Race in *Star Wars: The Force Awakens*

by on December 20, 2015 at 7:32 am in Film, History | Permalink

I haven’t seen anyone cover this topic yet.  I’ll put my remarks in the top blog comment, so this way you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.  My analysis does cover some spoilers — unavoidable — but I don’t think they are any of the main plot spoilers, in case you are wondering.

1 Tyler Cowen December 20, 2015 at 7:34 am

It is nice to see the major protagonist be black, nice to see the interracial romance, and nice that none of this is supposed to be a big deal. Yet the casual attitude doesn’t quite come off either. The protagonist names himself “Finn,” a reference to Huckleberry Finn except the black man is now the lead rather than the companion. So far, so good.

But what an awkward lead he is. In the early stages of the movie Finn feels like a reject from the set of Paul Verhoeven’s bitterly satirical Starship Troopers. Clumsy, intensely middle class, and oddly bland, almost to the point of being a caricature. Finn just doesn’t seem like a slave who was raised to kill by a fascist empire and given only a number never a name. He becomes a fleshed out character – if that is what you should call it – only after teaming up with the white guys. We are not allowed to think that, working as a storm trooper, he might ever have killed anybody. We are told explicitly that, when he refuses to kill innocent people, he had never ever killed anyone before. Later we learn that he worked in the sanitation department of the First Order. Unlike many of the white characters who inhabit the series, he is never allowed to have brutality or even ambiguity in his past or for that matter his future. (Don’t forget the burden of Lando Calrissian, who worked for the Empire, for a while rather gladly, can’t have both black characters with such mixed records.)

And when he flips to the Resistance, Finn turns ever so quickly and fully. He comes to the Resistance so ready to assimilate without hesitation or complication or guilt, a kind of strange dream of how integration ought to proceed. Just recall that it look Luke, Han, and Anakin hours or even episodes to make such decisions to fight for a side, or switch sides, or not. And then Finn is so ready to kill Storm Troopers, even though some of them might be his former friends, or perhaps guilty of conscience as he was.

And the prowess which appears: when Finn has the light saber fight with Millennial Darth, he suddenly can hold his own against the second most powerful man in the universe for a good three or four minutes of engaged fighting, with zero combat experience. When he does lose, and yet live, well…can you take a full light saber attack cutting through your brachial artery? For a moment we are led to expect a 1970s denouement where “the black guy always gets it,” yet a sequel is in the works and so he bounces back good as new, ready to resume a romance with a cute female Jedi with a posh south London accent. He is a vessel into which various hopes, as they arise throughout the course of the plot, are poured. What exactly does he shape? What continuity of personality and history does he have? For all the mid-film pretense to the contrary, by the time the end rolls around it is clear the story really is about all those white people after all.

2 Thiago Ribeiro December 20, 2015 at 9:02 am

“Finn” is no more out of Star Wars context than, say, (St.?) Luke. And, by far, Google Images’ commonest result for “Finn” is https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finn_the_Human .

3 Matt W December 20, 2015 at 11:21 am

I’m not so sure I agree with your point about his rapid turn to The Resistance. They lay it out pretty clearly that he using a convenient prisoner to escape because he needs a pilot, then he’s simply pretending to be with The Resistance so he can run from The First Order and sticking with the Millennium Falcon is the best way to do that. As soon as he has a chance to run for The Outer Rim, he takes it. He’s scared and willing to do what it takes to get away until he finds that he’s fallen for Rey, essentially.

As for his saber abilities, he does get a good round of practice with that trooper who inexplicably comes at him with a saber-deflecting night stick, but Finn doesn’t best him, Han shoots the trooper in the back. And I think the scene at the village in the beginning implies that he’s perhaps force sensitive and therefore, perhaps the force is helping guide him when he’s facing down Kylo Ren at the end, though I would argue that it might not be the light side that he’s tapping into, if that’s true, but I suppose the whole “Finn being Force sensitive” thing is definitely speculation.

4 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

Millennial Darth got shot by a laser crossbow in the torso, which is how the two main characters didn’t get cut down by him instantly. This wasn’t hard to notice since they did a close-up of the blood drops coming from him just before the fight gets underway.

5 JayT December 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Also, it was a crossbow that would send stormtroopers flying through the air, so he obviously took quite a beating with that shot. Also, I was under the impression that he was toying with Finn, not so much that Finn was holding his own.

6 weareastrangemonkey December 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

“What exactly does he shape? What continuity of personality and history does he have?”

I think this is unfair.

Finn is clearly sensitive and slightly cowardly throughout the movie, struggling with the morality of his situation. These characteristics might seem unusual for someone brought up by the Storm Troopers but it takes an unusual person to abstain from killing and desert from the Storm Troopers. We don’t know exactly how old he was when he was taken but he must have had unusual character to resist the pressure to kill for them in the first place.

Like Solo, he is initially inclined to run (the cowardice, or good sense), but then doesn’t for a similar reason to Solo in episode IV – a girl. However, it is more compatible with Finn’s character than Solo’s to engage with the Republic as he had stronger moral compunctions about the First Order from the beginning of the movie (for example they stole him from his family). Presumably Finn would question why other Storm Troopers didn’t make the same choice as himself. In which case I would imagine he could be particularly bitter towards Storm Troopers – similar to when a self made rich man can be particularly contemptuous of the poor: “They had all the opportunities I had.”

As to shaping the movie, the choice, in the face of overwhelming coercion, to escape with Poe, shapes the whole first half of the story. His lie about knowing how to disable the shields of the StarKiller shapes the second half of the story, leading to the destruction of the StarKiller, the death of Solo and the escape of Rey. So this seems like an unusual critique also.

It would have been great to have him as a character plagued by the horrors of being a child soldier but it is a Disney movie and that would be too much too ask. His character may fall short of what we might hope upon discovering he is a former child soldier, but he does not fall short of the character development present in the typical Star Wars lead.

7 danl1240 December 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

I’ll be disappointed if Finn turns out to be another force-sensitive.

A big part of his appeal, why he’s my favorite character or this movie, is that he makes real choices as you point out, that have real impact on the plot — and the choices are not predestined choices of light vs dark side force. Escaping the First Order, lying about knowledge of Star Killer’s shield, these are not black and white choices.

Also, for a non-force sensitive he (and Po) demonstrate real competency. Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a universe where all us non-force sensitive simpletons (Han Solo excepted) don’t really matter. Maybe simple pluck and hustle can make a difference in this topsy-turvy universe dominated by over-powered force wizards.

8 John Hall December 20, 2015 at 11:47 am

I really hated how quickly he was to kill Storm troopers after the village scenes.

9 Jer December 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

This is why I increasingly dislike (but still watch) character-driven (because emotional impact and ability to adeptly manipulate said emotions = good?) entertainment. Can we not have a bit more 2001 and little less road-side-casualty spectacle? When did wonder, awe, and world-building-curiosity cease to be emotions that Hollywood wanted to pursue and satisfy (perhaps with the death of visual exposition and the audience’s recent lack of cultural travel/ambition)?

10 David H. December 21, 2015 at 1:49 am

Was there *any* Abrams movie that did world-building-curiosity well? It bothered me less here than in Star Trek, which is nothing if the awe and world-building concept is profaned. But you’re right, good character writing and believable institutions could have actually made something great out of the Star Wars franchise.

11 Adrian Ratnapala December 21, 2015 at 6:41 am

The did you enjoy The Martian? True, that is not the big awe-inspiring, quasi-religious, type of SF. It is the gritty-engineer type. But it is still about ideas and discovery — even if is just the discovery of how the hell to get this job done.

12 Joe December 20, 2015 at 12:04 pm

The fact that the second most powerful man in the universe had just been shot with a heavy duty wooki blaster helps. Just getting shot once was enough to kill and send flying an elite storm trooper. I suspect darth vader 2.0 having just been shot helped Finn out considerably, in the fight, though it is still a bit unrealistic in that Vader 2.0 doesn’t just force throw him into the tree until he dies.

But I mean, hey, its star wars. Pew pew foom foom light side wins.

13 danl1240 December 21, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Light side wins indeed.

Until the Skywalker clan abandons another male heir — then we another apocalyptic battle for the fate of the universe. Makes for good movies, though.

14 dsgntd_plyr December 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm

“We are not allowed to think that, working as a storm trooper, he might ever have killed anybody. We are told explicitly that, when he refuses to kill innocent people, he had never ever killed anyone before. Later we learn that he worked in the sanitation department of the First Order. Unlike many of the white characters who inhabit the series, he is never allowed to have brutality or even ambiguity in his past or for that matter his future.”

HAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!! Oh Tyler, are you really this naive? You can’t be. You’re smart, and your comment section is visited by guys like Steve Sailer. I’ll explain.

It’s *because* he’s black that he always does the right thing. If he didn’t, and he’s an ex-Storm trooper, that means he’s killed. A lot. SJWs like JJ Abrams would never ever make a black person not look good (having the POC not look bad is insufficient to modern SJWs). Look up “Magical Negro,” aka Morgan Freeman.

15 Eoin Brosnan December 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm

He definitely DOES look bad in many situations. What they won’t allow is for him to look DANGEROUS to white people.

He made out to be a coward, panicky, a fool , a liar and a janitor. He is made to look inferior to the white girl at every turn. They even give him a limp weapon in the millennium falcon on Jakku.

He looks like an idiot when Rey is pointing at the tool she needs, when he tries to take BB8s weight and falls on his ass. Rey runs faster, is an expert mechanic where he doesn’t have clue one. He was raised “to do just one thing” and yet Rey is better than him at every form of combat going. She assumes he is a thief rather than asking where he got Po’s jacket and promptly puts him on his ass, only after he tries to run away from the angry white person.

She never gets knocked/falls down. She gets put to sleep by Magician Ren but he smoothly catches her in both arms to make sure her precious white tushie never touches the ground. Finn on the other hand gets put on his back so many times its ridiculous: after he crashes in the tie fighter, by that big snouted beast at the watering hole, by Rey cause he has Po’s jacket, as they are running from strafing Ties, after he tries to take BB8 in the millénium falcon, in the fight with electric night stick trooper and finally out cold on his front in critical condition after he gets his ass handed to him by Kylo Ben. It’s certainly a case of anything Finn can do Rey can do better.

So in my opinion he is not portrayed as perfect but rather as a bumbling fool, an incompetent black man who is bested by the white woman at every turn.

16 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Finn is our everyman character. Looking like a bumbling fool is what the everyman does, it’s why we can relate to him and see his story as ours.

17 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

And to rebut this some more. He’s actually not really bumbling or at all cowardly or a fool or a liar.

Let’s look at his scenes somewhat in order

1. He refuses to kill innocent people (heroic)
2. Rather than do the safe thing and stay in his place, he attempts a dangerous escape (Courageous)
3. He handles him self relatively well manning the guns during the escape.
4. After crash landing he runs to the burning ship to save someone he hardly knows (heroic and courageous).
5. He sees someone in distress who seems to need help, and he runs to help her (heroic and courageous)
6. He handles himself relatively well manning the guns in his second escape of the day

etc…

Time and time again he risks his life for others. He faces his fears. He accomplishes difficult things not out of blind luck (jar jar style) but out of cunning and grit. Were it not for him that white woman would be dead. I hardly see how she has “bested him at every turn.”

