Luke Skywalker and the End of the Jedi

“I know only one truth: It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

The first trailer for The Last Jedi ends with Luke’s shocking declaration about the future of the Jedi Order – that there is no future. After all his explorations of the galaxy, all the knowledge he’s gained about the Force, he’s concluded that the Jedi must die out. This is a result of Kylo Ren’s fall to the dark side and Luke’s subsequent hermitage/depression. He blames himself for what happened, and believes the Jedi Order will keep on destroying itself if it continues. He has become jaded, cynical, and fatalistic.

Or so some people believe. I, on the other hand, have much different thoughts. Luke isn’t calling for an end to the Order because he’s given up. On the contrary, he knows exactly what he needs to do now, and Rey is the only person who can help him.

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The Expanded Universe Should Only Expand, Not Change

I love the Expanded Universe. I love that it exists. I love that there are books and comics and even video games to fill up my Star Wars obsessiveness in the absence of film and TV shows. I love that Heir to the Empire jump-started the fandom way back in 1991. I love that the barrage of books and comics kept the fandom going strong during the 1990s. I love that the EU always drove the Star Wars story forward, no matter what was happening onscreen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without the EU I would not have become a Star Wars fan.

I don’t always like the way people treat the Expanded Universe. I hate that people look down upon it. But I also dislike when fans treat it as just as important as what’s onscreen. This might seem odd, coming from an EU fan like me, but it’s true. I hate when people take something that happened in a book and assume it will have huge consequences for the Sequel Trilogy. Yes, everything is canon now, but that doesn’t mean every story holds the same weight.

Nor should they.

(spoilers for Star Wars #6 and #8 under the cut)

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Fanservice vs. Objectification: Why Shirtless Thor Wins and Slave Leia Loses

So let’s talk about Slave Leia.

I know, I know. Star Wars fandom has certainly voiced its share of opinions about Slave (or Huttslayer, if you prefer) Leia over the past several weeks. From the “concerned” dad at Target to Amy Schumer’s GQ photo shoot, at times it felt like 1983 all over again. And honestly, during most of the debate I felt like sitting back and yawning. Not because the topic isn’t pertinent to me — I can rant about Slave Leia with the best of them — but because I’m so bored of it. It’s like being forced to sit through American History 101 when I should be leading graduate level seminars.

This is not another column all about why Slave Leia is or isn’t bad. This is a column about objectification vs. fanservice, and why one is bad and the other is harmless fun. It’s about why I can swoon like a schoolgirl when Thor takes his shirt off, yet make the biggest side-eye when Carol Marcus strips down to her underwear in Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s about the differences between men and women in science fiction and fantasy, entertainment in general, and how we still have a long, long way to go.

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Unlearning What You’ve Learned, and Why It’s Impossible When You Know Nothing

Yeah, I’m still bouncing over The Force Awakens teaser. When I say bouncing, I mean I’ve been watching the teaser ad nauseum and drooling over Oscar Isaac and the new X-wings. I like the teaser the more I see it, and appreciate what they were able to convey in such a short amount of time. We can assume we’ve seen the new big three, and that there’s still a conflict between the Empire and “Rebellion”, or the New Republic, or whatever it’s called now. And then of course there’s the voiceover, which tells us something big has happened in the Force. This is all more than we officially knew, but we still know very little.

And this makes it impossible for me to to unlearn what I’ve learned about the post Return of the Jedi era. Allow me to explain.

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The Importance of She-Hulk and What the Jedi Could Learn From Her

she-hulk 1Not long ago it was revealed that the current She-Hulk comic series will come to an end with issue 12. It was a sad day, not only because the book is fantastic, but also because the character has something very important:

She-Hulk has a life.

She has friends and a career and a commute to work and a bar she hangs out at and she has all of these things while still continuing to be undeniably She-Hulk.

She-Hulk, AKA Jennifer Walters, attorney-at-law, is close to my heart for all kinds of reasons, but what makes her stand out, other than being tall and green, is that she continues on with normal, everyday things while existing outside of the expected. She falls outside of the perceived norm but she refuses to let that define her. She is tall and she is strong and she is green and she continues to be tall and strong and green in everyday life, when she’s at her day job or getting drinks after work or meeting friends for coffee.

She-Hulk is clearly different from the way people are expected to be and is perceived by many as abnormal and intimidating, but she continues to live and work alongside the un-superpowered members of society. She does not let the parts of herself that are considered divergent from the perceived norm alienate her and she does not hide them. She embraces them and continues on with her life and I think that that is incredibly important.

