In his book, How Should We Then Live?, Francis Schaeffer begins with the important declaration that we all have worldviews, we all have presuppositions, and that we all operate on those presuppositions more than we tend to think we do. It was an incredible thing for me to read at first, not having considered it before. And even after I read it, I did not think it was true. I actually held that people, especially people who have a faulty worldview that does not line up with the necessary presuppositions of life itself, operate on those presuppositions while opposing them at the same time. Atheism being a prime example. Denying the uniformity of logic, arguing it is instead a cognitive construct, while not actually living on that basis for a fraction of a second.
But I think there is some key truth to those words. What Schaeffer means is first that everyone has a worldview, and second, that denying that we have a worldview–a set of assumptions–means they operate unconsciously and will eventually reveal themselves at some point, and when they do, they can be either remarkably consistent with reality, and efficient in living, or can be tragically ironic as they are self-destructive of the worldview, and of reality. The more we deny the truth of our worldview assumptions, the more enslaved we are to them, and hence the more pervasive they show themselves in the things we do… such as running movie franchises.
What does this have in relation to the new Star Wars franchise, however? I recently watched a critical review of The Last Jedi that pretty much went on a perfect timeline of what happened to me as I saw the movie. I asked a co-worker about his thoughts and he had the exact same reaction as I did. To put it simply, I saw it, and I enjoyed it. I went home that evening, and reflected on it, and it was still exciting. But as time went by, I found myself increasingly, more and more disliking the movie. The experience was as if I had suddenly tripped and tumbled downhill. I try to cling to a branch or rock to keep from falling further. Sure, I was pretty far down the hill, which was bad, but it was better than falling farther, and at least I hadn’t gone over a cliff yet. But then that branch I clung to snaps, or that rock was actually cracked and separated from the base enough that with my sudden weight, breaks it off completely, and I start tumbling again.
I went from, “It was okay” to “it was kind of messy” to “okay, it wasn’t that good” and to “Okay, it was bad” and then finally to “wow that was actually a terrible, terrible movie”. Much like in Scripture, when I would read an amazing passage that reveals so much, such as Jesus’s words in John 13-17, it was like more and more and more and more was being realized the farther I went, and the more I meditated on it. Except for Star Wars, it was in the opposite direction. The more I contemplated it, the worse it got.
Progressive/postmodern thought is a fascinating, if not blatantly confusing form of inconsistent thinking permeating our society today. What it serves to do is to dish out the vision of a Utopian paradise utterly contradictory to its principles by grabbing the emotional strings of the masses, emptying logic and reality in the process and filling them with more emotions to have the package of logic and reality without actually being such. To do this, they seek to change the history of our world all together; the history of science, religion, politics and philosophy, all completely done away with, and in doing so, change reality itself, giving them a whole new basis of truth to then push forward to that Utopian dream. I think this kind of thinking finds itself truly working out in the world of media today, where in Marvel, for example, entire character franchises are being “revisioned” in the light of postmodern thought, destroying what was, for the sake of what wokeness declares will be (whatever that is).
For our current subject, I think no other franchise demonstrates this quite as clearly as the new Star Wars trilogy. The release of The Force Awakens, followed by The Last Jedi is truly the epitome of progressive/postmodern thought carried out as it destroys a beloved franchise to the cancer that it truly is.
We will start with how the Progressive/postmodern mindset, changes history. And by that, we don’t mean in some noble set of cliche words that is meant to make an impact on the world. What we mean is that you actually alter history itself, ignore it completely, and base an entire premise on an inconsistent view of what has come before. Historical ignorance is fueled either by genuine ignorance, willful ignorance fueled by ideology, or a hybrid somewhere in between.
The reviews that I watched on YouTube about it all basically said the same thing, and one of those things was how this new trilogy betrays the whole franchise itself. How so? Because you still have Jedi, you still have Sith, star destroyers, and you also have the original cast even; plus you still have that cool intro prologue, with the burst of the theme song, and then the slow turn to some planet and star destroyer that pulls the audience in to see what the significance of this place is. So how can that ruin the franchise? Because very plainly, as has been said many times, the development of the characters, like Han, Leia and Luke seemed to be completely ignored in the franchise (with the possible exception of Leia).