18 LUPEX December 26, 2015 at 3:20 pm

i disagree with this and I think this interpretation is very wrong. let me tell you the ways:
1.) Refusing to kill innocent people. This is cowardly. The reason why is because when he escapes he doesn’t do so with steely determination but with panic and fear. When Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren kill innocents we see them as badasses due to the way they are portrayed. So we cannot flip that paradigm when someone is panic and fear stricken.

2.) He flees because Captain Phasma is about to find out that he panicked and he’s about to be punished for it. It is not courageous it is cowardly.

3.) He ‘rescues’ Poe Dameron, only to have the moment of heroism snatched away from him when he says, ‘Because it is the right thing to do’ and Poe says – ‘You need a pilot!’

4.) He handles himself well with guns on the TIE fighter, but it is Poe’s piloting that saves them. As a matter of fact, it is Finn’s distracting Poe that causes them to be hit by a blast from The Finalizer.

5.) After crashing he runs to the burning ship, but there’s no one to save. If there was a moment of heroism to be had there, it is once again snatched from him. Poe doesn’t need him to save him as we see later.

6.) When he sees someone in distress (Rey) she saves herself. No need for him.

7.) While manning the guns it is Rey who is the heroine not Finn, as a matter of fact the gun getting stuck is a mechanism to show how heroic she is. He is practically useless.

time and time again his heroism is snatched from him. It is very poor writing and probably something that JJ Abrams overlooked. Which is a very valid criticsm. We shouldnt make excuses for bad writing.

8) The most important and glaring thing is how overpowered and overcapable Rey is in comparison to Finn. Which is ok. But she never worked for anything in the script. We are left plugging holes in teh script with wishful thinking. Maybe she trained, maybe the other films will show, it’s the force that works in mysterious ways etc. It is ok to power up a female but dont truncate the heroism of the other Black male lead just to do that. Everyone can be a hero.

Finn had no consequence on the result of film. Rey didnt need him, the resistance didnt need him. As a matter of fact he’s unconscious at the finale.

19 DavidC December 30, 2015 at 10:53 am

You got your numbering out of order from mine, so I’ll follow yours.

1. If refusing to kill innocent people is cowardly, then I guess agreeing to kill innocent people is courageous? I don’t see that as the more heroic choice.

2. This is not the reason he says he fled, and I’m not even sure it is true.

3. The rescue of Poe was not on my list.

4. So what? The point isn’t that someone else is better at the thing they do all the time, but that Finn is not a fool.

5. Saving someone is not necessarily what makes you a hero (we say that the 9-11 first responders were heroes for example). It’s risking your life to try and save someone that is heroic.

6. Ditto

7. Rey and Finn win that fight together.

I don’t think you understand what heroism is. Heroism does not require one to be the best at something and to succeed. Heroism can be about being a part of something and can even involve failing. It can be about risk and sacrifice. It’s more about the choices you make and the motivation for them. Palpatine is pretty successful frankly, but he’s not heroic.

8. Rey raised herself alone on a dangerous planet – that seems like hard work. She learned how to fight because it was a tough place. I don’t see why Rey being better at hand-to-hand combat or piloting means that Finn is not a hero.

Here are some other Finn moments: 9) He goes to Starkiller to save Rey, thus risking his life again. 10) He comes up with the plan to shut down the shield 11) When confronted by Ren, he chooses to defend Rey, despite having to know he’s outmatched 12) Again, he handles himself pretty well despite the odds. 13) At Maz’s place, when leaving with the shippers, he returns to help Rey

20 Cererean December 24, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Is Rey actually better than him at using a blaster? We haven’t seen her man a turret yet, so we don’t know how good she’d be at that. Don’t forget, she gets to use magic to help her, and he (probably) doesn’t.

Plus, he’s a stormtrooper, so you wouldn’t expect him to be *that* good…

She’s better than him at a lightsaber because (a) he never trained with it, and she has lot’s of experience using a stick to fight, and (b) again, she has magic.

21 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

The “Magical Negro” thing is total BS. The thesis being that there are all these movies that fall on such a premise, but practically none for white (or other) characters. But the original idea comes from someone who doesn’t understand it. It’s really a “magical outsider,” which is very common and goes back far through the history of drama. It’s just, in America, black people are often outsiders.

Also, Morgan Freeman has played a bad guy many times (Nurse Betty, Wanted, Chain Reaction, etc…)

22 akhibrass January 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm

So you first deny the existence of the “Magical Negro” and then confirm it’s existence in one paragraph. Nice going. Why is it black people play the “magical outsider” so much? The person who discovered the “magical negro” trope knew exactly what was going on.

23 DavidC January 5, 2016 at 3:02 pm

“Why is it black people play the “magical outsider” so much?”

Do they? The very definition of it is so limiting that most people run out of true examples after about 5 movies. After that, they end up naming Morgan Freeman movies in which he is not magical or something. And I can easily name as many “Magical whitey” movies. I’m not even sure that black people play the “magical outsider” so much. I should have said that “it may be that black people are more often outsiders.” Until someone makes a race-neutral list of all “magical outsider” movies, we won’t really know if it is something more often done with black actors/actresses.

24 Chris F December 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

It is crazy to think that this movie makes Finn’s character look good. He is a cowardly wimpy janitor, that only does the right thing because is sniffing up on some white girl.

25 DavidC December 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

If cowardly, why does he attempt to escape – which was very risky. Why does he run to the burning tie-fighter to save Poe? Why does he run to Rey when he thinks she’s in trouble? Why does he enter the fight outside the bar? Why does he go to Starkiller to save Rey and shut down the shield? Why does he fight Ren? That’s a lot of risk-taking for a coward.

He was also more than a janitor, since, y’know we first meet him during an attack on the desert village. That’s a gun in his hand, not a broom.

26 Jacquelope December 29, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Yup, if Finn just wanted a pilot he would have ditched Poe, but nope, he ran into the flames looking to save Poe. All ambiguity about his motivations died when he didn’t just up and run. Everything about Finn’s incompetence (and I did take it as martial incompetence) points to sanitation being his primary line of work. The only COWARD in this movie was the person who shut down the shields to save their own life.

As for sniffing up Rey’s butt, nah, everyone in every story ever, rushes to save the white woman. The BLACK WOMAN on the other hand, she’s on her own. (Arrrrgh.) What we saw in this movie is the white woman turned and saved him. Rey and Finn have one common trait and that is chivalry.

I do find fault with the writers defining his career origins as a sanitation worker, though. It explains why he lost every fight in that movie, with a background like that it would not be believable that he would whup even Mr TR-8R dude. But why did he have to get saddled with a weaksauce background like that? At least he did gun down a few stormtroopers and didn’t get shot then. Dang. I hope he powers up in Episode VIII.

27 DavidC December 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

The sanitation worker thing was just a set-up for a couple of jokes (not as his expense). One was that they were following a janitor into a heavily guarded base the other was a reference back to the trash compactor from New Hope.

James Bond was more than willing to rush to save Halle Berry, as was Wolverine.

28 J1 December 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm

“We are not allowed to think that, working as a storm trooper, he might ever have killed anybody”

Have you seen any of the other Star Wars movies? ISTs are legendary for their poor marksmanship. It’s not at all hard to believe he’s never killed anybody.

29 Eoin Brosnan December 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm

It’s explicity stated that this was his first mission and later on that he worked in sanitation before that. So basically he is a harmless black janitor.

30 Chuck Allers December 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm

I def agree with your post Tyler Cowen. Although I liked the movie, Loved it directly afterward. Finn, to me was a likable character, but exhaustively done before. The Black comedy relief, and in a movie that does the strong female lead so well, to fail so drastically in fully forming his character was disappointing. Also misleading people into thinking he may be a Jedi was also disappointing although I personally didn’t think he was going to be so because of Rey’s character. Black people are not cowards. They are not always happy and funny. They are not always without anger or complexity. Good movie but it rested back on old stereotypes for black male characters for one of its supposed main character that he didn’t even consider Black?! Which was a lie. Because the character read like so many other “progressive” black tropes in modern film.

31 cineminded December 20, 2015 at 7:31 pm

*puts geek hat on*

Okay, ready. Imagine this premise being tossed around the writer’s room: a Jedi who was raised as a bad guy — a storm trooper, no less. Irresistible, no? And a perfect inversion of the “good kid goes bad” story that Star Wars is lousy with. Now how do you build that character? The force seems to have a hereditary component, so Finn has to be an orphan — just like seemingly every other young Jedi in the Star Wars universe. The writers could have just said he was the son of a powerful Jedi master, but that would be shitty storytelling. Instead, you’ll be made to wonder about his background for the next 2 – 4 years. There will be ever-so-ambiguous hints until then — until a Jedi army is raised by Luke or Rey, populated by characters the kindly writers were gracious enough to introduce early on. (Remember, there are no accidents in economically-made tales; if something is shown to you, it will become important.)

Let’s also get this out of the way: the Finn character is a nerd, an unlikely hero, a proxy for the audience. (They happened to have cast this role with a black actor.) The movie first serves up Poe Dameron, a carbon copy Han Solo — but nope, he’s not the hero. Bait and switch. The dork is the hero. *A dork maybe not so unlike you, gentle viewer.* You have to understand this to understand how J.J. and company intended viewers to view Finn. That’s square one.

Second, Finn along with Rey are two characters that will propel the “force awakening” theme throughout the next two pictures (that may eventually result in an army of young Jedis taught by Luke). This is hinted at multiple times: every time Finn sits down in front of a piece of equipment he’s unfamiliar with. Or when Finn and Rey celebrate after their first victory together — both mention that neither of them thought they could do what they did. But somehow, it got done — almost as if by magic (or in this universe, the force).

The force in the original series can be summed up as: apply practice to a unique talent, and you’ll develop preternatural abilities. It’s almost, “Use the grit.” The force exists broadly, although not equally in each person. Princess/General Leia feels the force (Han Solo’s death), but isn’t a Jedi. Finn exists somewhere along that spectrum, where we don’t yet know. One could argue he has enough feel for the force to maintain his conscience in hell. We can also surmise that children with “the force” would make good targets for abduction and assimilation by the Empire.

32 cineminded December 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm

I’ll add: Millennial Darth singles Finn out, after seemingly sensing Finn’s thoughts — or his force? He knows Finn’s serial code (i.e., name) off the top of his head. It’s like: there’s something special about this guy.

33 Anton December 21, 2015 at 2:02 am

+1

All these points make Finn seem like a more interesting character. Maybe they’re right.

34 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:00 am

Evidence is lacking for all of this, but it’s a sign of a great film that you can imagine that much into it.

One of the really awful things about the prequel trilogy was that it insisted on telling you everything. There’s a bunch unsaid in this film, and it leaves you open to use your imagination.

Somebody really thought this one through.

35 cineminded December 21, 2015 at 4:38 pm

There’s lots of evidence, but for mutually exclusive developments. Finn is a Jedi; Finn is a Han Solo- type (no powers). Rey and Finn are meant to be; they’re just friends (more like the Luke-Leia relationship). The writers are playing with multiple dualities, leaving little breadcrumbs that hint at future developments. But the breadcrumbs are there, carefully laid out by people who “really thought this one through”, as you mention. This movie feels incredibly intricately crafted in terms of plotting. Each moment is by design, either foreshadowing or subtle misdirection.