She-Hulk is different, she embraces that, and she does not let that define her.

This is not something you see a lot in superhero comics and that is a huge shame. It’s a missed opportunity, both because it can be extremely comforting and inspiring to see characters like that and also because it makes a lot of sense from a setting standpoint.

In worlds like the Marvel or DC universes, there is a sizable population of people with superpowers. The idea that no one would incorporate their powers into their everyday life or that no one with superpowers would continue to have a life beyond that while still displaying their superpowered nature is, frankly, ridiculous. And yet you rarely see someone with superpowers have a life beyond superheroic or supervillainous antics unless they’re hiding their powers or are someone whose “everyday” life is already far outside of what anyone would consider ordinary, like an eccentric billionaire inventor. The few exceptions to this are people like Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, who is superpowered and can demolish buildings with her fists, yes, but still appears to be a typical human. Carol Danvers walking down the street looks like just another person walking down the street; Jennifer Walters walking down the street is a giant green woman. That she is different is noticeable, whether or not you know who she is.

she-hulk in courtThere’s also character and storytelling potential in giving characters lives outside of superpowered antics. By doing so, there’s a greater variety of kinds of stories you can tell. She-Hulk incorporates her superpowered status into her work as a lawyer, often working on superhuman related cases with the unique understanding of someone who is, herself, a superhuman and she’s able to pursue dangerous leads and accept dangerous cases that a lawyer without her superhuman toughness wouldn’t be able to.

And, of course, there’s also the added benefit of being able to work skills and interests from a character’s daily life into their superpowered antics, something you see some of from characters with secret identities as well, but for the most part there’s a very small range of careers that superpowered individuals have. For every Barbara Gordan, using her librarian skills to aid in her crime-fighting as Batgirl and later as Oracle, there are how many genius scientists? Incorporating careers with less obvious applications for heroics into the story is interesting and adds variety to the stories themselves.

This is where the Jedi come in.

Back in the Olden Days of the Star Wars Legends books, before Episode I was released and changed everything forever, Jedi were allowed to have lives beyond simply being Jedi. Some were Jedi full-time but there others who maintained careers and families.

Then the prequel trilogy came along and presented a different kind of Jedi Order, one in which all of its members live entirely as Jedi and as nothing else. They live in the Jedi Temple with other Jedi, travel to do Jedi things on the orders of the Jedi council, and are not permitted careers or families so that they may remain wholly dedicated to the Order. They can leave the order, but they are chosen to be inducted into it as small children and are raised their whole lives to be Jedi and nothing else. There are no part-time Jedi. There are no people living their lives where they chose and then acting independently as Jedi when they see the need. There seem to be a few more specialized Jedi, but their role is clearly to support the other Jedi.

The old Jedi Order lived apart from the galaxy it served, separating itself so that its members could devote the entirety of their lives to being Jedi.

While I can understand why the old Order went in this direction, I feel like the new Order should be a bit more like She-Hulk. Even beyond the clear problems that come with separating yourself like the old Order did (please note how the Emperor was able to create a demonizing fiction about them and how they no longer exist), image the storytelling possibilities. Imagine people with great Force abilities, being trained in the Force and working to serve the galaxy with it, but having lives and careers beyond that. Imagine Jedi pilots, Jedi relief workers, Jedi construction workers, using their Force abilities while participating in the world around them, in addition to full-time Jedi knights.

Imagine Jedi navigating what it means to be Jedi in their everyday life.

Imagine Jedi embracing that which makes them stand out from the norm while not letting it alienate them from the galaxy.

If the new Jedi are once again separated, like the old Order was, it won’t be worst thing. But there’s so much potential for so many stories in which Jedi go about being Jedi in different ways and using different skill sets. I would love to see that potential used.

Four Points of Clarification

It’s been a few days since the cast announcement has been out there and since our responses have circulated through the interwebs. In that time, it’s become somewhat obvious that there’s some clarification I need to make because there’s a lot of motives being given to us and accusations that we’re taking positions that we’re not actually taking. So here goes.

First: At no point have we taken issue with the quality of the roles for minority and female characters in this film. The issue, the ONLY issue, we and just about everyone else who has spoken on this subject have taken to task is the quantity of minority and female characters. The breakdowns aren’t okay. At best (assuming that additional casting rumor of a female actor of color is true and hasn’t been written out), the breakdown for the main cast looks like this:

  • 2/8 of the new cast are female
  • 3/8 of the new cast are non-white
  • 3/14 of the entire main cast are female
  • 3/14 of the entire main cast are non-white

Those ratios aren’t good, and that’s what we and others have been talking about. We haven’t taken issue with the quality of the roles or the story; we’ve taken issue only with the ratios. It’s pretty disingenuous to accuse us of casting wholesale judgment on a story we haven’t seen yet when that’s not the argument we’re making. Did some good things happen with this cast? Yes, we’re not denying that. What we’re saying is that after 37 years, there should be more progress by now.

