Author Topic: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)  (Read 27038 times)

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #60 on: January 08, 2016, 04:01:02 pm »
A follow up critique of Force Awakens from the Shadow and Act website, this time focusing on Lupita Nyong'o's character.

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/hyper-tokenism-ii-othering-the-black-female-body-in-star-wars-the-force-awakens-20160106
« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 04:03:01 pm by Emperorjones »

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #61 on: January 08, 2016, 07:50:15 pm »
A thought hit me today regarding Flynn.  He isn't actually a Black character.  He is only Black before the actor playing him is Black.  You could have switched the actor who plays Poe with the one who plays Flynn and it would have been exactly the same storyline for both men.   Flynn, being an alien, is probably the truest Color- Blind Character. 

He isn't like Mace, because Mace is Samuel L. Jackson.  Change the actor you change the character, because Samuel L. Jackson is superimposed over the characters he plays.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #62 on: January 09, 2016, 04:41:38 am »
It's interesting that you say that because in the Art of the Force Awakens which I bought but only skimmed through thus far, Poe was conceptually designed-at least at one point-as a black character and Sam/Finn was white. At one point, Rey was also called Kira. However I don't know when Boyega was chosen and how that impacted how the character of Finn was then developed, or not, because of that. We don't know if Finn was changed-if at all- due to Boyega's casting or the decision that they wanted a non-white and ultimately a black actor for the role, that this was a role they felt fitting for a black actor.

If Finn had been played by a white actor without any changes I don't think there would be much rancor on my part because white male actors have played a multiplicity of roles and are often the hero or the main characters, they have humanity and agency, whereas there is a whole history of how Hollywood has marginalized, stereotyped, and dehumanized black people through the use of stunted black characters. The white fool character is countered by the white hero or even the cool, intelligent white villain. Blacks historically were slaves, servants, subordinate in Hollywood roles, made into comic relief. And this is what I saw with Finn, which is unfortunate because it feels like a reversion compared to Samuel L. Jackson and Billy Dee Williams. Kip I think you make an interesting point about Jackson, which could apply to Williams as well, that these were two veteran actors. And Boyega is younger and perhaps more amendable or pliable. Boyega doesn't have the built in fan base that Jackson or Williams had.

Finn was no more alien than Rey, Poe, Han, Luke, or Leia. He is a human character. Star Wars has human characters. Now there have been black aliens, like Luminara Unduli, Stass Allie, Adi Gallia. Now you could make a b.s. argument that race doesn't matter in Star Wars, that there are no 'black' or 'white' characters in Star Wars, but these are space fantasy movies made for human audiences on Earth, where there are black and white people-whether you believe its all just a social construct or not-the racial disparities tell a much different, starker, and depressing story. And these films are conceived and made by largely white creators so their views on race are going to factor into it. Heck, Lucas and Abrams definitely use the racist Nazi regime as inspiration for their bad guys.

I don't buy the colorblind argument. Boyega was cast to make a statement, and to create an impact, evidenced by the near meltdown some fans had over seeing a black man in a Stormtrooper outfit. On the surface that statement seems positive, progressive, and forward leaning, but the actual result is more of the same in terms of the black character as a sidekick, comic relief, sexless, ineffectual (in comparison to Rey and perhaps Poe). To me Finn is the kind of black role that feels comfortable and safe within the white imagination. Let's pat ourselves on the back because we included him, I can imagine the thoughts, and look at Boyega, he's so happy to be and some black fans are so happy he's there that it reinforces the rightness of their thinking.

How would Finn be any more 'colorblind' than any other character in Star Wars-human or alien? Are you referring to Boyega's casting alone? If so, casting Billy Dee Williams was more important, and arguably gutsier on Lucas's part. I mean Abrams is a 21st century film maker in an era where diversity is a buzz word and he's contending more with a diverse, global audience than Lucas was during the original trilogy. So yeah, it's not much of a stretch or that 'brave' to cast a black man or Latino or even a white female as leading characters in Force Awakens. It was bolder for Lucas to do so in the original trilogy with Carrie Fisher and Williams.

