Monthly Archives: January 2020

On the Basis of Sex (2018)

There is an unquestionable overabundance of woke agitprop coming from Hollywood these days, but between this and the 2018 “documentary” by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the cinematic love letter to Notorious RBG has become its own subgenre. I went in expecting epic cringe and it didn’t disappoint. It is the veritable hymnal for the feminist catechism that I expected. 

However, the film seems to be running at cross purposes with contemporary sensibilities. On one hand, it is refueling the feminist grievance industry by attempting to portray the world of 2020 as completely unchanged from the world of Harvard Law School in 1956 when RBG was one of six women in her class. As Sam Waterston’s Erwin Griswold confers with his team in preparation for the Charles Moritz case, Mimi Leder absolutely wants you find this cabal of white men who bloviate over the sanctity of the family loathsome and omnipresent. Down with the patriarchy! When Marty toasts Ruth’s new professorship after being turned down at law firms, you’re supposed to feel the revulsion and disappointment on Ruth’s visage as he refers to her as “mom”. Fuck motherhood man! Garbage collection gender equality NOW! 

Yet, at the same time, there is something decidedly unwoke about this film. While the film centers around RBG’s quest for redress of Charles Moritz’ denial of a caregiver tax deduction, the film already feels out of step with the cutting edge of the feminist ideological vanguard. In her arguments to the 10th circuit judges, RBG says that sex is an immutable biological reality. Whoa! Ease up there, Hitler. DIDN’T YOU READ JUDITH BUTLER, RUTH? 

But none of that matters. If anything, it’s proof that the progressive ruling class doesn’t take anything it says seriously. They’re all just different shards of ideological weaponry that can be deployed when necessary. As is usually the case with the best works of propaganda, it’s very clever about how the message is delivered. As a newly radicalized Jane Ginsburg tries to femsplain to her unwoke mom that Atticus Finch was a role model attorney, Ruth shoots her down by appealing to THE PENAL CODE as evidence of his unethical behavior. Ah, but why is Ruth Bader Ginsburg putting everything on the line for Charles Moritz? BECAUSE THE LAW IS WRONG. So the lesson is that the law is the ultimate authority until it’s politically inconvenient. Because every woman must have an equal opportunity to work street sanitation or fulfill her lifelong dream of working an oil derrick. 

As Ruth and Marty arrive at the 10th circuit courtroom for the climactic trial, Mimi Leder hovers over the quote inscribed on the wall. It reads “Reason is the soul of the law”. Sounds great, right? Standard Enlightenment rhetoric. It’s the stuff of which the American Revolution was built. It’s supposed to be the kind of lofty ideal on which which every American can agree. But who really thinks America in 2020 can agree on what “reason” means? Or who possesses the capacity to exercise it properly? Let alone believes in the existence of a “soul” within the law. 
RBG is the ultimate progressive power fantasy because she embodies the You Can Have It All feminist dream. She has a devoted husband and she’s a game changing crusader for Womyn’s Rights. She’s a mother and an educated career oriented woman. But Mimi Leder isn’t interested in whether or not this is attainable or desirable for everyone. Like everyone else in the progressive ruling class, the fantasy of ideological purity is the overriding priority. This is just as much a slice of a decades long social engineering experiment carried out by the progressive establishment as it is the story of a pivotal case in RBG’s career. Academia and the ACLU are just as important to this story as RBG herself. When Kathy Bates’ Dorothy Kenyon admonishes Ruth to “change minds, then change the law”, this feels like a page from the ruling class playbook. As a footnote, there is also what appears to be a nod to the Pentagon’s role in the development of artificial intelligence in the judicial system; a job that would later be outsourced to Silicon Valley. 

Just like the Cohen and West “documentary” from 2018, Mimi Leder also isn’t interested in looking back and taking stock of what the legacy of the feminist establishment has wrought. It’s painting RBG’s career as an unquestionably righteous neverending battle while simultaneously subtly denigrating marriage and motherhood. If equality is your highest ideal, then that necessarily entails that the hierarchy of values that once defined the social order will be equalized as well. When sex becomes recreational, then you shouldn’t be surprised or appalled by an entire generation of infantilized men or the dissolution of chivalry. And yet, that’s exactly the grift Leder and the progressive ruling class is attempting to pull off in this film. Just be sure to tweet SLAY KWEEN as you watch RBG do her slo-mo march up the SCOTUS staircase.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

We knew this day would come.