For the record, I’ve never been a Star Wars fan.

36 Lord Action December 22, 2015 at 9:23 am

Okay, that’s a fair comment.

37 danl1240 December 21, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Actually I’d say a lot of this makes him LESS interesting… in that all the cool stuff he does was predestined, like with the rest of the force-sensitives.

It brings us back to Han Solo as the only really interesting character because he’s the only one who exhibits unadulterated free will.

38 Mike December 20, 2015 at 7:38 pm

I wouldn’t say that he holds his own against Kylo Ren. Ren is wounded — physically and emotionally. And he still completely outclasses Finn. Finn manages to hold him off for a little while, probably due to some combination of training and force sensitivity. But it’s clear that in an even fight, Ren would have beat him even faster than he did.

39 Ronald Brak December 20, 2015 at 8:10 pm

There was a romance between Finn and Rey? I didn’t realise that. But then displays of physical affection are frowned upon in some markets, so obvious signs such as smooching may have been delibrately left out. But now that I think about it, I’m not sure who displayed more romantic affection towards Finn – Rey, or the pilot Poe Dameron.

With regard to Finn rapidly ingratiating himself withthe resistance, this may seem strange to most of us and for that reason alone be a flaw in the movie, but i don’t think it’s that unusual for people who have been conditioned to obey without thought and to think of themselves as a small part of a much greater whole, to want to stick their peg in a similar shaped hole in another organisation when their original hole is no longer available to them. We can see this sort of behaviour in people who have little difficulty in switching to a religious or political group with radically different doctrine, but a similar feeling of belonging and being part of a greater whole. And historically we can see that allegiances were quite flexible things in a wide range of times and places. But this is a Star Wars movie and not a history documentary and something that doesn’t jibe with audiences doesn’t jibe with audiences. Of course, most people watching probably wouldn’t give it much of a thought. Much of the magic of these sorts of movies relies on building up a lot of speed to allow the audience to fly over plot holes and inconsistencies.

40 Russ Mitchell December 20, 2015 at 9:45 pm

I left the theater with a totally different take: that Finn didn’t fit into any “Black” Hollywood stereotype. Nor was he intentionally anti-stereotype. He was just a guy. I found that to be a refreshing Hollywood turn.

As to your rational questions about his fighting abilities and such: You’re kidding, right? It’s a Star Wars movie.

41 Russ Mitchell December 20, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I left the theater with a totally different take: that Finn didn’t fit into any “Black” Hollywood stereotype. Nor was he intentionally anti-stereotype. He was just a guy. I found that to be a refreshing Hollywood turn.

As to your rational questions about his fighting abilities and such: You’re kidding, right? It’s a Star Wars movie.

42 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 10:00 am

He was the proto-gan-ist. He was the one who didn’t know a lot about what was going on so as things are explained to him they are explained to the audience. Notice how he can’t understand BB8 or Chewie while almost everyone else can.

43 Willitts December 21, 2015 at 9:07 am

All correct.

All for the sake of putting some color into this production, the writers did a very bad job bringing this character to life. I would agree with the first commenter that Luke was no better developed in Episode 4. We just expected so much more from this mature franchise.

You have given this topic more respect than it deserves. There are a handful of bigots who resent anything darker than ivory on the big screen. Then there are the racebaiters who place a magnifying glass over this anthill. People have genuinely questioned how the Stormtroopers went from clones of Jango Fett to Finn. Some amount of discontinuity and suspension of disbelief is always to be expected, but after building two entire movies about the Clone Wars, it’s not so easily dispelled.

I’m not even sure how a victorious rebellion managed to collapse within the lifetimes of Luke, Leia and Han. To be sure the American experiment suffered risk of collapse early on. But we were given no story other than Han and Leias son.

In many ways this film appears written on a blank canvas the way Episode IV was. Many of the settings and plot elements are identical. It seems like a repeating cycle. In that sense it is a common philosophical theme for science fiction. But it also makes it seem like a copy.

Question: Do you think Star Wars will ever be re-made? I think it will and probably should be.

44 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:07 am

“I’m not even sure how a victorious rebellion managed to collapse within the lifetimes of Luke, Leia and Han.”

The rebels blew up a base and assassinated the Emperor in ROTJ. They didn’t defeat the Empire anymore than they did in ANH.

So what you see in TFA is the disarrayed but still powerful remains of the Empire and a galaxy drifting into disorganization.

It’s not like the Rebels blowing up the Death Star had a bureaucracy and political structure to replace the one they were severely damaging. An interregnum seems like a logical outcome.

45 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

The galaxy is a big place. Lots of empire-sympathetic systems probably didn’t give a hoot that the Emperor was dead. It’s not like all the people whose jobs it was to build war machines disappeared.

Still, I would have expected technological stagnation for a little while. But that wouldn’t make as good a movie.

46 Brian Donohue December 21, 2015 at 11:20 am

But there was technological stagnation. Everything seemed a bit ragged. Hell, the tie-fighters still had 1970s era video displays.

47 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

New droids, new Star Destroyers*, and they’ve upgraded from a planet killer to a star killer / hyperspace planet killer.

* To be fair, I didn’t really notice this, but my wife pointed out that the Star Destroyers were even bigger than the Super Star Destroyers from Episode VI.

48 Josh December 21, 2015 at 1:37 pm

The problem with Star Wars as an average movie-goer or fan is that the films aren’t the end all be all. We tend to forget that this franchise is a universe of many stories told across a variety of media. Disney has a new canon full of material. If people need an explanation, there’s probably one out there. If there isn’t, it’s probably information withheld for a reason.

Even before The Force Awakens we had a 4 issue comic book series involving Poe’s parent and how they helped the rebellion after Return of the Jedi. Aftermath goes into more detail about the year after RotJ with some pretty important elements regarding the birth of the First Order and the growing dark side. Lost Stars is a about the last stand of the Empire at the Battle of Jakku a year later. Even Weapon of the Jedi reveals Luke setting up a new Jedi Temple. And if people are still confused about stormtroopers the show Rebels depicts citizen of the Empire joining their military ranks(can’t see why this is hard to guess). Clone Commander Rex who reported to Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars is a early hero of the rebellion in the second season. He always talks about how clone troopers are superior to the stormtrooper. Is probably the reason why Kylo Ren suggested using clone troopers in TFA because of their obedience.

49 JayT December 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Even if the Rebellion wasn’t completely victorious after Return of the Jedi (which is what was implied), it still doesn’t explain how the Rebels went from having massive capital ships, bombers, multiple types of fighters, and a near limitless supply of pilots to about a dozen X-Wings, while the First Order wasn’t much smaller than the crippled/defeated Empire.

Of course, everyone really knows the reason for this is that Abrams couldn’t have remade the original Star Wars finale if the Rebels weren’t a small upstart group.

50 Brent Royal-Gordon December 25, 2015 at 3:18 am

I don’t understand why people have so much trouble envisioning the geopolitics (astropolitics?) of this movie. They’re not explicitly stated, but they’re not really that hard to infer.

When the Emperor was killed and the Empire fell apart, no single power arose in its place. In some regions, the Rebellion gained control and managed to establish a Republic. In others, the Imperial governors held on to power and formed various governments. Probably various more interesting/convoluted things happened too, but I’m sure you get the idea.

The First Order is some sort of Imperial remnant or revival organized along more explicitly fascist lines. It is a young, dynamic movement, which is why young characters like Kylo Ren and General Hux are so high-ranking. It is militaristic and expansionist, and apparently neighbors the Republic.

The Republic considers them a threat, but it doesn’t want to be seen to start a war with them. Instead, it’s covertly funding and supplying the Resistance, a nominally homegrown insurgency. This relationship is deniable, but the weapons the Resistance is being supplied with—for instance, X-Wings—make it pretty easy to guess who their benefactor is.

Thus, the Republic probably has a reasonably sizable fleet, but it’s keeping that fleet within its own borders to avoid open war. That leaves the tiny Resistance to do the actual fighting.

Of course, the deniability didn’t prove to be enough. Funding the insurgency has created blowback: the First Order saw through the ruse, identified their real enemy, and struck first with a Pearl Harbor-style preemptive sneak attack on the Republic’s fleet. The counterattack by the Resistance has probably forestalled the following invasion for now, but both the First Order and the Republic are now vulnerable, with their respective militaries weak and in disarray.

There are certainly some lessons here about foreign entanglements. Somehow I doubt the Star Wars galaxy will learn these lessons any better than we do.

51 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

“Question: Do you think Star Wars will ever be re-made? I think it will and probably should be.”

Yes, for sure. But there will be new content for quite a while first.

52 revengetube December 22, 2015 at 12:52 am

Agree with this post very much. I had to storm out of the screening of TFA as a black man out of anger for the way that Finn was portrayed. There is a challenge on film makers and writers when presenting people of color typically because they choose to showcase so FEW people of color that the “one” example they show will be heavily scrutinized by POC (people of color) to make sure they are fairly or heroically represented.

In that regards, TFA was a disaster. I became quite uncomfortable early on when the Stormtrooper FN-0827 lied his way to escape off the warship. It would have been very valid had FN been honest and upfront about the situation – but for cheap laughs or more disturbingly, we were slapped with a stereotype that black men are “players” and “unskilled” liars and cheats if I can be more blunt. Okay — I would let that pass but almost immediately the movie again made it a point that FN bungled the escape by not properly disconnecting the TIE Fighter. Poe, the “expert” pilot the film makers had already made very clear in a matter of minutes via exposition would not have been to blame for such a security devise as he explained getting into the cockpit that this was the first time he’d ever seen the inside of a TIE. FN, on the other hand should have had some understanding of the basic tethering feature but the writers decided it was important to show FN flailing about not sure how to engage the weapons or tether. After the explosive action scene that did not require FN’s bumbling to be enjoyable concluded I started to “get a bad feeling about this.”

Things became worse, as Poe and FN has a brief heart-to-heart if was Poe that “named” FN, Finn. Black people certainly understand the insidiousness of others naming them “comfortable” names. Finn however, smiles cheerily and accepts the name, with disturbing cultural implications they may not understand in a galaxy far far away, but most Americans with an understanding of American literature DO.

Things only get worse once we arrive on the desert planet of Jakku. Here our Finn character after first encountering civilization eyes up a “pretty white woman.” The sort of recreational activity black men were stereotyped for doing that left thousands lynched only decades ago. The filmmakers made it very obvious that Finn was in lust over this girl, at first rushing to her defense when it was not really needed and then whimpering at her feet as he is falsely accused of stealing (an out-of-control robot also got in a few zaps while he was on the ground to the chuckles of people in the audience). After the the girl, Rey, incessantly told Finn to stop holding her hand, he ignored it until she was able to out run and out maneuver him to the safety of the Millennium Falcon.

One in the space ship, Rey, expertly flies the trio to safety while Finn is besides himself getting a few good shots off from a damaged weapon only made whole due to Rey’s unnatural flying ability. Do we need to delve into the issue with again a “white savior” needing to prop up a black man in order for him to enjoy any success?

I could go on, and on and on about the problematic nature that Finn was showcased as. In every confrontation that Finn was in, and there were plenty he would need to ultimatley be saved by a “white savior” . He was the only character to use curse language such as “Damn!”, was that Star Wars version of ebonics, because we’ve never heard such contemporary cursing in the saga before. His character was very one-dimensional shifting from jittery stormtrooper immediately to compliant albeit cowardly sidekick.

