Loud fans, nostalgia and streaming excesses: “Ahsoka” and the most complicated moment in the “Star Wars” universe

Satisfying the unredeemed, loud and experienced fan has become an insurmountable obstacle for the oldest money-making machine in cinema: Star Wars lives in the constant fear of offending them. Your requests are lengthy and intrusive. Do not change the actors (it is better to rejuvenate them with artificial intelligence, where will that end); not alter the legacy of what they understand as Jedi; and, above all, the goal of not including too many women or racialized people. As we all know, in this galaxy far, far away there are only white men. This belongs to us and no one else, these “real fans” seem to say.

This impossible balance between satisfying children (which Star Wars was always intended for) and the most conservative children has become a curse for boss Kathleen Kennedy and for the entire Disney factory. But there is one man who knows how to surf the wave and make everyone happy. His name is Dave Filoni. In their hands, even the concept of transferring strength to the proletariat, which these followers criticized in Rian Johnson’s groundbreaking, great and reviled film The Last Jedi, is applauded. He does it again in Ahsoka, the epic ethereal Disney+ series in which Filoni brings back the cast of his animated series to embark on a space odyssey with more fantasy than science fiction. The series of course appeals to nostalgia, to those now-revived prequels with which George Lucas returned to the saga in 1999, but at the same time rewrites the mythology and its rules.

Still from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.” Lucasfilm Ltd.

For the clueless, let’s get straight to the point: Ahsoka Tano is the padawan (Jedi apprentice) of Anakin Skywalker before the ill-fated hero became Darth Vader. This brave and crazy teenager was created by Filoni and George Lucas in 2008 as an entry point for boys (and especially girls) into the film and animated series The Clone Wars, an anthology of the conflict that toppled the Republic and gave way to the Empire. Lucas was thinking about his own daughters and wanted to appeal to the female audience who hadn’t always been fascinated by Star Wars. In doing so, it gave Anakin (a Hayden Christensen nostalgia-affirmed today) depth and responsibility in his journey to the dark side.

Critics initially said of her that she was a half-naked girl who was supposed to be adorable, without much more plot, although Ahsoka gradually became (literally) the company’s new toy, a character with whom women joined the club joined. Lucas was always clear that the secret was to convince the children, not so much the veterans. Fans around the world began imitating her orange hue and alien braids, and her rebellious character captivated fans (new and old) with a dash of modernity. In the series, he even turned his back on the Jedi religion by addressing them directly and throwing away his lightsaber: You’re a bunch of idiots and don’t understand the new times. Ahsoka was in these new times and she explained that this monk sect was not as good as they thought. Thanks to her development, the young woman was already a Star Wars classic. His life expanded through books and comics.

Still from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.”Still from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.” Lucasfilm Ltd.

But why didn’t we know about her until this moment? Had he died in battle? Since this step was not possible due to his growing popularity, Filoni devised a strategy to unite the rebellion, albeit always in the shadows. His journey continued in the animated film Star Wars: Rebels as a veteran and less impulsive force, establishing the storylines and relationships that continue in the current live-action series, in which Rosario Dawson joins him after her encounters with the Mandalorian and Boba gives a face fat. . She is a modern-day Princess Mononoke, an independent Jedi Master. It’s the perfect meeting point for the sea of ​​Disney+ content.

After paying homage to the Western in The Mandalorian, also created by Filoni with Jon Favreau, Ahsoka’s own series explores the most magical side of the universe: flying whales that teleport, witches, prophecies, dreams of the afterlife and hero’s journeys. Key factors that were sometimes difficult for the franchise to press, even if magic was one of the many pulp subgenre elements that Lucas tested in his original idea.

Still from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.”Still from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka.” Lucasfilm Ltd.

This fantasy is one of the breaking points within the canon. The other is the concept of force. What are the Jedi? Are they born or made? It’s one of the debates brought to the fore by the hated film that undoed Rian Johnson: Not only can a family inherit strength, but it can also be passed on to farmers and citizens, to people who learn it. Filoni always had this in mind with Ahsoka, the most rebellious of the decimated samurai monks who, like the classic film Harakiri, hide questionable rules and orders under a veil of honesty. In her new mission, she continues her legacy: “We can all learn from strength, by giving power to people and learning, and not so much from blood,” she tells her apprentice, the true protagonist of this series. This mentoring work will be key to the adventure, which involves something as simple as finding Rebels’ missing protagonist. A small but crucial discursive break that maintains the spirit of what Lucas opened in 1977. And yes, all the protagonists are women again, like the president of Lucasfilm.

In that respect, it’s not far from some of the most profound messages of Andor, the most revolutionary Star Wars series and the best work to come out of this universe in decades. One that was truly groundbreaking, without hiding, without magic or cardboard, and perhaps that’s why it couldn’t reach all the audience it deserved. Another return to the paradox, Disney is appropriating this message and thus gentrifying protest fiction while the writers and actors go on strike and go to protests to demand money for their creations.

Frame from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka”, with the “Rebels” mural.Frame from the Disney+ series “Ahsoka”, with the “Rebels” mural. Suzanne Tenner / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Tony Gilroy, the creator of Andor, and Rosario Dawson have demonstrated against this empire that cannot take into account the complete freedom of its creators and wants to keep them on the payroll as little as possible, thereby erasing the validity of the discourse. Meanwhile, Star Wars continues to put filmmakers through the mincemeat machine. There are a number of creators who have recently abandoned their projects out of frustration with the lack of development of their ideas: Guillermo del Toro, Taika Waititi, Damon Lindelof, Rian Johnson, Patty Jenkins, Game of Thrones executive David Benioff and Dan Weiss. .. They are the creative corpses of a lost franchise, unaware of what their followers want in the cinema and saturated with the excessive waste of the series (estimates say that Obi-Wan cost about 90 million and Ahsoka more than 100) to stream to fill that does not bring the expected benefits. A consumption of art that neither convinces children nor veterans.

Taking this embarrassment into account, Ahsoka is a product (and it never ceases to be one, nor does it reach the heights of Andor or The Mandalorian) that at least pleases and entertains. More than can be said of content as emotionally and narratively empty as Obi Wan and Boba Fett, they indulge in nostalgia, are structurally rotten, and have not an ounce of soul or entertainment in them. Unfortunately, the context won’t make it easy for Ahsoka to capture interest beyond persuasion. Perhaps the Empire would benefit from stopping the strike. A moment of calm to become culturally relevant again and go beyond the fans.

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