Warnings: Dark thematic elements, language (in some chapters), reference to amputation (Luke's hand)
Chapter One: Nightmares
Prologue | Chapter One (below cut) |
( That boy is our only hopeCollapse )
Star Wars: There Is Another
Premise: Luke Skywalker has failed. With his hand missing, his rage overcoming him, and the truth about Darth Vader’s identity known to him, he feels there is no hope left. Yet somehow, he feels that fate is better left in the hands of Leia. Leia Organa: it is her destiny to become the Jedi Luke never could be.
Author's note: This is my NaNoWriMo project for this year: an attempt at re-writing a good chunk of the Star Wars canon. Namely, picked up from the end of Empire Strikes Back, Luke has failed his Jedi training and has learned the shocking truth about his identity. Now, traumatized and at his lowest point, he turns to Leia to do what he cannot: become the Jedi whose destiny will bring peace to the galaxy.
Prologue | Chapter One |
( Read more...Collapse )
I guess I could qualify as an infrequent comic-book action-film moviegoer. I’ve seen all three Spiderman films (I still want my money back on that one), the two Batman films and maybe some other ones that must not have been good enough for me to remember. From my limited experience, an action film, particularly a comic book film, typically strives to be “awesome” via its special effects, its action sequences and its hot romances. While all that stuff is fine and dandy with me, it’s not what I want first and foremost. I want a good, complex, compelling story that makes it necessary (or not) to have good special effects, action sequences and hot romance. So when I read all of these blog posts about X-Men: First Class that were focusing on the romantic relationship between Charles Xavier (aka hero and leader of X-Men, Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (aka villain Magneto) and saw that the most popular screencaps were of scenes of gasp dialogue, I was suddenly very interested.
Set in the Cold War era on the brink of the famous Cuban Missile Crisis, the Red Scare creates the classic Save the World premise, but takes it a step further. The historical baggage of the era shapes the characters. For one, Erik is a Holocaust survivor whose Mutant power to control metal is brought out through his tortured anger and pain. His powers have been cultivated by the evil villain
Kevin Bacon Sebastian Shaw, who used the death of Erik’s mother in the concentration camps to control his emotions and ultimately, make Erik into the man who wants to be good but is magnetically drawn to the unquenchable desire for revenge.
And then he meets the telepathic Charles–a brilliant Oxford student graduate (I enjoyed the shots of the City of Dreaming Spires, oh nostalgia) who majored in Mutant Genetics and is terrible at picking up women
because he’s a charming British nerd who’s gayer than a 3 dollar bill–in the middle of his pursuit of Sebastian Shaw. In the midst of a complicated scene in the middle of the ocean, Erik magnetically attaches himself to Shaw’s ship, determined to stop the villain at the risk of his own life. Charles feels Erik’s presence in the water, is determined to save him and dives in after him, grabbing Erik round the middle, entering his mind and telling him “I know what this means to you, but you have to let him go.” Shocked by this random man’s presence, both in his mind and in the water, Erik obeys. No one has connected with him so deeply before, and it sets immediately Charles apart. And he lets Charles in… for a while.
Charles’ complexity comes from his empathy. A telepath’s burden is fraught with the challenge of balancing one’s own mind and feelings with the feelings of others, and his interest in Erik (and by proxy, Erik’s pain) certainly forces him to meet this drama head-on. His fascination with Erik grows into a protective and nurturing relationship as he continues to train him (as well as several other Mutant recruits who are set to serve for the US army). He reaches into Erik’s mind and is able to retrieve memories that Erik had forgotten. Together, they cry over the pain, joy and loss. As Charles’ teary eyes look into Erik’s, it’s clear he wants to relieve Erik of all of his pain, as any lover wants for their partner, but his compassion and goodness prevents him from crossing that line into what would be corrupted powers.
There are many moments like that–poignant, emotional and tragic all at once, because these character see how much they care for each other and yet how they can never truly be together and at peace. But it all falls apart when Charles sees the end of the Missile Crisis as a chance to let humans understand the good power of Mutants, while Erik sees it as a chance to create a war on the humans who have made Mutants into outcasts. So when Erik puts on the Magneto helmet which can block telepathy, he literally shuts Charles out of his life and also heartbreakingly shuts out that bond of hope, respect and compassion that he had found through Charles.
Erik goes on to try and fill that emptiness by befriending Shaw’s sidekick female telepath and Charles’ “adopted” Mutant sister, Mystique. With these two women by his side, the message is clear: these women are supposed to give him what he had supposedly been lacking. However, it’s clear to us that they can never give him what Charles had been trying to give him all along.
While I don’t want to get into the implications of internalized homophobia here, I definitely think the writers were going for that. X-Men has had a history of being considered an allegory for the journey of LGBTQ individuals (which is awesome!!). Ian McKellen apparently pitched the character of Magneto as gay as well. I’m not here to say what’s already been said. I’m here to say that this address of social issues via this film and its premise is what makes it so good.