Second: We’d be thrilled if Ridley and Boyega were THE central stars of the films. We’ve applauded Lucasfilm for casting them (that praise seems to go unnoticed for some reason). However, prominent roles for one of the few ethnic actors in the main cast and one of the few women in the main cast doesn’t fix the disparity mentioned above. It doesn’t make up for it, either. I’d encourage you not to tell those asking for better representation numbers that they should “be happy with what you get.” Quality matters, yes, but so does quantity. That’s a key to remember: this criticism will be there until the representation numbers hit parity.

We can be happy and thrilled that actors like Ridley and Boyega get main roles (and I do hope this is true, but it’s not a certainty yet) while simultaneously we can be disappointed and critical at the disparity of women and minorities in the cast.

Third: We also acknowledge that the ratio can be patched up somewhat with the secondary characters. That said, if the disparity is fixed in that manner, it’s kind of a hollow victory. If there are more women and minorities as background and secondary characters with a handful of lines we will be excited and happy to see them. That said, their presence would be limited to that of non-main cast roles. It’s something to be certain, but it still leaves a whole lot to be desired.

Once again, we can (and will) be happy about this development if it happens, but we’ll point out that there’s still room for improvement. We’re consistent like that.

Fourth: At no point have we or the vast majority of people who have taken to the blogosphere to discuss this filled with angry bloodlust. Here at Tosche Station, we’ve been remarkably even keeled in our writing. So has Amy Ratcliffe. So has Dunc. So has Bonnie Burton. So has Bryan Young. It’s not fair and it’s rather disingenuous to characterize what we and others have written as being full of anger and promoting hate within fandom. If anything has gotten myself and others frustrated over the last few days, it’s much less the casting announcement and much more the words that are being put in our mouths and motives being given to us.

So let’s make this very clear.

  • The issue we’re taking up is that the ratio of women to men and minorities to non-ethnic actors needs improvement.
  • We’ll be thrilled if Boyega and Ridley have key roles, but that doesn’t address the disparity in the main cast nor does it make up for it.
  • We’ll be happy if more women and minorities are added as secondary characters, but concede that’s somewhat of a hollow victory.
  • We’re not filled with angry bloodlust and we’re not trying to promote hate in fandom. We’re trying to bring attention to disparity in representation.
  • Finally, contrary to popular belief, we are excited about new Star Wars.

Are we on the same page now?

It’s okay to feel conflicted about Episode VII’s casting

It’s possible to have conflicting feelings about things.

I’m excited that we finally, FINALLY, have casting news to talk about. The Big Three being in Episode VII was perhaps the worst kept secret in cinematic history, but despite that I’m still thrilled that we’re going to see Luke, Han, and Leia on the big screen again. I’m ecstatic that a few minority actors have been cast for the films. I’m excited that shooting is underway and we’re a few big steps closer to seeing Star Wars return to theaters.

Simultaneously, I’m rather disappointed that only one woman was added to the ranks at this juncture, and I’m not the only one.

It’s perfectly okay to be happy and nothing but happy about today’s news. This is big, exciting news. What’s not okay is the overly aggressive sentiment making its way through social media and the blogosphere that the only appropriate reaction now is excitement and happiness. Shouting down and belittling those who express concern or disappointment over the low number of women and people of color in this cast is not an okay thing to do.

(Responding with a patronizing “what’s important is telling a good story” is also not okay, just for the record)

That concern and disappointment is valid. Like it or not, Star Wars is a franchise that’s got a pretty mixed record when it comes to minority and female characters. It did okay in the Expanded Universe realm, but, well. You remember last week’s news. Its record (and its director’s record) from the film front leaves a lot more to be desired.  Because of this, fans are going to be rightly skeptical and disappointed when a disproportionately white, male cast is announced because Star Wars hasn’t quite earned the benefit of the doubt.

Even if Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have very prominent roles, right now it still appears that there is a big representation gap in this film and franchise. If we’re being honest, the minority representation right now is lacking. Even if another female main character is added, the representation of women is lacking. This casting announcement looks like a continuation of the lack of diversity this franchise has, unfortunately, been known for since 1977. That’s more than enough to justify the concern and disappointment that many are feeling.

