A Long Blog Ago…on a website not too far away…
Star Wars was as much a part of my youth as anyone reading this. Maybe more. But to say that Star Wars was big for my generation is to say…well…maybe the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes close? Regardless, when Disney bought the rights and decided that all of the novels I spent so much time reading were just glorified fan fiction, I felt…discarded. Sure, I internalized a corporate decision that had absolutely nothing to do with me. Still, I spent a lot of time immersed in that universe. For that not to matter anymore – well, it kind of makes Star Wars not matter as much anymore. To me. Personally.
Still, watching the culmination of this story, even knowing more adventures will follow, it was gratifying. I waited until Christmas Eve to see it, and I viewed it alone. I gasped! I cried! I laughed! I felt. Which, I might add, is more than I can say for The Last Jedi, which was hot garbage. I think we can all agree on that, at least.
Why Can’t We Be Friends?
With the third Rey-centric installment coming around, again we have to hear the speculations on two of the main characters and their sexuality. First off, let me say that I’ve struggled for years with my attitudes, healthy and toxic, regarding the topic of sexuality, specifically non-hetero-normative sexuality. As “woke” as I may try, I still feel like I fall short. However, from the bias of a 43-year old white male, I have some thoughts.
Finn and Poe don’t HAVE to BE anything. They can just be good friends. They could be broskis. They could be Bromantically involved. They could be gay. But they could just be the closest of friends. I’ve had many friends like that. We are affectionate and boisterous and proud to love one another. But it is in no way romantic or sexual. And I worry that the urge to force inclusion, we’re losing sight of a very beautiful relationship. Feeling the need to thrust inclusion into an already convoluted plot created a disturbingly forced narrative.
Times They Are a’Changin’ – AND IT’S GOOD!
Am I grateful gay characters and gayness in general is more in the forefront of American, and global, culture? You sure as hell bet I am. Look no further than Romania as an example of what seems to be a civilized country in the midst of the social stone ages! As a bisexual man, I grew up in the redneckiest of places with some pretty unhealthy attitudes hammered into my head. It took me a long time, and probably Ryan Reynolds, to accept that, yes…sometimes I think men are sexually appealing. And I’m so grateful for every generation of hate and ignorance that dies off and brings forth new generations of love and acceptance. Because those two things are the surefire bets to make me feel spiritual.
But…I have always had close male friends. And close female friends. And, as flamboyant and eccentric as I am, I feel bad for a few guys who probably got called some names because I hugged them in public.
Guys constantly get harrassed about their sexuality. And, if you’re open and affectionate with people, especially males, you’re going to get labeled. I can say that I’ve been sexually harassed with homosexual hate speech flung my way at just about every job I’ve every held professionally. Sorry, not sorry. But it wasn’t just me.
“While, if these two characters were written as gay, I would have appreciated a payoff.”
To me, overt sexual attention is a trope that I’ve enjoyed in many of my entertainment choices. Remember, for 4 years or so, we were all hoping Luke and Leia would hook up. They were certainly written in a romantically flirty manner. Finn and Poe, to me, never came across as flirty or sexually tense in the slightest way. While, if these two characters were written as gay, I would have appreciated a payoff. Since there was no payoff…no confirmation on-screen, because that is the ONLY narrative in filmmaking that counts, then can’t we just assume they are good, close friends? Isn’t there a beauty in two men having a close, affectionate friendship without it being about SEX? Plus, I have to ask, is this what people asked about the gals from Sex & The City? I wasn’t into it the first time around.
For a man who has straddled his fair share of…fences in his day…I believe the most beautiful victory in this dynamic isn’t the maybe they are or maybe they aren’t speculation, but celebrating two masculine, beautiful, and open friends who share a bond no one else in the batch of new characters share.
Create Cultural Change
I don’t recall anyone trying to make Han bi. He and Luke were close. Why now? If they are, good. But if they aren’t, let’s celebrate films where they don’t shame men for loving other men – where they don’t label men as gay just because they care for and show affection for one another. Celebrate THAT!
That is a HUGE step toward moving past rape culture, as well. Because dealing with feelings appropriately helps. Teaching young people it is ok to love and feel and hug and touch and all of the things (so long as they are consensual) without a SEXUAL urge toward them is a brilliant lesson, in my opinion.
Inclusion is a wonderful goal to aspire to in telling a story. But, when inclusion is manufactured for inclusion’s sake, we all lose. It becomes pandering and contradicts the efforts. Let’s fight for authentic inclusion and make it real. And let’s celebrate the many diverse forms of friendship there are!
Tell me what YOU think in the comments below! I’m excited to learn more perspectives. Also, be sure to check out my other Star Wars related blog about the “controversy” surrounding one characters limited screen time.