Guest blogger and fellow Imagination Connoisseur, Willow Yang, made it through THE RISE OF SKYWALKER but still really dislikes “Reylo.”
We let her count the ways …
Prior to watching THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, I had “joked” that if Reylo happens in the movie, I’m going to walk out of the theatre. Well, let’s just say that it’s fortunate the movie at least had the decency to wait until about the last 10 minutes to pull out that ship and smack me across the face with it. And to its credit, it was a relatively light slap, so I remained in my seat until the end.
In all seriousness however (well, maybe not all, but more seriousness), I don’t actually hate Reylo as much as I claim to do; I can see the reasons as to why people have been pushing this ship since The Force Awakens. Moreover, I’m not one to police other people’s ships. People like what they like, and I respect that.
But because Joshua Levesque asked for it, here are my personal reasons as to why I don’t really care for Reylo.
1. A good girl turning a bad guy to the light is a trope that’s been stale since 1001 Arabian Nights
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the original 1001 Arabian Nights, it’s basically a series of stories within stories, with the framing, overarching story being centred on two brothers that are kings, who both discover that their wives have been cheating on them. Of course, instead of examining themselves to see what they might have done wrong that would have caused their partners to cheat, they quickly arrive at the obvious conclusion that all women are evil whores. Thus, to stop his wives from ever cheating on him again, one of the kings would marry a woman, sleep with her, and execute her the next morning, rinse and repeat.
Instead of getting dragged out of his palace and torn into pieces by an angry, revolting mob, a brave, intelligent young woman decides to take it onto herself to heal this misogynistic, deranged tyrant – uh, I mean, damaged, misunderstood, sensitive man – by teaching him, through a series of stories, that women really aren’t so bad. Of course, Arabian Nights was written hundreds of years ago, under a completely different social context, so it gets a pass.
This is the 21st century however, and I’m honestly just so sick of the trope of the misunderstood bad guy who just needs the loving, nurturing care of a virginal young woman to turn him around. Excuse my language, but fuck that! To quote Billy Butcher: “Spank the bastards when they get out of line.” Life’s not easy for anyone. You break bad and go on a murder spree, I don’t care what tragic past you might have, you’re going to get a sword/bullet/phaser/
2. There are other types of love than romantic love.
Yes, I know it’s a shock to those who learn all of their life lessons from movies, but romantic love isn’t the only type of love that exists. I couldn’t really get into the original Star Wars trilogy; while I have grown to appreciate them a bit more over the years, knowing now of the context under which the movies were made, I still can’t love them nearly as much as something like Lord of the Rings.
However, in spite of my burning hatred towards the ewoks in RETURN OF THE JEDI, one thing that I actually liked about the movie is the decision that Vader makes at the end. Vader was not turned by romantic love (indeed, from the prequels, it appears that it’s romantic love that caused him to fall in the first place); instead, he was turned by parental love, the love that he has for his son.
Maybe it’s just cultural differences, but I’ve always valued familial love and friendship over romantic love. I want movies to feature more types of love and relationships between people other than the same sappy romance that has been done a million times already. I don’t want a villainous character to turn good because he’s fallen for some girl. And why can’t the male and female leads of a story find kinship and comradery with each other without having to rub their body parts together?
Come on, have some creativity!
3. Romances in comic book and fantasy movies generally suck.
I enjoyed the relationship between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor; I liked Pepper and Tony; I liked Spiderman and Gwen; Deadpool and Vanessa were a great (“You get the strap-on, and let’s make a superbaby.” Hey-oh!). They are, however, exceptions to the rule.
Romances in fantasy movies are generally poorly developed, miserable to watch, and detract from the overall story and use of screen time. Again, one thing that I appreciated about the original trilogy was that it subverted tropes by not giving the main hero, Luke, a love interest (unless you want to count Leia).
Rey does not need a love interest; that is just a distraction. She should be focussing 100% of her attention on defeating the First Order/Final Order/Palpatine/whatever enemy the story decides to throw in, and the movie needs to focus on the main task at hand and not get side-swept by something like that horrid romance between Finn and Rose in THE LAST JEDI that went absolutely nowhere. It was just a complete waste of the characters and the actors’ talents in my opinion.
4. It perpetuates annoying stereotypes about women.
This is closely related to my first point, in that as sick and tired as I am of the trope of women being loving, caring nurturers who will turn some a-hole to the light, I’m equally as sick and tired of the good girl falling for the bad boy cliché.
Now, I will acknowledge, as with probably most stereotypes, there is a grain of truth to it. However, when it’s played out over and over, again and again, it just becomes eye-rolling. Yes, some women do find moody, damaged, and somewhat dangerous men to be appealing. But just as there are other types of love besides romantic love, there are other types of things that women find appealing that, unfortunately, don’t receive nearly as much attention…
5. It’s about time that slash fiction gets more recognition.
Which leads me right to my final point, and yes, I’m not going to miss out on the opportunity to bring up my favourite subject. What are this “other types of things” that women find appealing?
Hot man on man action.
Women’s attraction to bad boys is considered common knowledge; you’d often hear guys in real life whine: “Why do girls always go for the bad boy? Why don’t they go out with a nice guy like me?”.
How often do you hear a man ask: “Why do girls like watching men make hot, steamy love to each other? Why do they fantasize so much about attractive men French kissing, and plowing each other through the back door, and having mind-blowing prostate orgasms, and getting pregnant?”.
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away now.
All I’m trying to say here is that it’s about time we give more spotlight other types of ships. I’m not an avid shipper myself, but given the choice, I’d much rather read some smutty fanfics of Finn/Poe or Anakin/Obi-Wan than Reylo (NOT that I have, of course).
Next time some guy wants to entice a girl, maybe try talking a little Hannigram, or Spirk, or Destial, or Sasunaru, or Thorki, or whatever franchise she’s into. And who knows? Maybe both of you will get enjoyment out of the journey into the strange and wonderous world of slash fiction.
My apologies if I might have gone off course with my last point; I just couldn’t resist sneaking it in. We all need a little more slash fiction in our lives.
Okay, I’m going to get off of my soapbox now.
May the force be with you,