As I walked out of the movie theater, I was mesmerized and excited by what I just experienced. Despite my excitement, I was curious to see if others shared in the same joyous experience as I did with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Believe me, I was not naive enough to think that everyone would like it as much as I did, but I wanted to know if my joy in the movie was the same as the general population. I wanted to be part of the majority. My initial thought was that if my opinion of the movie was not like the majority of the fans, then my opinion on most movies must not be valid. I went as far enough to believe that maybe my imagination would not be as creative. Each day I would check out reviews, analyses and ratings of the movie. Each day that went by, I would get more confused as to why The Last Jedi was getting a bad rep. I read and listened to reviews from both sides and found validity in all points made. And to those who found this film to be a disaster – would you consider the possibility that maybe your expectations actually ruined the movie for you?
Yes, we naturally have an expectation of every intention we make. When I walk into a movie theater, I expect to be entertained. I expect a film to move me up and down emotionally. I expect good acting. I expect to see character development and be told a good story. The HOW of receiving those expectations is what I don’t assume. Instead of focusing on the how of my expectations, I focus on the intention of seeing a good movie. People often say that they would like to see unpredictability in a movie, yet when something unpredictable happens – people are upset. People want to be right. It feels good. We rather be undoubtedly right, then to be audaciously creative and possibly be wrong. I totally get it.
A Certain Point of View
Originally I thought that the story of Rey’s origins would be lame if she is the daughter of “nobodies”. It was fun to read all the theories and to come up with an idea of who are Rey’s parents. And to learn that they are indeed nobodies, my expectations of who her parents were was unsatisfying. I felt like there was this big buildup to the mystery and then felt duped in the end. But that was my pre-conceived expectation. I wanted to hear the SAME story that I am used to hearing. I wanted to see that this protagonist comes from a lineage of destined heroes. Her story is different from what I expected. But we have seen this kind of story before. The delivery of who Rey is and what makes her special was just done differently then what we’re used to seeing in the Star Wars films – in a certain point of view.
In most classic Disney stories, the protagonist is a nobody. The classic theme is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what your past is, anything is possible if you believe. The audience usually knows the background of the protagonist within the first 15 minutes of the film. In Aladdin, we are told that Aladdin is a street rat who struggles everyday to find food and be part of normal society. In the very beginning of Beauty and the Beast, Belle is shown to not be of royal blood and is actually somewhat of a weirdo because of her nerd like tendencies and her “crazy” dad. In the recent Star Wars films, we are given a mystery about Rey. We don’t know her past. All we know is that she is a bad-ass when it comes to the force. There is a gap we want to fill. And the only thing that would “make sense” to her possessing the strength of her powers and abilities is that if she we’re the blood of an already recognized hero. But no. We find out that our protagonist is a “nobody” much later in the development of the story. This is different. And when something is different, we typically don’t like it because, naturally, our expectations are not aligned with our intentions.
The “What I Know Isn’t True” Game
I totally get it. It’s like going to a pizzeria, setting the intentions of eating pizza, but being served pasta instead. I would be frustrated. I would probably complain about the lack of listening skills of the server. This is an extreme analogy, but what if…what if we applied the same idea and play the game of letting go of what we know and be completely open to what is received in the future. I set out the intention of eating pizza, but what if the pasta they served instead is amazing. What if the pasta turned out to be the best pasta I ever eaten in my life. If I had chosen to continue my belief that eating pizza would be the only thing to satisfy my needs, then I would have never discovered an amazing pasta dish. Maybe they would even throw in a pizza to go to apologize for the inconvenience! Imagine being able to let go what you know, let go of expectations and just experience the moment. The current Star Wars installment expresses this idea multiple times.
This idea is expressed in a recurring theme in the dialogue between characters. The theme is to let go of what we know from the past and to look beyond the possibilities of tomorrow. The character Maz Kanata tells Rey in The Force Awakens that, “The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead.” In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tells Rey to, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.” This theme not only serves in the development of the characters but also to the audience. Mark Hamill said in an interview, “It’s only a movie. And if you think you’re going into the movie to recapture your childhood, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.” The Star Wars that old fans have grown up with in the past is not the same Star Wars of today. And you either receive it well, or you don’t. We always have a choice. We can either let this new style bring us frustration and despair. Or we can choose to be open and not let our old expectations be the universal truth for the future. Adapt and overcome.
Conclusion. Choosing to Imagine
The intention of writing this is not to go into a deep analysis of The Last Jedi, but to compare how we set expectations and intentions in life. As a coach, I consistently question my clients on where they also see patterns in their life. For example, if a person can’t make a decision on what to eat for lunch, where else does indecisiveness show up in their life? In the context of people’s resentment towards The Last Jedi, where else do we let our expectations of what we know from the past be the final judge of our intentions? It’s ok to hope for certain expectations. Choosing how we react to those expectations is all what makes a difference. Another question to ask ourselves is if these expectations are made by others, or are they our own expectations? As you may recall, I initially wanted to be part of the majority of individual’s expectations. It felt uncomfortable to be on the polarizing side. But I can’t allow myself to try to satisfy other people’s expectations. I can’t control that. And I am in a losing battle if I try. Instead of focusing on the expectations, we should focus on the intention. By doing so, we allow ourselves to be more open to the results of what happened. How much more of a stress free life would we have if we chose to not be concerned with our expectations but continuously flow into setting intentions based on the results received. Expectations get us stuck. Intentions open up possibilities to create.
If you would like to read an in-depth analysis of The Last Jedi that aligns with my ideas here, check out this article: http://starwarsanalysis.com/who-are-reys-parents/