Stella Wars, Goodbye Twitter, Curse of the Maknae
I’m currently embroiled in one of those arguments where the stakes are not even and things could get messy. Podcast guest host Stella took exception to a recent comment I made on QNA about the venerable Star Wars series, how I was uncomfortable as a kid watching the Prequel Trilogy because so many of the Jedi were men. It was only with Rey in The Force Awakens that I felt “Maybe this could be a universe for me, too.” Stella, a far more ardent Star Wars ardherent, with a trove-like knowledge of the Expanded Universe beyond my reckoning and a more intense investment in female representation in fiction (as a female in non-fiction), countered that there are, in fact, Jedi who are non-men.
Sunday, at Midtown Comics in New York, Stella assailed me with physical evidence of female Jedi — action figures, comics — and so I feel it’s time to set the record straight. My position is not that there are no female Jedi, it’s that the world of Star Wars centers on a superpowered patriarchy that makes even PG-rated violence against women extremely uncomfortable to me. It’s a potentially dangerous argument because we’re both clashing in the middle with years of backstory unknown to the other side. I first made this point public in a post from 2017, on The Battle Beyond Planet X:
For context, there’s a scene in Attack of the Clones where Obi-Wan and Anakin confront a female bounty hunter and cut her hand off with a light-saber. It isn’t just the unflinching violence itself that makes me uncomfortable — first personally and then politically whatever — but the context of the violence, that there’s nothing a female bounty hunter could do in the face of these Jedi fuckfaces because hacks. Take that however you want.
That’s not fair and it’s boring, first of all, but when the all-powerful element in the fictional universe is embodied almost entirely by men, this Attack of the Clones scene could extend to any potential situation. And that’s not a fun universe to immerse one’s imagination in, where men can electric shock or force choke or light-saber cut women with impunity, no matter how badass the woman in question, i.e. bounty hunter.
First of all, I’d say “What a difference five years can make” in terms of writing quality, but that should be obvious. I find I’m a lot less sensitive here, calling things directly “bad” or what have you — or maybe there is no detectable improvement. Whatever!
If you’ve been reading even this site, you know my interest in space bounty hunters. Whether Samus or Iria, anybody who goes out and catches a bad guy with some kind of laser lasso should be at the top of the food chain. Remember also that Zam Wessel’s defeat by Jedi exists in the context of Padme’s death, not to mention Zam’s own killer’s death by Jedi. Just like the convoluted ladder of assassinating Padme, there is an uncomfortable power hierarchy that may very well reflect the real world’s imbalance between genders, but doesn’t do much for personal escapism.
Yesterday, as news was coming out that Elon Musk was nearing a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, I reflected on my eleven years with the site and decided that was enough. In the past, in moments of similar contemplation, it was the Twitter-exclusive connections I’d made that kept me from taking such dramatic action. Podcast people, even an actual actress who starred in a Mamoru Oshii movie. I don’t remember where I was on 9/11, but I do remember the day Zoe from Fast Karate followed me back. And Paul Chapman, Claire Napier. I talked to some of these people, sometimes embarrassingly, but at the zero hour, I had to get real. I also long held this belief, which rooted so deeply in my mind that it became unspoken, subconscious, that one day I’d need Twitter for marketing. You know, for things like Human Hunter, which may or may not be about a space bounty hunter. But given how little success I’ve had promoting With Eyes East on Twitter (Reddit gave me far more traffic with the Twenty-Five Twenty-One history post), it was never meant to be. When the time comes, I’ll need to get creative, and that’s usually where creative ideas come from.
So that leaves the crucial part, that I do learn about movies or critical insights from such a broad pool of people with similar interests or political views. Random tidbits — I never would’ve learned where modern Japanese fight choreography comes from if not for Twitter, or have internalized hundreds, maybe thousands of ideas from Black writers, queer writers, activists, abolitionists, socialists, and anyone who’d identify farther left than I do. I didn’t always agree with everyone, but it was always useful to witness progressive America in aggregate. Yes, Twitter biases you to certain perspectives, but it was the imperfect randomness inside that limitation that often challenged me — frustratingly so — to evaluate whatever precepts I held so dear at the time.
And while I’ll soon simplify this little narrative as “Elon Musk ruined Twitter for me,” desiring not to give him any credit — it’s kind of true. It disgusts me that someone would do something like this, especially a narcissistic anti-talent who came into a lot of blood money and failed upward while cheered on by a nation of idiots. Leaving Twitter and then blogging about it is less a protest than I simply cannot imagine staying on. Fuck that guy. Fuck billionaires, and screw millionaires.
If I could again close my eyes and return to a world wherein people are mere abstractions, take a look at my Red Velvet photo card collection. I realize that these five people are also rich bastards who’d sooner purchase the ocean, but yes, you’ll notice that one of them is missing. As it happens, today my physical copy of Feel My Rhythm came in the mail, and for a moment, I was happy.
“It’s gonna be Yeri again,” I said, and flipped the book open to the paper goods — there she was. “All my photo cards have been Yeri,” I said, in the fourth panel of this comic strip, but then I went through the other albums to check. Actually, it breaks down like this:
ReVe Festival Day 1: Joy
ReVe Festival Day 2: Joy
ReVe Festival Final: Joy
ReVe Festival 2022 Feel My Rhythm: Yeri
And of course, Monster was Irene and Seulgi. Still no Wendy.
So I’ve been cursed by the maknaes, but what made me think there was an overabundance of Yeri was that the ReVe Festival Final album came with a full-size poster — which I elected on the site — despite thinking that the only even remotely acceptable member for myself to display on a wall is Irene (the only one older than me). Which would then make it unacceptable if it was Yeri — there she was.