Updated: May 18, 2019
So I’ve held off a bit, at least in terms of public posts, in saying my piece about the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. I’ve been really open that I loved the movie. I’ve also been active in a number of discussion groups that are dedicated to talking over the film, sharing theories, sharing general Star Wars geekery, sharing our enthusiasm about particular scenes, and basically just having fun being fans together.
I’m aware of the polarization caused by this film, of course.
Even in some of these fan groups, a certain percentage of the members are there mostly to let everyone know how much they hated the film, how much they think Disney sucks, how much they think certain scenes or characters suck, and in some cases, to let us all know they think anyone who disagrees with them sucks.
I don’t really want to talk about any of that.
I don’t even want to get into all of my pet theories on the new movie, (although, as my friends know, I can expound on these for HOURS right now, so if you don’t want to get hit with a deluge, you probably shouldn’t ask, lol). I'll post some links below, just for fun, but I'll leave those discussions for another place and/or time.
No, I really just wanted to express some basic, artistic, geekish joy over the fact that this movie has totally rocked the writing / artistic / spiritual worlds, at least within my little circles.
SO many writers I know are talking about this movie, and not all of them (or even most of them) write science fiction. My romance writer friends are talking about it, my science fiction writer friends are talking about it, my fantasy writer friends are talking about it. Friends of mine who are into spirituality and Buddhism are talking about it, friends who are into mythology are talking about it… and we’re all sharing links, cool theories, ideas, and inspirations around it.
In a weird way, I’ve been kind of waiting for something like this to hit the writing world - in particular the indie writing world. By "something like this," I mean something that would turn the focus off purely the business end of things and back towards the art itself, at least in some measure.
There’s that old joke that when rich people get together, they talk about art, and when artists get together, they talk about money - that’s definitely true, and there needs to be a space for artists to talk about money, business, marketing and so on. Right now, the indie community excels at that, and at information sharing in those areas. There are a multitude of groups where we share information, tips, pitfalls, failures, leads and cool ideas, and it’s awesome. In that respect, the indie community is pretty sophisticated. You could drown in all the information out there dedicated to the business side of being an indie writer.
That being said, I would love to carve out a community space where we can all gush and geek out over art, too. Not only the art we ourselves are making, or how to pitch or sell it, but the bigger ideas behind our art, and what we want to say.
I’ve been blown away by some of the amazing things I’ve learned and ideas I’ve gotten just from listening to other artists this week. Just listening to their theories, the ideas that move their hearts and minds, where their inspirations come from, what archetypes fascinate them - it’s given me so much.
It’s also reconnected me with WHY I’m doing this, lol. An obvious thing, but it’s so easy to lose sight of that in the day-to-day scramble to make a living and pay the rent.
I know at least two writers who now feel totally inspired by the recent Star Wars movie to make something that’s a bit “bigger” and more epic, and more of a “project of the heart,” and that makes me really happy, too.
We get so much pressure as artists to make things that are only about the money. And of course, if you want to make a lot of money, you have to play the game, at least to a degree. There are lottery winners who break out with their heart projects, but most of us who write that way tend to eke out an existence at the margins.
I’m cool with that, personally, but I have that luxury. I’m childless, I’m single, I live in Thailand… I’ve deliberately built a low-overhead life where I can pretty much write what I want, and do what I want, and I have zero regrets about that. The trade-off for me is being super happy every morning I wake up, because I get to do what I love all day.
That being said, part of me has been kind of waiting for a “movement” of some kind in the indie world that’s more about content, not only business - one that gives us a place to talk about what’s being said, not simply how to sell it.
For the first time in ages, I felt that this week. I spent the whole weekend talking about story structure, and epic tales, and Joseph Campbell, and different ways to write with storylines and characters with depth and heart. I’ve heard about what inspired fellow writers to write, and the story they’ve been sitting on since high school that they’ve always wanted to tell. I spent hours looking at awesome videos people sent me, and links, and book recommendations, both fiction and nonfiction.
I feel inspired, and not via my own mind, but the collective mind of the other artists I know, and the amazing ideas and knowledge they possess.
Am I saying everyone should ditch writing their down-the-line genre projects and moneymaking series? HELL NO. I’m not saying that all. I love books like that, and so do a ton of people, which is why they sell so well.
No, I’m just really excited to see what new stories come from this impulse I’m seeing, both those that follow those more conventional genre lines and those that bend and break them a little. And I’m super excited to feel this wave that seems to have a lot of writers and artists I know in more of that little kid, playing and inspiration mode than the more cynical business space so many of us feel forced into a lot of the time.
It’s like seeing people reconnect with their roots, and their passion around creating in the first place, and I hope it lasts a good long while.
It also tells me that people (not just artists) crave meaning in artistic work. A lot of us want stories with layers, that stretch our minds and spin us off into new directions, both in terms of inspiration and imagination.
So the haters can hate. I’m good with that, honestly.
To me, the real story about The Last Jedi isn’t whether the movie is “good” or not - it’s that it’s got people talking about art, about storytelling, about archetypes and myths, about what we love and hate, whether in fictional worlds or the real one.
I don’t remember anything close to this happening with The Force Awakens, or any of the prequel movies. As much as I liked it, it didn’t happen with Rogue One, either. To me, that means the movie hit at something deeper. You might, personally, hate that thing it hit, but for most of us, it’s almost impossible to be neutral about it.
To me, that makes the movie an unmitigated success.
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Some fun, geeky links, as promised:
LOVE this guy called The Wayward Jedi on YouTube. He has some really neat theories about the Star Wars saga and where the final trilogy is going. It should be noted, all of these are pre-The Last Jedi (he hasn’t put out anything new since the movie came out, so I’m really looking forward to what he has to say about that). So it’s safe to watch if you haven’t seen TLJ yet, since there are no spoilers:
Star Wars: Love is the Balance - A Rey and Kylo Ren Story:
Rey and Ben - The Resurrected Heroes (Part 1) The One Big Story of Star Wars:
Rey and Ben - The Resurrected Heroes (Part 2) The One Big Story of Star Wars:
Most of these following links contain spoilers, so tread here at your own risk:
Chuck Wendig’s excellent write-up: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/12/18/the-last-jedi-a-mirror-slowly-cracking/
Loved this write-up by Jacob Hall on Slashfilm: http://www.slashfilm.com/the-last-jedi-defense/
Another great article on Hype: https://hype.my/2017/149941/star-wars-last-jedi-analysis/
Really great review on Film Crit Hulk: https://filmcrithulk.blog/2017/12/15/the-force-belongs-to-us-the-last-jedis-beautiful-refocusing-of-star-wars/
Great discussion about how The Last Jedi reframes the prequel movies: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/9kdd97/star-wars-the-last-jedi-review-makes-prequels-good?utm_source=vicefbus