Miracles do happen: I finally managed to get to a showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens without being exposed to any major spoilers , despite my young son having watched the film before Christmas. What I’d seen were articles online claiming the film was a social justice/’progressive’/diversity/feminist tour-de-Force Awakening and avoided reading every one. It was clear that many in the regressive left wanted to claim the movie as their own, even going so far as to state Kylo Ren is the ultimate white, dude-bro geek, the last gasp of a dying breed of archaic white, patriarchal male gamers. But, predictably for ideologues, what they saw was filtered through the lens of their ideology. So, who is Kylo Ren, and what does he represent?
*MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, OBVIOUSLY*
He comes from a broken home: an absentee father (Solo) is never around and his mother (Leia) sent him away to Jedi boarding school with his Uncle Luke for his own good, for the best. Outcome: we have the breakdown of a nuclear family, the subsequent destabilisation of Kylo, and the working out of his teen rejection-anger. He becomes an emo-delinquent with super powers.
To combat his own inner feelings of ungrounded instability he allies with the First Order: a totalitarian, authoritarian organisation with a Nazi-esque ideology. Blindly following his dead grandfather’s (Vader’s) dream of uniform ‘peace’ without dissent and debate, and belonging to the group, gives him a sense of place, perceived value and purpose, taking his mind off his own shortcomings and insecurities because he no longer has to think for himself. He can follow Supreme Leader Snoke’s directives to bring right-think and order to every corner of a galaxy far-far-away. Sound familiar?
Kylo and the Patriarchy
Kylo’s parents — both too busy to work out the shortcomings in their relationship — effectively abandon him. He was probably spoilt by Solo on every homecoming, bought gifts to cover paternal guilt at not being there. His mother, Leia, over-prioritises her career — she is a general after all — and doesn’t give him the love he needs. Guilt means she feels awkward about discipline and she feels she needs to call on Uncle Luke for help: to be the father Solo can’t and provide the discipline she cannot. In other words, he grows up without ‘patriarchal’ support. Result: young Kylo becomes over-indulged, unsupervised, and not loved or emotionally grounded. His galaxy-spanning entitlement complex and narcissism, fed by Snoke, means he feels he is absolutely the right one to be the centre of galactic change for the better. How many Social Justice Warrior Hipsters does that sound like? Kylo wants what they do: regardless of the positives, the destruction of the status quo. (That’s the democratic Old Republic, or the ‘patriarchy’, depending on who you talk to.) SJW Kylo sabres his patriarchal dad for no better reason than he cannot handle his own emotions and situation and so looks for externals to blame. He kills Solo to make himself feel better, to help him deal with the confusion he’s too weak to deal with himself… by killing the Light. Again, sound familiar?
Kylo and 4th Wave/Radical/ ‘Progressive’ Feminism
Definition of Terms: Please Pass Over if Easily Bored or if This Piece is Making Sense As-Is
After reading the section below, I seem to have left some readers confused as to my meaning. For simplicity, I differentiate between two ‘strands’ or ‘types’ of feminism: what I call ‘classical’, i.e. original pro-equality, pro-individuality egalitarian feminism that most older readers will remember: ‘…the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.’ (source, Google), which has been a positive force for change. The second ‘type’ of feminism has redefined what is meant by ‘equality’ and has very fixed politcal ideas on how their vision of ‘equality’ should be achieved. It’s known colloquially by several names: regressive left feminism/SJW or radical feminism/collectivist or Marxist feminism. Because of the practical implications of this ideology when applied to people’s lives, I’ve become increasingly opposed to it as I’ve found out more. I’ll leave it to the reader to infer which feminism I attribute to Rey and which to Kylo…
Note: no other changes have been made except to delete an ‘”s” typo in the main text.
Like so many authoritarians who seek to impose their views on others, when Kylo encounters a woman, Rey, who is genuinely strong and independent rather than applaud her and watch her fly, what happens ? Through fear he seeks to impose the correct way of thinking upon her. She must submit to The Vision for a Peaceful Future™ and the First Order. When she refuses, the ‘internalised misogyny’ argument follows: ‘You don’t understand; you’re uneducated in the ways of the Forced Order; you are lesser. But I can help you, teach you, show you the right way…’ Rey knows her mind and is growing in the realisation that what she needs is already inside herself. She doesn’t sign up. Is that choice respected? Of course not, so her unorthodoxy must be punished, destroyed — in microcosm, The First Order’s attack on the Old Republic. Like Kylo, in their minds, they are the heroes and independent heretics are to be eradicated. Rey’s choosing of the ‘old ways’ — the traditional, classical feminist path to enlightenment and the full self-realisation of personal empowerment, responsibility and freedom of choice — makes her the absolute enemy of the New Reich.
Kylo and Racism
Black men who support society as it stands: democracy, individual liberty, choice and achievement through merit, are labelled as ‘Uncle Toms’ and ‘race-traitors’ by the regressive left. Kylo stops short with ‘traitor’ in the film. The loony-left see The First Order with their masked, white storm troopers and see in Finn taking off his helmet the liberation of people of colour from their white colonial oppressors. All it takes to be an oppressor is the colour of your outside: us cracker white-folks put on our uniform when we’re born. Except white-as-snow Kylo chooses to wear black. There seems to be some confusion over what’s really important: what’s inside or out.
Finn doesn’t leave because of the colour of the uniforms; he leaves and teams up with white people who share his ideology. Not once does he reject anyone for their skin colour. Finn rejects the atrocities, the overt violence and disregard of individual humans’ right to liberty, health, and freedom. He rejects being a member of a unified collective hive, and enforced conformity through ‘training’ and social monitoring for (micro) transgressions against the ideology. Finn broke out, broke free, because it felt ‘right’ to him as an individual. He joined the Old Republic, the ones upholding democracy against the tyranny of the Dark Side. Kylo, the ultimate SJW, tried to silence him for it, permanently.
So, was Star Wars: The Force Awakens the ultimate SJW propaganda film? There’s the media crowing about more diversity and feminist empowerment: Social Justice Warriors are obsessed with superficials, externals: skin colour, sex, partner choice. Ideologically, the Star Wars franchise has always opposed what collectivist Cultural Marxism stands for: suppression of individuality, abdication of responsibility to the collective, rights of the group over the individual, the demonisation of Rebel ‘outsiders’ as ‘oppressors’ of the ‘subjugated’ collective, uniformity, conformity through punishment and chastisement, ‘liberation’ through manipulation and force. Kylo is weak and seeks an external unity to make him strong. Rey, Finn, and every beloved hero of the previous trilogies are celebrated individualists who show courage, independence, inner-strength, and make courageous and difficult moral choices while fighting for genuine freedoms — regardless of their skin colour.
If Kylo and his emo-narcissistic friends are victorious, the balance will tip again. Hard fought-for freedom can be lost. Kylo isn’t evil because he’s a white male. His actions are evil because of his character, his choices, and so he destroys the free and democratic Old Republic ‘patriarchy’ and seeks to set up dominion in the name of peace — because it will feel better for him and those like him — sex and skin colour are irrelevant; what’s wanted is control.
2nd Addition: for those interested, this is a good summary of some of the aspects of this ideology: