Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Tonight I took my son to see the new installment in the STAR WARS franchise. We arrived early and got prime seats, center screen near the back of the theater so that we could have a good view of things. I’ll leave out what I see as minutiae in the first 5-7 minutes of the film and focus on the non-white/black male star; John Boyega. In the film he portrays a “Stormtrooper” who is on his first raiding mission to retrieve a map that has in it’s contents, the location of Luke Skywalker (The last good Jedi). Boyega portrays Stormtrooper “FN-2187” who while on this mission, is ordered to kill the remaining villagers by the new “Darth Vader-like” character but can’t find the nerve or lacks the courage to do so in comparison to all the other Stormtrooper who blast away at the poor victims. He is immediately singled out by the “Darth Vader-like” character that feels something via the “FORCE” (weakness, betrayal…it’s not made clear but there’s something amiss) with FN-2187. FN-2187 returns to base and is exhausted, clearly troubled by the mass murder of the villagers he’d witnessed a few moments earlier. He takes off his helmet and is dripping with sweat, breathing heavily alone in a spacecraft when his superior walks in and asks, “Who told you to take your helmet off?” He puts the helmet on and reports as ordered to have his weapon inspected. Fast forward to FN-2187 rescuing a rebel fighter pilot who was kidnapped from the raid because he may know where the map is. FN-2187 clearly wants to leave his “captors” but needs a pilot…. a “SAVIOR” (in my eyes) so he and the pilot commandeer a spacecraft and escape. FN-2187 who has by all indications, been a Stormtrooper since childhood, behaves and acts nothing like a military trained fighter but more like a confused and afraid child, takes orders from the pilot who by his own words, knows nothing about flying the oppositions spacecraft. The pilot asks FN-2187 “What’s your name?” he replies “FN-2187” (Prisoner #, slave name? both are apt in this context), the pilot says “No, what’s your real name?” (I immediately thought about the scene in roots with Levar Burton; Kunta Kinte vs. Toby) – he says, “This is all I’ve ever been called” – The white pilot says, “I’ll call you Finn” (As in FN – Fucking Nigger came to mind for me) Boyega agrees and accepts his new name.
My antennae went up when on the raid, Boyega’s character couldn’t pull the trigger which took me back to the Walking Dead analysis on The C.O.W.S. and how none of the non-white black male characters had the courage under fire, to pull the trigger – even in the face of life threatening danger. This theme is carried out multiple times with Boyega in this movie – even though at times he fights back but never over takes his opponent convincingly. To get back on track; Finn and the white pilot escape after a gunfight and crash on a nearby planet. Finn wakes up in a desert, totally disoriented but sees smoke over a sand dune and runs to it; the spacecraft has crashed and is on fire; the white pilot is no where to be found, only his jacket remains of which Finn takes as his own and uses as cover from the hot sun. He walks and walks until he comes upon a village. He runs there looking for water, but no one will give him any. He sees a large watering hole where a space creature akin to a large rhinoceros is drinking, and falls on his knees to get a drink – the water is clearly not sanitary but he is so thirsty, he drinks anyway (drinking from the same watering hole as an animal.)
The story goes away from Finn and goes to the evil mother ship where they realize “FN-2187” has ESCAPED! And he’s the one who helped the rebel pilot escape as well. They make it clear that FN-2187 has been “programmed” since childhood and never illustrated any signs of psychological issues and was loyal to the “1ST ORDER”. They even had a picture of a young black boy – maybe 5 or 6 on the screen instead of FN-2187’s current picture as a young man. So in effect, Stormtroopers are “slaves” raised from childhood to fight for their oppressor and FN-2187 is a run-away slave (Note that he was asked “who told you to take your helmet off?” by his superior moments earlier…. in my estimation, all Stormtroopers are non-white black males who have been enslaved to work on the plantation). This paints a much clearer picture of his behavior once viewed through the lens of Racism/White Supremacy. His heavy breathing, sweating, anxiety, lack of confidence, lack of self-control – traits that none of the white characters illustrate, but are stereotypically associated with non-white black people – these are all wrapped up in the character portrayed by John Boyega.
After he drinks from the “Doggy Dish”, he sees the female heroine being harassed because she now has in her possession, the little android that is carrying the map. Word has spread around the galaxy that the android has it/and FN-2187 has escaped so everybody is on the case…The VOLTRON EFFECT. Finn attempts to rescue her from her attackers but stops short after he sees her beat up two men handily. The android recognizes the jacket that Finn is wearing because it belonged to his master who happened to be the white pilot who flew Finn off the plantation. The android tells the heroine who chases Finn down…. a Stormtrooper who’s visibly afraid of a skinny white girl…a Stormtrooper…trained since childhood? She “outsmarts” Finn by basically doing a magic trick and appearing out of nowhere and kicks his butt! He once again appears weak and unable to defend himself even from a woman who is much smaller. They begin to run from more attackers…Finn grabs her hand of which she immediately asks, “Why are you touching me?” …. They end up on the Millennium Falcon (Han Solo’s ship), which was stolen and hidden on this desert planet. Once again, Finn is being ordered around in what could be termed a military environment by a civilian (The heroine) who was just earlier picking up scrap metal and selling it at the junkyard so that she could buy food. He is reduced to being her whipping boy for much of this scene as she orders him to shoot at the opposition’s ships on their tail. While she is proving to be adept at flying a spaceship – he is floundering and bumbling trying to shoot the guns. They end up being captured by Han Solo who wants his ship back and once again – Finn is in a subordinate role to the female who saves his butt from monsters and is being painted more and more as the movie goes on as being savvy, intelligent, brave and versed in the engineering of spaceships.
They go to a planet for refuge and are plotting a plan to find Luke Skywalker of which Finn wants no part…he makes clear that “I can’t go back to that place…I can never go back!” Which sounds more like ex-con, prison-speak the more he says it. He walks out on the crew (Han Solo, Chewbacca, the android and the white female) who are all very composed while he is emotional and running away from the fight. (The Walking Dead)
I’m going to stop here because this theme continues throughout the movie all the way up to the point where Finn fights the villain with Luke Skywalker’s light saber and loses. But in turn, the female heroine (who learns she is a Jedi as the movie goes along) picks up the light saber and defeats the evil antagonist and saves herself and Finn. Finn, who was knocked unconscious by the evil one, ends the movie laying on a hospital bed in a coma. In effect he’s dead, having served no real purpose at all.
What looked to be a tender moment in the making with the female heroine kissing Finn’s lips (Cowbell) – ends up with her kissing his FOREHEAD (Like a mother kissing a child) but – he’s totally unaware and unresponsive to this affection. The movie was entertaining and not much different from other STAR WARS films. I was expecting more from the non-white black male’s character simply because of all the hype associated with his performance. His role was reduced to running…. always running and sweating and looking for guidance, never in control. Han Solo asked him what was his job while he was a Stormtrooper he replied, “I was a Janitor!”…. Even in this depiction of the future, we are running away from slavery. Slavery that has us in servile positions as janitors on the mother ship (plantation).