One critic I was listening to on You Tube made a good point. He talked about the outrage over Finn as a Stormtrooper before the film but how all those critics had melted away after the film came out. I hadn't noticed that but I think he's right. They saw in TFA that there was nothing to worry about. Finn wasn't the main hero, he wasn't a black Alpha male that got the girl (white girl). He was comic relief. Their white maleness wasn't threatened at all by Finn like they imagined it was when he first appeared in that armor.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 04:57:14 am by Emperorjones »

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #63 on: January 09, 2016, 09:48:21 am »
Actually we don't know if he gets the girl or not; the story isn't done.

I agree there are metaissues in casting a Black actor, but when I speak about being a Color-Blind character I am referring only to the story itself. (I think all the humans in SW are also Color-Blind characters.). I actually think that he, Rey and Poe are at also gender-blind if you allow for gay-lesbian subtext.

I can't really comment on Billy D Williams and Lando because I know Lando better than the actor who plays him.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #64 on: January 09, 2016, 10:02:13 am »
As for the end of TFA did Finn or did he not have the girl? I carrot is held out for 'maybe next time', and you're right in the sense that the story isn't completed and none of us know, but to be honest I've heard this kind of teaser held out before and it rarely if ever pans out.

I don't think race as we see it, experience it, and grapple with it in the 20/21st centuries plays a role in how the characters onscreen address and react to each other, for the most part, however that's not such a bold revelation when a majority of those characters have been white with some non-white people in supporting roles or sprinkled in the background. Then again, some might see racial/cultural insensitivity masked behind alien characters (Jar Jar, Watto, Nemoidians) and I find Finn off putting. But within the story itself it's not like the characters recognize racial differences among humans. And I have to repeat that a majority of people crafting Star Wars are white and I do think that factors into roles in which they see or feel comfortable casting black characters, and that can be suspect.

I don't think Rey is that gender-blind within the context of the story. And we know that's not the case outside of the story, where she's become a lightning rod for feminist and anti-feminist opinion. Nor Padme or Leia were completely gender-blind, within or without their stories. I think Star Wars creators have tried to make these characters independent and strong willed, within limits perhaps for Leia and Padme. I can't say they are held back by their gender within the films, but that marginalization was already done by the creators beforehand. Like I would argue to a greater extent with Finn and to a lesser extent with Mace and Lando. When all of them faced a primary white antagonist or white Alpha male they all lost or were taken down a peg. Finn lost to TR-8R and Kylo Ren, after getting taken down by Rey. Mace lost to Anakin and Palpatine. Lando was checked by Vader and had to make amends for betraying Han, etc.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 10:10:10 am by Emperorjones »

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #65 on: January 09, 2016, 10:21:46 am »
As for the end of TFA did Finn or did he not have the girl? I carrot is held out for 'maybe next time', and you're right in the sense that the story isn't completed and none of us know, but to be honest I've heard this kind of teaser held out before and it rarely if ever pans out.


I agree especially if this series parallels the original three.  With NH we expected Leia to end up with Luke.    By the third, he was a sibling.  A similar kind of thing could happen here.  Though that couldn't be the original plan since Poe was supposed to die.  (Personally I can't figure out why anyone is into Poe.  He only existed to move Flynn's story along.  Yeah, he named him, but that was moving Flynn's story forward.  I don't think he was even needed in the final battle.  He could have (should have) died in the crash.)

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #66 on: January 09, 2016, 11:25:55 am »
I liked Poe. Granted he got very little screen time, but in what you saw he mouthed off to Kylo Ren and he showed off his piloting skills. He was dashing and also had good chemistry with Finn. Enough so that some people online would like to see a Finn/Poe romantic relationship develop. I hadn't thought of Poe existing to move Finn's story along. That's an interesting take. I see Finn existing in many respects to move Rey's story along.

As for Rey/Finn I think it's nothing going to happen on a romantic front. Rey's chaste forehead kiss sealed it for me. Plus Finn was way more into her than she was into him. And I also think there will be breaks on the relationship perhaps because of racial anxieties but also a concern that Rey be seen as independent and not involved in any romantic entanglements. If she is the successor of Luke, he didn't get any play in the original trilogy either. He was too busy saving the galaxy and I can see that happening with Rey as well.

