This is a key thing to remember when considering the anxious response some have had about The Force Awakens’ diversity and the heroic competence of Rey, the protagonist who some call a “Mary Sue” (and sometimes do such with the same temper-tantrum tones of an unmasked Kylo Ren). The film recognizes that the heroes of Hollywood–and thus the heroes of modern western mythology–have had wide appeal, but offer shallow representation. To twist Orwell: The stories of Luke, Leia, and Han are universal, but they’re more universal for some than others. As much as Star Wars has spoken to a wide audience, it hasn’t always spoken for that audience. To address this, the heroes of The Force Awakens are just as adept as the protagonists of the past, but now they’re played by a much more diverse crew…
…Hux and Ren–and, I think, those angry fans–look backwards towards an elusive (and fictional) past where things were simpler, but The Force Awakens wants us to look forward instead, even though that might be challenging. The world is unfair, it says, and unstable. The things we thought were structural and eternal are in fact man-made and mutable. They’re just very, very convincing. Addressing the challenges of the future will require not only people who are preternaturally skilled, like Rey, but also people like Finn, who will do what is needed when others refuse. I am thrilled that The Force Awakens is embracing this unsure future.
Off the Clock: Space Opera Millennials and Their Grand Narratives