Did you see Rogue One this weekend? It made a lot of money at the box office so some of you must have. Sarah’s review of Rogue One is coming later this morning. I thought the film was too long but I liked it very much. And one of things I liked most was the relationship between Donnie Yen’s Chirrut and Jiang Wen’s Baze. The bond between the two characters is so strong that fans are already shipping them, resulting in speculation as to whether or not Chirrut and Baze are the first gay couple in the Star Wars universe.
Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan analysed the Chirrut and Baze scenes from the film in his piece “Are These the Gay Star Wars Characters We’ve Been Looking For?” on Friday, pointing out that “studio movies often speak in code when it comes to gay characters”, and it’s true, because if Chirrut and Baze were a straight man and a woman, the filmmakers probably wouldn’t have to be so coy and ambiguous about whether or not the two were, indeed, an “old married couple”. Just like Paul Feig felt like he had to be coy about whether or not Kate McKinnon’s character was a lesbian in Ghostbusters.
For me though, a less contentious takeaway from the Chirrut and Baze connection was how they represented male love. These are two formidable warriors. And it takes nothing away from their “masculinity” that they care deeply about each other – and aren’t afraid to show it, express it, with jokes, with words, and with touch. Their shared affection is undeniable. And, also, it’s tender. I don’t love the word “tender”. “Tender” squicks me, like “moist”. But I specifically use it here because we don’t often see adult men (and especially a certain type of adult male, a physical “macho” male) treat each other with tenderness. Back in May, Kathleen wrote about the Michael B Jordan and Ryan Coogler’s portrait in Vanity Fair and the reaction – backlash – the two received about the image. Michael is holding Ryan by the head, an intimate and TENDER gesture that represents their closeness, their friendship, their love for each other. A month after that, Rae Sremmurd (if you think you don’t know Rae Sremmurd, you do if you’ve ever watched a Mannequin Challenge because Black Beatles is their song) covered The Fader. They were shirtless, leaning against each other and that too was abhorrent to some. In response to that reaction, David Dennis, Jr wrote a beautiful piece in The Undefeated “On Rap, Hollywood, and sport – and black male affection, friendship, and love” that’s probably one of my favourite articles of the year. As we’ve seen this year, however, it’s not just black men and black male affection. Toxic male masculinity exists everywhere, no matter the race. Toxic male masculinity is a problem on university campuses, in fraternities, in locker rooms, on tour buses, and in presidential elections. And both women and men are suffering for it.
Millions of people around the world went to the movies this weekend for Star Wars and saw two men openly, sensitively, and tenderly declare their love for each other. I’m not mad at that.
Yours in gossip,
PS. Thanks to everyone who made offers for my letgo listed items over the last few weeks. If you missed the details, my original post is here. Gisele C bought the DSquared shoes and chose the Humane Society of Canada, the Kotur clutch went to Chandel L and she chose the Canadian Red Cross, and Sophie R bought my Alice + Olivia dress and chose Covenant House Vancouver. Hope you all enjoy the items and to make room for your upcoming gifts, list your stuff on letgo. It’s super easy.