RETRO NERD RANT!: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS...sad white men.
In Honor of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI hitting Blu-Ray this week, here's something I wrote when FORCE AWAKENS came out...
Yes, I've seen it.
And I dug the hell out of it both times.
Yes, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS tends to hit some of the same beats as "A New Hope" but I would argue that it was probably necessary to calm the nerves of the fans who still felt raw about the prequels. It was Abrams saying "Look, we're not gonna C-SPAN this shit. We're not going to throw trade embargoes and midichlorians at you. And we're not going to make your central character a whiny teenager who feels entitled because he won a pod race when he was eight. We're going to give you a big hearty hunk of space opera to ease you back in and leave the more imaginative narrative twists to Rian Johnson. Hey, the guy made LOOPER. You guys liked LOOPER, right?".
(And for the record, I did like LOOPER and that makes me hopeful for Episode VIII.)
SW:TFA has it's flaws but manages to run roughshod over them with action, adventure, honest to God banter (The moment when Harrison Ford yells at John Boyega "THAT'S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS!" gave me the biggest laugh I've had in a theater this year.) and an aura of pure joy that you'd have to be a scrooge to deny.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet, I give you that scrooge.
You can sniff out Abrams’ leanings from the start. As First Order troopships prepare to land to take out a village on Jakku, the first villager who pulls out a a blaster in defense is a woman. And it is some sort of big, mounted-looking one! This girl power is really paralleled in our world, where millions of young Western girls are so keen to protect their village or country that they won’t even join up, as their male contemporaries are forced to, in places like Finland and South Korea during peacetime. Or make the slightest squeak about the double standard. Well done, JJ.
Captain Phasma is given command of the First Order’s elite stormtroopers but she has the same biology as in our world, where no woman has ever passed the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course. Another female stormtrooper reports to Ren about the failed attempt to locate Rey. And, after years of pretty much male-only recruitment, the New Republic’s affirmative action policies have been copied by the First Order, with large numbers of female military panel operators, technicians and officers.
The above angry spittle pretending to be film criticism was written by David Garrett Brown for a MRA (Men's rights activists.) site called Return of Kings. And judging by the above paragraphs, he's not all that crazy having his science fantasy cluttered up with errant vaginas. And the fact that he's making angry hay over a shot of a woman setting up a blaster and a slightly more diverse collection of background extras tells you that A) He's not shy about expressing his opinions and B) Date Night for him must involve Soft Lights, smooth jazz and a Fleshlight.
(Oh and the Captain Plasma thing? How the hell does he know that she has the same biology? We never see her without her armor and it's THE GODDAMN STAR WARS UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANOID LIKE BEINGS EXIST! Hell, If I were Rian Johnson, I'd find a way to make her character an alien with two vaginas just to piss Brown off. Although, in fairness, the reveal might threaten the PG rating.)
Now normally, I'd brush this off with a wave of my hand and a Dude-Like "Well, that's your opinion, man." and go on with my day.
But then, I had to go see this.
Fifty-five percent of respondents to a Return of Kings Twitter poll have said that online reporting of the social justice nature of The Force Awakens influenced their decision whether to see the film. Extended across our readership, with over 900,000 users accessing ROK between November 21 and December 21, this amounts to a potential direct impact of $4,219,456.54 (55% x $8.38 x 915,482) on total revenues. $8.38 is based on the average cinema ticket price in the US, which is now an all-time high.
This figure does not include those men who haven’t visited in the past month but know to stay clear away from Hollywood propaganda films thanks to our previous reporting. They have been learning to question the narrative of popular culture, and many would have done so without reading ROK‘s recent commentary concerning The Force Awakens. The $4.2 million estimate also does not include future sales that will be surely lost from Star Wars DVD’s, collectibles, and other promotional tie-ins.
Okay. Let's put the above quote in perspective.
As I write this, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has made world-wide (According to Box Office Mojo.) $1,733,834,828 dollars.
For those of you having trouble with the numbers, that's one point seven billion dollars.
That's Billion with a B.
Four point two million is what J.J. Abrams probably has wedged in between his couch cushions. And this guy is crowing about this?
"Hooray, we slowed down the film's march to highest domestic earner by 45 minutes!".
And also, where exactly did this guy pull his numbers from? From a Twitter poll.
He's extrapolating from a Twitter poll responded to by 565 people a loss of 4.2 million?
Normally to see something like that yanked from someone's ass, you'd have to bit-torrent German Porn.
Also look how the poll question is phrased. "Affect your decision to see the film" is not the same as "Stop you from seeing the film". For all we know, most of the 55% of respondents who answered affirmative went "Well, I wasn't planning on seeing it but now I'm going to just to spite you dickweeds".
But let's be generous for a moment and assume for a moment that his Underwear Gnome like math is spot on and that ST:TFA did lose money because of the extra vajays. The question becomes "Should the filmmakers care?"
I'm going to guess no and that's because it's asshole money.
Let me explain.
Let's say you run a restaurant. it's a Tuesday night. You're doing a business but not as much as you like. Suddenly, a ten top comes in. No reservations but you have the tables. Hooray for capitalism!
Except the ten top are acting like a bunch of assholes. Drinking too much, talking way too loud and with more swearing then would be considered acceptable for a family restaurant. The last straw is broken when one of the ten top tries to grab the waitress' ass. Channeling your inner Popeye, you go to the table and tell them that they are no longer welcome here and to leave. And when one of the men at the table make harrumphing noises about the money they're spending, you let out a loud New York Cabbie of a whistle and plainly state. "You come into my joint and act like drunken assholes, your money loses it's value."
That's what I mean about asshole money.
The MRA's are the ten top and Lucasfilm is the restaurant. Or for the sake of a more accurate metaphor, the entire Cheesecake Factory chain.
Look, it's okay not to like a movie. Hell, it's even all right to not like a movie for bullshit political reasons. It's why I tend to avoid most of Michael Bay's filmography. (Well, that and the fact that I'm prone to motion sickness.)
And if you don't like a movie because a woman is at the center of it, that's also fine. (It's also your loss because Daisy Ridley is awesome in the film.)
But let's get something straight. If you publicly state that you cost a movie millions of dollars using fuzzy, unverifiable math, you are essentially inviting all of us to not take you seriously about anything ever!
You want to subscribe to an outdated 2D model of masculinity, fine. But most of us cancelled that subscription after the Eleventh Grade.
The rest of us will be in the theater, enjoying a damn fine popcorn flick while not having our manhoods threatened one little bit.