In the original franchise, Luke was unrealistically optimistic and hopeful for saving his father from the dark side, and it paid off in the end. He allowed himself to be tortured by the Emperor, and possibly killed, destroying any chance of killing the Emperor and ending the Empire’s blight on the galaxy forever. He went through all of that so that his father could be saved, and it worked. Why then, when it came to the revelation of why he ran off in The Last Jedi did he seem to completely flip on that? He was about to kill a boy, who was just talking to a Sith lord (a Sith lord we never really get to know anyway). He hadn’t even done anything evil yet.
And even if he was to become evil, again, Luke was willing to throw away his chances of assassinating the Emperor for saving his dad. You mean to say that he wouldn’t take the same sort of risk to save a boy, who, even if he had “Vader tendencies” in his mind, was no where near the mental fortitude of Vader at such an age? That age is a critical moment of teaching a child and influencing them, not killing them. It is a complete betrayal of Luke’s character, and I would go a step further, it is simply ignoring and forgetting Luke’s character entirely.
Then with Han Solo, who starts in the franchise as a lowlife smuggler. He doesn’t care much for anything but money, and then finds himself in a cause to overthrow the Empire and he is given a new, noble purpose in life that changes him throughout the series into a more honorable man, willing to fight for truth and justice. He settles down with Leia even, and they have Ben (whom Luke tries to later kill). Then at the start of The Force Awakens, he is back to his old self again; all that character development just goes out the window. Apparently Han was dismayed by Ben’s turn, and so he went back to his old self. Now I realize, and especially as a Christian, that there are lapses and often times what we might call “back sliding”. That happens, and if they wanted to explore Han recognizing his weakness and temptation into the old life when things get difficult, that would have been great. But again, this doesn’t seem to happen. Instead, lore development is being completely tossed aside, and for what purpose? We will see here in a moment.
Nevertheless, the question seems begged, why then was he so suddenly willing to go after Ben when the chance came? For a man who was running away from his problems, he seemed pretty eager to jump back into the fray without a second thought, and his timing couldn’t be worse. Where was that eagerness when Ben was still a kid? It’s just difficult for me to imagine a man who did all of that (which Rey actually notes to him in the movie, so the movie developers don’t deny it) would come undone so quickly. You took on the Empire; the Roman army; the German war machine in 1940, and saw your friend bring his lost father back to the light side. You mean that none of that built into Han a character able to withstand these hardships? I’m beating my head against a brick wall of course; we all know what the answer to all of this is. The historical development of the franchise is simply ignored and cut away for the sake of “progress”, which actually means for a Utopian, brave new world.
Aside from the characters themselves, there seems to be a huge problem with the lore. Remember, at the end of the Return of the Jedi, the Empire was removed, and so one assumes that a new Republic was established. Shouldn’t that be what we walk into in The Force Awakens? It almost seems like we do, as the Republic is mentioned a few times, but it is so vague that the Republic might as well not even be there. You saw no sign, whatsoever, of a Republic having been established. On the contrary, the good guys are revealed to be “The Resistance”. What in the world do you need a resistance for if you are the established Republic Order of the galaxy?
Of course, this is a thirty year span. A lot can happen in that time. I can accept that. Perhaps the Republic has had a lot of political turmoil that has led to serious internal cracks in the foundation, possibly atomizing parts of the galaxy, faction warfare and so forth. I get it, and that’s fine, but that still does not answer the question as to why there is no Republic presence anywhere to be found. A Republic divided is still a Republic. In the United States, things are becoming increasingly more divided, but we still manage to have a presence all over the world. And “General Leia” (as she wanted to be called) was part of the resistance. Shouldn’t she be at the head of leadership in the Republic? Even if it is just being the high commander of a Republic fleet. Again, this is ignored.
