The 2019 Christmas shopping season gave birth to the latest scourge against parents’ peace: the Star Wars Scream Saber. This iconic Star Wars weapon with a voice recorder could be one of the hottest toys of the year for one simple reason: gimmick or not, it’s still a lightsaber. It’s the tool Luke Skywalker and countless others use to save their galaxy.
At the heart of the Star Wars series is the belief that anyone can help fight evil, from the royal sprout to the peasant boy with hay seeds. Luke Skywalker has been an inspiring, influential character for generations of Star Wars fans because he represents her. He’s a legit rag-to-wealth story, a naive young man from a backwater planet who has risen to defeat an entire evil empire. A toy lightsaber is a gate through which every child, regardless of their circumstances, can pretend to be the hero this time.
Anyone who questions the unifying power that Luke’s story offers should consider Mark Hamill’s recent Twitter post, in which he thanks for the way the character defined his life.
As the end draws near, I can’t tell you how much a single role has meant to me over the years. Because of him, people feel they know me. Everyone is my friend because of him. Because of him, the whole world seems to be my family. I’ll be grateful for that … Forever. # BeingLuke pic.twitter.com/j6r39XK0pL
– Mark HoHoHoHamill (@HamillHimself) December 12, 2019
It has thousands of responses, with fans pouring out their hearts to Hamill and thanking him for helping to bring a character they adore to life. And it’s clear that Luke’s rise to greatness inspired Star Wars fans, not the fact that he turned out to be the intergalactic equivalent of a Rockefeller with an overpowering father and princess as sister.
But if that’s really the case, why are some fans in the latest Star Wars trilogy so obsessed with Rey’s parents’ identity? Her story, as told in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, is similar to Luke’s and is said to correspond to her. Rey had no parental figures in her life and no Obi-Wan Kenobi to look for her. The first two parts of her story included another story in which no one appeared to make a significant difference in the fight against evil.
Yet the loudest, most angry corner of the fandom was obsessed with whether Rey was from a famous bloodline. They seem to be more concerned with their lineage than with the end of their story in The Rise of Skywalker. For some reason, these fans were eager to prove that Kylo Ren lied when he said Rey’s parents were Nobodies in The Last Jedi. And The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams fed these fans with his statement that “history has more to offer”.
Rey on her home planet Jakku in an early scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.Image: Lucasfilm / Disney
It’s unclear why anyone feels that Rey’s skills need to be inherited. If the Skywalker Saga is to be closed, there are better ways to do it. Kylo Ren is already a Skywalker. There is no need for a further connection to the past, just for the sake of nostalgia, since the entire trilogy creates nostalgia. Maybe these fans want Rey’s parents to be important because they need an explanation of their power?
But Star Wars has tried to explain how people previously achieved mystical powers, and the results have been terrible and widespread. The Phantom Menace’s microbiological lesson about Midi-Chlorians and their impact on vigor became one of the most despised elements of the forerunners, although there appears to be evidence that they were a planned part of the myth all along. Yet the Rey obsessives seem to support this despised lore with their thirst to discover the source of Rey’s abilities. You can’t just allow her to have a simple predilection for power, which is the popular explanation for the sensitivity of power in A New Hope. They want her to come from a number of Force users whose blood is more important than their brains.
Image: Lucasfilm / Disney
But that contradicts everything that made Luke a popular figurehead in the original trilogy. Accepting this explanation would mean that a key element is missing in classic films like Rocky or The Karate Kid, since we don’t know who Rocky or Daniel inherited their skills from. Generations of viewers were inspired by heroes who came from nowhere. Why can’t Rey’s story stay that simple today?
Star Wars has always been received better when it comes to what heroes do and how they do it than when they try to tell stories about biological differences or legendary prophecies about “chosen ones”. The rise of Skywalker writer Chris Terrio knows that: In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he said: “I don’t think it’s a dialectic of one or the other that either comes from nowhere or is born a king The people who are responsible for completing the Skywalker saga are certainly aware of the past highs and lows of the franchise and how the fan backlash against Midi-Chlorians was just as strong as the Jedi’s last backlash over Rey.
The version of their story featured in this film is the epitome of Star Wars. It is a moving story of someone who came from nowhere and has been celebrated for decades. Its original origins go back to the original story, which led decades of Star Wars fans to ask their parents for the latest Star Wars plastic goods. It remains strange that for today’s fans it was such a point of contention, such anger, and such rejection. Her obsession feels like disregarding the series’ history and any underdog story that led us to this point.