“I’m not a hero. I’m not Resistance. I’m a stormtrooper.”
That silenced her. He might as well have hit her across the face with the business end of a blaster.
“Like all of them, I was taken from a family I’ll never know,” he continued rapidly. “I was raised to do one thing. Trained to do one thing. To kill my enemy.” He felt something that should not have been there, that was not part of his training, well up in him. “But my first battle, I made a choice. I wasn’t going to kill for them. So I ran. As it happens, right into you. And you asked me if I was Resistance, and looked at me like no one ever had. So I said the first thing that came to mind that I thought would please you. I was ashamed of what I was. But I’m done with the First Order. I’m never going back.” Suddenly he found it hard to swallow, much less to speak. “Rey, come with me.”
– Foster, Alan Dean. The Force Awakens (Star Wars) (p. 222). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I know that this is a “Fleeting Frustrations” post which means that I should be able to get over the grievance I’m airing once it’s been aired, but let’s be real here: when have I ever let go of a single grievance in my life?
I haven’t yet and I won’t with this one.
In this rantypants installment of my grouchiest series, we’ll be talking about one of the Star Wars fandom’s most obvious signs of fandom racism: the idea that Finn’s biggest flaw to some folks in fandom is that he’s a liar… for not telling Rey that he was a Stormtrooper on the run mere moments after she’d beaten the crap out of him for thinking he was a thief.
Generally, it’s assumed that hunting, kidnapping, and then torturing someone is worse than simply hiding one’s identity in order to save your life. Right?
Well, not in the Star Wars fandom –
Not when the guy doing his best impression of a Criminal Minds monster of the week is Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, the person hiding their identity is John Boyega’s Finn, and the folks trying my patience with this bullshit are Kylo stans who should have their internet access revoked until they can aim their empathy appropriately.
It shouldn’t be hard to grasp.
Stalking a scared young woman through the woods?
It’s worse than hiding that you’re a Stormtrooper on the run from the First Order because you don’t agree with them.
Threatening repeatedly to kill her newfound friends? Same.
Trying to kill her once she’s no longer useful to him? Super shitty.
So’s the negging that Kylo Ren does in The Last Jedi. It is miles worse than Finn not telling Rey outright that he’s a Stormtrooper in the previous film.
It should be clear to anyone with an ounce of empathy that Finn makes the decision to hide his identity from Poe, Rey, and Han Solo because he’s afraid of rejection. More than that, he’s afraid that by telling them who he really is and where he’s come from, that he’ll be left in an unfamiliar and unsafe setting.
First on the star destroyer where he’s scheduled for more brainwashing and reconditioning for noncompliance, then on Jakku which is hella hostile to everyone, and finally on Takodana which is super unfamiliar to him.
However, the Star Wars fandom likes to save up their empathy for one of the characters in the sequel trilogy that doesn’t need or want it: Kylo Ren.
I’ve written pretty endlessly about why the fandom focus on Kylo as this poor waif denied love by all that he comes across is wild.
Kylo is so comfortable in his badness that he actively reject any opportunity he’s offered or has to do the right thing. He kills his fellow Jedi-In-Training after whatever happened with Luke (and we will never know for sure what happened then). He kills his own father, Han Solo, when Han offers him a chance to do good. He rejects Rey’s attempts to sway him back to the light and tries to kill her the moment that she’s not likely to be useful to him.
Kylo Ren isn’t a good guy –
And he doesn’t want to be one either.
That the fandom, his fans, refuse to acknowledge that and have decided to instead vilify other characters instead is one of the worst things about the Star Wars fandom this time around. While the main characters that the fandom rewrites as villains – usually them to take the blame for Kylo’s path to darkness – are his family members, Finn is also rewritten as a villain by lots of people in the fandom.
The image above shows a tweet by Hazel Monforton, a narrative designer who works on video games like Dishonored and Prey. She has her Ph. D in English Literature. She’s someone that should know how good stories work and what role Kylo Ren actually has in the narrative alongside how Finn is characterized.
But as you can see in this case, she… does not.
Hazel isn’t the only person in the Star Wars fandom to decide that Finn hiding his identity is a sign that he’s actually somehow way worse than Kylo, but most of the people that do blast that nonsense don’t do it to their sixteen thousand followers. Most of the people who suddenly can’t understand the nuances of characterization and how fiction draws from reality aren’t folks with an advanced degree in English literature.
In the tweet, Hazel is replying to someone else talking about how Kylo seems like an abuser in the making and she says that:
“Idk, he doesn’t lie to her once across either film. Unlike Luke, who definitely lies to her, and Finn, who lies to her right off.”
