This contains SPOILERS for the: The Last Jedi.
Why I am talking about a film from a huge, popular sci-fi franchise on an art blog? As an artist my own self whether conscious or not will always feed into my work, memories, values and interests. And this is the story of how my inner nerd is at the core of myself also one of the many reasons I am an outsider.
My position as a sci-fi nerd was established as an infant. My mother has a clear memory of me sitting on the sofa watching Doctor Who at one-years-old; with my night time bottle of milk! This was Jon Pertwee’s reign and I used the show for early imaginative games with my toys. Tom Baker took over when I was four and I embraced the show even more and this style of story telling continued to engage with me.
By the time Star Wars: A New Hope came out I was eight. I went in the summer with my mother to a matinee. Lockets (throat sweets) had just come out and my mother bought a packet as she had a summer cold. The smell always takes me back to that day. The first shot of the film, after the scene setting of the scrolling text, of the little ships firing at the enormous battle cruiser blew my tiny pre-CGI mind! The development in sound was another shock as it immersed me in the action. My love of film was cemented that day as well as for Sci-Fi. Though I proclaimed it wasn’t as good as (the much darker) Blakes’ 7 to my mother afterwards (I am nothing if not loyal to a point of idiocy)!
Empire Strikes Back I needed to grow into and The Return of the Jedi I went with friends and loved in a classic fandom way. Also, if the internet and fan-fic of the present had existed then, my thirteen-year-old self would have been at the centre of it. In reality I discovered and then wrote fan-fic in my mid-thirties when Torchwood was in hiatus between the first and second season.
My ‘nerdy’ fan-girl-ness was not catered for in the early 80’s. It just added to my outsider status (glasses, raised vegetarian, dyslexic and opinionated). I also realised that sci-fi was about the world at that moment not any future (or a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away). I was very politically aware even at 13. I joined Youth CND and was vocal of my left of centre beliefs. Blakes 7 really fed my awareness: with the story of a small band of criminals, turned rebels, fighting against a fascist power (they don’t win either). I wrote several letters to the BBC when it was cancelled.
Star Wars has been my constant, a link back to my childhood that continues to expand. The prequels were watched but disappointing. However; the new set seem to have been created to reignite my interest in this universe. It also addresses various problems with both Star Wars and franchises in general.
Poe Dameron is the classic maverick, fly-boy, hero, Han Solo style. In The Last Jedi he is shot down by two middle age women when he over steps his mark; once quite literally. His character development is that he learns sometime to retreat and regroup is more successful than fighting to the last (wo)man. And with the death of the great Ms Fisher I assume he will be the new leader to face down the new supreme leader Kylo Ren. Though the actual final fight with be with the new mythical hero, a woman, Rey. And (for now at least) seems to have broken the Lucas obsession (therefore fandoms) of bloodline. This means no one can be someone. Even if it turns out to be a lie on Kylo’s part or her memory is blocked/altered that is still a very powerful statement contained inside a female character.
At eight I loved Princess Leia. She was smart, funny, cool could handle her-self and had two men fighting over her (OK one turns out to be her twin brother but prepared us for Game Of Thrones) that she seemed bored with in a New Hope! Neither of the men defined her she was a hero and legend in her own right. While she wore the slave girl bikini she also strangled Jabba with her chains! Carrie Fishers death is a great loss not just to the franchise. I would recommend her one women show on you tube very funny, very Carrie.
The Last Jedi is about hope even though the resistance is reduced to a handful of people at the end. The little slave boy clutching his rebellion ring gazing up at a ship going into hyperdrive was a fitting end of that potentially difficult middle film, yes, they survived but only just; but there is still hope. Something we could all do with in our world.
My art work reflects me directly or indirectly. Much of this piece is memory; nostalgia even. This is a theme that reoccurs in my work over and over and also the defiance of the outsider. I am a rebel of sorts I don’t so much refuse to conform but can’t. Therefore, I have made it into my identity: and part of that is by embracing my geeky-ness. Star Wars turns the fan-girl, nerd, outsider into the good guy. And now no one can become someone.