We are all laughing at the retconning now, but this is perhaps the most obvious symptom of what is happening in our culture and to our Western Canon. We don’t know who we are anymore.
J.J. Abrams did not write an amazing Star Wars film, or even a good one; but perhaps more harmful than the lack of good story telling, was the lack of identity for this trilogy and for the supposed lead character, Rey. It’s true that Rian Johnson stole an identity from Rey, from us as the audience. By stripping her of a family name, home, and history in The Last Jedi she was even more of a blank slate than in The Force Awakens; J.J. Abrams, however, destroyed anything Rey could have ever stood for by giving her an identity, and then discarding it.
Rather than allow Rey to rise from the ashes of the evil that was the Emperor, not letting it define her, and outshining his evil with her own deeds and merit so that the Palpatine name would be remembered for inspiring greatness instead of inspiring fear, as Luke had done with his family history, J.J. Abrams chose to callously redistribute the Skywalker name. Skywalker became a brand, a label, something to be slapped on an inferior product to disguise it as the genuine article; no longer a family lineage or legacy. This disservice to both character and fan is so asinine, it is a wonder that it was ever allowed.
The desperate attempt to appease all while being validated and relevant enough to meet the cries for injustices to be rectified meant a two-front battle; capturing the illusive “other” market and still satisfying the existing fan base. Any strategist or student of history can tell you how this scenario ends for the entity splitting its forces/focus, and now so can any Star Wars fan or anti-fan.
This lack of definitively written characters and story is what has led so many once great IPs to ruin. They have forgotten who they are and are despairingly searching for themselves. The problem is, they are no longer welcomed by a loud few, who never supported the IPs before, and now that they have so altered these IPs to fit their insatiable hunger for validation, these blaring few leave the once great IPs in the cold, stripped of anything and everything that ever made them stand out.
It is no wonder that the mental health crisis in this country is at an apex. There is approximately half the populace being told that by merely existing, they are guilty of hate crimes, oppressive toxicity, and must subvert themselves to pay for these sins, with few routes of escapism left. In the next breath, there is a demand for more companies and studios to cancel anyone who dares challenge these ideas, leading to an overwhelming exodus of people from traditional entertainment sources to more niche markets. Unfortunately, these markets are being plagued by the same nihilism and demand for ‘sameness’ in order to identify with the relative agenda as their traditional counterparts. Thus, creativity is being stifled under the guise of good intentions and reinforced by the threat of doxing and cancel culture.
The praise Sonic received by fans for listening to fans, and then being rewarded with an opening and second weekend that exceeded expectations, only heightened the nearly delirious, power drunk so called do-gooders’ frantic pitch to convince any and all that all established canon must be dismantled for the sake of righteousness. Like someone tightening their fists to prevent the sand from slipping through their fingers, only to lose more and more, the woke elitists and self- proclaimed social justice warriors are seeing the writing on the wall and are attempting to snuff out any detractors and safe havens for creatives. If even one well written character with the power to spark the imagination and ignite the soul, heralding the greatness that lives within all of us to shine through is allowed to stand, their entire narrative falls apart.
There used to be two camps; those who sought to be entertained and those who provided the entertainment. Now, hiding within both camps is a third, agenda driven plague. They demand as entertainment seekers that their views be adhered to. As “creatives” they denounce anyone who doesn’t invest individually earned time and money into their product, placing blame for the project’s abject failure on the populace. This plague has muddled the line that was once a market of creators presenting their work to a customer base who had the choice of either accepting or neglecting it. By playing both sides of the market, the ability to control the narrative around the projects deemed “worthy” belongs in the hands of very few.
It is only the inferior idea that fears the light, that seeks to silence opposition rather than hear them out, so the proof is laid bare for the individual to witness for themselves. When the power is in the hands of the individual, greatness is not a consideration, it is a requirement. So rather than breathe life into worthwhile characters who know who they are and what they stand for in a world that either parallels our own or is a fantastical universe separate from what we know, these canon destroyers seek to control the narrative that mediocracy is truly reflective not only of what we seek in entertainment, but what we should accept in our own lives.
When words are repurposed, when order is denounced, facts dismissed and feelings are placed above objective measure, chaos reigns in the hearts and minds of any who attempt to make sense of it. This is regarded with degradation and bullying from the same people perpetrating these canonical hijacks, and this must be met in antithetical measure. Create. Write. Draw. Paint. Compose. Dance. Sing. Inspire. Always remember where you came from and use every day to build something greater than yourself. You may falter, you may fail; but you will know what you are capable of, and more importantly, you will know who you are.