Summer SAVY 2019: Session 1, Day 4 – Theory, Criticism, and The Force (Rising 5th/6th)
Rising moons, Padawans!
Can you believe that tomorrow will be our final session of Theory, Criticism, and The Force? We’re about to Break Into 3, headed for the Ending and Return, ready to create Synthesis. Those are a bunch of heady terms, I know, so here’s a more personable response to the approaching close of our time: I’ve been delighted to spend this week with you, and though I’m a bit melancholy for this course to end, I’m excited for you to pass on what you have learned.
And today, you learned!
We began with a game of Pew, Pew, Pew, adding several new moves, including “Into the garbage shoot, Flyboy!” and Yoda’s resurrection. I’ve enjoyed developing this game with you. It is my hope that you’ll still play it after this week, and that you will expand your play with new rules, new lines, and new readings of old content.
We quickly reviewed concepts covered earlier in the week. I’m impressed with your facility with the lenses and theories we’ve covered thus far. I was equally impressed with your ability to analyze and triage a brief piece of freestanding content; I’m sorry that we weren’t able to put your skills to the test with an episode of The Clone Wars (Disney+ will be very exciting, but Netflix is already the poorer for it). That said, you may now speak knowledgeably about Solo’s Kessel Run (as featured in Solo), making you the envy of every fan who has ever pointed out that parsecs are measures of distance, not time.
We continued examination of Rey’s Hero’s Journey, as we approached the structure of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens with precision and attention to detail. You noted further fascinating parallels between Rey and Kylo. Following this class, I suspect you’ll never look at antagonists the same way again.
Then again, given our post-lunch session, you may never look at anything the same way again!
We wrapped our arms around even more complicated theories. After watching a brief video essay by Lindsey Ellis that historicized the eight currently released films of the Skywalker Saga, we discussed semiotic depictions of fascist ideology, and what the appropriation of this content might imply. I love that the image of Darth Vader riding in a Disneyland teacup first brought you to laughter, then frustration, and finally to uncomfortable realizations about depictions of force and control in this fun-loving, family-friendly franchise. My favorite exchange went like this:
ME: So, are we now questioning whether or not Star Wars’ appropriation of fascist aesthetics is ethical?
CLASS: (dejected) Yeah…
ME: And, does anyone want to watch more Star Wars?
And of course that’s what we did! Today we finished Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I know that some of you were sad to see beloved characters fall, but remember what Snyder says about the “Whiff of Death” moment: something must be sacrificed for the hero to complete her journey, and for a return to all that is good. I leave Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens very optimistic about the road ahead for Rey, Finn, Poe, and the whole of the Resistance and the Galaxy.
And, I mean, come on: That duel was spectacular!
Following our viewing, we touched ever so briefly on new, even more complicated concepts. In particular, I found our discussion of Feminist Theory to be fascinating. Isn’t it interesting to note contrasts between the populations of the fascistic First Order and the far more-welcoming Resistance? Also interesting: could you believe how few female characters exist in the original trilogy, let alone how little they speak? Be sure to tell your parents that we watched every line of dialogue spoken by women other than Leia in the original trilogy, and we were able to do so in just over a minute. Wow.
Tomorrow we’ll cover the really weird stuff: Surrealism, Dadaist Theory, and all manner of Deconstruction. Tomorrow, we go far out on the Outer Rim. It’ll be a fun day if you’re into jokes like:
Question: How many Surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: Fish tacos.
Maybe tomorrow one of you can explain this joke to me.
Oh, a brief word about tomorrow: please remember that we’re allowing each of you to bring one Star Wars item to have with you during the day, should you so desire. I imagine we’ll decorate our shelves with these items, so that the room has a bit more ambiance during our open house. Please be certain to leave anything particularly valuable or fragile at home. If you have Star Wars clothing you’d like to wear, feel free to dress accordingly. And to those of you who’ve been asking if you can bring a lightsaber… well, as Emperor Palpatine once said:
So be it…Jedi.
Until the Spire,