I think we can all agree that when a fandom starts up on Tumblr, we tend to turn characters we love and adore into caricatures of the original. I don’t mean this as an insult. You see this all the time, and it isn’t a bad thing. We tend to turn the fandom represented form of those characters into exaggerated romanticised versions, and forget what the originals are really like until we experience the piece of media again. You may think I’m talking about comics, fan art, and fan fiction, and partly I am, but I’m also talking about the fandom wide consensus of a character’s personality. It took me a while to realise we as a fandom were doing this with Reylo, but I’m fairly certain we are. The thing that tipped me off to this was a realisation about all my OTP’s.
Reylo is the basic form of my every OTP. And that OTP is, a broken and wronged individual, still trying their best, with a strong set of morals. And then the dick bag that falls in love with them. I love the concept of these two broken people finding the support and love they need in each other, and ultimately bettering the person who had lost their way, and each other. I love this dynamic so much because Characters like Rey, (the ones that are still trying to be hopeful) are often lonely, and strangers to unrelenting I’ll sacrifice my life for you love. And characters like Kylo, once they truly look at this other person, often feel compelled to be that person, and look at that person; still pushing to be hopeful and good, like they’re the sun and stars. Okay, enough of that, so let’s talk about how we as a fandom have romanticised Rey, Kylo, and Reylo as a whole.
We’ve characterised Rey as a “rey” of sunshine, and BAMF. And while she is all of these things, Rey’s characters is much more broken, lonely, and scared than we admit in the fandom. I’m always reminded of this because of my specific requirements for an OTP. Rey is so much more angry than we make her out to be. (I’ll go into her “fall and rise” later in this meta.) Take these scenes into consideration.
At the end of TFA she very nearly kills Kylo. But she stops herself. She’s so much more angry, and close to the dark side than we like to admit. And that’s part of what makes Reylo so compelling.
Rey is someone who has lived alone for a long time, and the way she’s lived has taught her that even though she’s lonely, angry, and sad, she has to keep going. Her character is a fighter. So it was interesting to me when I came out of the cinema and found everyone referring to Rey as smiley and wonderful, when I saw a tough as nails girl, willing to do almost anything to survive. (see her almost selling BB-8) As a fandom we’ve latched onto a feature of her personally that we find the most endearing, and exaggerated it. Rey is very hopeful, and this is what we like most about her, this is what makes us want her to win.
Rey has been living in a cruel reality most of her life, which is what makes her relationship with Finn and Kylo so interesting. In Finn she finds someone who actually cares for her, and in Kylo she finds someone who almost needs her.
I honest to god, do not find it out of character for Rey to be tempted by Kylo’s interest in her. If Kylo’s interest in her grows, to the point where he spends most of episode eight bugging her to let him train her, it seems in character for this, lost girl, to almost revel in his obsession.
My point is, Rey is not the perfect “rey” of light some make her out to be. She’s hopeful, yes, but probabley because she doesn’t know of any other way to live. She’s a girl that lives in reality, but she also lives with hope.
As for Kylo, he’s so much more lost than we make him out to be in fan fiction. This is probably why I don’t read many Reylo fan fics. It’s just not how I see him. I always see him represented in fan fiction as self confident, and even playboy-esque, which to me, is just so wrong for him. I don’t see the way he acts as confident or cocky. When I look at him I see someone too bored and angry to bother with anyone; not egocentric. I say this because only recently did I realise why I love Kylo Ren so much.
I love him, because I relate to the little git. I really do. I won’t write too much about it here, but I come from a family of very angry people. Members of my family used to threaten me with violence, one of them once punched through a window, knocked me over (accidentally but it was still scary), and pulled my hair as a child. And even though that may not seem like a big deal, I was always scared when I was a kid of being like them, growing up to be angry. So every time I get angry, or I feel like shouting I compare myself to them, and the thought that I might be like them makes me even angrier. My anger scares me, it made me a bully at school because it was my only defence. Sometimes the only way to stave off sadness is with anger. Kylo may be thirty-ish years old, but dude never grew up. I relate to that bastard so much. I’m personally invested in his redemption. I DON’T relate to Rey, I relate to KYLO. He’s still a kid, and so is Rey. They need to grow up together.
So I guess you could say that my personal feelings have coloured Rey and Kylo in a way that’s not realistic. If that’s true, oh well… But the way I see it, when I step away from Tumblr, fan art, fan fics, and anywhere people say Reylo rather than, ‘Kylo Ren and Rey”. I see so much more of a chance it’ll be real than I ever do on Tumblr. Because often times when I step away from this site, I can get back into to the versions of Rey and Kylo that haven’t been romanticised in strange ways. I can sit with them the way they really are, and I see real potential in Reylo when I’m not being influenced by Tumblr. So, since this is a long “meta”, it’s not really a meta, let’s be honest it’s more of an opinion piece; let’s talk about why I see Reylo as something that to me, is likely to happen.
