Happy 2017. I think most people here and around the world are happy to say goodbye to 2016, lots of tsuris, but part of us fears that the new year could be worse. But we can’t think like that.
Gail and I saw a number of movies over the break. Even I have figured out that Hollywood saves its best for year’s end, so the Oscar deciders won’t have forgotten how enthusiastic they may have been for a film if too much time has gone by. So we enjoyed Manchester by the Sea (beautifully done but very sad), La La Land ( terrific but we wished for a different end), Rogue One (see below) and Lion (powerful.)
Rogue One has a lot of deep historical significance for Star Wars fans, I am told. For the average Joe, it is a fun sci fi film with maybe too much violence. What got my attention was an article by Sam Kestenbaum in the Forward that talked about the attention the film is getting from, of all people, white supremacists. I was surprised and read on.
White supremacists, alt-right people we now seem to call them, are actually of two minds on Star Wars, this film and its recent predecessors. You won’t like either of the two. On the one hand, some of these white nationalists want the film boycotted, calling it evidence of a Jewish plot to foist racial diversity on whites. “(((Star Wars))) is anti-white social engineering,” says GenFrancoPepe on one “alt-right” forum. [Did you know that the triple parentheses, known as an “echo,” are a way anti-Semites online call attention to Jewish names or perceived Jewish influence?] Look, says GenFrancoPepe, at the multiracial makeup of the stars, look at the female starring roles of late, look how many Jewish writers and producers are involved. It’s the Jewish cabal promoting multiculturalism at the expense of an embattled “white civilization.” Who knew it wasn’t just a movie?
On the other hand, some on the far right love Star Wars. The evil Empire is appealing, Darth Vader a hero. Star Wars creator George Lucas “confused the good guys with the bad,” wrote a Weekly Standard writer early in the Star Wars releases;“the deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good.” Then there is Steve Bannon, about whom we have heard much, musing as follows, “Darkness is good…. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.” One commentator with this view urged people to pirate the film (God forbid they pay to get in) and “fantasize about being a stormtrooper.” When you think about it, the Empire leadership is easily mistaken for Nazis. Silly George Lucas, he thought that would make them unappealing! But the Nazis hated Jews and believed in the pure Aryan (white) race – that makes them appealing to the alt-right. Another “alt-right” member writes: “We know which side we prefer. Always buy the Empire Legos. Always root for Hitler. Always retell the story your own way.”
Isn’t this a fitting commentary on what the year now past brought us? Goodbye and good riddance. We hope that somehow 2017 will see a rebirth of civility and tolerance, but it takes all of our optimism genes and more to see that happening. At the least, we can practice those good qualities in our own lives.
Happier topics to follow I hope. Best, Bill Rudolph