- Jack Hunter Special to the American-Statesman
One of the most controversial issues in America right now is the new Star Wars movie, “The Last Jedi.” Many diehard fans of the franchise absolutely hate it, while others say it is one of the best Star Wars ever.
Then there are those who complain that it’s just “social justice warrior” propaganda.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “social justice warrior” (SJW) is used by some on the left, often pompously, to signal their alleged dedication to equality for women, minorities, LGBT members and others. On the other hand, conservatives typically use it to describe progressive campus extremists who shout down speakers and basically exhibit an illiberal attitude toward anyone who disagrees with them. While left and right routinely love to paint each other in the worst light possible, most progressives are not represented by the intolerant hard left extremists who make headlines on campus, and most conservatives who don’t like SJWs don’t actually want to oppress anyone.
Or do they?
I was surprised by the number of reactions to Star Wars on social media by right-leaning people who dismissed it as “SJW.” Having seen it over the weekend like so many others, I legitimately wondered what these critics could have possibly been talking about.
The following contains no major spoilers: In “The Last Jedi,” women are cast in prominent roles including military leadership (as had also been the case in 1977 when the heroic Princess Leia played by Carrie Fisher led the rebel forces). Minorities were cast as heroes, while some were part of the evil First Order (as had also been the case when Lando Calrissian played by black actor Billy Dee Williams first helped Han Solo only to turn on him later in 198 ). There was a lighthearted and comical scene involving Chewbacca that some might interpret as pro-vegetarian or animal rights. In one scene, a female admiral rallies her troops by heralding the rise of “The Resistance.” We also learn that the richest people in the Star Wars galaxy got that way by selling weapons to the bad guys, a scene some might interpret as anti-capitalist.
That’s about it.
So what are those who claim the latest Star Wars is trying to push some hard-left agenda actually saying? That women who demonstrate leadership or fighting skills on screen… shouldn’t? That black men or Asian women shouldn’t be heroes or perhaps not included at all? Should Princess Leia ever have been part of Star Wars four decades ago? (Good luck making it without her). Should Lando Calrissian have been excluded too?
It’s one thing to say that sometimes the left goes too far. It’s quite another to say treating women and minorities positively, or portraying them as equal members of society in a movie, is somehow a leftist agenda.
That isn’t leftism. It’s 2017ism.
Not surprisingly, some on the right also labeled the first film in the latest Star Wars trilogy, 2015’s “The Force Awakens” as “social justice propaganda.” David G. Brown wrote at “manosphere” site Return of Kings, “(Director J.J. Abrams’) mission, though, is to distract viewers with impressive scenes and some chunks of capably written dialogue so as to implant his take on ‘girl power’ and safe spaces for non-whites.” Breitbart also deemed it “politically correct.”
But aren’t right-wingers who hold such retrograde views also enforcing their own version of political correctness?
If merely having women and minorities in non-diminished or non-subordinate roles in a movie is now enough to trigger some on the right, these people have to be the biggest snowflakes of all. Conservatives have long laughed at the left for suggesting anyone white and male in movies or anywhere else was somehow evil for merely existing, and yet now some on the right apparently think the mere presence of women and minorities is a sinister plot.
The problem with political correctness in its most extreme form is that it distorts the mind to such a degree that its practitioners are no longer dealing in reality. This has long been true of much of the left, including SJWs who deserve mocking. Now, do some on the right—or perhaps just the anti-egalitarian alt-right—seek to enforce a new political correctness based on misogyny and racism?
If your problem with the latest Star Wars is that it had too many women and minorities in it (whether you verbalize it this explicitly or not), your politics have warped your brain.