The First Order are people, too

One of the things I really liked about TFA was how human the First Order* was portrayed.
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I mean, we have both Finn and Ren taking off their masks, showing us that there are poeple behind all of this ideology and tech. And you have instances where it’s obvious that sometimes ideology isn’t enough, and these people need to be put back in line, like when Phasma reprimands Finn (“Who told you you could take your helmet off?”) or when Starkiller Base is being attacked and one officer is all like, “FUCK THIS I AM BUGGING OUT!” and another is all “Get back to your post!”, not to mention when Ren is having a tantrum after Rey escapes and we see two stormtroopers decide to turn around rather than run into him.

And then there’s the diversity. It’s not just Phasma; we hear other stormtroopers with female voices, and we see all kinds of women sitting at control stations in the background. It’s largely white folks, but still, not just a sea of male white folks.

I also think it’s noteworthy that, IIRC, everyone in the FO is fairly young. At first, I thought it was weird they cast such a young actor to play the FO’s top general (Domhnall Gleeson is 32), but it makes sense. These are the Hitler Youth; they’re too damn young to really remember what life was like under the Empire. They’re grown up seething under the yoke of the Republic, i.e., their generation’s establishment. They are the rebels.

And, of course, there’s Kylo Ren, a wanna-be Vader struggling to figure out who the hell he is. He’s not just some dude in a mask; he’s another kid, too young and too stupid to know what he’s doing, but doing it anyway. I.e., a typical twenty-soemthing.

(I also think his mask looks pretty lame, so I was happy to see him doff it for the second half of the film.)

* Initially, I thought “First Order” was a dumb name for the film’s Big Bads, but then I realized that it’s basically a phonological callback to “Third Reich”, which makes sense, as the Empire has always been Nazi-eqsue, and the First Order, IMO, the most Nazi-like incarnation of them yet.

(Aside: you don’t know how hard it was to find a picture of “female stormtrooper” that was not cheesecake.)

13 thoughts on “The First Order are people, too

  1. The political situation of TFA is so interesting. One of my very few quibbles about the movie is that the protagonists are members of The Resistance, which is just very jarring to my ears given what appears to be the political situation. Too many revolutionaries in play.

  2. Yeah, I had a hard time figuring out the politics. Initially I assumed that the FO controlled a certain amount of space, and Leia was leading the resistance within that space, a la the French Resistance in WW2, but when I read the plot summary on Wikipedia, that’s not the case at all. I think all the FO have is a fleet and Starkiller Base.

    Ergo, I didn’t understand why the Resistance had just a tiny fighter squadron to attack; shouldn’t they have the entire Republic Military at their command? Doesn’t Leia basically run the Republic Military?

    I dunno. TFA is great in the moment, but a lot of it makes on sense when you start ruminating after the fact.

    (They’re hunting for a space map? Really? In space, you don’t need a map; you need coordinates.)

  3. See, my metaphor was that they’re the Navy Seals of the Republic. Badass best of the best.

    Honestly the whole plot thing is the only bit I have any problem with. I get that he needs to set up the heroes as revolutionaries for thematic reasons, but tbh I kind of wish the heroes had taken up the title of Resistance after the fall of Hosnian.

  4. I think it’s mostly that Abrams was looking for a word that sounded like “Rebellion”, but wasn’t, since there is no order to rebel against.

    And it seems to me that the FO is a movement, not a nation, so there’s no need for the Republic to be at peace or not with them.

  5. Paul Beakley True. I’m braking the cardinal rule of “Never ask science questions when talking Star Wars.” Still, it popped out at me a few hours after. As a “plans for the Death Star” surrogate, the Mystic Map of Luke works pretty well.

  6. ‘Plans for the Death Star’ surrogate
    ‘Death Star’ surrogate
    ‘Rebellion’ surrogate
    ‘Empire’ surrogate 
    ‘Emperor’ surrogate
    ‘Darth Vader’ surrogate
    ‘Tatooine’ surrogate
    ‘Cantina’ surrogate

    The whole movie’s made of processed gluten.

  7. One of the Kindersly art books explains it thus: the New Republic and the First Order are rival nations with borders defined by a treaty. The Republic isn’t super militarized or interested in a war. General Organa’s Resistance is a private outfit maybe with support, maybe not.