"Rogue One is too dark and gritty," cries the Internet! "It sullies the black and white morality of the Modern Myth, Star Wars!" But are these thinkpieces, reviews, and fandom metas really paying close attention to the movies they claim to love? And what does it say that Rogue One's cast is held to a different standard than Han Solo?
A month ago Phil Sandifer proclaimed loftily over on Eruditorum Press that "the bulk of criticism of the Star Wars prequel trilogy is worse at being criticism than the prequels are at being movies." I'm going to blithely go a step further, possibly out into empty air over a Tatooine ravine, and say that most criticism about Star Wars in general seems to wind up at about this level. Certainly a lot of the response to Rogue One has ranged from disappointing to outright depressing, made all the worse because I think it's both the best Star Wars film generally, and one that is remarkably timely in ways that people just cannot fucking seem to recognize.
- Walking serenely through a hail of lasers to hook up a cable while reciting a mantra of devotion
- Abandoning efforts to open a sealed door, surrendering to the oncoming force of nightmare slaughter that is Darth Vader, instead opting to pass a message on at the cost of ones own life
- Seeking redemption after working for evil by putting down arms and working, again, to get a crucial message through
- Fighting on despite a blockade of Imperial navy ships in the hopes of letting the bearers of the Death Star plans to escape, and also because fucking shit the Empire straight up destroyed Mon Cala and apparently considered the Mon Calamari "natural slaves" (!!) and so Admiral Raddus was actually resigning himself to death but also determined to die with honor fighting a human supremacist enemy that arguably tried to perpetrate genocide against his people holy FUCKING SHIT HOW DO PEOPLE NOT THINK THE CHARACTERS IN THIS FILM ARE "GOOD" AND "NOBLE" ENOUGH?
Some of these critics are starting to look a lot like the Empire now, and they will do any mental gymnastics and any violence to the text and to logic in order to get back to that place of childish comfort where the bully can watch a film about bullying and imagine himself in the position of the victim.