For those who felt betrayed by “The Last Jedi” I hope this helps
“Religion is the tool used by the wealthy to create a perpetual war machine for profit known as the Military Industrial Complex” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The original “Star Wars” trilogy is about an orphan of a war he was born on the edge of, who believed (at least was told) his parents were killed by a fascist empire. He becomes indoctrinated into an ancient religion that has been the opposing force to this fascist “evil” for thousands of years and ends up joining a rebellion. These Rebels often referred to as “terrorists” by the fascists were the “good guys” to us. Lucas using terms like “storm troopers” draws these parallels for us easily… So a small group carries out an attack that kills hundreds of thousands of people (including workers) on a military base/weapon. They are then hunted down and almost destroyed. They regroup, attack the same battle station again, and assassinate the Emperor in the process.
the canon cartoon (which i’m watching now to feel better about losing my childhood hero) takes the approach of “we act exactly like terrorists” to “Star Wars Rebels” if you watch it as an adult. Its actually very well written for grown ups, with political themes that go way over the heads of my kids. if you have seen Rogue One you meet Saw Gerrera who is the extremist because he is another orphan of the war who lost not only his family but his entire home-world to the Empire. Saw is fueled by this anger, and he will kill civilians if they are compliant with the empire. We are meant to not like him, but to understand why he’s like that in “Rebels” and even the main characters occasionally see his point of view and wonder if he is right. When we find Saw In “Rogue One” the fascist Empire is occupying a sacred city, while stripping a sacred natural resource (a crystal used to power Jedi and Sith lightsabers through history) in order to power a weapon (cough… Afghanistan/Israel… for oil… cough). This sacred temple we learn in “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” cartoons, was where Jedi and Sith trials took place, it was a place where truce was required as both could be on site at the same time, and well trained temple guardians would protect this truce… This city represents Switzerland, combined with the city of Jerusalem. A place too sacred for the war to find, and the Empire destroys the city as the first test of their weapon.
The perspective the first order sees it from… is the perspective Americans view Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel… The first order indoctrinates children from birth… and sometimes even enslaves them to make them into storm troopers (reminiscent of Hitler Youth).
In “The Last Jedi” we learn this divide between light and dark is all on purpose, and all just a tool used to keep the universe divided… there is a class of ultra wealthy, who sit above the war and don’t care who kills who. This class have been building weapons and profiting from both sides and deliberately pitting these 2 sides of a religious extremism and political perspective (which is Dictatorship vs. Senate) against each other. the Second trilogy used something reminiscent of a John Adams quote in “defense of the constitution” warned us and at the time obvious parallels to the current George W. Bush and Dick Cheney regime in the US, to explain the bureaucracy and corruption that can be manipulated for profit in a democracy, in order to explain how democracy can fail and eventually be replaced once again with a dictatorship…
“This is how democracy dies, with thunderous applause” – Padmé Amidala
This quote is historically reminiscent of an excerpt from one of the most important explanations of the US constitution behind the Federalist Papers. Which ties into the themes very clearly shown to us in “The Last Jedi”:
“The only remedy is to throw the rich and the proud into one group, in a separate assembly, and there tie their hands; if you give them scope with the people at large or their representatives, they will destroy all equality and liberty, with the consent and acclamations of the people themselves. They will have much more power, mixed with the representatives, than separated from them. In the first case, if they unite, they will give the law and govern all; if they differ, they will divide the state, and go to a decision by force. But placing them alone by themselves, the society avails itself of all their abilities and virtues; they become a solid check to the representatives themselves, as well as to the executive power, and you disarm them entirely of the power to do mischief.” – John Adams Balanced Government, Defense of the Constitution of the United States
This overrun of the house beginning in 1913 (by locking its size) with the passing of the Federal Reserve act, was created with the goal of privatizing american wealth, creating a wealth gap with the great depression (which benefited the wealthiest, like the crash of 2008 which Lucas himself saw coming)… and handing the country back to the wealthy families who it was taken from with our revolution. Eisenhower warned us that by design, this creates what Eisenhower called a perpetual war machine of the military industrial complex, deliberately dividing the people for their profit and our (peasants) enslavement.
what the original Trilogy did was teach us that Jedi were the “good guys” who wanted a Republic, and the Sith and Empire were “evil” because they wanted Dictatorship… however the Jedi aren’t supposed to use emotion to make decisions (like science isn’t) and the Sith are supposed to be fueled by emotion (like religion is)… Jedi aren’t allowed love or attachment or passion (which is a natural part of being human, and almost inescapable… they are given an impossible extremist ideal no one could achieve)… which is how the Sith seduce them and how they fall.
Anakin falling in love, being powerful and feeling held back, recognizing his own desires for power and skill and wanting affirmation that he only found in discussions with Palpatine. Seeing first hand the ridiculous bureaucracy and corruption in the senate, and hypocrisy among the Jedi council) made him see he couldn’t be a Jedi and believed it meant the other extreme must be right, only given 2 choices… (like we are given in a 2 party system, or in a world where there are only 2 major religions at war for thousands of years, even if there are alternatives that live outside the wars like Buddhism, or Hinduism). As kids we were indoctrinated into one religious extreme, the Jedi, and taught we were right, and “good” and the other side was wrong and “evil”… but Lucas tried to make it about perspective and point of view (even in the original Trilogy, justifying lying to Luke about his father)… we didn’t blink about the loss of life when the Death Star explodes, we cheered, even though we saw Storm Troopers standing around talking about new speeders… We still didn’t think of them as “human” because they were “evil”.
