I really love the timing of Kylo Ren’s outbursts. They don’t come when things go wrong. Most of the time, he maintains a rather calm demeanor. At one point, he even taunts General Hux that a clone army would be better. His outbursts happen when he gives into his own weakness.
BB-8 escapes Jakku. He doesn’t bring out his saber until the messenger reveals that it was Finn who helped the droid. FN-2187. The same stormtrooper who he saw in the village. The stormtrooper who Kylo knew wasn’t behaving the way he was supposed to. The stormtrooper he could’ve had killed or sent away or done a number of things to. But instead, he let his suspicions go and gave FN-2187 another chance under Captain Phasma.
Rey escapes her imprisonment. He knows it’s entirely his fault. Leaving a single stormtrooper to guard over someone strong in the Force? He could’ve knocked her out, done something to her legs so she couldn’t have moved, left droids to torture the information out of her. But he left her as ‘his guest.’ Restrained but unharmed with someone nearby to help/guard/move her in case something went wrong.
He doesn’t lash out because he’s angry at others. He lashes out because he’s angry at himself. Because he failed. Because he was weak. Again. Because, despite his desperation to be like Darth Vader, he is still being swayed by the light within himself. And it’s breaking him apart.
Newt crouches on the floor. Credence looks to him, the tiniest trace of hope dawning in his expression: Might there be a way back?
LISTEN UP AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY I’M EMOTIONAL ABOUT THIS.
FOR ONE, WHEN NEWT CROUCHES ON THE FLOOR HE GETS ON THE SAME LEVEL, ON EYE LEVEL WITH CREDENCE. HE DOESN’T TALK DOWN TO HIM OR BELITTLES HIM OR GIVES HIM THE FEELING HE’S AN AUTHORITY OR IN ANY WAY IN THE POSITION OF POWER. THIS IS IMPORTANT. CREDENCE HAS SPENT HIS LIFE BEING SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO LET HIM KNOW JUST HOW POWERLESS HE WAS. WHAT KIND OF FREAK HE WAS. ALSO, THIS WAY OF SLOW CROUCHING IS A THING WE OFTEN DO WHEN TRYING TO APPROACH A FRIGHTENED ANIMAL IN ORDER NOT TO SCARE IT AWAY. MANY SMALL ANIMALS ARE AFRAID OF GIANTS LIKE US. SO. NEWT IS TOTALLY USING HIS MAGIZOOLOGIST SKILLS HERE, DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE.
TWO, NEWT HAPPENS TO BE THE FIRST CHARACTER IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE (AND PROBABLY CREDENCE’S LIFE TBH) TO ACTUALLY ASK CREDENCE IF IT’S OKAY TO COME NEAR HIM. HE ACTUALLY GIVES HIM A CHOICE. NO ONE ELSE HAS DONE THIS. GRINDELGRAVES CONTROLLED HIM THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE AND NEVER ONCE ASKED FOR CREDENCE’S CONSENT FOR LITERALLY ANYTHING. THE FALSE AFFECTIONATE TOUCHES CREDENCE RECEIVED WERE ALWAYS TIED TO CONDITIONS. NEVER ONCE HAS CREDENCE BEEN ASKED SO TRUELY AND SINCERELY, “IS THIS OKAY FOR YOU? CAN I DO THIS?”
I remember when I was 12 “I Kissed a Girl” came out. It was one of the biggest songs of the year and it left me so utterly confused. Was it okay if I wanted to kiss a girl? Would people know that I might to kiss girls if I sang it? Was wanting to kiss a girl about sex?
The general outrage from some parents, including my own, about the lyrics of the song and the video terrified me even more. It made something that was already confusing and scary for me feel even more sinister and wrong. I grew up hearing the word gay being thrown around as an insult. I knew that some guys like guys and some girls liked girls, but barely knew what “that’s so gay” was actually supposed to mean except that it was an insult and the idea of homosexuality was taboo. I was scared, alone, and resigned to ignore my feelings.
I remember so many of my friends changing the lyrics to “I Kissed a Boy” and it made me feel even more confused. They talked about kissing boys and holding hands and I realized that while I didn’t want to do those things with boys, I wanted to do them with girls. But kissing girls was supposed to mean having sex with girls. And at 12, I wasn’t interested or ready to think about that. I just wanted to hold hands and kiss someone who liked me too like my friends. Liking girls seemed like this inherently sexual thing.
One of the things that bugged me when “In a Heartbeat”, was announced was the response that some individuals had that the characters were too young. As if 12 year olds having their first crush was inherently sexual as long as it wasn’t heterosexual. It was something that plagued me for years, the idea that liking someone of the same gender or not of the “opposite” gender was always supposed to be exclusively sexual and couldn’t be romantic or involve feeling no matter what age you were. Those feelings would never be anything but
al deviancy whether you were a kid or an adult. That romantic and platonic relationships for people who were gay would always be exclusively sexual in some way.
The response of the filmmakers to immediately shoot down those critics and the finished short film gave me something I’d been missing as a scared kid. “In a Heartbeat” captured both the innocence of a first crush and the fear not being accepted by others because it was “wrong”. It was simple in the same way it was complicated. It wasn’t just about a middle school crush. It was about normalizing and not sexualizing being gay. That finding that you might not be straight or that you have feelings for someone of the same gender isn’t inherently sexual. Why should kids having crushes or those feeling be sexualized that way because it’s not heterosexual? Having your first crush and discovering having romantic feelings for someone is scary. And it’s scarier realizing that there are people who think it’s wrong or internalizing the idea of it being wrong, of you being wrong. And it’s terrifying. But there isn’t anything wrong. It’s not any more sexual. It’s normal. And there’s hope that people will accept you and your feeling.
This is just a bunch or rambling but I feel very strongly about this short film and it means so much to me now as an adult.