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Does the Average Moviegoer "Get" the ST Politics?

Discussion in 'General Sequel Trilogy Discussion' started by cawatrooper, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    So the conflict in the original trilogy is about as simple and concise as can be, and the dichotomy between a scrappy Rebellion and the large industrial Empire has been infamously captured in the opening shot of the entire series.


    It's that easy of an idea to convey.

    The prequels are a little more complicated, but ultimately it's not all that hard to understand. The Republic is supposedly "good", the separatists are supposedly "bad", and we learn that corruption runs deep on both sides (though I wish the films delved a little deeper into the complexity of how the separatists were also seen as heroes in many places).

    Now, with the sequels...

    We have a New Republic building itself back up after the fall of the Empire. There's a First Order that appears to also be built on the ashes of the old Empire, though its origins still see mysterious. Then, there's a Resistance that works to fight the First Order, since the New Republic is hesitant to open hostilities.

    And I love the new movies quite a bit, but I think that they do a really awful job at explaining this power structure. Not to mention the fact that "rebellion", "resistance", and "republic" all sound somewhat similar to varying degrees, the film does little to nothing to really differentiate the Resistance from the New Republic. In fact, on first viewing TFA in 2015, I had no idea the Resistance wasn't just another name for the Republic. As in, I just figured the Republic called itself a Resistance, since it opposed the First Order.

    I've immersed myself in transmedia since then, so I do better understand it (though even now, I eagerly look forward to the era getting more fleshed out) but I honestly have no idea how a more average moviegoer might think of what the political conflict in this trilogy even is.

    So I guess my question isn't so much "do you understand", because I'm sure most people here do- but more, "do you think audiences understand"? And if not, do you think there's an elegant solution for JJ bringing in some clever third act exposition that could more clearly lay this out?
     
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  2. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Rebel Official

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    From my not-as-hardcore friends, yeah they understand. The PT isn't really that complicated when you break it down - the Republic was tricked into giving the hidden bad guy all the power, and he turned the government into an empire. For the ST it's even easier - Rebellion 2.0 vs Empire 2.0, and then the official government (who we barely see so it really doesn't even matter) is destroyed.
    The only remaining question is - who's really in control of the galaxy post-TLJ, and neither average fans nor hardcore ones know the answer to that yet. Once that confusion is cleared up, I'm sure the average movie-goer will get it.
    It also helps if people read the words on screen ;)
     
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  3. Mortis

    Mortis Rebel Official

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    I do not follow Star Wars literature in anyway so when I hear people say "ST politics" I feel is a little too generous. It has been an afterthought at best.
     
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  4. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    That's kind of the issue I have with it.

    The Republic should matter, right? I mean, for a casual audience, it looks like the Resistance is the Republic, and that the galaxy basically stagnated under Republic rule, given how basically all we see of the good guys is the same old scrappy wartime Rebel imagery (assuming they very possibly forgot the brief view of the Hosnian system- which, again, a casual viewer quite likely would have).

    Now, we're in this position in IX where the Resistance is basically wiped out, and the First Order is pursuing them. Of course, there's a possibility that the scattered embattled Republic worlds could aid them, but I feel like that would really confuse a casual audience, who might assume the rest of the galaxy is simply pirates or First Order at this point.

    I certainly hope so.

    Reading? Now you ask the impossible! :p

    Seriously though, while you make a valid point, film is a visual medium. Even if it could be argued that filmgoers have heard about the Republic and Resistance via the yellow text and have managed to correctly identify the intricacies between them from some vague exposition paragraphs, is that good filmmaking?

    Show, don't tell. That's a pretty basic concept in just about any creative writing, and I think it's a valid criticism of how the ST has handled this particular aspect of the trilogy so far.
     
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  5. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Rebel Official

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    99% of the time I agree with you, but those three yellow paragraphs at the beginning of Star Wars movies are kinda the exception to the rule. Remember how disappointed as a fandom we all were when they said R1 wouldn't have an opening crawl? So yes, it might not be the best storytelling, but it's a part of episodic Star Wars now. And in a way, you could argue that they did follow the "Show Don't Tell" rule when they blew up Hosnian Prime. They showed that the New Republic didn't really matter to the story...
     
