The Art of Mirriam Neal

//the garbage will do

rey1

I’ve seen Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) get bashed by not only the media, but friends I know and love. She’s been called self-centered, a brat, and even ‘trash.’ I legitimately do not understand how you can watch the movie and come away with these opinions. To each their own, but it honestly baffles me; so in the name of this bafflement, I see your name-calling and raise you some truths.

Let’s start with the first name: “Brat.”

She was abandoned on a desert planet as a child, and she grew up surrounded by cheaters, scavengers, thieves, and those who would do her harm. She leads a thankless life just to survive, and she hauls scrap across dunes every day just so she can eat that night. The people she meets are cheaters and thieves. She has trust and abandonment issues. So how is it ‘bratty’ to behave as she does? She’s wary of strangers, but she rescues BB-8 and lets him come home with her. She views Finn as an enemy because BB-8, the first friend she can probably remember having, calls him a thief. However, once she discovers Finn is not an enemy, she’s excited to meet him.

She wants to know about his work in the Resistance. She’s curious about life outside her planet, and she clearly longs to be elsewhere, doing other things – but her loyalty, her hope, that someone will come back for her keeps her on Jakku. She is anything but a brat – and in fact we see who she is at the beginning of the movie (closed-off, alone, self-reliant) begin to crack as she befriends Finn and becomes involved in something important with other people. She’s thrilled to see a planet of green. She’s shocked that Finn would rather flee than help. She squeals excitedly with Finn when they managed to escape their enemies. She apologies immediately after finding Luke’s lightsaber. She never once acts as though she’s ‘above’ anyone else. Brat? She’s anything but. And as for her ability to fight being called ‘trying too hard’ – fine, you try surviving alone on a hostile planet without learning to defend yourself and take initiative. See how long you last.

“Self-Centered.”

If by ‘self-centered’ you mean she has spent her whole life waiting for her family (even though she knows they’ll never return) and is now intent on helping a Resistance she barely knows a thing about. Sure. Self-centered. I think her quick thinking and ability to learn as she goes irritate some people, because it’s ‘unrealistic,’ but there are numerous arguments for why it is not unrealistic. Rey is clearly force-sensitive, she’s intelligent, and she learns. She doesn’t have an arrogant, “I can do it all” attitude – she is strong because she refuses to give up. Maz tells her about the Force and she recalls Maz’s words later, and she uses them. She tries and she tries again. She is anything but self-centered, constantly putting herself in danger to help others (who are practical strangers to her). She becomes attached to Han Solo very quickly. She’s reached a point where she can embrace Leia, a woman she barely knows – where at the beginning of the movie, the idea of even holding Finn’s hand was foreign to her. She grows and blossoms so much in this movie, but never once is she ‘self-centered.’ In fact Finn (whom I love dearly) proves more self-centered than she is, and you don’t see anyone bashing him about his desire to run away (and run away, and run away). ‘Self-centered?’ I’m sorry. I just don’t understand this accusation.

“Trash.”

I have one thing to say to this: if Rey’s selflessness, hope, humility, enthusiasm, and determination make her ‘garbage,’ then the garbage will do.

 

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