But as if the Force Awakens wasn’t itself challenged with historical consistency, the Last Jedi suffers even more, showing just how corrosive and serious the Progressive mindset can be, by forgetting the history of the movie that came right before it, which, in terms of the movie’s timeline, seems to have only been roughly fifteen minutes to a day (give or take on when Rey meets Luke to when Po launches the resistance attack on the First Order). When we last left the gang, the giant planet gun was blown up, which I think was a very key strategic base of operations for the First Order. A ton of resources had to go into building that thing, and it got wiped out. Not to mention there was apparently a massive First Order presence on that planet when it went out.
Then we come to The Last Jedi and the resistance is still on its heels, desperately so, and Po is poised to launch a giant resistance attack on the First Order fleet, led by the guy who, some fifteen minutes to an hour ago (assuming no break from the first movie to the next) was running for his life from the exploding planet, and he was originally headed to Snoke when he did, not heading a large First Order fleet on a search and destroy mission.
Rey’s character, who is supposed to be the new main protagonist of the franchise, also seems to suffer development problems in a historical sense, and with this point, we really show how Ron Johnson basically flipped J.J. Abrams the bird for all the work he put into the Force Awakens. In the Force Awakens, it seems very clear that Abrams is setting up a trilogy that will explore the origins of Rey. She seems to be a nobody, living on a desert world. Then she can fly the Millennium Falcon in some truly amazing ways (I did love that scene, by the way). Then we learn she’s force sensitive in a way that is shocking.
There are clear hints that there is more to this nobody girl than meets the eye. The Force Awakens sets up a mother of a sequel, with a cliffhanger that got me excited for the next movie. In The Last Jedi, just how much Ron Johnson cared about Abrams’ work in the previous film was symbolically portrayed when Luke takes that lightsaber we were waiting for him to grab in The Force Awakens and tosses it over his shoulder in a humorous jab at the tease. Now admittedly, when I saw that for the first time, I laughed with the audience. But again, when we later reflect on the movie, we realize it was not only bad, but insulting. It betrayed that cliffhanger; I can’t imagine Abrams saw that scene with any sense of compliment.
This jab would be what carries the movie. The whole time Rey spends on the island is utterly confusing in itself. I was waiting to see the immense training she would undergo with the legendary Luke Skywalker, the struggle to grow that makes the character interesting. We all love that stuff. And I had thought that with Rey staring down into a dark pit, we would finally get something. It was teased so well. But once she goes down (and is able to swim despite living on a desert world) we instead get this extremely confusing, never truly explained scene that seems to indicate the consistent theme through the movie, which is to forget the past. Who cares?
Well I can say I cared. I wanted to know who Rey really was. Kylo in his conversations with Rey also tells her to leave the past be, and the movie seems on board with it, and her past becomes a mute point. It’s irrelevant by the climax of the movie.
Then with Luke being left alone on the island, he is visited by Yoda in some spiritual sense. Let’s paraphrase the conversation once more. Yoda appears to be telling Luke to forget the past by destroying that tree with the sacred writings of the Jedi. “Needs it, who does?” says Yoda in essence. Because the past doesn’t matter anymore. Now Yoda has embraced postmodernism. What matters is what is before us. Of course, I don’t deny that in some sense we need to let go of the past, but there is a difference between letting go, and completely forgetting. As Schaeffer says in his book, dwell on the past, and you’ll lose and eye. Forget the past, and you’ll lose both eyes.
As can be seen, the progressive/postmodern worldview of Kathleen Kennedy plays itself out as her leadership causes the future of the Star Wars franchise to not only forget its franchise origins, but with the help of Ron Johnson, The Last Jedi forgets the history of The Force Awakens. For what purpose? For the purpose of wokeness, for the purpose of progressivism. The past doesn’t matter anymore, it’s how we will shape the future, and give to future generations in terms of categories of thought to move further into the future. “Let the past die” as Kylo says. Yes, that seems to be working out very well for him. We will explore further these implications when we conclude, but for now, the next part of how the worldview of Progressive/postmodernism foreshadows its end result in the new Star Wars franchise.