Of course this is just my speculation. They could totally surprise me and create a great love story for Finn and Rey. But for me I would rather they build up Finn to make him a more capable, less comical character. I don't care about a Finn/Rey romantic relationship. But however they interact I don't want Rey to benefit and Finn made lesser because of it.



Offline Kimoyo

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #69 on: January 27, 2016, 10:54:16 am »
It seemed to me that the main new characters from "The Force Awakens" were resurrected with the personalities of the the big three from "A New Hope" as follows:

Finn = Luke
Ray = Han
Poe = Leia

Viewed through this spectrum in the vein of what I feel is a new storytelling convention specific to remakes of iconic/classic tales, I don't have the problems many have voiced with regard to Finn's portrayal or more precisely, the storyteller's portrayal of Finn through Boyega.  Even so, I think there is real truth in EJ's astute observation:

"...Boyega was cast to make a statement, and to create an impact, evidenced by the near meltdown some fans had over seeing a black man in a Stormtrooper outfit. On the surface that statement seems positive, progressive, and forward leaning, but the actual result is more of the same in terms of the black character as a sidekick, comic relief, sexless, ineffectual (in comparison to Rey and perhaps Poe). To me Finn is the kind of black role that feels comfortable and safe within the white imagination. Let's pat ourselves on the back because we included him, I can imagine the thoughts, and look at Boyega, he's so happy to be and some black fans are so happy he's there that it reinforces the rightness of their thinking."

While the result for me was not that I saw Finn as comic relief et. al.  In fact I saw him as noble, heroic and full of potential.  However the story, as Kip noted is not done and it played to me as an intentional cliff hanger in which the subsequent chapters will define who and what each of theses characters will be.  My two cents.

Peace,

Mont

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #70 on: January 27, 2016, 12:16:22 pm »
Kimoyo,

You a good dude, but man do I have to disagree with you. You going to lay out some explanations for how you are comparing the new characters to the old.

I don't think Finn is like Luke at all. When we first meet Luke he wants to join the Imperial Academy. He doesn't like the Empire, but it's a come up for him, and he wants that opportunity. But the main thing with him is he wants adventure, he wants to get involved, and he shows a pretty fearless streak. Plus he is the main hero, or one of he main heroes that lands a decisive blow against the Empire. With Finn, his fear of the First Order is evident from jump. He's running from them and he wants to put as much space between them and him as possible. Now his feelings for Rey create tension inside him, yet not enough for him to initially leave her. But once he sees she's captured his feelings for her win out. However he's not committed to a grander cause of freedom or liberty in TFA, he's committed to Rey. While Finn does play a key role in destroying Starkiller Base he it is not as decisive as it with Luke. And whereas Luke is doing things for a higher cause, Finn is all about Rey. If Rey hadn't been captured, Finn wouldn't have risked his life on that mission. And at the end of each respective film I find I telling that Luke gets a medal and is praised while Finn in a coma.

I don't think Rey is like Han at all. Han is motivated solely by greed at first. And damn it, he shot first, showing his grasp on morality was slippery. Though we realize that he does have a personal code of honor as things progress. Rey isn't motivated by money so much as making it for subsistence survival.  Granted Han was also trying to make money to survive Jabba but I got a feeling he was sort of greedy dude and shifty. Rey was never shifty. While Han got involved for monetary reasons, Rey was sort of pulled into the action to run from the First Order. The main similarity I see between them in a general reluctance, however its for different reasons and I think Han got over his a bit quicker, though perhaps as murkily explained as Rey's change of heart. Also Rey is the main character of this new saga, like Luke was in the original trilogy. Han was a great character and got his own arc but still he was a supporting character.

I don't agree with Poe and Leia either, though the info on Poe is so scant I don't feel as confident in my case. Both Poe and Leia are committed rebels. And both can mouth off to Imperials. But so far all we've seen of Poe is his piloting skills. And thus far we can't say he possesses any of the political acumen of Leia.