These character flaws are not necessarily “racist” but when you have only ONE black character with meaningful speaking lines then it becomes very problematic. The issue is exacerbated because the filmmaker decided to market the film as if Finn was a stormtropper turned Jedi, yet that was not the case. It was a stormtropper turned wannabe that would end up getting himself crippled by the final scene.

A shocking afront to black people everywhere. JJ Abrahams should be ashamed and we need to call him OUT for it.

53 Lord Kirk December 22, 2015 at 2:56 am

WoW! Dude, I thought it was just ME Alone who noticed this! You took All the words out of my mouth! I’m so SICK of otherwise Great entertainment (especialy in Sci-Fi) constantly being Ruined by white people going out of their way to always try to sneak in crap they hope we won’t notice to constanly reaffirm their loyalty to that white “fantasy” of what they’ve been Constantly trying pressure/portray us to be! There’s no need for it; it only Weakens the Greatness of the Whole that would naturaly be! God Forbid a few black Mace Windu(Sam L.Jackson) characters be allowed to persist in these types of American film! The worst part is when you complain about it, they ALWAYS call you “angry” and “oversensative” as if this stuff isn’t a true reality… It is, and it needs to stop. This goes for All miss/underrepresented people of color in the industry… [Disclaimer: the term “white people” is a generalization; obviously if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t put it on..]

54 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm

To be fair, he does sound angry and oversensitive.

55 Darth Cheney December 22, 2015 at 11:51 pm

Does he? Or does he sound like somebody who intuitively senses that he is being used, but can’t quite nail down by whom and to what end?

That Finn is the stereotypical HBG (Hollywood Black Guy, a.k.a. Magic Negro) is patently obvious, but there is a twist here that was forced on JJA by the political changes since the first Star Wars. What the OP misses is that the term White Folk, like Black Folk, covers very distinct cultures with different agendas. The HBG does not exist to either elevate or denigrate black people – he exists, as always, to elevate certain white people (s**tlibs and SJWs) and put down others (blue collar whites). Let us call them progressives and tea party, so that everybody can easily map them.

Now to JJA’s dilemma. At the time of the original Star Wars, Hollywood was in complete control of the narrative, so good guys were American Revolutionaries, bad guys were Nazis, and Communists didn’t exist. Fast forward to 2015, and the Internet has spawned the Tea Party, which seized Revolutionary symbolism from the progs and gave it back to the blue collar types. Now the prog response to this has been the old soviet trick of equating their enemies to nazis (conveniently forgetting their own history of collaboration). It is significant that Starship Troopers, which predates the Tea Party, came up in this thread, because that was a failed attempt to equate anti-communism with fascism.

Back to Finn. Finn is the Magic Negro for blue collar types. He is meant to be the moral guide to those nasty Tea Party types, which is one reason he is black. This means he must throw off that evil Tea Party conditioning, and happily kill his former mates. He must become obsequious to the progs, who are always and everywhere his clear superiors, and he must not be a thug. His reward will be sex, of course, and sex with a white woman is considered to be his highest aim in life. The ambiguity here is that they left open the possibility that he will be gay. This would make him extra magic, of course, but might lead to some blowback from black men. After all, Teh Gay is The New Black.

The audience for this movie is obviously an international one, with progs in the dominant role as befits their global cultural hegemony. The global aspect means that the main antagonists and most of the main protagonists have to be white, because that is what the global audience expects. Certainly the prize has to be a white woman, because sex with a white woman is the reward progs believe can trump all others (ironic, given their nazi fetish). This is a movie crafted by progs to make other progs feel good, with the secondary aim of making money on the global market (which is defined and dominated by progs).

So basically Finn is a “good” plebe (non-college educated, redneck, etc..) who ditches his Tea Party past to join the Revolution. He must be black to indicate goodness and inferiority all in one package (for nobody in the US believes more profoundly than a prog that blacks are inferior, just as nobody denies that belief more fervently). If he is uncomfortably close to a houseboy for black tastes, that is just collateral damage in the culture wars. Progs see the proper role of working class men as houseboys, regardless of colour. The intended message is that white blue collar types should be more like black voters as seen through prog eyes – a reliable and obedient, if generally incompetent, mass, ready to serve their white missy unquestioningly.

Yes, it is incredibly degrading to blacks, and incredibly nasty to working class people, but that is just how the progressive class maintains its dominance. Blacks are just a tool to them – just as they have been since the black (rather, mulatto) elite abandoned Booker Washington’s strategy for W.E.B. Dubois’ (the Talented Tenth), selling out the black working class to the party of Jim Crow in the process. That strategy has been catastrophic for the black working class, and is now coming home to roost for the black elite (hence the anger that drives the campus protests). In this context, Finn can also be seen as US blacks turning on the Republican party and backing the Democrat party.

A lot to read into a movie, but most of it is simply applying standard Hollywood practice. I think they succeeded in producing a movie that progs will eat up, which means it will sell well in offshore markets too, and most blacks and blue collar workers will not notice much different from the usual Hollywood tripe (except perhaps that this time the blue collar dude looks like he has a shot at the princess, but only if he is subservient to his betters).

If you go back and read TC’s post that started this thread, it’s all there. TC’s smug self-satisfaction over the plot elements designed to inflate prog self-regard, the speed with which Finn turns on his friends, and, of course, the fact that this is not about Finn at all – he is just there to make the (good, prog) white guys feel good. He has no agency, and if I were black, I would probably be angry at being a prog fetish too.

And that anger mirrors real life working class anger, as the progs are facing an insurrection (ah, the irony) that may end up putting a renegade prog (Trump) in power. And they have no clue how to deal with it because they insist on telling themselves lies and fairy tales (like this one) that feed their egos and justify their continued dominance.

A prog fairy tale for the times, indeed.

56 DavidC December 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

In what way is Finn “magical”?

You know who IS magical? Rey is. And Obi-Wan – was Obi-Wan a “Magical Honkey”? Should I be angry about that? Was Yoda a magical whatever-the-hell-he is (let’s call him black because he’s not white)?

In no way does Finn fit the “magical negro” prototype beyond being black. He has a past. He is not patient or wise and does not guide the white characters. He does not enlighten any white characters.

This is a complete mis-application of what is already a BS concept that isn’t a real thing.

57 DavidC December 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Also, as noted elsewhere, many white people read for this role. It was not written for a black actor. [Aside: Where was it said that the other stormtroppers were his friends?] I’m sorry, but a lot of the story is about Finn and his transformation from good person concerned with his freedom to good person concerned for his friends and for justice. if you didn’t see that, you watched a different movie from me.

58 Massimo December 22, 2015 at 1:14 am

“nice that none of this is supposed to be a big deal.” <– You really think that race of lead actors in such an iconic movie is not supposed to be a big deal? You must live on another planet. The US is absolutely obsessed with race. Arguably, nothing matters more.

59 Peter Akuleyev December 22, 2015 at 5:09 am

he suddenly can hold his own against the second most powerful man in the universe

Kylo Ren is explicitly not the second most powerful man in the universe. Was Tyler even paying attention? Kylo is portrayed as an immature Darth Vader wanna-be, not in control of his emotions and who often makes wrong decisions. In an explicit contrast to the original movie, in the new film the Military Commander General Hux is now the competent decisive one, and the one who seems to enjoy the trust of the evil leader. Hux is the second most powerful man in the universe (or at least in the First Order). It is also obvious, I would say far too obvious, that Rey is supposed to be far more powerful than Ren. Ren is no Darth Vader, in other words.

The only “interracial romance” I saw on the screen was between Finn and Poe. There was no chemistry between Finn and Rey at all. Maybe Star Wars will attempt its first gay relationship in the next movie.

60 Ronald Brak December 22, 2015 at 7:54 am

Oh good. I’m glad I’m not alone in missing the romance.

61 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Also, I place Kylo Ren behind Luke Sykwalker in any ranking of powerful people in the Universe.

62 Prime Jest January 10, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Um….there was a lot of chemistry between Rey and Finn. I think you’re just in denial. They were a great team.

63 Shane M December 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Tyler, I got the impression that Fin had a “break” from the mental “brainwashing” he was under. I thought I recalled something about them reconditioning him – this was his first infraction – that sort of thing. (Implies there are others who might have “breaks” from the conditioning.) In this context, I viewed the “break” as similar to something like snapping out of a trance.

I really didn’t identify with his character’s motivations, but it was clear he simply wanted escape from the First Order (I think that’s what they’re called), not to become a willing participant in the rebellion.

64 Shane M December 22, 2015 at 3:44 pm

…and I guess the other thing I’m thinking: “Does ‘black’ exist in Star Wars?” As the viewer we may be able to see more than is there.

65 Dave December 25, 2015 at 12:21 am

I’m a little shocked that I scrolled as long as I did without seeing this comment, but….

Everyone realizes Finn is NOT the lead, right? This is not his story.

Did y’all actually watch the movie?!?!

66 Edward Pierce December 25, 2015 at 11:52 am

^^ This.

Fin is Han, Rey is Luke, Kylo Ren is Vader, Luke is now Obi Wan etc. This trilogy will play out exactly the same as IV through VI. Can you guess how Kylo Ren is going to die?

The fan service is strong with JJ Abrams.

67 Rich Berger December 20, 2015 at 7:40 am

I thought this would be about a race, like in Ben Hur.

68 Adrian Ratnapala December 20, 2015 at 7:55 am

Star wars has already done the Ben Hur thing.

69 Brandon Berg December 20, 2015 at 8:26 am

The consensus seems to be that it’s been hurting since Episode I.

70 Alan December 20, 2015 at 7:44 am

All these complaints can be summed up in one word; Disney.

71 Jimmy December 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I would have picked “Hollywood.”

72 Anonymous December 20, 2015 at 7:50 am

Are you allowed to ask for a Straussian reading of a comment? Maybe Tyrone should have written it, or Steve Sailer.

First person to compare Finn to President Obama in 1,000 words or more wins a Sidney!

73 T. Shaw December 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Such a comparison is impossible. In Star Wars, the “good guys” more or less win. In the real Galaxy, not so much.

If Star Wars weren’t about felicitous racial outcomes, what would be the “moral”? Workplace violence? Transsexual grievance? Islamophobia? Insufficient taxes on the hated rich? Insufficient regulations? Income inequality? Gun violence? GOP fighting Islamic terrorism adding recruits to Islamic terrorism? Gender injustice? Gay marriage? Evil White (redundant) Men? Climate change?

Please tell me which liberal buzz words I missed.

74 UncleMartyPants December 20, 2015 at 7:55 am

Spot on, Tyler. Token is now the lead, yet still token.

Another question: Why did the First Order have a guy from the sanitation department raiding a village?

75 Jan December 20, 2015 at 8:00 am

That village was a total shit hole.

76 Nyund December 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

Budget cuts.

Maybe “sanitation worker” is a metaphor for “eliminating government waste.”

77 ZZZ December 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

For the same reason the US army uses privates to clean latrines. The worst jobs go to the lowest ranked soldiers and somebody has to do it. Finn did mention that it was his first combat mission so i’m assuming he was fresh out of training.