To be perfectly honest the thing that convinces me it’s got real potential to happen is a further analysis of story structure, and the real, non OC versions of Reylo. So, let’s break it down.
Rey as our main characters has to triumph. To do this our story, or trilogy, needs a low point. Whether or not Rey’s low point in terms of character will be merged with the low point of a movie, I’m not sure, but it seems likely. When I say “low point”, I’m referring to something called “the visit to death”, this is where our hero’s plan fails, they lose the support of their friends, and they seem defeated. This is the low of the story. The low is then “fixed” by a moral realisation. It’s an essential part of story structure.
This essentially means, for Rey to be a well rounded character she needs to “lose it” at some point, and alienate people, she needs to do more than dabble in the dark side, she needs to fall to it; and then, before it’s too late, take a moral action, and redeem herself, putting her in a position of renewed moral standing.
But to do this, she must be tempted, and Kylo is the one to do this. Rey is not just a “rey” of sunshine. She’s lonely, sad, angry that she was abandoned, and scared at having been thrown into all of this. Rey has so much anger to explore, so many strong emotions that Kylo can take advantage of. And the logical “push” over the edge to make her truly dabble in the dark side, is a reveal of her parentage. This is why I’m a genuine fan of the Rey Palpatine theory. Rey Palpatine, or a realisation like that might genuinely be all she needs to convince herself that she’s not meant to be what people are making her out to be. That she belongs to the dark side.
From here, she will come to some moral realisation, reject true evil, and ultimately the power of the dark side, or at least that’s what I expect to happen. Now, it’s this moral revelation that should effect Kylo. Story structure wise, her moral realisation should effect him as well, and bring him to truly question his own moral standing. Logically this would bring his character to a moment where he too has to make a moral choice, once and for all determining what side he has chosen. I’m fairly secure in these deductions, the one thing I cannot account for is what choice Kylo will make when he is faced with his moral choice.
They could take an Inside Out approach to their over all moral argument.
Inside Out’s moral argument was, it’s okay to be sad, being sad is normal. Which is a damn fine message to send to kids. And you know what else is normal? Being angry. Being angry doesn’t make you evil, took me a long time to realise that. And that’s a good message to send to kids. It’s a message I personally relate to. If Rey could realise that her parentage, does not make her evil, then maybe Kylo will realise this too. Making her parentage of the dark side is the best way to show audiences, and Kylo, that your parentage, and your emotions don’t dictate who you are. And make this trilogy truly about identity. Which brings me to Metal Gear.
It may seem like I’m going off topic, but trust me when I say I’m sticking to the topic at hand. I was recently reminded that Hideo Kojima appears very briefly in the movie, voicing a random creature in the desert. Hideo Kojima is a video game designer mostly known for Metal Gear. This got me thinking about Metal Gear and Star Wars parallels. If you don’t know, Metal Gear is a very silly series of games with a questionable set of female characters, save for The Boss, who’s the best. I promise there’s a point to this.
Metal Gear unlike many other video games I’ve played has a genuine moral argument, and a story to tell that I don’t think has ever been told before. Metal Gear at its core is about identity, and what it takes to make one person a copy of another. I could go on about this, but I’ll leave you with what’s most important. Metal Gear’s story, deep down, is about a child and their parents, it’s about how much you get from your parents, and whether you’ll end up like them because you share the same genetic makeup. This has always seemed very relevant to Star Wars, more specifically TFA. I think Kylo was tip toed around as a child. I think the moment he got angry, people flinched, worried he’d end up like his grandfather. And when everyone acts like you’re genetically evil, that’s how you start to think of yourself.
Kylo is an individual, he’s not his grandfather. But he doesn’t understand this because as previously mentioned, dude never grew up. Ben Solo does not know who he is because he was never given the chance to explore himself. So as Rey explores herself, this will prompt Kylo to do the same.
Honestly I’m not interested in this strange romanticised version of Reylo. I’m interested in these two scared kids that’ll be tempted by each other, only to question who they are, and ultimately find those pieces of themselves that they felt were missing; in each other. Because that’s the thing that Rey and Kylo have in common most of all. They both feel that a part of them is missing, and they’re searching for it. I hope they find those missing parts in each other.
Oh, but we’re not done yet folks. I told you this was going to be a long one. I talked about story structure, and how we’ve interpreted Rey and Kylo’s characters. Where can we go from here? Actually, I’d like to take this time to discuss Rey and
Kylo’s true archetypes. Yes, that’s right, archetypes are not a bad thing.
