Way back on the seventies, even before the first Star Wars movie came out, Laura Mulvey, feminist film theorist published her work “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. In it, she explained, according to Freudian theory, the two pleasures from cinema come from 1) identifying yourself in the story to forget about life for a while, and 2) enjoy looking at visually appealing images and people. Because the industry was entirely controlled by straight white men, though, they inherently filled the first niche with people like them and the second one with objectified and sexualized women, especially there solely for the enjoyment of the male gaze.
Left without lead characters to identify with, minorities —what an ugly and deceiving word when they amount for the majority of people in the world— had to desperately search for themselves in background characters. A big part of the fandom consists of women, people of color, queer or with disabilities, latching on to the few characters they could find representation in. They get attached to this characters, love them like part of their own family and friends, because they provide something that is so rare to them in mass media: a voice.
One can only imagine what it is like to be a straight white male. To go to the movies, enjoy the story fully, and then leave without the necessity to form any kind of emotional attachment to the characters. Why would they? They will find themselves perfectly represented all over again in the next movie they decide to watch, whichever it might be, and the next one, and the next one. Representation to them is not a luxury, it’s a given right.
Seeing this, it’s no wonder how confused and scared straight white males are, now that they can’t find themselves leading the charge of the new Star Wars franchise. Two movies in a row they’ve had to sit on that theater and face the minority’s reality, facing a situation that is so unlike anything their psyche is used to they react like wounded animals, with a primal fear of being erased from a narrative they are sure to own.
The best part is, for the first time, they are so desperate to find themselves that, like lost children in the dark, they have latched themselves to the one character that has given them a chance at representation: Kylo Ren. They have projected on him their airs of grandeur, blind expectative of an easy redemption and even the misguided self-assurance that, in the end, he will be the ‘true hero’ —instead of the women and people of color who are actually fighting evil in the story. Inadvertently, though, they have willingly chosen to self identify with the most annoying, manipulative, mediocre, unbelievably self-righteous and unbearably whinny fuck-boy this franchise has ever created.
Though, looking at their reactions and comments online, they might not be too far off on that one.
On Star Wars, Representation and Straight White Males (via princessamericachavez)