78 Willitts December 21, 2015 at 9:09 am

Contractors clean latrines in the US military, outside of initial entry training.

But yes yours is a very plausible explanation.

79 dsgntd_plyr December 20, 2015 at 3:23 pm

In “Fahrenheit 451” firemen start fires. So maybe he’s taking out the garbage.

80 Jan December 20, 2015 at 8:02 am

Tyler isn’t reading deeply enough into the film.

81 anon December 20, 2015 at 8:03 am

I’d assumed Rey was the main protagonist; it actually never occurred to me that he was supposed to be the lead rather than the companion.

82 Jo VB December 20, 2015 at 8:31 am

Indeed. The Force Awakens, and all that, no?

83 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 9:11 am

Exactly. Finn’s character is pretty thin, with a lot of self-deprecating humor. Classic sidekick. As Tyler points out, his rise from sanitation dude to bad as warrior is a stretch too.

If you want social cues, it’s all about female empowerment and perhaps more subtly, a shift from the force being heritable to it being something any old lucky scavenger kid can pick up (not sure where the midichlorians come from- the whole subject was untouched.)

I’m fine with both of these themes, but even then, that’s not the main point. The main point is to sell tickets, and minimizing blowback from hyper-sensitive SJWs is a good idea in that context.

84 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 9:15 am

On second thought, maybe Annakin didn’t have any force pedigree either, so maybe I’m reading too much into this. But clearly, Luke and Leia and their children enjoy the heritability advantage, and Rey’s abilities provide a nice counterweight.

In fact, she didn’t even need the years of rigorous training Jedis go through. A natural…

85 Ted Craig December 20, 2015 at 9:55 am

“maybe Annakin didn’t have any force pedigree either”

How much more of a pedigree did you need than you were born of the Holy Spirit. Um, I mean Force.

86 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 10:14 am

I’ll admit, I’m not a Star Wars scholar. Forgot about that. Thanks. I reckon my original comment stands.

87 Mike December 21, 2015 at 12:01 am

Rey grows up on a desert planet. Great with droids and flying. Sound like any family to you?

88 lemmy caution December 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

Rey is probably Luke’s kid.

89 Jan December 20, 2015 at 9:30 am

It’s a lose-lose for Disney. Either they pander to SJWs and ruin the movie by casting a black person and a female in lead roles, or they get boycotted by racial Star Wars purists.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/19/racists-urge-boycott-of-star-wars-episode-vii-over-black-lead-and-most-of-them-love-trump.html

90 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 9:53 am

I’m not sure I’d put it that way. Culturally, we’re well past the tipping point in your link. In fact, your link is the first I’ve heard of this blowback.

And the official reaction to this attitude is ridicule, contempt, and dismissal.

But yeah, if this bloc were bigger than the oversensitive left-wing bloc, they would have cast the film differently.

Like I said, I have zero problems with any of this, because I can enjoy the movie pretty much the same either way.

But I reckon the film is gonna break every box office record out there. It seems to me that Disney made a sound business decision here.

91 Richard December 20, 2015 at 3:07 pm

I don’t intend to watch this movie. For me, Star Wars is something I grew up with, something that was very important to my childhood self. I don’t want to see it butchered by mudsharking. I can see why Tyler likes it, he’s Jewish, but I’d think a lot of White people are going to be repelled by this movie. There’s no character with whom they could identify. And what about the Mexicans, and the foreign market? The Chinese are very racist and they don’t have a history of star wars fandom. I think the creators are making a mistake financially, but they probably care more about ideology and ethnic interests then money.

92 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Yeah, you’re not gonna wanna watch it. They hugged. Later, she delivered a chaste kiss to his unconscious forehead.

Tyler’s not Jewish.

$238 million in first weekend sales. Damn, the racial purity demographic ain’t what it used to be.

Don’t Mexicans and Chinese like moves where things blow up real good?

The good news for you is that it isn’t very good. The original movie was a lot better, although you and I may disagree on the reasons.

93 Nathan W December 20, 2015 at 10:31 am

Interesting. Movie roles for blacks and women is now pandering to SJWs (and in so doing ruins the movie to boot).

Na, no racism or sexism in America. Glad this is a dwindling minority. One day you guys might become a little more Canadian about such things (horror!).

94 Cliff December 21, 2015 at 2:05 am

No racist Canadians, I’m sure. Every Canadian just loves Canadian immigration policy, right? (which by the way is WAY more selective than the U.S.)

95 ZZZ December 20, 2015 at 1:16 pm

I don’t think Rey is just some random scavenger, she was left on that planet by her as yet unknown parents. I’d guess she is related to one of the main characters from the original films.

96 Jimmy December 20, 2015 at 3:44 pm

This. The long, emotional hug between Rey and Leia is definitely some kind of foreshadowing of a Mother/Aunt relationship.

97 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:12 am

“(not sure where the midichlorians come from- the whole subject was untouched.)”

Thank god for that.

Of course, you’re supposed to go away from the film wondering who her parents were and why they were forcibly separated from her.

98 Shane M December 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

“a shift from the force being heritable to it being something any old lucky scavenger kid can pick up.”

Brian, I think there’s much more to this. The last scene was a significant reunion imho.

99 Cererean December 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Well, since Kylo Ren seems to be a composite of the two sons of Han and Leia from the Expanded Universe (Anakin, their youngest, fell to the darkside – they probably should have named him something else), and their daughter was an ace pilot and mechanic (sound familiar?), I don’t think it just happened that she’s a powerful force user. Plus, there’s the foreshadowing about Han being a (surrogate) father…

Why was she left? Well, it’s possible that they didn’t leave her there themselves. Or that they had to, if Kylo had fallen by then and posed a threat to her.

100 HR December 20, 2015 at 8:27 am

In support of your point that depictions of race must stay within narrow channels, consider also Lupita Nyong’o portrayal of Maz Kanata, the wise little bar owner. The wise black woman is a comforting stereotype for white viewers. See the Oracle in the Matrix franchise or Guinan in Star Trek: TNG as two examples. Morgan Freeman often plays a male version but the female version is more common. These figures seem to have power but are by design always outside the power structure and, like Finn, have no inner life or desires. They exist to help the (white) protagonist but reap no reward.

101 Jeff R. December 20, 2015 at 8:39 am

Oprah was very well rewarded for playing that role in real life, so it can’t be all bad.

102 Curt F. December 20, 2015 at 9:23 am

Woopi, not Oprah. But maybe you’re making a meta-point?

103 mahmet December 20, 2015 at 7:06 pm

I guess its safe to assume you’ve never heard of Oprah Winfrey.

104 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:14 am

I guess you’ve never heard of Star Trek. Woopi Goldberg played Guinan, not Oprah.

105 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:15 am

Perhaps Jeff R. is saying that Oprah played a real-life analogue to Guinan?

106 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Max Kanata is not black. She’s not even human.

107 Crash R. December 22, 2015 at 10:54 pm

When I was watching the movie, I assumed that Maz Kanata was meant to resemble an East Asian stereotype (Chinese pirate queen) rather than a black stereotype.

I still think that interpretation is largely “correct,” (i.e., that resemblance was intended), even though Lupita Nyong’o is not East Asian.

According to Star Wars message boards, the Maz Kanata had (even more) East-Asian-reminiscent trappings during development.

108 D5d December 20, 2015 at 8:39 am

Isn’t the lead the character the one who defeats the villan and moves the story forward by meeting with our old hero in the end, having decided not to join the dark side twice, awakening the force inside?

109 Chip December 20, 2015 at 9:09 am

Star Wars used to seem futuristic. Now, it’s been overtaken by the future and looks ridiculous. They could have compensated for this with a story and real characters. Look at Firefly and compare River with the SW lead – sorry can’t even recall her name.

The mush that passes for greatness these days. Blah.

110 Fazal Majid December 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Or more to the point, The Operative in Serenity. It helps he is played by a formidable actor, Chiwetel jiofor.

111 Chip December 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Agreed. He was brilliant, as he is in most roles.

Pop quiz to illustrate great acting:

Who starred in The Force Awakens, Ex Machina and Inside Llewyn Davis? I was amazed when someone told me they were the same person.

Trivia: this actor also worked with Dohmnall Gleeson (General Hux) in both The Force Awakens and Ex Machina.

112 Axa December 20, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Neil Gaiman has been saying this for a while. We need to imagine the future once again. Past idealizations from the future look ridicule now.

113 Adrian Ratnapala December 21, 2015 at 8:17 am

This is odd, because the futurism of Star Wars was always either so implausible or at least far-away that I didn’t imagine any danger of the real future catching up with it. And even the original Star Wars had computers and handheld radios.

My guess is that what has changed is not technology, or society, but the aesthetic sensibilities of — well — you.

114 Lewis55 December 20, 2015 at 9:11 am

Good point about Finn being able to hold his own against the Adam Drive Darth-Vader dude. I found that incredibly bizarre. You have this inexperienced no-name (literally in this case) grunt soldier who suddenly can fend off the supposedly most powerful swordsman in the universe other than Skywalker for 5 minutes (5 minutes of screen time I’d add during which the light beam planet guy thing was oddly stuck at being only 2 minutes from firing; didn’t really sync up their timing very well across scenes) and then even though he loses, isn’t killed by the Darth-Vader dude?

The thing I’ve learned about Star Wars is that they’re incredibly inconsistent and inconvenient with their magical powers. When its useful for the plot, jedi and their ilk can move objects, read people’s minds, use mind control to get them to do what they want, but then when the movie needs a fight scene, they often can’t do these things (temporarily, until the exact moment at which it is most dramatically useful, then they suddenly have these powers again). For example, rather than have to kill some random storm trooper with a light saber, why not just use the force to take over his mind and tell him to stop fighting you? We’re led to believe people have this power, yet if they just did this every time (the rational thing to do, given the risk of actually getting hurt fighting someone) the movie would be boring, as there would be no fight scenes.

Another example is their blaster guns. Despite all the modern technology these supposedly advanced space people have, they have guns that are dramatically shittier than a normal human gun. I don’t care if you have a lightsaber or not, you can’t deflect a bullet. Can’t dodge a bullet either. But these rays from their blasters move much slower than bullets and people can literally physically dodge them.

Basically, the movie is a hot mess logically if you actually think too hard about it. The response is that Tyler, you shouldn’t think too hard about it and just try to enjoy it viscerally.

115 ivvenalis December 20, 2015 at 10:56 am

Yeah, that was quite strange. Finn really ought to have died in order to show the bad guy to be an actual threat. Would have actually made the “hapless conscript” narrative more poignant too–this guy tries to rise above his lot only to get stomped by some Force-privileged prick.

116 ivvenalis December 20, 2015 at 11:02 am

Adam Driver really looks like a complete dweeb. TFA could have made a lot more hay out of portraying him as a petulant twerp whose supernatural power compels grudging subservience. Which power results from a combination of heredity and exclusive connections.

117 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

He’s a kid. He practically has buck teeth. He’s much more imposing with the mask on, which is why he has it on. Keylo Ren slashing a console to pieces looks scary, the kid doing it looks like a tantrum. Which of course it is in either case, but the mask changes everything.

He’s what Anakin should have been in the prequels. In fact, a lot of this movie was what the prequels should have been.

118 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

+1

As the resident expert in these things, what’s your overall take on the film?

