Back in middle school, I vividly recall a conversation during class between myself and our history teacher. The entire term was devoted to the complex political machinations that led to the rise and end of World War II. In the final minutes of class, I felt like I had arrived at a revelation that seemed so obvious, I had the impulse to speak. I raised my hand and the teacher called on me.
“Despite all the wars, the good guys always win.” I proclaimed, then suddenly grew less confident as the words left my lips. The class fell silent and looked to our teacher.
“Well,” he responded with scholarly kindness. “Every side always thinks they’re the good side.”
My middle school brain, with its adolescent need to frame the world into the foundational binary of good and bad could no longer compute. The cognitive dissonance detonated my simplistic model of morality and I was instantly dropped into the murky depths of complexity. I could never look at the world the same way again.
It was this conversation that came to mind as I watched The Last Jedi, filled with the familiar struggles between good and evil, the dark side versus the light. It is this archetypal battle that defines the universe of Star Wars, and arguably, the entire landscape of the dominant global culture.