As I said before, there are (in my view at least) two stages of promoting the progressive worldview. The first is to propagate a revisionist perspective of history, which then essentially disconnects us from history. Once that is accomplished, one can effectively establish in the minds of the masses a new reality. Change history, change reality. It’s that simple. How then, does the new Star Wars trilogy betray reality?
I was tempted several times to talk about these glaring problems as I reviewed the historical problems of the new Star Wars trilogy. I resisted, in order to put them in their proper place, which is here. I go back once more to the plot problem of the absence of a Republic presence, despite establishing one at the end of the Return of the Jedi some thirty years ago. Now that is a long time, and I grant that. But instead of exploring how things got to a point where the Republic seems to have lost all control and influence on the galaxy, we’re left with a gaping hole of information that no one in development seems remotely interested in explaining to us.
What’s more, the First Order seems to come from left field somewhere and there is seemingly no resistance at all to its rise to power. In the opening prologue of The Force Awakens, Luke’s disappearance allows for the rise of the First Order. I get that Luke is supposed to be a very powerful Jedi, but you mean to say that Luke was the only thing keeping the First Order from rising to power? The prologue says that it “rose from the ashes” of the Empire. That indicates they are a remnant cause, which makes sense. But that still does not explain how they could get to a level that they get with what are clearly limited resources.
It is the resources here that we want to focus on, because this seems to be a real problem throughout the trilogy. You don’t simply declare your organization and then suddenly have masses of armies and an overwhelming fleet. That kind of stuff takes time and resources to develop. And if you are what the First Order is said to have been when it came to power, you will not be able to attain that kind of power without some serious help. If the Republic is the one in charge of the galaxy right now, chances are, the Republic would be making life difficult for the First Order.
Which means that in order for the First Order to actually get to where it is in the span of thirty years, it would have to work from within, taking over the government that has those resources to make a planet gun and a massive military force. Instead it seems that the First Order was its own entity, didn’t hide its agenda and managed to rival the Republic in thirty years. The only way that happens is if they infiltrate the Republic, weaken and cripple it, or the Republic is woefully incompetent to see the rising threat of the First Order.
Let’s not forget that this First Order was able to convert a planet into a giant gun within that thirty years. That in itself would take unfathomable time and resources to do. Again, if the Republic is at a point of internal turmoil that it cannot adequately sustain the First Order threat, then that’s fine, but a little hint perhaps? Instead there is none.
This all seems based on the idea that bad guys don’t need economics or logistics to make things work. And once again, the issue of logistics seems to carry over in a more pervasive way in The Last Jedi. The giant planet gun is blown up, along with I presume a couple thousand if not million troops and military hardware and the First Order seems unfazed by it. If you were to really take the time to watch, for example, a WWII documentary, you would see one of the struggles both sides had was the struggle for resources. You don’t just send masses of forces into an area without considering how well you can rearm them, reinforce them, not just with more troops, but ammo, weapons, fuel for your engines and so forth.
Do you have adequate resources to produce more planes? More tanks, ships and guns? With every battle, whether you win or lose, it costs you resources. You have to think about these things as you go into these situations. Hilter was a bad guy, but he didn’t just pop out of nowhere. He needed resources to build his war machine. The Romans needed resources, and they also needed political and societal stability, which eventually crumbled, bringing the empire with it.
In reality, of course, money doesn’t grow on trees, despite what Alexandria Ocasio Cortez seems to think. But you see, in a progressive/socialist Utopia, why does that even matter? Doesn’t the FED just print money? Let’s just print all the money and give it to all the persons, and then utterly transform our infrastructure in ten years, including building railway systems across the ocean? Debt is only a construct of the mind. You don’t really need to pay it off. Free college, free healthcare, free everything. Why even have money anyway?
