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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. JFrancis
    July 14, 2017 @ 8:22 pm

    Thank you both so much for such a wonderfully interesting three hours. I wanted to comment after the first half but held off for the complete chat.

    You’ve helped me clarify a lot of my thoughts on Rogue One, which I think I can now broadly categorise as loving all the individual parts but not especially enjoying the whole as a thing to sit down and watch. I wish I had a more convincing reason for that other than finding the CGI ghost of Peter Cushing distractingly ghoulish but there it is.

    I also wish I could pull together some coherent thoughts that have come out of listening to the conversation, but instead, here’s a list:

    • I wish Saw’s fighters had been given a little more time. They seemed faceless (as scripted(?); I don’t mean they literally had no faces) and I suspect that’s at the root of the nagging feeling I’ve had since first watching that their appearance and obvious parallels are largely being used as short-hand to designate the extremists while the ‘better’ part of the Alliance gets to be more clean-cut. The context works against that as the be-all and end-all but the lack of any real interaction with them beyond Saw leaves room for me to take away the worst possible reading. Which is very superficial of me, I know.
    • Saw’s back-story and losing his sister is detailed in his appearances in The Clone Wars CGI cartoon (which I quite enjoyed; personally I blame Thunderbirds for inuring me against characters that look like they’re carved from wood). This sprang to mind chiefly because he’s the first example of a character from supplementary material making a leap to a main feature (although I suppose ultimately Rogue One is itself supplementary) and therefore an example of the new Disney ‘everything we put out is canon’ approach vs the old ‘George Lucas said so’ approach. This is not interesting in the slightest but Rogue One definitely plays into establishing a continuity since it merrily cameos elements of the prequels, :The Clone Wars, :Rebels and probably several other things as it goes along.

    • Speaking of which, it bugs me no end that the film goes out of its way to annihilate a lot of the elements it itself adds into that continuity. By which I mean bits and pieces of design, objects (the U-Wings, mainly) and (chiefly) the female rebel pilots. It jars against the biggest reasons Star Wars has such a big place in my mental landscape, which are the possibilities offered by all the gaps and the loose ends. There are times when Rogue One seemed very rigid in what it allowed itself to be a prequel to (though having said that, this might be shaped by supplementary material I’ve read rather than the film itself . . .).

    • I should probably stress I’m not talking about the things that blew up as a defined part of the plot.

    • Am I the only person who ever assumed Leia was an elected official, or at least an officially appointed diplomat and the princess side was entirely secondary to her actual job? Funny the way you interpret things when you’re a kid.

    • Similarly, haven’t the rebels always been resisting an invading and occupying force? Wasn’t that what it was about, not an ideological revolution? Ho hum . . .

    • Lastly because I’m rambling, on the subject of the ‘normal’ people in the Star Wars universe, surely the only character we have seen anywhere who remotely fits that description is Bodhi Rook? The conscripted lorry driver who defects because he’s sickened and scared by what the Empire is doing, ends up running through the rebellion with a bad case of extreme mental trauma (I need a better summary of that but I can’t think of anything that’s not crass), and goes out saving the day with a bit of frantic last-minute rewiring. Yes, somehow I can’t see him being especially bothered by the stock markets.

    Thanks again!


    • Jarl
      July 16, 2017 @ 10:48 am

      I’ve always read the Lars family as working class, not landed gentry, though if you take the droids as a slave class (fair) and also keep in mind that Owen’s dad actually purchased and married Shmi Skywalker back in the day, then I guess that’s not an unfair reading of them. They still seem impoverished, or at least lower working class, which is a strata that overlapped with “slave owner” in the antebellum south, so that’s something to think about.

      As for Leia, she’s definitely an officially appointed diplomat, but the fact that her father was as well really complicates what exactly the form of monarchy is on Alderaan. My original assumption, as a kid, was she’s the ambassador/senator because she’s the daughter of a figurehead monarch, and that Alderaan was a constitutional monarchy where, for whatever reason, they allow the monarchs to take part in formal political office. But then the prequels give us both her father holding the same position (so formal political office could be hereditary?) and her biological mother hailing from a democracy where the head of state is called “Queen” (so a hereditary monarchist position could be an elected official?). I’ve often wondered to what extent Naboo is supposed to be read as prequel-Alderaan (in the same way that Qui Gon is prequel-Obi Wan, Nute Gunray is prequel-Tarkin, etc), and the idea that they might have mirror-universe political quirks from each other is kinda interesting, if we observe that Leia’s the biological daughter of a queen of Naboo and the adopted daughter of a king of Alderaan. Something that, because of publication history, is simply never ever going to be addressed.

      There is a simple solution, of course, one that throws the Republic firmly under the bus, which is that senators merely have to be selected as the representative of their (“sovereign”) systems, and the selection process is totally up to the system in question. I think this is probably what Lucas intends, because the Republic as a political structure has always seemed more like the UN or some other non-binding diplomatic gangbang than a federal government. Which would actually make Palpatine’s restructuring hugely revolutionary, as it wouldn’t just be him raising an army and garrisoning it all around the galaxy in a series of implicit invasions (the clear aim of the Clone Wars), it would also feature real actual even-in-point-of-legal-fact invasions as he takes over local systems. Systems not merely home to local governments in the way that, say, Los Angelos is a local government, but home to sovereign governments in the way that, say, Iraq was a sovereign government. So, to bring it back around, Palpatine’s revolution was not done within the sacred confines of a legal charter and thus is not, by MatPat’s definitions, a precious and protected Political Revolution. So it’s okay to blow up the Death Star, because it’s illegal.

      That reminds me of a funny argument I read a while back. In The Avengers, when Nick Fury shoots down one of his own jets because it’s carrying a nuclear weapon to use on New York, is that a war crime?


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