Pulled off the Interwebs — Rey and Leia’s hug at the end of The Force Awakens
OK — let’s have a little fun in attempting to use v-Meme theory to analyze a mini-tempest-in-a-teapot regarding J.J. Abrams reflective knowledge-of-self in plot decisions in The Force Awakens. Regular readers of this blog might remember this post where we discuss the relative low level of empathetic evolution in the whole Star Wars series (especially this episode) and how that low level might make the whole series fun to watch, but not particularly transformative. And unfortunately telling about the state of our own society today.
But back to our Master Class. At the end of the latest movie, when Chewbacca and Rey were stepping off the Millennium Falcon, Leia, instead of hugging her old friend and fellow warrior Chewbacca, gives Rey a hug first. Here’s a link that discusses this.
In this interview, J.J. Abrams, the film’s director claims the following:
“That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that. My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him. And [meanwhile to] focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss.”
OK, folks — I’m calling v-Meme Bullpuckey. What we’re really seeing is a continuation of the low level v-Memes that haunt the entire flick (and the Star Wars saga in general) and was absolutely consistent with the general theme. George Lucas declared back in Episode 1 that all this stuff was biologically inherited (though potentially trans-species) and set up all sorts of genetic destiny in the series. The whole lot is predicated around the Magical Authoritarianism of the Force, with some nod to Authoritarian Legalism with the whole Jedi schtick. It’s not a meritocracy — it’s a biological caste system, that attempts to be trans-species through the Good Old Midichlorian Club. And that joins people far more in the movies than the power of Independently Generated Trust-Based Relationships and larger, more evolved empathy.
So it’s no surprise to all of us empathetic evolutionary warriors that Abrams would have Leia hug Rey — biological connection uber alles, be that White Woman <-> White Woman or Midichlorian Level (Abrams declares the latter.) We already know that Chewy, super-cool Sasquatch that he is, is not one of the Biologically Chosen — no matter how many medals he has for Galactic Heroism. In-group/Out-group dynamics much? How could it be different? There’s also likely some lacking of trans-species empathy as well — no speculative higher Galactic Holistic resonances. They can’t even exist in the writers’ minds. But we don’t have to go down that classification road. Abrams’ own words supports my first hypothesis.
Now here’s an independently generated, trust-based, data-driven relationship I can get get behind… Disney press photo
Of course, some might disagree. But the striking thing is how our minds (in this case, Abrams’ mind) generate consistent v-Meme interpretation. Especially when we’re not aware of it.
Just a quick note — Abrams, in his comments, does reveal that he’s thought a lot about this — and at age 49, he’s right on time in our society/culture with budding, larger self-awareness. Another small testament to the power of evolutionary empathy and all our ability to grow. That means the next movie might actually be profound. We’ll see. The baggage of the series is pretty heavy down in the lower v-Memes. But one can hope. And since we’re already committed to Magical Thinking, maybe if we all cross our fingers! 😉