They even touched on body image in the film, and in a way that was actually positive! There was not a single sex scene, either. While sex scenes are, well, sexy, it was quite a breath of fresh air for me to see a comic book film where the leading woman and leading man aren’t thrown into bed together just because they got top billing. Instead, we have Mystique, a Mutant shape-shifter whose standard blue-skinned form makes her feel insecure about herself. She wants to be seen as beautiful, but must conform to the human standards of beauty to do so, and it literally zaps her energy. She’s even willing at one point to take a medicine that will change her form. But when Erik tells her over and over again (with that sexy, older-and-wiser Mutant smile) that he admires “the real Raven” (her alter-ego name), she hesitantly turns blue… and then there’s no going back.
It’s because these characters struggle with multiple parts of their identity (Mutant, gay, good, evil, revenge/justice, beautiful to oneself vs. others) that the rest of the story falls into place rather well. Nothing seemed beyond the realm of possibilities because the characters made everything believable. So, if you want to see a comic-book film where you’ll have more to talk about than the bombs, special powers and sexy ladies (and men!), definitely go see X-Men.
So, last night I had an epiphany. And it wasn’t an epiphany about myself in terms of self-identity, or what I really want out of life or why the answer to life is 42. It was an epiphany about why just telling people “I’m an English major” is never enough to fully explain what I’m studying and what interests me. It was an epiphany that in order to understand what it means for me to be an English major, you have to ask me why I am an English major.
Allow me to explain.
There are many presuppositions about what it means to study English within the English/literature community and outside of it, mainly meaning that 1) you like to read books 2) you do it a lot and 3) you analyze them from a particular lens or point of view or 3a) in a way that frames one’s understanding of the book because you’re doing it within the discourse of literary theory.
While all of that may be true, that’s not the only reason I am an English major. On the contrary, that is just the foundation. The vocabulary, vernacular, all of that professional-sounding stuff is just stuff to make sure that everyone can speak in a way that the community will understand you (and the discourse itself is another topic altogether that I don’t want to address here).
Studying English literature does not necessarily mean just studying a book, picking apart the metaphors and tropes and form and so on. That’s only half of the job. Studying English literature in a way that is beneficial and enlightening means understanding literature as a way to gain a better understanding of the world around us. Literature - its styles, forms, themes, characters, etc. - are all contingent upon its time-frame. What I mean is that what makes Jane Eyre such a fantastic novel is the historical context under which it was written; to have a novel in which a happy ending entails a married couple that loves each other as equals in the midst of Victorian society* - that’s HUGE. That says so much about the author within her period of history, and how the world in which she lived influenced how she thought and wrote.The standards of Victorian society directly influence all of the literature of that era, and it’s important to examine how they do and why in order to understand both the literature and the society.
Literature is not just books, it’s stories and imaginings that are in direct conversation with the rest of its nonfictional universe. Waiting for Godot would be nothing without the Existentialism philosophy that arose post-WWII and justifies why Godot never comes. You need to understand the history in order to understand the literature and, best of all, the literature is there to help us understand the world around us as it was, is and can be. English, at its root, is about branching out. It’s about being interdisciplinary. It’s about seeing the world not in disciplines, but as pieces of the universe that fit together and talk to each other.
Books are written by people who are very much active within the world around them and are constantly influenced by what is going on and how they live. To separate that world from the worlds they produce is to miss an entire understanding of what it means to analyze literature.
If my friends in college here don’t understand that about me, then I have failed to explain what it means to be an English major, and also people have also failed to ask the most important question: it’s not “what major are you?”, it’s “Why?”
*note: while my claims here need tons of evidence and are open to debate, the point itself is not necessary to understand what I’m talking about. Just use it as an example.
While I am glad that Osama bin Laden is dead, I cannot help but remember that Osama was a figurehead; the movement is like an anthill. For everyone one you see above ground, there are thousands below. Besides the fact that we are fighting a war against an idea, we are also waging a war that is promoting racism, religious persecution through fear and misconception within the United States.
What does “America” have to do with killing Osama besides that it was our soldiers that pulled the trigger? What do people really mean when they chant “U - S - A”? Is it a chant for our country, or a chant that celebrates White America against a group that has been misconstrued as an accurate representation of a country and a religious group? What about our country are we celebrating when we chant this?
To me, this isn’t justice: this was revenge. And yes, it does have its benefits. It definitely does (namely the death of a man who promoted cruel, inhumane values, taught twisted values while bastardizing the normally peaceful, beautiful Islamic religion, who organized a group willing to kill others and killed people himself. And the list goes on and on). But growing up in America during these 10 years, I have seen and read about the effects of this war on the people here, namely a rise in anger, hatred and racism masked by a war on Terror and a wild goose chase that tried to prove that our President was not born in the US. Is this what we mean when we chant “U S A”?