Warning: this blog is different to normal and contains spoilers.
Art by Deya Muniz, a hilarious genius
I was a little girl when the prequels came out. With older siblings that had been born in the seventies, Star Wars was a thing in our house. I had vague memories of it- of a giant Jar Jar Binks statue in the local KFC that scared me, of fighting over Darth Vader Pez dispensers with my older sister. I remember Star Wars, of dashing Han, of Luke and his strength, of the beautiful Princess. It wasn’t until I was an adult that Star Wars clicked with me.
I went to see The Force Awakens on a date, and after that showing, I was obsessed. It wasn’t because it was a new Star Wars, or that I was old enough to properly connect. No- it was because of Kylo Ren.
Now, a lot of you have probably heard people trash on him. I hear it a lot. “He’s such a cry baby”, “he’s more poorly written than Anakin!”, “all he does is whine”. When I look at Kylo, I see a character I relate to. Someone that struggled with rage, who has this idea of who and what they should be shoved onto them from a young age, who has to battle with what others want of him versus what he actually wants.
The Last Jedi was particularly powerful to me. After seeing how scared he was at the idea of killing his father, of the weight of becoming a Sith, a Darth. Then the fear in his eyes, the sheer loneliness, when he couldn’t pull the trigger to kill his mother. You could see the love in his eyes, in his heart. He’s portrayed as this angry, hateful person. You know what makes people angry and hateful? Scared, confused children that don’t have people around them that pay attention. Rey and Kylo are so alike in that regard- different families, similar results. I feel for him. I feel for his character, and my heart breaks for him.
I write about this today because I’ve been worried I’ve been overdoing my own characterization. People don’t want characters to be too nice, or too angsty, too this, too that. That’s not how characters or people work. They’re so much more organic than that, they ripple and flow and change and they feel and experience. Kylo has changed with those things. I have changed with those things. My characters will. So will yours.
Don’t be afraid of the expectations of others. Do what feels right to you.