119 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

Good movie. I knew very little going in, aside from Tyler’s comment that “the first half had too much calling out to the old films.” I really didn’t feel that at all until for some reason they found the Millennium Falcon. Why did it end up on the same planet as Rey? It wasn’t like whoever left her there purposefully left the Falcon there, since the Falcon got stolen a bunch of times before ending there.

Sometimes they brought up old tropes just to invert or subvert them, though.

A bit too much emphasis on Han, because it’s not supposed to be his movie. Luke, Leia, and Han already have a trilogy. I knew as soon as he was getting any serious plot that Han had to die (we need to move them out of the way), and I knew that there would be a scene where he confronts Ben where that happened, because this is Episode 7 and not Episode 9. And I’m pretty sure Han knew he was going to die, too. He should not have been as shocked as he was.

The lightsaber battles weren’t boring because there was something going on beyond the battle. I did fall asleep watching Episode II, and that was not an issue here.

120 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 11:41 am

Thanks for this.

121 Chip December 20, 2015 at 8:09 pm

And why was he dueling with Finn anyway? Earlier he stopped a laser in mid air and held it there while having a conversation. He could have thrown Finn into a tree and be done with it, right?

122 John B December 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Perhaps Millennial Darth was a poor student – sucked at swordplay, or at least didn’t take as well to it (which might also speak to his anger management issues)…This might explain why he was so easily beaten by the talented – yet untrained – garbage collecting would-be stormtrooper. And also why he was an easy target for Team Dark Side. It would have been difficult for Luke (as a teacher, but also Han’s friend, Leia’s brother) to mark the kid as a no-talent, so maybe he tried too hard against his better judgment to bring him along?
Also: I agree with the point made earlier: Finn was played by a black actor, but that was about the end of it…otherwise, a regular guy acting just as any other person would. I thought, overall, that they handled diversity well, it was present, but not hitting you over the head…the embraces, the kiss – not treated with any special Kirk – Uhura mystical significance. It’s a good way to go, in my view…the fruit, perhaps of Townsend’s “Hollywood Shuffle”.

123 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Exactly. Would the state of black Hollywood have been better if Finn had been played by a white guy? Or a chinese-american actor? Or an Indian-american actor? How does that make sense even? Which character should have been black? Poe is about the only option.

124 Dan Weber December 22, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Which character should have been black?

Luke Skywalker.

125 DavidC December 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm

That would have been quite a surprise in this movie.

But, what if the person who turned around had been Lando instead of Luke? What an ending that would have been.

126 Hadur December 20, 2015 at 9:17 am

JJ Abrams said the part was written without any particular race in mind, and that some of the other finalists for the role were white.

127 Edward Burke December 20, 2015 at 9:19 am

I am enjoying immensely this latest franchise installment by not bothering to see it.

TC’s viewing notes, though, do raise a question or two:
is the audience told explicitly or left the unambiguous implication that “Finn” is an “ironic” take on the H. Finn of Samuel L. Clemens’s creation?
how does the audience KNOW that the character is not a throwback to the “mythological” (the SW franchise purports to be awash and aflame in mythological reference) Finn McCool (with or without any transmutation courtesy of James Joyce)?

128 Brian Donohue December 20, 2015 at 9:24 am

I was misled by positive reviews and probably wold have enjoyed the movie more if my expectations were lower.

It maps uncomfortably to the first movie, right down to the roughneck bar scene. Kind of half-assed, I thought.

Oh well.

129 Jimmy December 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I agree with this. The critique is so much simpler than all the hot-takes people are throwing out: it tracks far too closely to IV and is inferior at almost every identical point of comparison.

But I still had fun, and Rey and Ren are interesting enough to get me back for the next ones too.

Can anyone point to a recent blockbuster that has accomplished things Abrams didn’t, or did he do pretty much as well as can be expected in Hollywood at this time? I’d say the latter.

130 mahmet December 20, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy achieved being enjoyable, which is much more than this boring and predictable train-wreck achieved. Christopher Nolan comes out with a well-crafted middlebrow blockbuster every couple years. It would be nice if more blockbusters aimed for middlebrow instead of repetitive schlock for manchildren who live in the past. Not all directors can be Stanley Kubrick but can they at least aim for Steven Spielberg?

131 Floccina December 20, 2015 at 9:29 am

Considering the rate of intermarriage and how far in the future Star Wars is the people should be mostly mixed with a few very white, very Asian, very black etc.

132 Yancey Ward December 20, 2015 at 10:43 am

Doesn’t Star Wars occur in the past, in a galaxy far, far away?

133 mahmet December 20, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Or, more plausibly, since they’ve been inhabiting wildly divergent environments for thousands of years, shouldn’t they be forming highly distinctive new races suited to the environments of the worlds they inhabit (e.g. people becoming super tall and thin on hot high-gravity worlds.)

134 Cliff December 21, 2015 at 2:10 am

Oh maybe that explains all the aliens

135 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

Presumably only a very small minority do this whole space-faring thing. Most people seem pretty much stuck to the place they were born.

136 Anton December 20, 2015 at 9:45 am

I enjoyed the film, but I’m pretty surprised that much of the story and characters feel so half-baked. The best compliment I could pay to the film is that there were a lot of missed opportunities to make it better, whereas with the prequels, I would just say “start all over again from scratch.”

137 Anton December 20, 2015 at 10:02 am

For example, I was hoping there would be some interesting explanation about how the “New Republic” never really seemed to get off the ground, and it seemed like people immediately began hankering after autocracy again not so long after the Empire fell. (Shades of Iraq, etc.) For example, maybe Finn chose to fight for the First Order because the Republic failed to keep the peace, and his whole family was killed as a result. But then Finn was asked to slaughter civilians, and he realizes that the First Order wouldn’t be such an improvement.

138 TheObeseDog December 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

Finn never made a choice to join the First Order. He was recruited at birth. I agree with the sentiment that it would be great to know about the political situation and history. How the next 2 movies unfold will do a great deal to retroactively color how I view TFA. I think there was more ground to cover than 1 movie could realistically do (without a 3 hour runtime).

139 Anton December 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

Right, I know… I was just thinking of ways to make the story better.

Maybe we’ll get more of the political backstory when we hear from Luke in the next episode. I mean, seriously, how could Luke fuck up so much that he accidentally permits the creation of a wannabe Dark Vader? Why would the Girls guy ever be tempted by the Dark Side if the New Republic was so damn awesome?

Random Straussian reading: The movie is actually about Gen X/Millennial anxiety of influence. The movie suggests that we Gen X-ers/Millennials) exist in the moral/cultural/political universe that the Boomers created, and ultimately everything we do is just a rehash of something the Boomers did (usually better). In TFA, Abrams is counseling that we should just accept this condition and live accordingly (use the force, but with more diversity!). Not saying any of this is true, but I kinda think that’s the implicit theme of the movie.

140 Fazal Majid December 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

The only thing the Boomers ever did better is narcissism, and selling out.

141 Donald Pretari December 20, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Who fought the Vietnam War? Clones?

142 prior_test December 20, 2015 at 3:50 pm

‘Who fought the Vietnam War? Clones?’

Generally draftees, and not people like Cheney or Clinton, both of whom felt that getting shot at was not in their interests – one had better things to do, the other apparently had some sort of principles.

Not that either had any problem sending people to war, of course.

143 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

If the prequels taught us anything, it’s that learning about political backstory sucks.

144 lewis55 December 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Even more fundamentally, the movie would have been better if they bothered to explain to us non-Star Wars lifers what the Republic even was. We had this complicated geo-political set-up with three groups, the Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance, and it wasn’t clear what their relationship was to each other. The Republic is never mentioned after the opening scroll until the 2 seconds prior to it being obliterated by the planet death start beam ray thingy. Was I supposed to have been shocked “oh no! they killed the republic?” I think that was the intent. But the problem was, my actual reaction was: “wtf is the republic? who did the just kill?”

If you’re not even going to bother telling us who they are, why have that plot point at all?

145 TheObeseDog December 20, 2015 at 9:51 am

As a huge Star Wars fan, and having read countless posts/blogs on the new movie and theories about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that the movie is elastic enough to support any number of ridiculous theories, conclusions, or assertions. People are quite apt at reading into it what they want to see.

Is it possible that they simply wrote a script and then cast based upon who they thought were the best actrors/actresses? Nah, no one would be that devious.

Frankly, no matter what race/gender of the characters, there would be enough room to make a race/gender argument about the movie. So far, I haven’t seen anything compelling.

146 Ted Craig December 20, 2015 at 9:56 am

If they had really wanted to be bold, Leia would have been the new villain in a combination of power corrupts/her father’s daughter.

147 mahmet December 20, 2015 at 7:24 pm

That would actually have been interesting and creative though, which is against the rules.

148 Lord Action December 21, 2015 at 10:20 am

They’re setting Leia up to redeem Kylo Renn?

He’s clearly getting redeemed, right?

149 Shane M December 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

It sets up well for Kylo Ren to go psychotic – becoming unredeemable. He’s on the edge as it is w/ his tantrums. He’s no Vader. I don’t underestand the Vader worship as it is.

Leia being the villian would be far out of character. Quite a twist if that were to occur.

150 Edward Pierce December 25, 2015 at 12:04 pm

He’ll be redeemed as he kills Snoke (Who will be in the process of killing Rey). He will, of course, become mortally wounded in the process.

The question that people *should* be asking is: Will it be Haden Christensen or David Prowse in the ghost Jedi scene at the end of episode IX?

151 MattW December 20, 2015 at 10:41 am

The same things can basically be said of the new kick ass girl lead, it’s what Hollywood and liberals want women to be despite reality almost completely contradicting their vision.

And the next star wars movie has another kick ass female lead

152 John B December 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

“despite reality almost completely contradicting their vision”

You are clearly missing something by not hanging out with the right type of women! 😉

153 chrisare December 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

Why is it that such mediocre filmmaking receives so much attention and analysis from otherwise brilliant people?

154 Edward Burke December 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

Really and truly: WHY celebrate vapid spectacle?

I could only begin to take “Star Wars: The Force Slumbers” seriously if an active boycott outside of theaters were occurring simultaneous to its celebrated release and the celebrated celebration of its release. With the film’s “artistic success” measureable only in terms of opening week receipts, the implicit irony of the story’s pretense(s) is being missed entirely.

155 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Gosh, I don’t know. Because it is one of the biggest movies not only of the year, but all time; and part of the biggest movie franchise of all time. But…we should just ignore it, because SMART PEOPLE are better than what is popular. Perhaps a review of Lambert and Stamp?

156 PD Shaw December 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

I think Tyler is buying too much into the First Order’s propaganda; this is clearly not your grandfather’s Empire. The Storm troopers are neither clones, nor the products of the same degree of training as the predecessors. Instead of a skeletal Peter Cushing as its commander, we have Bill Weasley fresh out of college. The curious gigantism of Supreme Leader Snoke probably conceals a diminutive person, Just as Ren’s mask creates the illusion that he is Vader to others and to himself. Is the new non-mobile death star really as powerful as its predecessors, or is it all about location and secrecy?

