When I heard a men's rights activist created a fan-made version of 'Star Wars' that eliminated most of the substantial female characters, I knew I had to take one for the team and watch it.
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) topless in The Last Jedi, one of the many scenes edited out from the The Last Jedi: De-Feminized Fanedit (a.k.a. The Chauvinist Cut). © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd
Confession: I once fell asleep during a Star Wars film. (It was the one with Jar Jar Binks.)
So when I heard that some MRA had cut the franchise's latest installment into a women-free fan video titled The Last Jedi: De-Feminized Fanedit (a.k.a. The Chauvinist Cut), I thought to myself: Wow, I can’t think of a better way to spend my Wednesday than watching this steaming pile of crap at work.
As reported by Pedestrian, an anonymous Pirate Bay user uploaded this extremely condensed version of The Last Jedi onto the torrenting platform on Sunday. "[It’s] basically The Last Jedi minus Girlz Powah and other silly stuff," its creator wrote. "It would probably be easier to make a list of things that were kept instead of things that were changed. Hardly any scene got away without cuts. The resulting movie is (wait for it ...) 46 minutes long."
Turns out that when you cut women from The Last Jedi, you end up with a film that's shorter and more boring than the average Game of Thrones battle. "Yeah I know, it's not ideal," our would-be George Lucas continues, explaining that a low-quality movie rip had to be used because Disney has yet to announce a DVD release date. "But it had to be done. You will probably enjoy it most when you view it less as a blockbuster movie and more as some kind of episode from some non-existent mediocre Star Wars series.
"But for what it's worth, it can now at least be viewed without feeling nauseaus [sic] about most of the terrible big and small decisions they made in this film."
Watch: Rose McGowan on Sexism in Hollywood
As of Wednesday morning, The Last Jedi: De-Feminized Fanedit (a.k.a the Chauvinist Cut) still had 119 people seeding the torrent file. (Let’s call it The Chauvinist Cut for short.)
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was 100 percent ready to watch the cut in order to roast it on the internet. Other Pirate Bay users left these illuminating comments on the torrent’s download page:
“Why cut a great movie to pieces like this and only leave 46 minutes, are you nuts??"
“Downloaded to see how bad it was, OP [original poster] need therapy."
So, how bad is it? Let’s put it this way: I haven’t had an experience this joyless since giving my first handjob.
Watching The Last Jedi on the big screen was like sinking into a tepid bath—mildly pleasant but could have been hotter. I felt neither inflamed with enthusiasm nor steeped in boiling hate. It was like eating a memorable McDonald’s meal, which is to say that it was pretty satisfying but easily forgettable.
The Chauvinist Cut, on the other hand, reminded me of when the audio on a strategy video game fucks up and leaves your army characters repeating the same phrases over each other, like "Taking heavy losses!", "Fire on the speeders!", and "That's an order!"
Most coverage of the cut would have you believe that there are simply no women left in the fan-edit, but that's not totally accurate. As the movie opens with General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) about to fire on the Resistance, we actually see two women on his ship. They remain in the fan-edit, but they also don't have names and only say things like, "Armed and ready, sir," and "It's never going to penetrate our armor!" (See what I mean about a malfunctioning video game?)
That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of The Chauvinist Cut. Women do exist in this dark-sided universe, but they must stay silent unless they are prompting male characters along with perfunctory dialogue. Rose, for instance, only has about three lines left in the edit, and the storyline with her sister as well as her adventure with Finn to the gambling planet of Elerion are totally cut.
"Asian chick speaks less, doesn't bully Finn, Finn doesn't try to escape, she is never formally introduced," the Pirate Bay editor notes smugly in the description of the cut. "She is just there and occasionally smiles at Finn or screams 'Finn!' She has no sister. Serves her right for all the heinous stuff she did." (Note: I think the "heinous stuff" referred to here is Rose simply existing as a fully-formed character.)
Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern)—who spends most of the film delightfully negging the hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and sacrifices herself to save the Resistance—doesn’t even exist. Instead, via what I can only assume is some painstaking Adobe nonsense, MRA-George Lucas superimposes Poe into Holdo’s kamikaze ship and lets him take the glory of saving everyone.
In an accompanying list of all the changes made in The Chauvinist Cut, the anonymous editor also notes that there were "lot of little cuts reducing the number of female facial shots... For example, when there's a scene where a woman is cut in making some important statement that can be substituted by another statement by a guy, then she gets cut out. Works pretty well actually."
Most of this bitter nitpickiness results in a totally po-faced movie with zero character development and absolutely no levity to speak of. Because this is a film about an intergalactic fight between good and evil, you might think a little dose of humor would be necessary to lighten the mood. The Last Jedi attempted to introduce light-heartedness in scenes like when Chewbacca befriended a Porg and subsequently felt extreme guilt over barbecuing one of its adorable, furry peers. Our MRA editor, however, does not approve of this interspecies gag: Chewbacca simply eats the Porg.
This isn’t even the most confusing creative decision made in the cut. Rey, for instance, still gets to train under Luke Skywalker—but mainly so she can beg him to help the Resistance. She still moves the mountain of rocks trapping the Resistance fighters, but her fight scene against Snoke's guards is deliberately shortened so that she looks weaker than Kylo-Ren. The Chauvinist Cut also dramatically shortens all of the great Commander Leia Organa's scenes so that, in the words of its editor, "Leia never scolds, questions nor demotes Poe. He is a respected and very skilled high-ranking member of the resistance."
None of that, however, stops The Chauvinist Cut from achieving what is probably its most unintentional goal: making the world's dullest, most perplexing piece of homoerotic fanfiction.
"The Last Jedi homoerotic fanfiction" sounds great in theory, but The Chauvinist Cut is both boring and chaste. (It doesn't help that the topless scene with Kylo Ren has been taken out completely.) The bulk of the 'film' consists of men speaking to each other, brooding over each other, staring intensely into each other’s eyes, and sacrificing themselves for each other. At one point, Hux captures Finn and slaps him. Until that edited scene, I'd never before noticed that Hux is styled like a masc Berlin DJ waiting in line to get into Berghain—but it totally works for him. The same goes for Supreme Leader Snoke, who basically spends the entire film lounging around in a golden embroidered robe and surrounded by bodyguards in kinky red latex.
Paradoxically, the fan-edit shows why it was important for Star Wars to move away from its roots, introduce new characters, and cast women in roles that don't require slave bikinis. Because the alternative—as this edit shows—would just be a bad slash fic where the boys don't even get to kiss.