At least, those of us who’ve been written off by Kathleen Kennedy and her clone army of SJW shills as butthurt fanboys, bigots and Russian bots. We knew. We absolutely knew it would come down to this. As sure as the prophecy of The Chosen One.

We knew this film would be an unmitigated catastrophe. It was merely a question of magnitude.

We knew there was no way JJ Abrams was going to pull off a satisfying conclusion, let alone a coherent movie, out from the trash fire known as The Last Jedi.

We knew that this whole God forsaken sequel trilogy was a meandering hodgepodge of SJW talking points pretending to be a story.

We read all the leaks on Reddit and facepalmed at each revelation.

We knew that none of these characters had an ounce of real charisma, chemistry or charm.

We knew that both JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson ran roughshod over the canonical pillars of the Star Wars mythology for the express purpose of pandering to their imaginary legions of woke superfans.

We knew that there was no real story here at all.

We knew this was an unplanned and haphazard patchwork of half-baked ideas and malformed characters; an execrable and contemptuous spitball of a film directed squarely in the eye of every person who ever cared about this franchise.

We knew it, and yet, all we could do is watch from the sidelines as JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy absolutely demolished one of pop culture’s most durable mythologies like a three-headed Admiral Holdo Cerberus running a kamikaze mission on First Order Star Destroyers. All while being insulted and attacked by Johnson and his media minions as trolls and bigots for daring to have a critical view of his shitty movie.

Young fools! Only now, at the end, do you understand!

So how bad is it?

Honestly, not that bad. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

The Rise of Skywalker has earned the most dubious distinction in pop culture history. It is the most entertainingly brazen act of contempt, incompetence and indifference ever committed by a major entertainment company. When even the establishment media shills are openly conceding that JJ Abrams spends a good chunk of the film walking back Rian Johnson’s choices, you know there is no way this film can avoid being an epic calamity. And yet, somehow, against all the odds, that’s exactly what he did. Indeed, the Dark Side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be… unnatural.

It feels redundant to point out its myriad flaws because the entire trilogy has been mismanaged from the start, and as expected, The Rise of Skywalker is loaded with them. It is filled with major abuses, missed opportunities, and earth shattering WTFs. However, to be perfectly fair, it has some honest successes. So let’s take a look at the Force miracles and missteps JJ Abrams has performed for this would-be epic finale to the Skywalker saga.

Rise of the Retcon

How the fuck is Palpatine even in this film? Seriously. The motherfucker gets thrown down a shaft and then survives the explosion of the Death Star? Really? Look, I can buy into the fact that Sith are never fully vanquished, but this was simultaneously the most blatant appeal to nostalgia and act of desperation ever committed. After Rian Johnson completely derailed this trilogy, I understand why this was necessary, but it doesn’t absolve JJ Abrams either. Apparently, theres’ a Sith homeworld called Exogol with genetic engineers, giant ass statues and legions of Sith acolytes who sit around doing incantations while Palpatine is kept alive with a midichlorian enriched IV drip. Somehow, no one ever knew about this homeworld nor suspected that the Palpatine zombie ghost was pulling all the strings the whole time, but whatever man. The most galling thing about this entire device is that it absolutely nullifies the triumphs of the original characters. Luke, Leia and Han put everything on the line to defeat Palpatine the first time, but HAHA IT’S ALL A RUSE YOU DUMB FANBOYS! GEORGE LUCAS WAS JUST TROLLING AND YOU NEEDED KATHLEEN KENNEDY AND JJ ABRAMS TO LIFT THE VEIL! I guess it’s something JJ Abrams pulled out of that mystery box he likes to talk about.

The retconning of Palpatine also necessitated the inclusion of the films two MacGuffins: the Sith dagger and the Wayfinder GPS system. Again, how the Wayfinder was intact after the destruction of the Endor Death Star absolutely beggars belief. But whatever man. Mystery box or something.

What? How? Why?

Why did it take three films for Kylo Ren to actually seem fearsome and imposing?

Why would he fear the re-emergence of Palpatine? Wouldn’t he be enthusiastic about the return of the most legendary Sith?

Why didn’t Kylo Ren just start blasting the shit out of Rey while he was in the TIE fighter? How did he survive that crash landing?

How the fuck did Palpatine build that fleet of Star Destroyers without conscripting or employing the services of several worlds and interplanetary defense contractors? Or anyone disccovering it?

Why didn’t General Pryde just tilt the Star Destoyer to the side and force the Riders of Endor to just fall off?

If Finn and Jannah broke the psychological conditioning of the First Order, why treat all stormtroopers as murderous goons? Doesn’t this make every stormtrooper a potential new ally?

