The Last Jedi: a new but dangerous hope for meme-makers

February 8, 2018 — by Ryan Kim

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the newest addition to the Star Wars saga, has been a source of much controversy due to the risks director Rian Johnson took in skirting expectations and introducing new and risky ideas into the franchise. Critics argue that the movie was too explicit in its left-leaning message about evolving past the old traditions of the Jedi religion, and many unexpected scenes had fans either loving or hating the movie.

Perhaps more than all of that, the latest addition to the Star Wars collection is the Star Wars fans’ newest source of memes. In one scene, Leia, leader of the Resistance, pulls herself back to the Resistance command ship after being blasted into the cold vacuum of space with obnoxiously bad special effects, earning her the title of “Superwoman” among meme-makers.

New characters were yet another source of Star Wars memes, especially with controversial character Rose Tico, who stops Finn from sacrificing himself to save the remaining Resistance fighters due to her passion to “save the ones we love.” On social media sites like the “Just Jedi Things” Facebook page, hundreds of keyboard warriors took up arms, or rather memes, slamming the alleged unnecessary subplots Rose’s character introduced into the film with insensitive and even racist memes and comments.

Despite the movie’s many controversial scenes and their subsequent memes, perhaps the most iconic meme originating from the new movie is “Ben Swolo,” an elongated and warped image of the scene in which Ben Solo, a.k.a. Kylo Ren, speaks to Rey while only wearing a set of tight high-waisted pants.

Needless to say, the scene brought a lot of criticism — and a myriad of memes — from the Star Wars fan base, which both poked fun at the height of the tight black pants and stared at Driver’s ex-marine physique. Referencing the new internet vernacular of “swole,” which means well-built or muscular, fans quickly matched two and two together, creating the modern art that is “Ben Swolo” today.

“Star Wars” has historically been a molding icon of pop culture worldwide since the series debuted in 1977. As the sequel trilogy and their memes rise, we must remain mindful of the effects we have with our own rhetoric and comments. As we appreciate the memes, let us avoid deconstructing a beloved series into a derisive and hateful meme-fest.


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