Watching Rogue One as a Libertarian

If the Left and Right watch movies politically — so can we.


Not surprisingly, anyone and everyone else has an opinion on the new Star Wars movie Rogue One. As it has become en vogue to complain at length what the big clickbaity problem with a movie is, Freedom Today will not follow suit.

Last Tuesday I went to see Rogue One, expecting lots of offense.

The alt-right and loony left have already complained about virtually everything in a Star Wars movie. MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris Perry once famously decried the depiction of Darth Vader as racist against blacks on live TV. And it doesn’t take much digging to find an equally unhinged allegation of racism against whites.

The bar would be quite high for an equally loony, libertarian critique of Rogue One. But we don’t do loony here at Freedom Today.

Mild spoilers ahead

Rogue One is more rugged than other Star Wars movies. The violence hurts more. There is a true Han shot first moment. The good guys have more dirt, more depth, more things they’re “not proud of”. I highly recommend Matthew Gault’s review of Rogue One for War is Boring on that aspect.

And the empire is darker than ever. We do see civilians before they are killed by the empire in a genocidal attack. Darth Vader has very little screen time, that is used very well. The Sith lord formerly known as Anakin is a very effective killer and intimidator, after all.

The space battle is simply impressive. As the rebel fleet engages the empire in pursuit of a clearly defined tactical goal and takes heavy losses, you actually understand what is going on with all the ships buzzing around.

The film ditches a lot of clichéd baggage. There is certainly romance between the protagonists, but no kissing. No removed politicking. Still, an overdramatic speech section in the middle reminds us that this is still Star Wars.

But most impressive about Rogue One is that it is a movie about responsibility like nothing else from the Star Wars franchise. Jynn Erso, Cassian Andor and the other rebels take a lucky shot at the empire, knowing that they will very likely lose a lot.

They win — at the highest prize. Remarkably, they are fully aware of the odds (there are few droid-calculates-the-odds gags, of course) when they attempt to steal the Death Star plans. They take a one way ticket into the belly of the beast.

Like David French of National Review I wanted to stay in the cinema for A New Hope and see how it its stands on the groundwork laid by Rogue One.

Responsible Sci-Fi

I’ve never seen a mainstream film that illustrates the risk so well. Even if that happens only for continuity reasons (not to create loose ends).

If Rogue One has a libertarian message it is this: If you truly want to do something (about a tyrannical government, for example) you, not others, have to take responsibility and risk everything. You will suffer and you may have to give up everything just to give others a fighting chance.

Or more abstractly: Every action has its very real consequence. Someone needs to take it risk and — if necessry — bear the consequences.

Certainly, no movie can properly teach us what we do not already know. Their first purpose is to entertain. But Rogue One manages to make the point about responsibility while being a highly entertaining, sometimes innovative, movie. And that’s good.


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