Rebellions Are Built on Hope
When I watched “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” for the first time on opening night, I thought I would be living in a different world than the one we are all currently living in; I hoped for a world that was less angry, less afraid, and one that had a different president of the United States. That’s OK, though, because it gave the film a purpose that it otherwise would have lacked. While I would argue that it isn’t the greatest “Star Wars” film that has been created, it was certainly the most timely one.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, may claim that the movie wasn’t political (in an attempt to assuage angry Nazis that were threatening to boycott the movie), but that isn’t the case. “Rogue One” is a political movie; every “Star Wars” movie has been political and anti-fascist. I wrote about that in one of the first articles I ever wrote for Can’t Talk Media. I said that the political message of each movie was aimed at the generation that was growing up watching it, who lived through everything from the Cold War to terrorism and the restrictions of our freedoms. “Rogue One” takes us back to the basics: fighting against tyranny because the alternative is something that no one can ignore.
There is much more to this film than a simple war story, though. Key parts of the dialogue really started to stand out as I saw it for a second and third time. When Saw Gerrera asks Jyn what she thinks when she sees Imperial flags reigning across the galaxy her reply is simple, powerful, and the very picture of white privilege: “It’s easy when you don’t look up.” Later, she is confronted by Cassian Andor who chides her on her lack of involvement because he’s been fighting since he was 6 years old. I can tell you with certainty that it is easy. I spent most of my life not looking up, not being involved. Now my eyes are only beginning to see the horizon, and I am only just starting to take action. I should perhaps note that the statements made by those two characters are that much more impactful as they are made by minorities that have been fighting oppression for generations in North America—and still do.
As the movie progresses, the small band gets together, trying to figure out the exact nature of the weapon the Empire is working on. We see division in the Rebel Alliance that hasn’t been there before. The question before the Rebellion is: Do they use more militancy or more diplomacy? When the overall power of the Death Star is finally revealed to the council, there are more arguments and calls for surrender: “If the Empire has this kind of power, what chance do we have?” While Jyn makes an impassioned plea for aid in a desperate plan to steal the Death Star designs, fear and indecision take hold.
What happens next was so subtle that, when I finally realized it, I was floored at how perfect it was. Captain Andor came to Jyn with this: “They didn’t believe you. I told you they wouldn’t. … I believe you.” The establishment, the people in power didn’t believe what a woman was telling them, but a man did and wanted to help. This wasn’t some white knight moment; Cassian wasn’t rushing in to save the day. It was clear that Jyn was in charge, and he was there to help.
Rebellions are built on hope, and while this is a fictional story in a fictional world, I was glad to see the marches and protests. They brought me hope when I was having trouble finding it. All I saw when I watched the news and social media was hope and resistance. Hope that this is the first of many protests and many people from all types of backgrounds fighting together for those who have been continually disenfranchised by those in power (white, cis, hetero, Christian, able-bodied, and more). This is what makes America great: hope that action can make change. This is how liberty is born. Liberty didn’t die after the election. The fire wasn’t snuffed out of America. It will be proudly held high and used to burn out the corruption, the hate, and the anger that has taken over.
I know what I’m going to do. Trump-style politics and racism are on the rise in Canada, too. I will vote, I will call my elected representatives, I will campaign, I will protest, and I will help boost the voices of those that have been systematically silenced here. I did not spend years serving my country in the armed forces to see what I defended erode away. What are you going to do?
Rebellions are built on hope, and I have hope again.