Remember, you’re entitled to be happy and excited about this news. I don’t blame you! There’s a lot to be excited about and I share the overwhelming bulk of that excitement. Let me say that again, I’m very excited about this. However, you don’t get to belittle other fans that have valid concerns and feelings about this news. You don’t get to tell them how to feel. You don’t get to tell them what’s appropriate to feel. You don’t get to call their fandom into question for not responding to this news exactly how you did. You don’t get to invalidate their experiences just because they don’t match your own.

Your feelings are valid. And so are theirs.

Wookieepedia’s Apology Falls Well Short

Earlier today, Wookieepedia promised they would respond to the criticism and blowback to their ill-conceived and poorly thought out April Fool’s Day joke that was crass at best and deeply misogynistic if we’re being honest.  They have finally put that response up, and to say it’s lacking would be quite a bit of an understatement.

As a community of individuals, not everyone at Wookieepedia agrees with every action taken by the community as a whole or by other individual Wookieepedians… Due to the size of Wookieepedia, it’s the unfortunate nature of our project that not every addition made to our wiki is controlled in a perfectly efficient manner. The actions of one or a few individuals do not necessarily reflect the entire community, though Wookieepedia nonetheless assumes responsibility for all of its content.

While I do sympathize that it’s hard to enact changes on a resource the size and scale of Wookieepedia, there needs to be a system in place to address abuses of the wiki as was demonstrated on Tuesday. That the article in question remained up for so long without so much as a statement speaks volumes and is rather damning. The size of your community is not an excuse for leaving such crass and offensive material up for so long, nor is it an excuse for that material going live in the first place.

Without attempting to mince words here, the article was crass, offensive, and ill-considered. It was not part of our community-approved main joke, which centered around our wiki becoming a subscription service.

If it was not a part of the “main joke,” there’s even less of an excuse for it to have been left up as long as it was. Again, this does not reflect well on Wookieepedia.

This year our main April Fools joke was the introduction of Wookieepedia Pro, a pay-to-read subscription service. In addition to this, a decision was made to highlight a modified “joke” version of our “Breast” article on the Main Page. Without attempting to mince words here, the article was crass, offensive, and ill-considered.

This is actually appreciated and does address part of what people were upset about. Acknowledging that the joke was crass and offensive needed to be said, and I thank Wookieepedia for owning up to that.

Although I cannot and do not presume to speak for the entire community, I can say with authority that I and many of my fellow Wookieepedians deeply regret this decision, and we offer our sincerest apologies to those whom we have offended.

Author and solid human being John Scalzi wrote a great blog post a while back on the subject of apologies. Early on in the post, he states that an apology can only be effective if you’re actually sorry for others and not just yourself. This apology from Wookieepedia reads, essentially, “We’re sorry you were offended.”  This is perhaps nitpicky, but I’m not sure whether or not Wookieepedia is actually being sincere with this post. Do you regret the joke, or do you simply regret that you were caught and rightfully called out?

The “Breast” article’s main image depicts a partially nude character with an exposed breast. This image comes from the book Star Wars Art: Visions, a fully-licensed Lucasfilm product that was published in 2010. Wookieepedia objectively documents its subject matter for its canon nature despite its sensitive material and therefore treats it with the utmost seriousness.

This is the second major cop-out. Hiding behind canonicity and saying that “Hey we know it was offensive but this appeared in a Star Wars publication so it’s totally fair game” comes off as trying to pass the buck to Lucasfilm in an attempt to avoid consequence for your own actions.

This is not a joke to us nor do we intend it to be offensive, although we acknowledge the latter is an inevitability for some of our readers.

Once again, here’s the “We’re sorry you were offended” line that tries to place responsibility for the problem on the offended rather than the transgressor. But that isn’t even the biggest problem with Wookieepedia’s apology.

In light of this, we have recently added a notice to our Main Page warning our readers that not all of our subject matter is appropriate for all ages. We recognize our significance in the Star Wars online fan community, and that we have a responsibility to act in a duly responsible manner.

The solution, then, is to put up an age restriction warning. Rather than address why what they did was offensive and offer solutions to prevent an incident like this from happening again, Wookieepedia has decided that that the better alternative is to tell site visitors that they’re not welcome here. Let’s not mince words. That’s exactly what they are doing.

Are you not of legal age? You’re not welcome. Are you offended by crass and misogynistic humor and content? Well we’re sorry you were offended, but you’re really not welcome here because we’re not going to do anything to prevent this from happening again.