  6. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    Sure, and I'm happy to get your responses because I generally am interested how other people feel about this.

    If the New Republic really doesn't matter to the story, though... why show it at all? Or mention it, even?

    You got me thinking, though- how much of the story is completely subverted in the crawls of earlier films' text?

    [​IMG]

    Episode I lays the groundwork of the story, but honestly almost everything else in that text is pretty well fleshed out later in the film anyway. We see the blockade, see the Federation (and later the senate) discussing the trade negotiations, and meet both the Jedi and the Chancellor.

    II is interesting. While we see the separatists later in the film, I'd argue that the motivations for their war are shaky at best. But that goes both for in the film itself as well as in the crawl.

    As I alluded to earlier, III's "there are heroes on both sides" line frustrates me, because we really only see the Separatists as mustache-twirling villains in the films (though at times the animation did them better). This crawl also introduces Dooku and sets up the kidnapping plot entirely offscreen- though, given how closely that crawl buts up with the concluding action, it seems like a logical enough transition.

    Like III, IV starts with an offscreen action scene (that we now know as the battle of Scarif), though it's clear that this is a setup for the opening scene of the film. Otherwise, the idea of the Death Star, the plans, and Leia are all laid out pretty easily.

    V mentions the Rebels being "pursued across the galaxy" and the founding of Echo Base, so I guess there was some offscreen action, but those seem like logical enough things to assume.

    VI sees Luke return to Tatooine for Jabba and mentions a new Death Star. Nothing surprising there, really.

    Now here's 7's:

    So we know Luke's gone, there's a successor to the Empire, and the Jedi still haven't been successfully restarted.

    "With the support of the Republic, Leia Organa leads a brave Resistance" does lay out the relationship between those factions pretty easily, though doesn't give much detail at all. As far as I know, though, this is the only time in either film that this relationship is described, correct?
    So, I don't know. To me, outside of maybe the motivations of the separatists and the "heroes on both sides" line, this may be one of the most glossed over lines of the crawls that never really gets expanded on the way it should in the film.

    And remember, we're talking casual moviegoers, not fans like us. I hate to sound like I'm gatekeeping Star Wars when I say that, and I don't mean that people who don't understand the sequel politics aren't "real fans", but more just that people who already don't consider themselves real fans may not have caught that one single line.
     
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  7. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Rebel Official

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    That's a good question and I can think of two answers (unfortunately they're mostly for us hardcore fans):
    First is that it's a shoutout to the Legends material with the New Republic.
    Second is that it's flavor text. It's there to say "The good guys won last time and set up a new government. Now let's move on."
    The New Republic is there to show that the galaxy isn't all the same (although by the time TLJ finishes...). It's there for background effect. And they show the NR to show the power of Starkiller Base (and to tug at our little heartstrings when we see Kor Sella and other people who live on Hosnian Prime die).

    Detail of that fashion wasn't needed for the movie. It wasn't the focus and would have distracted from what JJ was trying to highlight - the characters. Should they have fleshed out the world a little better before TFA was released? I would say yes. But then again, this isn't really a set path they have, and even if it was it's not important to the story.

    The PT was the story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader, mirrored in the fall of the Galactic Republic in the Rise of the Empire (choose either one for non-hardcore friends and they'll pick it up easily)

    The OT was about good vs evil - the classic rebellion vs evil empire.

    The ST is about the legacy of both - how evil lurking in the shadows is still evil.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that regardless of how we feel, the politics in Star Wars really only matters for the PT and expanded material. It's easy enough to follow for casual fans in the OT, and the ST isn't much different at this point in time.
     
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  8. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    Hmm, possibly.

    I'm not saying we need to know about the Napkin Bombing, what happened to Mon Mothma, the re-installation of the Senate... all those details are pretty incidental.

    But I think, for the sake of context, there were some missteps. For instance, I agree that JJ focused on characters, and that this was a wise move. He had the task of giving us back Han/Luke/Leia on screen since the 80s (for the first time in my, and many other fans' lifetimes, even). He also had to introduce new characters, and make them appealing while not making them feel like they're "replacing" beloved fan favorites.

