If you keep tabs on the national conversation at all, you’ve probably come across the teapot-tempest controversy over the politicization of Star Wars. The Hollywood Reporter gives a quick summary of the apotheosis, relating tweets from two of the movie’s writers:
…several messages took the crusade further, injecting the new Star Wars film into a divisive political debate: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization,” wrote Weitz. Added fellow Rogue One scribe Gary Whitta, “Opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women.” Both men changed their avatars to a Rebel insignia with a safety pin, a reference to the symbol of solidarity with persecuted groups that has spread following the election.
This is a topic about which I’ve complained before. Watching Rogue One, today, however, and finding it easily one of the best Star Wars movies yet, I think my review would have to lean toward a different line of thought on which I’ve touched from time to time: namely, that reality and, therefore, compelling stories are inherently conservative.
In fact, I’d go farther in that I’m nearly inclined to suggest that we not worry about progressives’ inclination to pepper their petty politics throughout their art. It can only backfire on them to the extent that their stories remain compelling and implicitly conservative, because they’re perpetuating ideas that are inimical to their ideology.
Yes, we could talk about the movie’s combination of emphasis on the importance of the individual with the power of the bonds of a nuclear family. We could discuss the presentation of the Force as explicitly religious in the non-progressive spiritual sense. But the real vulnerability for progressives struck me when an elder rebel asks our heroine whether she can live with the idea of a galaxy under “the imperial flag.” Still resisting the pull of the greater good, at that point in the movie, her reply is, “It doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t look up.”
On one level, that profound response simply raises the image of a population in submission. Just keep your head down, and you’ll more or less be able to go about your life no matter who’s in charge. Of course, we know the price of acceding to tyrants is a matter of compounding interest, forcing the population to stoop lower and lower.
On the higher level, one of the first restrictions of “not looking up” is on the ability to aspire toward something better and different. And this is where the stultifying conformity that progressives demand comes under suspicion. Yes, you can be a different color or espouse superficial variations in belief, but you must bow down before the ruling elite’s core beliefs, chief among which is that they must remain in power.
Progressives will impose their beliefs on society in the most tyrannical way possible and then make you grovel for exemptions. If you can prove that your organization is explicitly incorporated for the purpose of celebrating a religion, maybe you’ll get a pass on laws that would force you to do things to which you object, morally, but if you merely believe the teachings, you must violate your conscience in order to make a living.
To progressives, you can have a show of electing your representatives, but if they stand in the way of the policies that a progressive president wishes to impose, well, progressives will support his use of his pen and phone to circumvent your “obstructionism.”
The examples go on and on, and we should have faith in humanity that people won’t long be fooled into cheering for the Empire just because it appoints officers using affirmative action.