SPOILER ALERT!!!!! If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, PLEASE STOP READING NOW. Spoilers ahead! They’re small spoilers (not anything that answers major plot questions, such as Who are Rey’s parents? Is Kylo Ren going to turn? Will Han Solo come back to life?), but spoilers nonetheless.
So if you want to go into the newest episode of one of the biggest stories of all time with a set of wide, bright eyes, DO NOT CONTINUE READING.
So everyone reading this has seen the movie, right? OK, cool.
Not only is Star Wars a sci-fi fantasy franchise, it’s also a piece of artwork that reflects pop culture and some of the most profound issues of our time—one of those being the need for animal liberation. The Last Jedi didn’t hesitate to put this issue on screen.
Near the beginning of the film, we’re introduced to the adorable porg species. On the hidden planet where Luke Skywalker is hiding out, porgs run free. In The Last Jedi, we see Chewbacca cooking a dead porg over an open fire. As soon as he’s about to bite into the animal’s dead body, a group of live ones standing by the fire catch his eye. They all start crying, in shock that he presumably killed and is going to eat one of their own. At that moment, Chewy has a “vegan epiphany,” if you will—after seeing that porgs are individuals with real feelings, he decides not to eat the corpse.
Throughout the film, we see Chewy and the porgs together. It seems as though the animals latched on to him after seeing his compassion for their species. His empathy for them reflects a real-life animal rights issue—that of chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, and other animals who are killed for food here on Earth, despite being intelligent and feeling individuals who deserve to live. Did you know that BILLIONS of chickens are killed for food every year in the U.S. alone? Just like the porgs in The Last Jedi, chickens are sensitive animals who have emotions and don’t want to die.
One of the most touching scenes of The Last Jedi involves fathiers (horse-like creatures). While Finn and Rose are in the wealthy city of Canto Bight, Rose expresses her distaste for everything that the city stands for. While looking down at what looks like the horse-racing tracks we have on Earth, but using fathiers instead of horses, Finn expresses how beautiful he finds the city. Rose tells him to look a little closer and references the fathiers racing down below. We then see close-up shots of the animals being violently whipped and electrocuted with some sort of taser—all for the entertainment of the rich people of the city.
This ridiculously senseless cruelty reflects the real-life pain that horses, big cats, elephants, bears, and other animals endure for human entertainment. Whether it’s for horseracing, circuses, or elephant rides, forcing animals to perform is seriously not OK—and Rose sees that in reference to the fathiers.
Later in the movie, Rose and Finn end up freeing these animals. Not gonna lie—this scene totally made me cry. Seeing the gratitude on the fathiers’ faces as they ran free through grass, having been liberated from their lives of abuse, was so touching. It reminded me of all the animals here on Earth who suffer daily for entertainment. And I hope that one day, we can free them all, too.
The final thing that underscores the animal liberation theme in The Last Jedi is the vulptices. These are fox-like creatures covered with beautiful crystal “fur.” Just like real foxes, vulptices are extremely quick and clever. Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll just say that they even end up saving the movie’s heroes by helping them to escape a situation in which they were otherwise trapped.
In real life, foxes are also wicked-smart and clever, just like Star Wars vulptices. But here on Earth, they’re killed and sometimes skinned alive so that humans can wear their fur. WTF is up with that? SO CRUEL.
So there you have it—three reasons why the depiction of the fictional creatures in Star Wars: The Last Jedi supports animal liberation. Did you learn a thing or two from Chewy and Rose’s compassion for animals? If you did and you want to learn how to help animals who are abused by and for selfish humans, the best thing that you can do is go vegan.