If Ren is the second-most powerful man in the Universe, then the Great Stagnation has hit the Star Wars Universe. He is clearly afraid, tempted by the Light Side of the Force and confused by the awakening in the force and the encounter with his father. He was wounded by Chewie, and then by Finn, who has military training sufficient to be assigned to an important combat mission. (The fact that they messed with his memory signals that more reveals about his character are likely)

The inherent weaknesses in the First Order (and the Knights of Ren wannabes) are present in a close reading, but are obscured by the need for credible bad guys to defeat.

157 Mike December 21, 2015 at 12:12 am

There’s clearly been a Great Depression of Jedi skills. Ren’s light saber looks homemade. His fighting skills are mediocre. This is not the high republic of his grandfather. The ways have been lost. Hence, an awakening.

And Snoke says Ren needs to complete his training.

158 Willitts December 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

This isn’t all that implausible. The Empire lost its leadership and both of its top Sith lords. The rebellion, though victorious at the Battle of Endor, still faced an entire fleet of Star Destroyers and most of the Jedi have been killed.

The lack of skill of Ren is the least implausible part of the story. The commander of the Star Destroyer doesn’t appear too afraid of him.

159 Dan in Euroland December 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm

So basically its time for a Christopher Nolan reboot?

160 Ed December 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Definitely. I’ve not seen the new movie myself, and I think Disney on the whole does an excellent job in producing entertainment. But the adjective “disneyfied” did not enter the language without reason.

But given the mess that Lucas, who at least sometimes was trying out ambitious stuff, gradually made with the universe he created, a reboot on the order of what Nolan and Snyder did with Batman and Superman, or at least the Daniel Crag Bond movies, was called for. From what I can tell from the reviews, Abrams did the best job he could with Star Wars without doing the reboot that the fictional universe required.

161 Abersouth December 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I’m going with Finn is actually Leia and Lando’s son. It explains better why Solo was absent so long as referenced in the movie and why Lando doesn’t make an appearance (it’s complicated). It would also explain how he can survive the lightsaber duel.

Pretty sure Rey is Ren’s full blooded sister too. It would keep with the long established yuck factor of romances in the original trilogy and family fighting/mauling.

162 p s c December 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm

I ceased watching this stuff after the ewok movie and became an adult. Cue Bill Shatner’s SNL skit in which he berates Trekkies for their foolishness and immaturity.

163 ee hardings December 20, 2015 at 3:18 pm

nobody cares

164 prior_test December 20, 2015 at 3:51 pm

‘The protagonist names himself “Finn,” a reference to Huckleberry Finn except the black man is now the lead rather than the companion.’

For anyone wondering why the GMU English dept. used to have so much fun mocking the econ dept., this is a fine example, starting with the idea that Finn is the protagonist.

165 Ted Craig December 20, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Yeah, that’s why and not because they were envious that the econ. dept. was being paid more.

166 prior_test December 21, 2015 at 3:30 am

Back in the very early 80s? Nope, the GMU econ dept. then was a fairly neglected backwater of more than humorously ignored Austrians and their fellow travellers, a notably weak part of a weak university. Fink, Manne, et al all started showing up in the mid-80s, bringing their sponsors’ funding with them. No question that these days, with all of the money that the GMU Foundation is shovelling to the Mercatus Center, a policy institute with no actual connection to a Commonwealth of Virginia instution of higher learning, a selected set of econ dept. cheerleaders are being paid well.

However, nothing has changed in a generation when it comes to the ability of a member of the GMU econ dept. to demonstrate their understanding of how fiction works. Outside of such member’s own fictional creations, of course.

167 Ted Craig December 21, 2015 at 6:39 am

Even in the mid-80s, they were probably paid more. Almost every econ. dept. has better pay than their colleagues in the humanities because they can get jobs in the real world and because they attract both more students and more alumni dollars.

168 Sidious T. Palpatine December 20, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Nobody’s mentioned yet that without his mask Ren looks like a Goering-era newspaper cartoon of a Jew?

169 Shane M December 22, 2015 at 4:07 pm

I first thought Ren was played by Gene Simmon’s son
http://www.torontosun.com/entertainment/books/2009/11/27/11957346.html

170 Chris S December 20, 2015 at 9:10 pm

This thread is a curious mix of overthinking and missing the point. Its gotten itself into that odd space where it seems serious enough to be taken seriously, but under serious scrutiny by serious people, fails to stand up – a precocious kid who would have done great at the state school but stretched into MIT and is mediocre.

The movie is not meant to be a great movie on its own – it taps directly into the expectations of the 40ish and younger set who grew up on Star Wars. For me personally, that means going with my dad to the theater and then watching the sequels with my family. Its like Mom’s cooking – if you weren’t there, you don’t get it. And it did that very well. When my wife asked me to describe the movie, the first thought to mind was “Porn for Star Wars nerds.” It hit on every trope – the Cantina, the desert planet, the cute droid, the shot of the galactic cruiser opening the movie, the towering opening text, the music, the doomsday weapon, even the fish-looking thing standing around the table saying “it will target us in three minutes” – that the franchise was built on and made me almost feel my dad’s giant hand holding mine at age five. (Cheap, probably manipulative) goosebumps.

On that score it succeeded very well, much more than the prequels. I liked it – I am all for manipulation, I also feel manipulated when I watch grown men in tight clothes chase a ball around, but that’s fun too.

As far as “boy he sure learned how to use a light saber fast” – both he and Rey are channeling / being used by the Force, and we are supposed to wonder what the heck’s going on, so those will be filled in later. One could put in any number of theories, but the underlying point is “these people are special.”

Of course Finn is attracted to Rey. Its a classic plot device – later they will have a conflict.

171 Rock Lobster December 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm

For what it’s worth, I just saw the movie tonight and honestly didn’t really like it. They didn’t screw it up like the prequels, but I felt like there was basically nothing original in the entire movie, to the point where you couldn’t go one minute without a moment that was an obvious call-back to the first movies.

172 Kevin December 21, 2015 at 1:00 am

I thought Finn had more depth than any of the other characters. Just the suggestion that he was dealing with internal conflict makes him the most complex of the bunch.

173 AmliJatt December 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

thanks for share..

174 Tru Jed December 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Why is it that people can’t speak the truth without being racist. Finn spoilt that movie for me. Firstly, he’s stupid and clumsy, tried too hard to be funny, all of sudden he can fight one of the most powerful Jedis with no combat skills whatsoever…you have to be kidding me. Then they placed his character above Harrison ford’s character? Finn can’t even act and at worst he tries to over acts making his performances really crappy. Then his character is so annoying and he’s in almost every scene…come on, how much more can you spoil the movie. Then finally he miraculously survives saber attack and is still living…to have another movie with his fricken annoying character?? Finn’s character was pointless and useless…the only reason he was placed in the movie was to please a certain race…and that’s the truth people don’t want to hear or don’t want to admit…but that’s the mistake hollywood is doing hence the reason there are so many crappy movies and tv series these days. They have certainly ruined the star wars legacy and it will only get worse.

175 Dan Weber December 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm
176 Joe December 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Just like the majority of characters in Stars Wars are White Right! to Please a “certain” race. They got everyone excited because He was black, he was the mean reason why most people even went to the movies. We thought “oh!, it will be different” , but its the same old shit, Only the white bloodlines get to have space psychic powers, black is the escaped “slave” and “comic relief”, who is overly helpful, then gets sliced in the back by the powerful “white man”, all to just receive guidance and saving by the whites.

This is new age token propaganda, They should have made him force sensitive or had him go his on path and became something totally different, or be half alien, you know something new! No they just showed a talented actor be clumsy, hopeful and need saving by fucking whites. Entertaining movie, but same Hollywood mind control bullshit.

I’m calling it in 4 years from now, in episode 9, Finn unconsciously “Turns” evil and The great white hope “Rey” has to put him down, same covert Aryan bullshit programming the masses.

177 Ben December 21, 2015 at 12:59 pm

A profoundly uninteresting post, sorry Tyler.

It’s not a “black” role. White people read for the part. There is no reference to race, as far as I recall, in the movie. Boyega absolutely nailed the role. That’s probably why he got the job. He happens to be a black guy. Who cares?

178 Tru Jed December 21, 2015 at 1:25 pm

@Ben:

No one ever said it was a “black role” nor did he nailed the part. Everyone is entitled to their opinion…that being said he acted poorly in my book. Once again you said who care? There’s a alot of people who do. Cause alot of people before, was complaining as to why Star Wars is only Whites…guess who complained for that? So gues what Hollywood is trying to please the crowd…and that’s not always a good idea. So whether people know it or not….it matters…but too many people are afraid to say what they truly feel. Boyega did not in any which way or form improve that movie…he added nothing.

179 42 December 21, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Yes George Lucas some how produced New Hope with thousands of extras and 0 black people and Phantom Menace with the servile negro, greedy Jew and shred asians stereotypes. That did leave people wanting more diversity without the stereotypes. John Boyega nailed the role. His acting was strong. Yes it was a character that wanted to run from everything but white vagina *insert stereotype* or you could call it a first love considering his mundane background. Yes he got his ass kicked all through the film too.

I disagree that the character didn’t add anything. Finn was the identifiable realistic protagonist. He was a common person albeit with maybe some force sensitivity that Kylo Renn may have identified. As the common person he made common sense decisions that were easy to relate to and was one of the few characters in a Fantasy besides Han Solo with a flat unfaked accent.

If anything Rey’s zero to 60 Jedi Powers and Ren getting his arse handed to him by her were more problematic developments. Ren should have won the fight by using a weak bolt of Force lightning before the earthquake saved Rey.

180 Tru Jed December 21, 2015 at 7:27 pm

@42…totally agree with you. Rey developed her powers a little too easy. Which is something which as a lil problem for Luke at first. I also agree that Ren should have won the fight. However i still believe that Finn was uncalled for. If I take finns role out…the movie would not miss anything. Unlike the day where Denzel Washington proved himself and earned his leading roles…Boyega has not, and he did not deserve such a role…like all others like Chris Evans who had to earn his way up…same as Samuel Jackson who is a brilliant actor. They could have chosed someone better in my eyes. Then again everyone has their opinion…but i know ther’es alot of people who agree with me.

181 MyName December 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

I don’t think race was the driving factor behind Finn’s role. It may have been in response to some of the flak that the series got over the 30+ years, but Finn is more of an audience surrogate that asks questions to explain the plot than the action hero lead. He had some skills and will likely “level up” some, but you can’t expect tons of development *and* tons of character development in the opening for a Space Opera blockbuster movie. They did put some thought into the character, but not as much as others.
I feel like it was successful as a movie, even though they stole alot from the earlier movies, which is more than you can say for the prequel movies. Alot of the issue is how much backstory for the 30 year gap is missing, which is frustrating, but at least it seems like an interesting story to tell unlike much of the prequels, etc.

182 MyName December 21, 2015 at 7:28 pm

I meant to say tons of *plot* development and tons of *character* development from this script. It would need to be a different kind of movie and likely very different writers to get that.

183 Tru Jed December 21, 2015 at 7:31 pm

what puzzles me is that Luke had trouble concentrating using the force in his training when he was first learning to use the saber. Then with no combat skills and no inner Jedi abilities…Finn can fight one of the most powerful Jedis’? and still survive….that is utterly ridiculous…

184 Ronald Brak December 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Well, it is pretty clear that Kylo Ren doesn’t know how to use his killing stick properly. In fact, no one in any Star Wars movie seems to. With a weapon where every part appears to be just as deadly as any other and mere contact appears to be extremly damaging, lightsabre combat should resemble fencing with the goal to score a “point” on any part of the body, as even the lightest of blows should be crippling. However, in combat they seem to ignore the point of their weapons and the fact that only a mere touch should be required, and keep using powerful, often two handed, sweeping blows where they try to strike with the edge. The only thing they seem to get right is its apparently indestructable nature allows it to be smacked into things and other lightsabres with gay abandon. Something it is best not to do with an actual metal sword.