Offline Kimoyo

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #71 on: January 28, 2016, 04:43:04 pm »
Thanks EJ, I think you're a good dude too!  I have no problem bowing to your more informed take on these characters as I admit to being more of a Trekkie even though I grew up with both.  My take was just the impression I came away from the film with and truthfully I can see enough overlapping of the different character traits to make a case for Ray as Luke or Poe as Han, but from your description it seems like you've likened Finn with Han's characterization from the original trilogy.  I'm okay with that too.  I really don't have a problem with Boyega as Finn portraying a new take on such an iconic, beloved and enduring character.  At the end of the film I still found him to have displayed courage, nobility and a strength of conviction not always found in someone of Finn's age.  I mean when have we ever seen a storm trooper defect?  I  do admit though, you may very well know better than I.

Peace,

Mont

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #72 on: January 29, 2016, 02:07:11 am »
Kimoyo,

I actually like Star Trek more than Star Wars, though I do like Star Wars a lot. Actually I think Finn is more like Chewbacca, a kind of lovable sidekick, someone in the mix, that contributes, but ultimately is not the major deciding factor. I believe earlier in the post Kip-and correct me if I'm wrong Kip-compared Han and Finn. I mean there is some similarities in terms of both being outsiders, perhaps providing a kind of gateway introduction to the universe, and maybe even being 'everyman' characters (though I think the idea of black characters being 'everyman' characters is rare to nonexistent in mainstream media; it is a role usually reserved for white men). Also both Finn and Han are reluctant in joining the fight, though for different reasons. And both have romantic interests for the main female characters of their respective movies. However Han is much cooler in how he approaches that than the sweating, huffing Finn. So I do think there are some similarities between Han and Finn, or it could be argued such, however I find them surface. Once again, I see Finn more like Chewbacca. He's a tag-a-long character. And many of the descriptions for Han and Finn could apply to Chewbacca as well. One telling thing for me is that Chewbacca gets involved because of Han, it's a personal thing, and Finn's motivation to get involved is also personal, he cares about Rey and wants to rescue her from Starkiller Base. But I mean what does Finn add ultimately to the mix? Finn isn't a Jedi or even Force sensitive (at least according to the last time I checked Wookieepedia; granted the next film could change that), he's not a bad ass warrior like the Fetts, he's a decent shot but so is just about everyone else, he doesn't own a ship, he has no particular skills (outside of janitorial skills) that we see.

It makes me think of the film Jupiter Ascending. There Mila Kunis is also a domestic who turns out to be the queen of Earth. White domestics get to be secret rulers, but Finn just gets blue balled and placed into a coma.

Don't get me wrong in the sense that I completely didn't like Finn. Boyega is likable. He did display the traits you recognized, but that being said that's not so out of the ordinary when it comes to Star Wars. I mean teens Luke, Leia, Padme, and Anakin also displayed similar traits. As did Rey in TFA. You are right that we've never seen a Stormtrooper defect but that was undercut by making him a janitor who was pressed into going to Jakku. I might be wrong, but I think that was his first mission. So was he really a Stormtrooper? He was just a guy in over his head, who couldn't hack it. Which is fine and perhaps 'realistic' but it even takes away the idea of Finn having regret, remorse, guilt, or even showing a different, darker side to him. I mean it could've been a whole history there of various missions and crap that he had done that they could've played with. It stunted a potential arc. It reminds me of Shepherd Book in Firefly/Serenity. I personally liked the idea that he had this dark past in the Alliance that he was atoning for. It added mystery and menace. TFA took that away from Finn.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 02:15:00 am by Emperorjones »

Offline Kimoyo

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #73 on: January 29, 2016, 05:41:17 am »
I get you EJ.  I just found Finn so much younger and more inexperienced than Han.  I guess that's why I first related him to Luke.  He has so much potential for growth if the storytellers are so inclined.  Still I think he drove the action and helped move the story along much more so than Chewbacca ever did.  I'd have to relate him to one of the big 3.

Peace,

Mont

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviewed (with spoilers)
« Reply #74 on: January 29, 2016, 05:53:45 pm »
You're right in that Finn drove the action more than Chewbacca ever did. It was Finn's decision to leave the First Order which set things in motion. But at the same time he also needed to be rescued more than Chewbacca did too.

Finn is younger than Han, but Rey is also young. I think Rey is roughly the same age as Luke was in A New Hope. If you look at it by age you could say Rey=Luke, Finn=Leia, and Poe=Han. I see the similarities with Poe and Rey and the OT characters, but I don't see a similarity between Finn and Leia.