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Rogue one: a PC story

After Alt-Right Pileup, Disney Chief Declares “There Are No Political Statements” in Star Wars Spinoff Rogue One

No? What about these:

There's a general rule in art. If you don't want a political fallout in art, well… don't cause it. Same applies to culture wars.

The hysteria about Trump's election has sneaked into the art of cinema as well now (not that this is a precedent for that genre, but now it's become rather blatant). Seen purely for its cinematic value, Rogue One is so-so. An obvious attempt to make some extra cash by exploiting an old theme (Star Wars; who doesn't love Star Wars!) Essentially, it's junk-food type of cinema: the one that you consummate on the spot, feel good about it while it lasts, then you forget it completely once you're outside the movie theater. But that was its purpose after all, so no biggie there.

The biggie is that the writers have attempted to turn it into a political statement. Am I and a lot of other people against white supremacism, against Trump's paranoid populism, against the alt-right insanity and all that? Sure! But do I need to be taught into thinking this way by a fucking movie? How'd you think?

It all started with the above Weitz and Whitta tweets (which they deleted soon after posting them). Many have seen Political Correctness rearing its head from under those statements – especially because of the timing (Trump's election and all that). Probably because the writers felt too many of the audience were stupid enough to not notice the political overtones behind their story, they decided to reconfirm them directly, just in case. Then they thought otherwise and backpedaled.

But the damage was already done. Star Wars was turned into Social Justice Wars. These messages legitimized the popular narrative that's so prevalent among ultra-progressive left-wing activists: you see, white people (mostly meaning white men) are inherently bad, they're carriers of a culture of privilege; and the minorities are oppressed victims who are always at the side of the good and the ones fighting for justice.

Sure, the original Star Wars trilogy of the 70s also had political overtones: the Empire was largely based on the Third Reich. Except now the writers are not talking of Nazi oppressors but of white supremacy, which of course has resurfaced, made mainstream, and become legitimized with Trump's ascent to the big political scene. So they figured it should be opposed – through the means of art propaganda.

What's more, the two writers didn't stop at a mere verbal assault on white supremacism: they also temporarily changed their profile pics at the social networks placing the Rebel Alliance logo, adding a safety pin – one of the symbols of the Not My President protests against Trump's election which blocked streets and roads, burned US flags across the country, and commited acts of vandalism, including assaulting police officers (this, after everyone had urged Trump to concede in case of defeat no matter what). The safety pin has become the symbol of the post-election resistance.

Trump's supporters, among whom there is indeed a very vocal and noticeable minority of white-supremacist ultra-nationslists (the so called Alt-Right) have duly reacted with calls for boycotting the movie. Of course we know that there's no such thing as bad publicity in show-biz, just publicity. And the more people are talking about a movie, the more likely that it'll make a lot of money. Nevertheless, the Disney director hurried to calm things down by stating that Rogue One is just entertainment, it's meant for all viewers, and does not contain any political messages and positions. Even after it had already been stated (not indicated: stated outright) that it sure does.

If a couple of tweets from the writers are not enough to convince you, take a look at the official movie poster. The ideology behind the movie is quite visible there: the bad guys are white men, and the minorities are well represented in the good guys. Young lady Felicity Jones in the lead role, joined by a robot of unknown racial identity (ha!), Diego Luna (Latino), Forest Whitaker (black), Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen (Chinese), Riz Ahmed (Pakistani)… and one white man, Ben Mendelsohn, the main antagonist proudly representing the repressive white dictatorship whose primary occupation is to oppress the good minorities.

You'll forgive me if I maintain that none of this is incidental. Nothing in Hollywood is incidental – especially when the very people who create the product are saying point-blank that it isn't. It was JJ Abrams, the guy who's behind the revival of the dusted Star Wars franchise, who has said several times that the franchise would be aiming to introduce a "diversity quota" in the cast from now on. "Diversity" here being the code word for affirmative action in cinema. This has a lot to do with, and is partially caused by all the big hype over the #OscarsTooWhite that we saw earlier this year. It's all part of the same narrative. I'm sure lots of social warriors are jizzing in their pants from all this, but are we sure it'll bring the desired results in the long run?

Embedding identity politics into the core of a mass-entertainment product like Rogue One, is a demonstration of the extents to which left-wing ideology has permeated Hollywood at this point. This sort of worldview sees everything through the prism of political ideology; it sees the world as a battleground for various groups warring with each other along various identity division lines: ethnic, racial, cultural, etc. The white establishment is given the role of the dominant, malevolent majority; and all other groups have to unite against it. These people are looking for prejudices everywhere, and interpreting literally everything through the twisted prism of racial, sexual and religious identity. Individualism and meritocracy be damned.

The problem is, the short-sighted masochism of the liberal elites in the neo-liberal Western democracies (which haven't spared the cinema art either), still don't seem to realize that it is in the lab conditions that they've created, that the reactionary forces now embodied by a certain "evil" orange billionaire and his base are being incubated, and allowed to thrive. Because when you artificially sow division, division is what you're going to reap. Extremes feed off each other; they cannot thrive and advance without having the opposite side to be constantly opposed to. It is the rest of us, the generally silent, generally moderate, admittedly complacent majority, who tends to pay the price of these artificial conflicts in the end of the day.

Source: Talk politics.

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