But it is easy to see how the jedi got to be so crap with their lightsabre fighting skills. Clearly with the frequency that jedi turn to the darkside and sith apprentices kill their masters, some Jedi master with above room temperature IQ decided that he wasn’t going to be studid enough to teach his students how to fight properly, and over time Incompetent Fighting Style become codified as the Jedi way.

185 DavidC December 22, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I think if I swung a lightsaber for 5 minutes I’d cut off an apendage.

186 Boonton December 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm

In the Empire Strikes Back, Han has to use Luke’s light saber and he appears to be somewhat clumsy with it indicating that it isn’t a weapon a person can use without inherent Force ability or at least some practice. I would guess the idea is that what the saber actually is, a massive amount of energy contained in some type of magnetic field, makes it very tricky to just use as you would a solid sword.

Not explained, of course, is why a Storm Trooper carried some type of club like weapon whose only purpose seemed to be to deflect light saber blows without actually being a light saber.

187 SomeGuy December 21, 2015 at 8:18 pm

The thing I have to get off my chest. I don’t know where else to say it. Black guy from a broken home falls in love with the first white girl he sees. Sounds pretty typical to me. Move along.

188 SomeGuy December 21, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Although on second thought, he might have already gotten friend zoned judging by the last dialogue given his resting body. Welcome to the club, FN!

189 Urso December 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

This all sounds quite tiresome. I have not read a single thing about the new Star Wars that makes me think I would enjoy it. Yet there is zero doubt that I will, nonetheless, watch it. Model that.

190 Rob Butler December 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm

My biggest problem with the film is that it had no story and felt forced. Finn was the biggest disappointment because he was just another JarJar without the CGI. How the hell are you a Stormtrooper Janitor? He doesn’t know how weapons work but can wield a Lightsaber against a darklord without training? I mean is he even dead? It’s not like he was floating in a Bacta Tank. And to make matters worse, he’s a coward.

By the way. The chemistry between Han and Leia is gone… it was awkward. Strangely enough the chemistry between Marion and Indy was there in Chrystal Skulls even though I didn’t like the movie.

I expect a better Star Wars movie to be made on a 100 million dollar plus budget than a fan film that cost .0008th of that:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SLAoIc4H52w

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MqFqQIXHPZM

Star Wars on a 3000$ budget.

191 Tru Jed December 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

@Rob….I totally agree with every word you said. Finally someone sees the same things i saw. He has no training don’t know how weapons work, he’s a coward…and can instantly wield a lightsaber? and still survive a slash from a saber? Totally annoying…and his acting….deserves a (toilet Flush)

192 Tru Jed December 22, 2015 at 3:35 pm

If they took Finn out or replaced him…Star Wars would have way more enjoyable …Finn totally Spoilt it for me..

193 Will Anderson December 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm

I agree with most of what was said here, he was purposely portrayed as a coward in Star wars,which was what was done to most of the early blackmen in hollywood in the 70’s in all those early films of that era!

194 spad December 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

I’d suggest that any analysis of the Force Awakens that does squarely start with a feminist deconstruction misunderstands the film, especially in the context of race.

Rey = new Disney princess. And she fits right into the Disney princess cannon, both old and new. How many female character were there and what were their roles?

Disney movies referenced here include Alice and Wonderland (Burton’s), Frozen, Enchanted, Mulan, Tangled, etc., not to mention Korra and several video games (new Tomb Raider, for example).

Notice how independent and de-sexualized Rey was for the entire movie. Small breasts. No costume change until the very end.

Also, the ultimate antagonist is not an old white man.

195 Nezam December 24, 2015 at 8:52 am

i really interest this movies. Today get a tekat show this movies.

196 Tom December 27, 2015 at 4:56 pm

May the Schwartz be with you!

197 Rosie Powell December 30, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Do you want to know what I found most interesting about Finn? When many fans were speculating on whether or not he was Force sensitive, most wanted to believe that HE WASN’T. It was really important to them that Finn was not Force sensitive. And I’m certain they were happy or relieved that he wasn’t.

Also, there was a poll taken on FANPOP about who was the most interesting character in “The Force Awakens”. Rey received 41%. Kylo Ren received 33%. Dameron Poe received 8%. And Finn received 4%. The only character portrayed by a performer of African descent, received only 4%. I found that fucking pathetic and a sign that racism is still alive and well in the STAR WARS fandom.

198 DavidC December 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm

I’m sorry but finding the black character to be the least interesting of the four is not a sign of racism. I mean, there’s a 25% chance it would’ve happened if people had voted randomly. Bad guys are always more interesting and Rey has more unanswered questions tied to her. There’s real racism in this country, but when you point to every perceived slight as a sign of it, you diminish legitimate claims of racism.

Still, I think Finn was more interesting that Poe, who barely seemed to be in the thing even if he did have a lot of charisma, so I don’t get that.

199 DavidC December 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Also, I think Oscar Isaac’s Cuban father is part black, making him of African descent.

200 Force_Truth January 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

The main problem with this film and the racial issue of Finn stems from one thing only: the ridiculously misleadling ad campaign which, up until the very last few trailers (and there were quite a few if you include the TV spots), clearly SUGGESTED that Finn was not only a strong lead character (not traditional comic relief), but more importantly for Star Wars fans, a force-sensitive character. This was suggested by his sweating, panting face at the opening of the original trailer, set to the narrator saying that “There has been an awakening”, thus, the FORCE awakens again, but within Finn – clearly implied, but not directly stated. Also, another narration scene in a following trailer, having him walking while being greeting by Po before a battle, with the narrator using the word “the Jedi”, as Finn is clearly center of the scene. This followed by the light saber scenes in the following trailers with Finn against Kylo Ren and the Stormtrooper, and even the rather obnoxious ad poster showing Finn holding a light saber – a Jedi’s weapon. The force-sensitives are the pinnacles of the Star Wars universe, and if you ask any kid would they like to be a Jedi or a rogue smuggler, I bet all would say emphatically “JEDI!”, even though Han’s rogue is more highly regarded than Luke’s Jedi by most (which has more to due with the actors that portrayed the roles and how those INDIVIDUAL characters were presented in the Trilogy). The Jedi is the gold standard, and Finn was suggested to be a Jedi, by a rather juvenile, and even mean-spirited Bait-and Switch campaign that didn’t begin to reveal itself until the last couple of trailers where Rey was clearly front-and center, leaving us wondering if she, or perhaps, both will be force-sensitive. The campaign caused much anxiety for this reason.

In watching this film, I felt that Finn’s character was never meant to be soley a Black character, much in the same way the Lando could have been White. Boyega is obviously a fine actor, as was Billy Dee, so there is your big reason for his hiring, even though Disney/Hollywood politics and racial quotas certainly played in the casting mof Boyega in a major role to avoid further White-washing and more backlash. However, this situation speaks to childish level of deception that borders on cruel, with making such a distinct inference as with Boyega’s Finn being a possible Jedi in the trailers, while the reality was starkly diiferent. It was unnecessary. If Disney, or JJ, or whoever was uncomfortable with a black Jedi, then fine – DON’T ENGINEER YOUR AD CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE SOMETHING SO DEVISIVE AS A BLACK JEDI – and not have it be truth when I believe that get this: that most people had eventually bought into Finn’s Jedi by the time the massive record-setting pre-ticket sales figures came out. We are only having this problem after seeing the film from being misled in this non-sensical fashion. They should have been more upfront about Finn’s character early on, as he a isn’t bumbling, goofy character tyrpe, but a side-kick with a nice character arc, that was refreshing in a sense, and could have been easily protrayed by any race. With the racial climate of America and even our world, it was the wrong Bait-and-Switch manuever, and childishly executed at that. Blacks and many whites alike would love to see a leading Black character, especially even a Jedi (just check the approval number for Idris Elba being 007 – it’s a big deal for blacks to be in roles of power in an industry that has cast them down at almost every turn in major motion pictures). But to give that to them in trailers and film posters – Finn holding the Jedi’s classic weapon in a poster is the ultimate in mis-direction, and quite unfortunate, and would only lead to this backlash. Finn’s charcter is fine, as was Boyega’s performance. I just wish the ad campaign didn’t resort to this level of manipulation, as it didn’t help anything – even pre-ticket sales may have been higher with initial suggestion of a vanilla Hollywood experience (Rey in charge throughout, with the force), as it actually turned out to be.

As for the film itself, it was entertaining. Much better than sitting through trade negotiations, and over-choroegraphed saber dules, but definitely not the original level of awe from 1977. But it’s a continuation – it can never match an original product. The experience most disappointed fans wanted from the prequels, and even this film will only be achieved with another visionary director and an entirely new IP (world, characters, plot, etc.), nothing resembling this stuff – and I’m ready to wowed again by something fresh. As for Star Wars, they got the right dierctor for this film, as JJ is not a visionary director, but merely a hyped Spielbeg/Lucas fan with admirable film skills and a big budget. And although a servicable film director, he was only ever going to provide a shallow, but fun ride through a galaxy, far, far, away.

201 DavidC January 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

“If Disney, or JJ, or whoever was uncomfortable with a black Jedi…”

What makes you think they are?

202 Rosie January 9, 2016 at 7:26 am

I really hated how quickly he was to kill Storm troopers after the village scenes.

Why?

As for the film itself, it was entertaining. Much better than sitting through trade negotiations, and over-choroegraphed saber dules, but definitely not the original level of awe from 1977.

I would rather watch movies that included trade negotiations (which were never shown) and over-choreographed lightsaber DUELS. At least they had a lot more depth that this latest addition to the franchise.

203 redsoxu571 January 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Why are people so insistent on filling their comments about this film with “dumb”? I don’t get it.

Some people complain that Finn was too incompetent. Others, too much so (as you did here regarding his lightsaber usage). Can’t have it both ways. It reminds me of how with sports broadcasts fans of BOTH teams tend to think that the neutral announcer favors the other side. People can just be hopelessly biased and myopic. FOR THE RECORD, Finn is a fine warrior, but a young and fairly unwilling one at that…so there’s your competence. BUT, he got his rear handed to him by Kylo Ren. Why people can’t tell the difference between a great warrior going all-out and Ren toying with his inferior opponent WHILE GREATLY WOUNDED is beyond me.

Don’t buy what I’m selling? Vader toyed with Luke on Bespin…and when Luke finally got a glancing blow in, one-move disarm by Vader. Ren toyed with Finn (dark-siders are arrogant, did you not get the memo?), and after Finn finally got a glancing blow in, one-move disarm. This isn’t rocket science.

Also, Finn wasn’t a “janitor”…he was a member of the military seeing his first battle who had previously experience latrine duty. Duh.

This posting more than other has convinced me that people see what they want to see, and some people insist on seeing failure and other negatives. People can be so stupid (those Donald Trump poll numbers are the only evidence I need there), but my God, some people are just WRETCHED.

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