On Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Daddy Issues Continued but...

This week’s blog entry is from my contribution to THE DAILY NOUS:


The danger with entertainment is our tendency of forgetting what it is: entertainment. As with dreams, where the imagination could play, wishes, desires, hopes could make themselves manifest where we would otherwise prefer they remain hidden. Thus, the layers of hiddenness and revelation that unfold in this four decade’s romp we call
Star Wars are so many that only few could be addressed in this forum.

Let me focus on the darkness of the Dark Father/Darth Vader whose hiddenness awaited confirmation as he was audio-visually “black” (through the voice of James Earl Jones), which made his unmasking (or is it unhelmeting?) such a disappointment of continued white revelation. Power, after all, is feared most as black and thus relieved of threat when the rather lipid and, unfortunately, redeemed father, was re-whitened. Such a disappointing fate for the greatest line, perhaps because of its psychoanalytical and theological significance, echoed across the reaches of cinema, mythic and historical: “I am your father….”

Freud, as we know, would have a proverbial field day, at least given his arguments in Moses and Monotheism.   Redemption could only be offered through a specific son’s willingness of taking on the sins of all the sons, symbolic and otherwise, for the death of the Dark Father, which makes the re-awakening a wonderful subversion of the original premise by making an ornamentally white warrior reveal a dark interior. The force, in this black storm trooper (Finn), speaks teasingly (great decoy of early footage of him holding a light saber) to larger forces at work (yes, pun intended) as the sins of the father, including Founding Fathers, come to bear on what they had suppressed across time in the white washing of history, mythic or otherwise. Perhaps in this awakening, Black Lives may matter a little more through at least one black life willing to walk under the light without white uniform and its uniformity.

Yet, what is going on here is more than a racial matter. The penchant for trinities, which the set up of this one promises for the overall portrait of nine episodes, raises the question of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Patriarchy, we should remember, is ultimately a conflict between fathers—in fact, The Father—and sons, in which Christianity offered some resolution in terms of a special son killing the father and taking on the sins for the deed. Women, in this portrait, suffer as collateral damage. Thus, the twists and turns offered here, where Han Solo (need we stress the contradiction of a man with the name “Solo” trying to raise a family?) faces erasure through the call of the Dark Father as the only father to whom homage must be paid. There is no way out, as Luke (whose name, after all, means “light”) is also a son, which continues the dramatic Father-Son patriarchal relationship.

Resolution? While his sister Leia produced a son (Ben/Kylo Ren—his given name being redundant as “Ben” is Hebrew for “son”), Luke offers hope in terms of a daughter (Rey, whose name requires a slight change in spelling to become “ray,” as in “ray of light”), through whom a new relationship is raised: The Father-Daughter possibility. She disrupts this pathological Father-Son drama, and more: her heart reaches not for whiteness clothed in black but blackness once clothed in white but now, at least for a time, wearing the leather jacket signaling a bad Mutha…yes, watch your mouth.

All this may be too much for Geeks’ jouissance. Some, as we know, protested the unholy of unholies of antiblack and sexist societies: hetero-normative love between a black man and a white woman. Though tapping into the childish world of entertainment and play, this installment of the series, though retelling its humble beginnings on a desert planet, with all the biblical resonance with which we are familiar, offers more grown up reflection in a world that is willing to accept other species but shudder at the blackness within.

The star of this installment of Star Wars is Daisy Ridley (Rey) as far as I’m concerned. I look forward to seeing the extent to which her character may be able to disrupt The Force—including the Son-Father who is now training her—in this primordial battle between power that destroys and power through which life flourishes.

© Lewis R. Gordon