Why weren’t the Knights of Ren introduced at the beginning of the trilogy so we could actually appreciate Ben Solo’s victory? Why were they presented as super badasses but ultimately killed and wasted like Phasma and Snoke?

How is Luke’s X-Wing still functional after being at the bottom of the ocean after all those years?

Why would you hire Keri Russell and keep her in a helmet for the entire film?

Why would Hux be a double agent for the Resistance just to spite Kylo Ren? Couldn’t he find another way to undermine him that didn’t involve exposing the First Order to their mortal enemies?

Whatever.

Suck on it, Rian Johnson

Thankfully, JJ Abrams did try to walk back some of Rian Johnson’s most egregious errors. While The Last Jedi did irreparable damage to the legacy of Luke Skywalker, JJ Abrams did his best to redeem him. Furthermore, the role of the annoying and pointless PETA activist, Rose Tico, was blessedly diminished. Her affection for Finn was set up to be a meaningful romantic connection, but that thread was jettisoned too. Given the ad hoc nature of the whole thing, it’s par for the course.

Best Jedi EVAR!

Fantasy and sci-fi properties which feature characters with fantastical powers only work when you have rules that govern the acquisition and usage of the powers. The way the Force was introduced in the OT was very effective because it was gradual. Most importantly, it carried dramatic weight because the ability to utilize its power was presented as something that required training and discipline regardless of whether you were on the Dark or Light side. Each film presented new aspects to the Force, but it worked because there was a sense of restraint. All of that restraint has been abandoned in The Rise of Skywalker.

It’s a problem that has plagued Rey since The Force Awakens, and The Rise of Skywalker only doubles down. Rey has been a Mary Sue throughout the trilogy and this film basically made her a Force Jesus. She can do a Force pull on entire ships. She can do Force Skyping and she can transport matter though the Force. She can summon Force lightning. And now, she can do Force healing! Hallelujah!

I was never afraid for Rey. There was never a moment that I was concerned for her welfare. Daisy Ridley does her best with what she’s been given, but the entire character is a giant panderfest. She’s a humorless and wooden caricature of female power. Characters are only interesting if they have real deficits, weaknesses and failures and her yearning to know her past isn’t enough to make her a compelling hero.

ReyLo

I actually didn’t mind the ReyLo moments and I think the whole thing should have been treated as a proper star crossed romance from the start. As in they actually fall in love with one another. The scene on the Endor Death Star wreckage was Rey’s most vulnerable moment and I actually kind of liked her for the first time. What people like Kathleen Kennedy, JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson are too ideologically possessed to recognize is that despite all of Leia’s tough chick qualities, she was also a bit of a raging cunt. This is why Han Solo’s wisecracks were funny. He diffused her imperious bitchiness and he made her more vulnerable by allowing her to be feminine. Feminists love to bitch about the Leia’s metal slave bikini, but that was something that added to her overall appeal. The Disney Lucasfilm cabal has gone so far out of their way to imbue Rey with every conceivable expertise and power that they’ve destroyed whatever natural female charisma she could have had. This is what made the final resolution so unsatisfying given the film’s emphasis on the necessity of friends and meaningful bonds.

The Rise of Skywalker?

This film is called The Rise of Skywalker and yet not a single member of the Skywalker clan is even alive. Rey can just appropriate the name cuz identity is a social construct or something. If Rey is the future of the Jedi, wouldn’t it make sense for her and Ben to raise a family and rebuild the Jedi order now that the Sith have been permanently vanquished and the Republic now bear the burden of governing? Nah! We’re too #WOKE for such sentimentality. A woman don’t need no man, amirite?

We’re supposed to believe that the victory over the First Order and the Sith is complete this time, and the restoration of the Republic will bring about another golden age of peace and security. I guess.

While JJ Abrams did pull off a miraculous feat, everything about this trilogy was so haphazard and random that it’s hard to care. The film is too rushed. The characters spend too much time yelling at each other. The jokes rarely land. The retcons and MacGuffins are dumb.

Yet somehow, I kind of did care. Just a little. The moment between Ben and Han was kind of sweet and heroic. It was nice to see Luke treated with a little respect. The climax felt like he was trying to outdo Avengers: Endgame and LOTR, but I found it somewhat rousing.

It’s not the best possible ending to the Skywalker saga, but I suppose it’s the one we deserve in 2020. Leave it to the Disney Corporation to hand the legacy of the Jedi to a Palpatine and sell it as the resolution to the Skywalker saga.