I can understand some of the criticism of Jyn, but I’m deeply uncomfortable with criticism that obscures the childhood trauma she went through and the fact that she was a child soldier. She’s not an “apathetic liberal” - her mental detachment from and dismissal of the atrocities committed by the Empire is a defense mechanism.
it’s a defense mechanism that is directly linked to her survival. this isn’t just a defense mechanism that is about coping with living under the empire. jyn erso being found by either the empire or the rebellion would lead to her being used as a bait, or hostage, or just killed.
as much as I love the scene between saw and jyn for all it speaks to their relationship, its flaws, and jyn’s position in the galaxy, I think a lot of people took it literally. they heard “it’s not a problem if you don’t look up” and instead of critiquing and analyzing it or even considering why a person who starts out the movie locked up in an imperial prison would say that, they write her off as apathetic and indifferent. but even saw doesn’t believe jyn when she says it; he can see she’s saying it to hurt him and in the novelization, jyn says it explicitly to hurt him because of how he abandoned her.
jyn had a place in the rebellion and then it was ripped away from her. the only rebel who would have her raised her, trained her to fight from the tender age of 8 years old, and then cut her out because her name made her a liability. she spends the years between saw abandoning her and the rebellion coming for her in hiding. she uses false names to protect herself, indicating she knew the empire and rebellion would both try to use her as a pawn. adopting a false name for more than just inspections or planet entry means she was protecting herself.
nobody gives han solo a hard time for not believing in the rebellion from the get-go, and even han is really only in the rebellion for luke and leia. jyn is back on board within a few days and yet she’s given so much flak. if you have a problem with jyn erso because of what she says to saw, you should also have a problem with the character who says these lines:
“it’s not that I like the empire, I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now. it’s such a long way from here.”
that would be one luke skywalker in star wars (1977) but somehow I doubt that people are going to tell me that luke was apathetic and indifferent and didn’t care about the rebellion. I wonder what the difference could be.
tl;dr people need to stop pretending that jyn is a privileged character in any sense of the word.
To add to the above fantastic meta, the Rogue One novelization expands the Saw-Jyn confrontation and reveals this (p 92):
“You were the daughter of an Imperial science officer,” Saw said. He spoke more gently than Jyn could bear. “People were starting to figure that out. People who wanted to—to use you as a hostage.“
Saw’s primary concern about Jyn’s heritage being revealed wasn’t that Jyn was a liability to him or to his operation. Jyn was a liability to Jyn herself.
It wasn’t the Empire who had uncovered Jyn’s identity. Otherwise, Saw would have held Jyn close to his side; there’d be no safer place. No, the implication is that Partisans were finding it out, and they wanted to do something Not Nice. Notice how he couched his words, as if trying to hide something or to soften a blow? “People who wanted to – to use you.”
There’s a wealth of meaning in that moment of hesitance.
Jyn, who had given herself to the cause for nearly a decade, who had become known as Saw’s top fighter, who had fought and lived and bled with her fellow Partisans – despite all this, the reaction from some of those very same Partisans to her being hidden from the Empire wasn’t “she’s proven to be one of us; we must continue protecting her from them.” It wasn’t even that they now doubted her loyalty (though there was probably a lot of debate and accusations around that). Would Partisans, known for their violence, have held an Imperial spy hostage? No, they would have tortured and killed them.
Therefore, this is the implication: some Partisans were planning to hold Jyn’s life hostage against the Empire (or just Galen himself) for concessions. Who knows what it was? Demands to withdraw from a planet or a stronghold? To provide money and weaponry? To kill certain Imperials? Something.
But Saw is the LEADER of the Partisans. His rule is LAW. So the fact he didn’t successfully shut down these suggestions implies that the idea had grown so much momentum that he couldn’t stop it. It would have caused a major, irreparable rift in his troops, and he would never have the certainty that someone wouldn’t go behind his back.
I’m not saying Saw didn’t fuck up in how he handled the Jyn situation. Like, give the girl at least a little heads-up before abandoning her to rathtars. But Saw truly believed that it was safer for Jyn to be alone and abandoned than to continue being a Partisan.
(And - imagine if Jyn had known that. Had learned what was being said of her, what was being planned and schemed. That the people she might have at least loosely considered a second family, a second home, would rather sell her off to the Empire than protect her from it. Maybe that’s why Saw hadn’t told her anything; maybe he was trying to protect more than just her life. Maybe he was trying to protect her heart.)
(He clearly failed in THAT regard, but… imagine.)
Reblogging to add @stooperman ‘s comments:
“All of this.
When Jyn says, “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up,” we’re not meant to take her words at face value, because Jyn doesn’t believe them herself. Not really. Those are not only words explicitly engineered to hurt Saw, but also the words of the detached survivor she’s trying so hard to be. If you look at her face, at the delivery of the line, nothing about any of that screams conviction.
People who take that line literally miss the point of Jyn’s arc in this movie. Jyn’s story is one of reclamation – of herself, her faith, and her sense of purpose – and with that, she starts to find her way back home.”
Reblogging to add @unstable-reality wonderful comments on the metapost!
I want to add something to this:
The novelization also makes explicit the fact that Jyn’s assignment to Wobani is a death sentence. They work you until you die.
She’s a twice-abandoned traumatized child soldier who spent six years as a homeless drifter, scraping by within the margins of society, trying to keep her head down, who gets plucked by the Rebellion out of the Imperial equivalent of a gulag, and yet…
There are people who decline to fight for the greater good because they’re comfortable and apathetic, or because they’re removed from the struggles of those around them, absolutely.
There are also people for whom being able to fight is a luxury. Their day-to-day is so rife with struggle that it’s all they can do just to survive.
Jyn is much, much closer to belonging to the second group than to the first (which is part of why she and Cassian are both right during their argument on Eadu). She’s not blind to the reality of the Empire; she’s lived it. She’s been living it, arguably from the age of 4, when her parents fled Coruscant.
Wonder what the difference could be, indeed.
Not only was this explicitly portrayed as a flaw, something she overcame…which is it’s own message. But Jyn consistently showed (even if there is debate on “how dedicated” she was to the cause) that she cared for people. After meeting Churrit and Baze literally in maybe a span of 30 minutes and thrust into a mission with Cassian and k2, when Saw’s rebels “anyone who hurts my friends will answer to me”. Also considering the state of the world today sometimes people on this planet want to ignore the cause.
and even the rebellion was fractured (the council scene?) they were ready to give up when they heard the news that the death star was working. The only people on the base who really believed in the cause was the rogue one squad and the rebels who came with them to Scaif. The pilots who came to assist them later on in the battle only came because they knew they had to get the plans and wanted to back the initial band of rebels who got there first and disobeyed orders.
I’m sure if my family were killed by both the Empire and Rebels I would be less likely to help either side (at least at first) and I’m sure a lot of people would do the same
(Your picture was not posted)