laden cast of villains is as pasty as the snowy plains of Hoth. One of them even garners that most dread appellation of all, the “dead white male.” Sir Peter Cushing has been one with the Force for over two decades, yet even in his postmortem, computer-generated state as Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced impressively by Guy Henry), he proves more compelling than most of the newcomers. Ben Mendelsohn is the exception, who excels as the calculating Director Orson Krennic, striding fiendishly about the screen with his cape (also pasty) billowing behind him.

Like the protagonist of last year’s The Force Awakens, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a lonely girl. A search for the two father figures who abandoned her serves as the heroine’s main quest, from which the rest of the confusing plot, superfluous characters, and excessive interplanetary hopscotch are mere distractions. Disney has always had a strange obsession with orphaned and abandoned children, but especially depressing is their insistence upon remolding the Star Wars mythos to normalize -- even glorify -- rootless young women compelled to fend for themselves. “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad,” Jyn says in one scene, almost as an aside.

Jyn’s potential love interest is a Latino named Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), whom she generally regards with all the pathos of someone swiping left on Tinder. With the exception of the racially neutral droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the rest of the cast seem to have been chosen merely to appease Disney’s cloaked diversity enforcers, who likely appeared in script sessions via hologram before dashing off in their TIE fighters to the State Department or some Ivy League admissions office. A cast assembled in a great burst of self-congratulatory virtue signaling is relieved of the need to be memorable, and the viewer is unlikely even to remember their names upon leaving the theater.

Three days after the American electorate tossed Hillary Clinton down the same hole that Vader threw the emperor, Rogue One screenwriter Chris Weitz tweeted his assertion that “the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” (His parenthetical was presumably purposed to absolve any Imperial droids of accusation.) “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women,” co-writer Gary Whitta appended in response. The two deleted their tweets after some thought, perhaps fearful that Darth Trump would grow wise to it and ignite the engines of his golden Star Destroyer in pursuit.

Displayed as their Twitter profile pictures by both Weitz and Whitta for some time was the image of a safety pin affixed to the “Alliance Starbird,” the symbol of the rebellion first seen on Luke Skywalker’s X-wing in 1977. Mark Hamill, savior of the republic himself, retweeted the symbol, beneath which was inscribed, “Star Wars against hate. Spread it.” In the days after Trump’s election, wearing a safety pin became the means by which to identify yourself as someone who was terrified that Trump’s snaggletoothed stormtroopers would emerge from the backwoods of the Rust Belt to drag you from your Manhattan penthouse.

The willingness of grown men to symbolize their political beliefs with an article of clothing typically reserved for infants is almost poetically lame, as is their readiness to blend it with fictitious worlds originally created for children. The irony seemingly is lost on the writers of Rogue One, identifying themselves as they do with a ragtag group of patriots facing insurmountable odds. As the corporate coffers in Cinderella’s castle overflow because of them, their left-wing, anti-patriarchal opinions hold unassailable sway not just in Hollywood, but in every major institution, from the universities to the mainline churches, schools, media, and most of government. It is uncertain, then, what Death Star it is they wish to destroy. Seemingly they are incensed by the mere vestige of the ancient order -- hardly an ideal of the rebellion, though certainly one of which the empire would be proud.

Following the convoluted plot of Disney’s latest Star Wars movie, and finding its place in the larger chronology, is a bit like navigating an asteroid field in the Millennium Falcon. Suffice it to say that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place immediately before 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. The grand villain of that original film was the vast, bureaucratic empire. Having displaced the galaxy’s ancient republic, Imperial creeps enforced their absolute power with the Death Star -- a space station capable of destroying any planet that resisted. For any who missed it, the heroic rebellion prevailed against the Death Star’s tyranny when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) managed to lob a torpedo into a stray exhaust pipe and blow the thing to space dust. Rogue One sets out to explain how the rebellion found the pipe.

The empire of Rogue One is the epitome of the Anglocentric patriarchy. Darth Vader can hide behind his black suit and voice (for which James Earl Jones returns), but the testosterone-laden cast of villains is as pasty as the snowy plains of Hoth. One of them even garners that most dread appellation of all, the “dead white male.” Sir Peter Cushing has been one with the Force for over two decades, yet even in his postmortem, computer-generated state as Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced impressively by Guy Henry), he proves more compelling than most of the newcomers. Ben Mendelsohn is the exception, who excels as the calculating Director Orson Krennic, striding fiendishly about the screen with his cape (also pasty) billowing behind him.

Like the protagonist of last year’s The Force Awakens, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a lonely girl. A search for the two father figures who abandoned her serves as the heroine’s main quest, from which the rest of the confusing plot, superfluous characters, and excessive interplanetary hopscotch are mere distractions. Disney has always had a strange obsession with orphaned and abandoned children, but especially depressing is their insistence upon remolding the Star Wars mythos to normalize -- even glorify -- rootless young women compelled to fend for themselves. “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad,” Jyn says in one scene, almost as an aside.

Jyn’s potential love interest is a Latino named Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), whom she generally regards with all the pathos of someone swiping left on Tinder. With the exception of the racially neutral droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the rest of the cast seem to have been chosen merely to appease Disney’s cloaked diversity enforcers, who likely appeared in script sessions via hologram before dashing off in their TIE fighters to the State Department or some Ivy League admissions office. A cast assembled in a great burst of self-congratulatory virtue signaling is relieved of the need to be memorable, and the viewer is unlikely even to remember their names upon leaving the theater.

Three days after the American electorate tossed Hillary Clinton down the same hole that Vader threw the emperor, Rogue One screenwriter Chris Weitz tweeted his assertion that “the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” (His parenthetical was presumably purposed to absolve any Imperial droids of accusation.) “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women,” co-writer Gary Whitta appended in response. The two deleted their tweets after some thought, perhaps fearful that Darth Trump would grow wise to it and ignite the engines of his golden Star Destroyer in pursuit.

Displayed as their Twitter profile pictures by both Weitz and Whitta for some time was the image of a safety pin affixed to the “Alliance Starbird,” the symbol of the rebellion first seen on Luke Skywalker’s X-wing in 1977. Mark Hamill, savior of the republic himself, retweeted the symbol, beneath which was inscribed, “Star Wars against hate. Spread it.” In the days after Trump’s election, wearing a safety pin became the means by which to identify yourself as someone who was terrified that Trump’s snaggletoothed stormtroopers would emerge from the backwoods of the Rust Belt to drag you from your Manhattan penthouse.

The willingness of grown men to symbolize their political beliefs with an article of clothing typically reserved for infants is almost poetically lame, as is their readiness to blend it with fictitious worlds originally created for children. The irony seemingly is lost on the writers of Rogue One, identifying themselves as they do with a ragtag group of patriots facing insurmountable odds. As the corporate coffers in Cinderella’s castle overflow because of them, their left-wing, anti-patriarchal opinions hold unassailable sway not just in Hollywood, but in every major institution, from the universities to the mainline churches, schools, media, and most of government. It is uncertain, then, what Death Star it is they wish to destroy. Seemingly they are incensed by the mere vestige of the ancient order -- hardly an ideal of the rebellion, though certainly one of which the empire would be proud.