That reminds me of folks who praise Mark Millar’s run on The Authority because Apollo and Midnighter got gay married under his pen. You’re ignoring all of the other awful shit that these dudes did in order to latch on to one thing that he supposedly did well or didn’t do.
But also, unlike Millar? You know, where we can see that he did give us that glorious gay wedding after uh… tons of homophobia and sexual assault strewn across his run…
There’s no actual proof that Kylo Ren didn’t lie to Rey.
Deciding – out of nowhere, natch – that Kylo has never lied to Rey and that somehow makes what he does do to her acceptable is a weird reaction for fandom to have.
It’s also a large amount of faith to place on a villain that not only has no reason to tell her the truth – truths that may empower her and keep her from being biddable to his whims – but that has definitely not told her the truth before.
Maybe he didn’t lie about his identity, but he’s definitely and obviously lying about things like his plans for her, what went down with Luke, and his relationship with his parents. He’s an unreliable narrator and the fact that so many people in fandom not only fall for what he’s pedaling, but take it even further is kind of… embarrassing.
A sad fact of the Star Wars fandom is Finn frequently gets turned into the villain Kylo Ren’s fans don’t want to admit tall, pasty, and gaslight-y is.
Sometimes it’s “just” folks in fandom rewriting him as a villain who gets put in his place or killed off in fanworks. But then there’s the weird thing they do where they accuse Finn of not respecting Rey’s agency or her power LIKE KYLO APPARENTLY DOES.
Because Finn held Rey’s hand at the start of The Force Awakens without her consent (to pull her out of danger) and because he didn’t tell her, a young woman who he doesn’t know very well but definitely did hit him because she thought he was a thief, that he was actually defecting from the fascist first Order.
Meanwhile, Kylo traumatizing and torturing Rey in the same film and him manipulating her and then trying to kill her in the next is literally held up as a Romantic ideal and like he actually, to quote Hazel in another tweet, “respects Rey’s power in VII, and respects her confidence and trust in VIII”.
I’m used to fandom not having empathy for Black characters. You know, I’m Black and have been in fandom for most of my life. It’s kind of glaringly obvious that to many non-Black women like Hazel, Black characters just aren’t interesting or worth caring about because of their Blackness.
No one in fandom ever admits that though.
I don’t know anyone I’ve ever seen say with their established fandom username attached that they don’t like a Black character because they’re Black.
It’s always… coded.
It’s always a lie.
It’s “Finn fans are a bit much”, it’s “WestAllen shippers are so aggressive”, “they have no chemistry with [white character/performer with the personality of paste]”, or they make up lies in order to reframe the Black character or their performer as problematic –
Because they’re clever enough to know that being honest about the reasons behind why Black characters never actually rank high on their roster will not end well for them.
However, they’re not clever enough to realize that Black people in fandom are well versed in the way antiblackness plays out in shipping fandoms and the like.
We know what it means when folks pile on a Black character with supposedly critical conversations about how they’ve disrespected a white woman’s agency – even as they fawn over the series villain that’s done Some Shit to the white woman in question.
There are a lot of Hazel Monfortons in the Star Wars fandom, women who use a misguided and pseudo-objective form of analysis to rewrite Kylo Ren as the hero saving Rey from something they can’t quite verbalize while treating Finn as if he’s a Big Black Brute just seconds away from reenacting scenes from Birth of a Nation on her lily white skin.
Women who view the sexuality and agency of white women as so sacred that even budging up against their bubble by talking with other people about how Kylo Ren is basically a space/sci-fi version of MRAs and neo-Nazis triggers their fight defenses.
Women who don’t believe fandom racism exists towards Finn, John Boyega ,or Black people in the fandom but who will spend days trying to justify why Kylo Ren is actually the hero of the sequel trilogy and Finn/Finn fans are terrible.
Women who wield their (generally white) womanhood against fans of color to silence them, but then act like “antis” are the real reason why fandom can’t have critical discussions about race and racism.
It may be easy to blame the dudebros for the racism in the Star Wars fandom, but the Hazel Morfortons of the bunch have a vested interest in centering the thing they love most: whiteness.
They’re shitty too and the fixation on hating on Finn “because he’s a liar” is one of the many signs of that rot they’ve brought to the fandom.
So fucking what Finn initially held back from telling Rey that he was a Stormtrooper that defected in The Force Awakens –
At least he’s not an entitled, mind-rapey douche that keeps gaslighting her, who tortured her, and who keeps trying to kill her.
You know… like Kylo is.
Fuck on out of here with that nonsense.