    But, even in that perspective, for example I think many viewers only really get the most surface levels of understandings of Leia's character in TFA.

    What would viewers think Leia is doing. "Good guy stuff" seems like an awfully vague answer. As does "Rebelling". Even "Fighting the First Order", while technically correct, just seems like such a shallow motivation for this beloved character. And it's a shame, because Leia's character in the new canon has had some incredible trials and tribulations while clashing with the growing pains of the New Republic, but basically none of that comes out on film. Her positions is, for all intents and purposes, completely indistinguishable from if she'd simple been sent on a Republic-sanctioned mission directly from Hosnian Prime right before the attack. Which, to reiterate, even I thought was the case on my first few viewings.

    I know that there were scenes filmed where she appeals to the government at Hosnian Prime to no avail, and allegedly those scenes will now be repurposed to posthumously give Carrie's character an appropriate sendoff in IX, so I guess it worked out in the end. But I can't help but feel that those scenes would've given VII some desperately needed context.

    Worldbuilding outside of film is great. The EU had some fantastic stuff, and the new canon has had some great hits too- Lost Stars, parts of Aftermath, and the animations have rivaled the storytelling of any of the films, at points. They're that good. And maybe this is a point too subjective to really get any meaningful conclusions from, but I feel like while transmedia can be fantastic for worldbuilding, the Sequel trilogy has lacked even basic context in areas, and it is part of the reason why these films are so divisive. I mean, as I said earlier, I really love the new films, but even I feel passionately that among other items like scope, context has had some terrible missteps.

    Just out of curiosity- by the end of TLJ, Holdo and Leia both refer to the Resistance as a "Rebellion". I personally like this sort of transition to a return to form of the series. But, continuing the theme of this thread, do you think that the meaning of these lines was interpreted by the majority of audiences?

    Personally, I'd heard the "Resistance" referred to as "rebels" even on these forums pre-TLJ commonly enough to think that many viewers didn't really even notice.
     
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  9. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Rebel Official

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    So the quotes are gonna be backwards for this response lol!

    I think for most hardcore fans it was more or less a semantic difference in the grand scheme of things. And the casual fans most likely won't - nor should they - care. They'll see "good guys vs bad guys" and that's fine. They don't have to love it like we do, nor do they need the same amount of detail.

    Agreed on all points! But two things here: first, most of those growing pains are retroactive in terms of TFA. Things like Bloodline and Poe's comic weren't started with the knowledge where TFA (or TLJ for the most part) in mind.
    Secondly, that "good guy stuff," while vague, is all the average fan needs. It's like I said above, they won't care about the state of the government unless it retains to the story, so knowing about the populists or...the other faction (I forgot their name lol) beforehand isn't going to benefit them.

    As an aside, I tried something like this with a friend once. She had only seen the PT when she was a kid. So I decided to try the OT with her, but I started with Rogue One, so she could understand the scale and the story she would be walking into. But she didn't care. The story of Rogue One meant nothing to her by the time it was all said and done.
    I use this example to say that while backstory and details and politics are great for us hardcore fans, so long as it doesn't hinder their movie experience (like it did with my friend), there's no problem with not including it. The general audience will figure out what they need to figure out...so long as they aren't hampered by rumors and expectations ;)
     
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  10. Sparafucile

    Sparafucile Rebel Official

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    In TFA I assumed the Resistance was the military branch of the Republic. Besides that, the Republic ruled like the Empire did, but better, and the Empire were now FO trying to overthrow the Republic's military, the Resistance.

    After TLJ I've had a hard time figuring out what the relationship is. It's been explained to me, but I'm not sure if the explanations are accurate or head canon. Everything seems tenuous and could be easily manipulated into something completely different without much effort.

    If I can't figure it out, I don't think the GA knows what's going on. They're probably still operating on my initial assumption (I was until recently).

    So no, the GA has no idea what's going on, that the Republic has fallen and there is no militarized resistance any longer to the FO since the destruction of Leia's fleet.