Who says you can’t build a giant planet gun in thirty years, despite having no logistically realistic means to do so, nor any resource means to do so? None of that matters, especially when you need bad guys, and not just bad guys, but overwhelming bad guys. Because no one has ever used the idea of underdog rebel fighters trying to beat overwhelming odds before, right?
But you see the real big problem I’m getting at here is the unrealistic portrayal of the bad guys in this movie. They come out of nowhere it seems, you don’t know much about their convictions except that they hate the Jedi, so presumably they have old Empire tendencies. Other than that, there isn’t much. It’s the same threat repackaged. It is a forgettable enemy that serves only the purpose of being a giant mountain for the good guys to take down.
Generic bad guys aren’t really threatening because they are one-dimensional. So instead of going through the trouble of having to develop a more-than-one-dimensional bad guy, you just start the whole gig with them being in power and the good guy has to overcome them. No one knows who they are, no one is supposed to care. Bad guys aren’t interesting at all. They’re just screaming, insensitive jerks.
Am I ringing any bells? If I am, it’s because that’s how the progressive/postmodern “woke” movement sees current society. Society is the enemy. Established institutions are the enemy. The institutions have to come tumbling down. Who were they made by? Don’t know, don’t care; all that matters is that they are oppressive jerks, probably white men, and love money. Why were the institutions made? Don’t know, don’t care, for the same reason as the answer to the first question. They’re made by terrible men, so they themselves are terrible institutions. The historical significance for why these institutions exist, why the western thought is as it is, western society is as it is, developed over the last two-thousand years is utterly irrelevant. They are the First Order, the Empire, and they must be overcome by the new woke “diverse” group of rebels, and of course, to really ice it off, you need the leader of that gang of woke rebels to be a female.
It may be pure coincidence, but I notice that it seems like the women of the new Star Wars trilogy are not only very strong and firm and noble, they have their heads on their shoulders and so forth, but it seems like the men are the ones who are a complete mess and incapable of adequate leadership. Po is a hothead pilot who tries to lead a mutiny, seeming to have an issue with orders, and has an annoying tendency to make inappropriate conclusions that cause serious trouble in the resistance, which, by the way, if the purple-haired what’s-her-face lady simply told Po what they were doing, would have significantly lessened such turmoil.
Kylo Ren is an overgrown brat who doesn’t know who he is. All he knows how to do is be a big power-hungry jerk, an insecure Vader wannabe, who throws a fit when things don’t go his way. Fin is a likable guy, but he’s basically comic relief, the clumsy guy who doesn’t really know what he’s doing (serves literally no purpose in The Last Jedi by the way) but he’s got a big heart, so we like him anyways. Still, no real leadership in that guy. Then the not-important guy they were sent to find, on a mission that wasted up to at least 30 minutes of the film, seems like a likable criminal, but turns out to be a traitor in the end. Then there’s Snoke. After that is the First Order general who is a little crazy as well. Even Luke himself, against all Star Wars history, is a lost soul who has given up on life because he’s actually weak. It’s the ladies that seem to have everything together.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I don’t favor a strong female character. In fact, I’ve wanted a strong female lead in these movies for some time. However, Rey becomes less likable as the movies roll out. She’s become a Mary Sue, having no real faults, nothing relatable about her. Sure, she struggles to know who she is, but that doesn’t stop her from being a master Jedi from out of nowhere anyway. The realism is completely stripped away. Yes, I know that it’s just a movie, but the problem is that when ideology fuels your interpretation of reality, it’s going to affect how you produce art as well. Kathleen Kennedy has said that her main focus starting the trilogy was that they have a female lead and not to honor the franchise, tell a good story, or anything that makes movies and stories good.
This is what happens when you sacrifice reality for your woke ideology. Reality simply isn’t important anymore. Good story isn’t important anymore. History isn’t important anymore. All that matters is that wamen are great, men are indecisive pigs, untrustworthy and cause all the problems, society is racist and capitalism is evil. You don’t need complex plots when all you’re thinking about is progressive agendas, progressive agendas that are completely and deliberately separated from historical reality itself. It’s not about consistency, it’s about wokeness.
