Every year or so, I write a post that I believe will be the most controversial post ever on my blog. This is definitely one of those posts.
1 For those who do not know, a quick background on the word Reylo and the word “ship.” “Ship” has two additional meetings in popular culture. According to Urban Dictionary
N: Short for romantic relationship, popularized in fanfiction circles.
V: To endorse a romantic relationship.
N: I see a ‘ship developing between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
V: I ship Ron/Hermione.
Reylo is a conjunction of the names Kylo Ren and Rey. Rey is the protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Kylo Ren is the antagonist.
2 Two other important pieces of information for my reflections are as follows: J.J Abrams directed Star Trek Into Darkness and I despise Star Trek Into Darkness. In fact, it is because J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek Into Darkness that I refused to watch Star Wars : The Force Awakens.
3 Before I saw The Force Awakens, I saw the Honest Trailer by Screen Junkies. In the trailer, they had a clip from the film that actually shocked me. In fact, I had to stop the video and watch that portion again, because I could not believe what I was seeing.
Here’s a gif of the section.
I watched it again, and sure enough, Rey faints and Kylo Ren scoops her up and carries her back to the ship. I cannot explain how unexpected and shocking I found it to see this image. After all, being a normal woman in Western society, I am very, very familiar with this image. This image appears in two contexts specifically.
Here is one context.
For a history of this tradition, here’s a video.
There’s another context in which this image appears consistently.
(Now, I did a search on You Tube for “Monsters Love Carrying Men”, “Monsters Love Carrying Children,” “Monsters Love Carrying Post Menopausal Little Old Ladies,” and “Monsters Love Carrying Lamps.” I found nothing.)
Now, I hardly need to point out that sexuality is the common denominator in both of these contexts. In the wedding pictures, it is a romantic sexuality, in the monster images it is a menacing and threatening sexuality. When I saw this image in the clip, I intuited that the filmmakers were inviting us to read the interactions between Kylo Ren and Rey in a sexual context. However, since I did not watch the film for another few months, I did not think too much about this startling realization.
4 I finally watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time last month. I was relieved that it was not the disastrous movie that I feared it would be (as Star Trek Into Darkness was) though, much as I feared, the film was a basically a remake of A New Hope (and Empire Strikes Back.)
5 Despite the cowardice and lack of originality displayed in The Force Awakens, the film did have moments of courage and creativity. Finn, a Storm Trooper who defects from the First Order, is a character without a clear parallel in the Original Trilogy and is a very welcome addition to the film, even though his defection is glossed over. (More on that later.) I love the friendship that he forms with Rey. The two of them should consider doing a romantic comedy together. Indeed, The Force Awakens is at its best when it creates new characters and allows them to shine.
6 I said that The Force Awakens is at its best when it creates new characters. At the same time, I did not include Kylo Ren, the antagonist, in that category. I watched the film several times, and each time I came away with the feeling that Kylo Ren did not completely work. At times, he seemed like Darth Vader lite, which can a mistake. Darth Vader is one of the great villains in cinematic history (the very image terrified me as a child) and any reference to him can only inspire the audience to think about how inferior he is to the original. I had that thought many times in the film, thinking about how much more frightening and evil Darth Vader was in the original movies.
7 More importantly, Kylo Ren did things in the movie that made no sense in the scene when he interrogates Rey. Please watch the scene before you read the next section.
First of all, when Rey wakes up in the interrogation chair and asks where she is, Kylo Ren replies “You’re my guest.” Huh? Why would he say that? What the hell does that mean?
She asks him where her friends are and he says, “You’ll be relieved to hear I have no idea.” Why would he say that?! Why not tell her, “I have them bound up in the next room. If you don’t give me the map willingly, I will start killing them.” If the director and the writers are trying to establish Kylo Ren as a frightening villain, that would be far more effective than having him being honest to her, and empathizing with her.
Then he says, “You still want to kill me.” What the fuck is going on?! He sounds almost disappointed. Why does he care whether or not she wants to kill him? Rey retorts that it’s perfectly natural to want to kill the “creature in the mask” that is hunting you.
And then Kylo Ren does something that completely shocked me.
8 He takes off the mask.
Now, at this point, I don’t want to talk about why Kylo Ren’s decision to take off the mask makes no sense, although it doesn’t make any sense. At all. I want to talk about this from the director’s and writer’s point of view. They made a choice to have him take off the mask at that moment. A baffling, baffling choice. Think about it. Here’s the scene where Kylo Ren kills Han Solo, at the climax of the film.
Now, imagine if Kylo Ren had not taken off his mask with Rey. The audience would have gone the entire movie without seeing Kylo’s face. Suddenly, there would be a tremendous mystery about Kylo Ren’s face. When Kylo Ren says, “What do you think you’ll see if I do?” that line is suddenly not only spoken to Han. It is spoken to the audience. The audience would suddenly be thinking, “What will we see when he takes off his mask? Is he scarred? Is he hideous? What are we going to see?!” As the scene is, there is no mystery.
I tried to search online because I wanted to see why people thought that Kylo might take off the mask. Instead, most of the fanboys wanted to know what was the significance of the ashes into which Kylo placed his helmet. (Sigh.) However, I came across the ship of Reylo, or the people who support a romantic relationship between Kylo Ren (the antagonist) and Rey (the protagonist.)
In Part 2, I’ll describe what they see as the evidence and controversy, and my reaction to it. I may break this into three parts, but we’ll see.
Let the hate begin !