    The time jump and crawl will fix it.

    A quick explanation that the Republic fell from the attack of SKB, that with the destruction of the Resistance, the FO took many systems before a new Resistance can slow the FO's progress. That's my best guess, or maybe they just ignore it all and just jump into the action with viewers accurately guessing that Kylo's guys and the tie fighters/storm troopers are the bad guys and the aliens and humans who are not in crisp uniforms are good.

    I hope it's the former, but I fear SW has moved to the latter. They fear the PT like crazy, and it's funny, but the politics was probably some of the stronger parts of the PT. It's what helped build the world. Oh well, I guess we'll see, but I don't have much hope on this front. Two movies in and I'm still not entirely sure what's going on in a world scale, it basically doesn't matter anymore. This story is hyper focused on Rey/Kylo, to the detriment of all other plots, politics, characters, world building ect... imo.
     
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  11. Someguy

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    It's always been one of my biggest criticisms to TFA. It's so busy trying to avoid prequel politics that it forgets to properly explain the current state of the galaxy. The film makes it seem as if The First Order is even bigger than the Empire and The Resistance even smaller than the Rebellion in ANH, which doesn't make any sense. Also, the fact that the New Republic is entirely estaished in just one system and the First Order takes control of the galaxy so quickly and easy is lazy writing.
     
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  12. Jedi77-83

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    The politics of a SW movie is very divisive as too much is one of the main complaints of the PT (I personally think it’s the best part of the PT). I don’t think the average moviegoer has any idea about the politics in the ST cause it’s purposely non existent (in fear of a PT-like backlash). Heck, I’m a diehard and had to delve into the ST novels to totally get Leia’s Resistance and how it wasn’t fully endorsed by the new Republic.
     
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  13. Jaxxon

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    I'm a huge Star Wars fan and I had no idea what the political situation was after watching TFA. I learned from later canon materials that the Resistance was an offshoot or the Republic and the Republic didn't really take the FO seriously. That's really all the info I needed.
     
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  14. Sparafucile

    Sparafucile Rebel Official

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    There is another factor to think about too.

    When I watched the OT as a kid, I had no idea about the politics. I just wanted to see lightsabers and lazers, spaceships and aliens. I'm not sure how the ST will hold up over time, but I'm sure at least some of the younger generation will look upon it fondly as for many it'll be their first introduction into a GFFA.

    When you're under 10, the politics don't matter.

    For me, the politics in the OT, as simple as it is, was enough to keep me wanting to come back. The politics and the metaphysics lol. There were layers that I didn't get as a kid that I got as I got older. That was a huge part of the ongoing passion for SW for me growing up. If not remedied in IX, I suppose the lack of exposition on the politics could make it less for kids growing up, as they won't have as many revelations that only come with age, maturity and comprehension.
     
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  15. Xeven

    Xeven Rebel General

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    I don’t think the NR exists now. Snoke stomped it out and was cleaning up the mess. That would make the resistance a Rebellion.

    Leia sent out a call for help and got no answers.
     
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  16. Jedi77-83

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    Once the PT established the politics (the way the story was told by Lucas), it changed everything in the Saga. The OT was able to get away with little exposition because that is the way the story unfolded, so you just went with it. But Lucas chose to do a lot of world building and really delve into the politics with the PT, so that gave more depth to the OT cause it really fleshed out the arc of Palpatine, the Jedi Order, and the Clone Wars (all of the stuff we just heard about in the OT). Now some say that hurt the PT as they didn't want to hear about the politics, and others will say it was the best part.

    Disney chose to listen to the first group of fans (who didn't like the Politics of the PT) and essentially tell a story with very little political exposition in the ST. It is interesting how the ST has divided among the fanbase the same way the PT did too. It seems to me (I'm generalizing), that the fans that really liked the PT, don't like the ST for various reasons (It ruins the 1-6 Anakin Arc, and they feel it's a retread telling of the story). The fans that hated the PT seems to like the ST more, because it is telling it's story much like the OT (more character driven, less politics).