The new Star Wars franchise is the epoch of progressive thinking. It really does become a kind of allegory, or a kind of tale of what progressivism does. The troubling thing is that it’s operating principles have permeated a cancer within established franchises and completely destroying them. What happens when such ideology actually targets real institutions themselves? Real history, real science, real economics? If you want a picture of what the progressive/postmodern worldview intends to do with our world, look no further than what it has done to the Star Wars franchise. It foreshadows what is to come if we continue down this road. The corrosion breaks down the foundations. Great and mighty pillars of civilization come crumbling down, bringing the whole place down with them.
That is the goal of the progressive/postmodern movement. As the saying goes, to build, you have to first destroy. That’s what needs to happen. Natural evolution is a beloved worldview of many of these people. It is “wonderful” that creatures evolve into something else. Of course, the problem with evolution is that it works by mutation, and mutation does not correct, does not perfect, nor does it make more complex. It actually destroys, and that is what this does as well.
The Good News
Fortunately, the end is not so bleak as has been shown here. In biblical history, very often God rebuilds a strong society on the ruins of a formerly judged one. His judgment is always paving the way for something greater. The consistent testimony of Scripture is that every time God brings forth His judgment, the remnant are left (Romans 11:4, 1 Kings 19:18). Remember the story of Noah. The days of Noah are filled with wickedness, and the Lord brought judgment on them all. But He kept a remnant in Noah and his family, and after that was a new world.
In each case, the removal of one civilization was to bring forth something greater. Sounds much like evolution that I just criticized, did it not? With an important difference, of course. God always has a purpose in His removing of great kingdoms from the earth. Evolution does not. In light of that, God is always destroying things that have already gone rotten. He is not causing rot at sound foundations. They destroy themselves, and are rightly judged for it (Romans 1:22-27). It was not God destroying established institutions that brought structure and true order to a plural society, but rather God destroying things that attempted to uproot His established order for society.
The call of the gospel is to repent. Repentance means to change ones mind. The changed mind is not changing to some idea out in left field, rather it is turning back to God. The prophet Isaiah says that we have all “gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Earlier in Isaiah, the Lord is calling His people to “remember the former things” (Isaiah 46:8). In the opening chapters of Jeremiah, it is all about repenting (turning away from sin, and to the Lord). Unlike what progressive/postmodern thought is attempting to do, which is to destroy not only what is, but what was, God is destroying what is, to restore us to what was. The call is to return to God, to our Creator, our origins, to remember who we are. The more we stray, the more we walk in darkness.
C.S. Lewis convincingly argues in his book The Abolition of Man, that a continuous stream of thinking into the subjective, relativistic world that we continue in does not bring us to a greater understanding of man, but of abolishing what man actually is, and any meaningful definition of what it means to be man. Is that not what we see in our world today? Continuing down the tunnel of subjective thinking, we remove ourselves from any meaningful universal order and system (which is God) to give us meaning, guidance and purpose. Hence we are left to make it ourselves, in ourselves and in doing so, men cannot tell if they are men or women, boys or girls, what is real and what is not.
In the Christian message, returning to God in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ restores our fellowship with Him (Romans 5:1-5) and a new life begins in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). That new life is not fully recognized while in this perishing world, but we look forward to it, not to a destroying of all things, but a restoring of all things (Romans 8:18-21) .
Such we will eventually see when all is said and done. In these days, we may see great and greater strife and destruction. Men will fall away, but God has always been faithful. The Bible tells us that these dark times are birth pangs (Matthew 24:8). The image is meant to describe the great struggle and anguish that comes in child birth. But after that is the miracle of life, and a new child brought into the world. The same is for God’s kingdom. We are in great birth pangs, but they point us forward to everlasting life in the kingdom of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let us look forward to that great day in these dark times.