In order for us to understand that the real enemy is a billionaire class profiting from perpetual war, and deliberately dividing the people so that they can live with slaves for entertainment on a gold plated private planet with mega yacht star ships and never work a day in their lives, drinking and gambling and enjoying cruelty to animals (Roman coliseum, private islands, etc…)… in order to understand why the answer is not perpetual war or fascism (Poe’s realization in TFA) or terrorism (Rebels, Saw) or a swinging pendulum of puppet governments of Bureaucrats or Dictators, Light and Dark (Sith/Jedi and Empire/Republic) or inherited power (why Ray has to be a “no one” junker)… we have to first lose our religion (like Luke did) and see the other side as human too like Ray had to listen by Ben Solo using the force to show her the perspective that created Kylo Ren… and for her to recognize it, and understand that he was made into a “Monster”, he didn’t choose it…
what we are left with is one force user who has trained in both sides who is royal (skywalker) blood and both his teachers failed him so he is conflicted and lost. We then have a nobody with amazing natural connection to spirituality (liberal hippies)… who has NO training (only a strong connection to the source of life)… not born of any noble blood (very important, not a let down)… with no indoctrinated beliefs about the Jedi or the Sith. She sees the hypocrisy of the religion but knows the force exists and “no one owns it” (aka god can exist even if your religion is a tool used by the wealthy to create war). Luke lost his religion and realized neither side “owns the force” (no one is right about god, even if the power exists). We have Fin, born a slave like all Storm Troopers, and realizing this isn’t right, and taking down his mother figure… (Ideally, he will be the one to free the storm troopers, Daenerys Targaryen style, and they will choose to fight instead of being forced to… a common true life theme through history like the Roman slave rebellion led by Spartacus).
What Rian Johnson did was slap us in the face… It was painful, and for people who grew up with our heroes being the good guys, it sucked. He divided the fans (on purpose) so we would fight (life reflecting art reflecting life), and maybe eventually talk, and maybe eventually see that we had to lose our religion to having sight enough to notice, and then pull back the curtain the real enemy is safely hiding behind… this is US Revolution, French Revolution, Roman Slave Revolution… it’s how human history works, and could be brilliant in the end.
I lost my childhood hero. For me, that was the character that drew me into martial arts, taught me to stand up to bullies, and lead me towards my “religious beliefs” which is an (“Agnostic Vajrayana Buddhist”). Star Wars was why I got into animation and special effects that lead to a career that now supports a wife and 5 kids. I wish they had done that differently, and given Luke a send off (A Vader in the Hallway “Rogue One” moment, even if he had to Die). One that could have made him reject the Jedi, but not one that made him reject everything that made him (or Han in TFA for that matter) forget what was at the core of their character regardless of their “faith” or lack of it… who they became over their development didn’t have to be undone to undo the Jedi and the Sith. J.J. Abrams and Johnson could have handled Han and Luke far better… but the message and direction i think is important for the story goal… “The answer isn’t continuing to kill each other over religious extremism for eternity, while the wealthy class laughs all the way to the bank and casino”.
No one is right in this war, and someone is causing it on purpose for thousands of years. it’s time for the jedi to end but not the force (and if your read “Ahsoka”, you can find an even better place this is headed).
For the “it’s just a movie” or “it’s just for kids” people… or “You are overthinking it” crowd. I have worked in film effects for 5 years as a lead, and games for 16 as a Director, and no… people put way more thought than “it’s for kids” into movies and games in the entertainment industry (we often work 60-80 hour weeks and are very passionate about what we do, on a film I worked on in 2002 that was nominated for an academy award for effects I slept under my desk for weeks while my computer simulated)… To Disney the corporation’s goal is to make money of course (like every company, if they didn’t want to make money, we wouldn’t have films or games at all, no one would invest in them)… However I have never worked with an artist in this for the money… the artists working for them want to make great art… I have worked closely with people on the original trilogy (like Nilo Rodis-Jamero, art director of the original trilogy). Listened to Mark Millar and Avi Arad passionately argue about who would win a fight between iron man and spider-man. Heard James Cameron on a phonecall passionately explain why we need to be developing technology in 1999 so that when 2006 rolls around we have computers it will run on to make “Avatar”… To the creators they take the art very seriously… These films like most things Disney does is “to make movies for adults that kids will love, and as they grow… they will appreciate them even more for the things they missed as children”, and usually Disney does that very well.
In this case, they could have done it in a less polarizing way, but perhaps that is the idea… Rian Johnson may be getting too much credit, but I believe JJ Abrams probably learned his lesson when he pulled a 180 at the end of “Lost” because fans figured it out, and I hope he has an actual plan here to pull us all back together into one united Fandom, let us love all the characters we know… and take on the wealthy pulling the strings this whole time.