A lot of what I know about story telling is what I learnt from John Truby, and his book, The Anatomy Of Story telling. Definitely pick it up some time, fantastic book. (Yes that is a link to where you can buy the book. I’m serious, the book is good shit.) The book in question goes into archetypes in story. Not personality archetypes, story archetypes.
The picture above is just to give you an idea of what we’re in for.
Okay, so here’s a link to the archetypes I’m referencing, they’re not exactly the same as the one’s in the book, but It’s a damn good list, and I recommend you commit them to memory. Before we talk about Rey and Kylo’s archetypes, I’d like to lay out other characters from Star Wars. According to Mr. Truby’s book here’s some characters.
Yoda – Mentor/Teacher archetype
Han Solo – Warrior archetype
Luke Skywalker – Warrior archetype
These are only the very basics of story archetypes, it’s most common for a character to be represented by multiple archetypes. The best example given is Darth Vader.
Darth Vader – King/Warrior/Magician archetypes
This is interesting, because before I’d read this part of the book, I characterised Anakin.
Anakin Skywalker – Orphan/Warrior/Magician archetypes
As we look at Rey and Kylo’s archetypes, Rey really has more in common with Anakin and Darth Vader. Yes, I’m referring to them as different people, because their personalities and archetypes are different from each other. So, here’s my best guess for Rey and Kylo’s archetypes.
Rey – Warrior/Orphan archetypes
Kylo – Destroyer/Lover archetypes
Rey has much more in common with Anakin and good old Darth Daddy than Kylo does. Keep in mind these are only archetypes assigned on quick observation. So, let’s go through them.
The warrior is someone who believes in kill or be killed, they are fighters more than anything else. I don’t think Rey would kill a friend to save herself, but I do think she’s kill or be killed so to speak. Rey is a fighter through and through. This is an appropriate archetype for her since two of our leads have shared this archetype before. The warriors addiction can often be success, or simply winning.
They fight to survive.
The Orphan is someone who is broken and expects very little from life. They are a person who’s goal is to regain safety, just as Rey waits for her parents. She is the most blatant form of The Orphan archetype I’ve ever seen.
The Warrior combined with The Orphan creates a person searching desperately for success and safety. A character like this is perfectly primed for a journey of self discovery.
The Destroyer is someone who embodies repressed rage, and is often ruthless, in their quest is to find change and balance. Does that sound familiar? Kylo is a form of this archetype that is utilising all of the archetypes pitfalls. Doing harm to self/others, and out of control anger. Their addictive quality is Self-destructiveness. That sounds about right doesn’t it?
The Lover is not someone who has to be a love interest. The lover is someone who seeks bliss, not happiness, bliss. It’s someone searching for something missing. They often show passion, and seek important relationships. (Darth daddy) They seek reciprocated love. (Which he doesn’t get from Darth daddy, cuz dude’s dead) This archetype may have intimacy problems. Once again, this does not apply exclusively to romance. The Lover is someone desperately seeking love and understanding, and considering the way he’s latched onto Darth Daddy, and Rey, The Lover screams Kylo to me.
The destroyer and the lover creates an unstable character looking for understanding, and when they don’t find it, they give into their self destructive nature. But the lover in them makes them very willing to devote themselves to another, and lose themselves in someone.
With these archetypes, to me it seems almost a no brainer that Kylo and Rey have a place together. Rey seeks belonging, Kylo is primed for this through his ability to lose himself in another person. Kylo seeks understanding, Rey is primed for this as she explores her darker side, and the pitfalls of the kill or be killed mentality.
It honestly surprises me that members of the Reylo community think this won’t in some way be canon. Maybe they won’t get married and have kids, I don’t know that for sure. But I’m pretty certain the other movies are going to be more blatant about Kylo’s interest in her. And since Adam Driver appears to be a newly minted national treasure for many people, I think the main stream will be on board.
I mean, forget the last two thousand nine hundred and ninety two words I wrote, and consider this. We have a male and female lead, dressed in black and white respectively. There was blatant sexual undertones in their scenes, and you can bet there are going to be even more. Rey has to fall, and explore the dark side, Kylo’s going to be the one to make her do it, and if you think when that happens, there’s won’t be sexual undertones, you need to re think your life. That shit’s probably gonna be in the trailer. God damn, can’t wait.
I mean, christ! They’re both played by mind numbingly attractive people, and one of them is presented as having “compassion”, or “interest” in the other, and you think they’re not going to be romantically involved? Bitch, this is Star Wars, home of love stories, just with, like… With glowy swords, and green dudes called Kit Fisto.
Seriously, what kind of a name is that? Jk, love you Kitty.
Sure they may not get married and have kids, I can’t say that’s going to happen, though I desperately want it to. But, god damn, they gonna get it on.