Last night my wife and I watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (TRS). I enjoyed the narrative choices J.J. Abrams made and I think this movie had the potential of being one of the greatest Start Wars movies thus far. I say “had the potential” because I do not think it’s one of the greatest, and below you will find my spoiler-free explanation.
Masculine Women, Feminine Men
Some think TRS suffers from a lack of imagination (example), but I couldn’t disagree more. I see it suffering from too much imagination. Most of all, the issue I take with the film is the twisted view of humanity it presents. It’s nothing new, but that’s also part of the problem: Disney habitually presents a twisted view of humanity.
I’m referring to how the filmmakers have dismantled the distinctions between men and women and ignored how God tells us to relate to one another. This is typically seen today in the woman-warrior motif we are presented with at the box office. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are two examples of this from the Marvel Universe. In the current Star Wars trilogy, Rey is the powerful Jedi warrior aiding a Resistance force led by Leia. In The Last Jedi, female warriors include Vice Admiral Holdo, Lt. Connix, Paige Tico (pilot at beginning of film), and Rose Tico. Female soldiers appear as frequently as male soldiers in the current trilogy (I’ve only mentioned a handful [e.g. Captain Phasma]). TRS features several new female warriors such as Zorii Bliss and Jannah.
Viewers are bombarded with the image of female warriors, soldiers, and combatants. We are sold the idea it is just as natural for a woman to grab a rifle/lightsaber and charge into battle as it is for a man. Simultaneously, we are also presented with effeminate male leads. This may not be as obvious as the woman-warrior motif, but should be apparent to any viewer with a worldview shaped by Scripture. Poe consistently retreats to his feelings at times a commander would certainly demonstrate resolve. Kylo Ren, being encouraged by another male lead, is gently caressed on the cheek (that was hard to watch). Watching TRS, it is painfully obvious the women are more masculine than the men.
All of this is emphasized, of course, with the LGBTQ+ clip near the end, where two female characters lock lips.
The play Disney is running isn’t new, but again, that doesn’t mean it should startle us less. The plan is to normalize such things. If you watch enough movies, listen to enough songs, and see enough posters treating women-warriors and effeminate men as normal and run-of-the-mill, then odds are you will become desensitized to it. I know this is happening, because if TRS had been released five years ago, profuse outrage would have come from evangelicalism regarding the LGBTQ+ clip.
Just to be clear: the Bible does in fact condemn these ideas. Women are not to be soldiers: it is shameful for a woman to don the garb of a warrior (Deuteronomy 22:5). It is shameful for a bearer of life to be handed a rifle and told, “Go kill” (Exodus 23:19). Men, in contrast, are designed for warfare: to protect and defend (e.g. Joshua 1:9; 5:13-15). Marriage and any kind of sexual relation are to be reserved for a man and a woman in a monogamous relationship (Genesis 2:18-24).
So that’s why I take issue with the picture of humanity TRS presents: it’s twisted and perverse. “But listen, you’re being too critical. This is Star Wars, for crying out loud. It’s a fantasy – can’t you lighten up a bit and just enjoy the laser show?” I realize the Star Wars Universe is fantastical, but what’s the point of the story if we aren’t meant to enjoy it? That’s probably why you own a Star Wars film: it’s entertainment. What I’m being asked to do is shut off my mind for two hours and pretend like women aren’t women, men aren’t men, and homosexuality is beautiful. That’s the pathos of the film, with which I am being compelled to sympathize.
The problem is that the Star Wars Universe is indeed a fantasy, but a fantasy existing within God’s Universe. Jesus is still Lord while you’re watching the laser show. Men are still men, women are still women, abominations are still abominations. So that’s why a woman-warrior motif can depreciate my opinion of a film. Being asked to sympathize with men acting like women is a pitch which compels me to think less of a movie. This is because I’m sitting in a movie theater held together by the Word of Christ, watching pixels dance on a screen which God has decreed to exist ultimately for His glory, all the while being asked to rejoice in perversions of God’s most glorious creation: humans (who are, by the way, created in the image of God).
The bottom line is that good stories are not so subjective. What makes a good story, I mean, is more objective and set in stone than we may believe. God is the standard of beauty and perfection. Stories, films, plays, musicals, etc., which oppose God and His will are neither beautiful nor good, and they shouldn’t thrill our soul.