For what Wookieepedia may have done right (acknowledging the joke was crass and attempting to write up an apology), it’s undone by a complete lack of commitment. This apology is a non-apology. There’s little regret over what was done, only regret that people are now calling them out for this poor behavior. It’s undone even further by what appears to be punitive action against people who stood up and called them out. Edit: and undone to even greater lengths by other Wookieepedia admins stating they didn’t think an apology was warranted.

We hoped that Wookieepedia would understand exactly why the joke was offensive, but clearly they have not. We hoped to see them understand that they were alienating fans, but they have not (and instead have enacted policies to alienate them further). This apology falls short on nearly every level imaginable.

Wookieepedia is an enormous touchpoint in the Star Wars fandom, and it sadly appears many running the site have little regard for that responsibility.

Addendum: Please also go read Dunc’s great take on this apology.

Report: Disney Prohibits EU Characters from Star Wars Weekend Motorcade


A fan dressed as Baron Fel marches in the 2013 Star Wars Weekends motorcade.

Update: It appears it’s the 501st acting on their own rather than Disney calling for this. Brian has written an open letter to the 501st in response. 

One of the most popular events at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends is the Celebrity Motorcade that travels down Hollywood Boulevard to the stage hear the Sorcerer’s Hat. Fans line the streets to watch Disney characters, celebrity guests, and costumed fans from the 501st and the Rebel Legion. One of my favorite things about the motorcade is picking out all the Expanded Universe characters and yelling out their names to give them love. Popular EU appearances have been Mara Jade, Baron Fel, Starkiller (both versions), Revan, Darth Nihilus, Juno Eclipse…the list goes on.

According to a post on the Disboards, Disney is getting more strict this year when it comes to fan costumes, and is outright prohibiting certain Expanded Universe characters, including Mara Jade, from participating in the motorcade.


Darth Nihilus intimidates spectators.

This isn’t surprising, considering Disney has already retired the Hyperspace Hoopla, a popular dance-off type event with Star Wars characters, some speculate in order to “be more serious” about their characters in anticipation of new films being released. Why allow characters like Mara Jade to participate in the motorcade if they’re rendered non-canon by the Sequel Trilogy? It makes sense.

But it’s still incredibly disappointing, both to fans who made the costumes and fans like me who really enjoy seeing EU characters represented and get some love. In previous parades, I’ve heard the hosts call out Mara Jade and explain that she was the Emperor’s Hand and later Luke Skywalker’s wife. I’ve also heard them do this with characters like Revan and Starkiller. (One of my favorite moments was seeing a young boy freak out and yell, “There’s no way that was Darth Revan!”)

I’ve always been realistic when it comes to the future of the EU and the characters I love, but I didn’t expect Disney to kick ’em out of the parade. I guess I’ll have to get my fill of EU characters at conventions.

Edit: I’ve learned from 501st members that while certain EU characters like Revan and Starkiller are still allowed to march in the parade, the majority have been prohibited, including post-RotJ characters. And standards for Jawas (must be under 5 feet) and Jedi robes (must be standard colors) have been clamped down.


Even Admiral Daala was represented in the motorcade.

The Golden Age of Star Wars

golden age

Standing next to Tim Zahn, holding my two copies of Heir to the Empire, has blinded me.

It’s no secret that the Tosche Station staff holds the Expanded Universe close to our hearts. We may disagree on our favorite eras and characters and series, but we all agree that the EU helped develop and cultivate our love of the Star Wars saga as a whole. For me, it was Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. For Brian, it was the X-Wing series. For Bria, it was the Young Jedi Knights. Without the EU, none of us would be here today, running a Star Wars-centric blog and podcast.

But it’s never all happy-go-lucky in the world of fandom. Lately, with all the rumors swirling around about the Sequel Trilogy, some fans have become jaded (pardon the pun). They despise the idea that the EU as we know it will cease to exist canonically, and feel betrayed by Lucasfilm after all these years. They mourn the “death” of the EU.

We’ve already written about why that’s not necessarily true, and why it’s possible that some EU elements will remain in the Sequel Trilogy. We’ve also discussed why canon vs. non-canon shouldn’t matter in the long run. The books will always exist on my bookshelf and e-reader, no matter what Leland Chee calls them.

That’s not the point of this blog post. Even though I think those fans are misguided–more Star Wars is always a good thing, right? Right?–I understand why some fans feel betrayed. To them, the EU is Star Wars, and ending the EU ends their enthusiasm.

For a long time, the EU was my Star Wars, too.

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