    Somebody needs to right a book on our fandom, cause it's fascinating! lol
     
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  17. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    That's just it, well said. Variations on the word "politics" has apparently been thrown around 30 times in this thread now across 16 posts, but I'd just as readily use the phrase "world building". Personally, I think that the world building with the politics of the prequels was well done, but also pretty dry. As a kid, it was hardly my favorite part.


    But regardless, surely there's a way to do a bit of expeditionary world building that doesn't involve a 15 minute scene that requires a minor in Parliamentary Procedures to understand.

    I guess if I had to try to put into words how I feel about the ST (again with a notation that I do really like it so far still) it's not so much that I dislike "how" the world building has been handled, but that it really has been hardly handled at all.


    There's a lot of ambiguity surrounding the current status of the Republic and Resistance/Rebellion. The main tidbits we get out of this are the implication that Leia's allies don't respond on Crait (which could be due to any number of a variety of explanations outside of total defeat) and the "decimation" mentioned in the crawl (which, if taken completely literally, actually only refers to the destruction of 10% of the NR by the start of TLJ's short in universe runtime- a lot, particularly when considering the scale of the GFFA, but still far from the whole).

    upload_2019-3-4_9-36-4.png



    I think ambiguity could be a cool tool here, but it's never really dwelt on. It's understandable that the Resistance is first and foremost concerned with their impending doom, but the idea that even as they run the FO could be victorious everywhere else is super dark and terrifying. Why not try to harness that? Why not use that to really add to the potential despair of the Resistance, only to make their final Rebellion all the more satisfying?

    It's just so strange to me how the ST has handled scale so far. The story is great, but I think a better handling of this could only improve it.
     
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  18. Too Bob Bit

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    Overall, I disagree - I don't think the GA is 'confused' by the political landscape of the ST. Generally I think it is only the fans who have issues and are confused over the so-called politics of the ST. The average movie audience doesn't because they have no reason to be confused in the first place.

    I call it 'fan baggage' - and I'd say the confusion is as a result of what fans bring to it, in part because of their knowledge and understanding of how things have been told and developed in 'legends'. The GA doesn't have the burden of that 'fan baggage'

    The average audience member doesn't even have any reason to think the political make-up of the galaxy after ROTJ is a 'new republic' at all. Why would they? At best, that the Emperor is dead is the last thing they knew. That is all. There is no reason to suppose that 30 years later that the whole galaxy is now ruled by a peaceful New Republic.

    I was the same when I first saw TFA. I was slightly confused about who the Resistance was. I thought - why are they called the Resistance at all? Are they not just the 'army of the republic'? Surely if a new remnant of the 'evil empire' starts to rise then they'd just try and crush it? Why all the 'secret' fighting?

    But then I took a good friend with me to my second viewing, whose only experience of SW is through the movies, and I asked her if she was confused by who they were. She said 'no'.

    She just thought that the First Order were a legitimate part of the republic. Not some invading force from outside. She saw the First Order as maybe a military wing of 'member states' - so the Republic can't be publicly seen to be fighting them without endorsement and without evidence. But they know that the FA are committing atrocities on their worlds, so they form a secret 'Resistance' to fight them.

    And that's what she, a member of the GA, took away just from watching the TFA. And it instantly made sense to me once I dropped the 'fan baggage'.

    Besides, why should anyone assume that the majority of the Galaxy is ruled by a New Republic anyway? Unless you're a fan, used to the idea of the New Republic spending the last 25 or so years pushing back against the 'remnants' of the empire.
     
    #18 Too Bob Bit, Mar 4, 2019
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  19. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Jedi General

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    This is a great post and how I see it.
     
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  20. Pastor Barndog

    Pastor Barndog Force Sensitive

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    I think the politics of the Saga in general is simply part of the setting. Its the back drop. Even the PT which was far more political almost never touched on why the Sepratists wanted to seperate. They were just bad because the Nemodians were aggressive and profiteering.

    The ST politics is even simpler. Neo-Imperial Military force attempts galactic coup.

    The other thing I would point to is the generic nature of the politics is so vague that it is embraced across the real world political spectrum (generally). Because the impetus of the story hinges on right, wrong and the connection to the heroes not political ideology.
     
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