(before we get into this I should specify immediately that this post will contain spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Recently I went to see the newest installment of the Star Wars films, titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi. On the whole, the film was a mess, with no shortage of plot armor to cover for how incompetent the heroes (and the villains) tend to be within the events of the story (PS: LEIA SHOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED BEING LEFT FOR DEAD IN A FUCKING VACUUM. WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?), on top of what seems to be an implicit and pallid “women rule” message. But what stuck out for me the most was how undermined as a concept the Jedi are in the film.
Putting aside the fact that they’re nearly wiped out in the events before the previous film, The Force Awakens, and how in the current film the Resistance seems to be undermined, despite the First Order’s own incompetence during the films events, let’s draw attention to the fact that when Rey asks Luke to train her to become a real Jedi, he chucks his own lightsaber to the side and repeatedly refuses Rey’s request. He points out that when the Jedi took control during the age of the Republic, the Jedi constantly failed because of their arrogance and hubris, and due to certain intrinsic flaws within the Jedi teachings, and that this allowed the rise of the Sith, who damn near destroyed the Jedi Order, and the fall of the Republic. It is somewhat vague within in the film, but there seems to be the suggestion that the Jedi Order had specific defects and flaws that the Jedi Order never resolved because they were too full of themselves to do it.
And then things take a rather juicy turn, when it’s revealed that when Luke tried to murder Kylo Ren (one of the main antagonists), back when he was known as Ben Solo, during his Jedi training because he thought that his heart was already lost to the Sith via the influence of Snoke, the alien the runs the First Order, and that it was too late to bring him out of this influence – an idea that would later be undermined by the fact that, later in the film, Kylo suddenly kills Snoke by turning on Rey’s lightsaber, which just so happened to be conveniently placed next to Snoke’s body, through force manipulation. Luke didn’t go through with killing Ben, in fact he stopped in the middle of it because he realized it was a dumb idea, but he was still dumb enough to not turn off his lightsaber before Ben woke up to see what he was doing and come to the conclusion that Luke was trying to kill him. But even then, just consider the fact that killing Ben was the first option that crossed his mind. Because Luke was unconvinced that Ben could be reformed, despite supposedly being a master Jedi and all who you’d think would try to find a way of changing his mind, you have a situation where Luke is basically an attempted murdered – likely child murderer at that, considering Ben was pretty much just a kid. That’s not discrediting the Jedi way at all, surely?
After all that, you begin to see why Luke is so pessimistic towards the Jedi in the film, to the point that he decides to just burn the old Jedi texts. At this point the ghost of Yoda, Luke’s former teacher, appears before him for some unexplained reason, and tells him that Luke had become too attached to the old Jedi texts, which he basically describes as boring. He then pointed out that Rey, in keeping with her Mary Sue archetype as established in The Force Awakens, pretty much learned all of the essential components of the Jedi doctrine and teachings regarding the Force much faster than Luke did because for some reason Rey is fucking Jesus, and because of that the Jedi texts that Luke attached himself to were essentially useless, all before before he casually summons some lightning to strike the old Jedi Tree in order to burn it to the ground, so as to effectively destroy the former continuity of the Jedi order. I have seen much commentary on this scene, with many people taking it as a symbol of the value of letting go of the past. But honestly, if I take anything from this, it’s that if Yoda is right, the masters of the Jedi religion overestimated the value of their teachings, given that it could all be mastered be someone who is, literally, nobody. I’m not kidding. What is Rey’s personality exactly beyond “I’m inexplicably good at everything because that’s what the plot says”? Why does she do the things that she does? She’s just a blank slate. She’s nobody, as Kylo Ren accurately points out when he tried to convince her to join his side as the new ruler of the galaxy after Snoke’s death. And that’s presumably the person bearing the torch of the Jedi flame after Luke dies (which he does at the end of the movie). That’s the person who learned all of the Jedi teachings faster than Luke did.
To be honest, the way Luke explains The Force to me is pretty intriguing: as something between life and death and all those other opposites. It also kind of makes me think that the conception of the light and dark side of The Force in the Star Wars universe is pretty much pointless, a point that Luke himself admits to when he says that the idea that the Force does not exist without the light as a vanity. Though this is probably a broader point, if The Force is this thing that’s between all things and all opposites as explained by Luke, what’s the point of the light side and the dark side? The Jedi religion is a joke.