This post contains SPOILERS for the latest Star Wars trilogy, especially for The Rise of Skywalker, so you have been warned (again; get outta here and go watch it on the big screen).
In my last post I talked about Ben Solo’s redemption and sacrifice and how that impacted the fans. This time I want to talk about how that impact is spreading in the real world, and how you can participate if you’d like.
As many know, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren was played by Adam Driver in all three movies of the latest trilogy. For some it took this last movie to see how well Adam was able to capture subtle differences when playing Kylo or when Ben was sneaking through, for others they’ve been a fan of Adam’s for a long while. I have to say, his performance as Ben in Rise of Skywalker was fantastic. He was able to take the material given him and literally show a physical change from Kylo Ren in Ben’s bearing, fighting style, reactions, emotions, the whole range with very little dialogue.
Ben’s redemption and death touched many fans, and made a whole new cheering section for Adam Driver as well. Yes, some were incredibly angered by Ben Solo’s death and did not represent the Star Wars fandom in an upright manner. However, on the flip side, one fan decided to show appreciation for the character Ben Solo and the real life actor who brought him to life so well, Adam Driver, and to focus fan emotions onto something worthwhile instead of screaming at each other on the internet.
Adam and his wife founded a charity focused on aiding troops and veterans in a very creative way; via theater. Adam served as a Marine (he was with 1/1 Weapons Company at Camp Pendleton, CA) and wanted to give back, founding Arts in the Armed Forces, a not for profit focused on bringing the arts to service members, vets, and their families.
A GoFundMe; The Rise of Ben Solo, was set up by a fan with the (Adam Driver-appropriate) nickname of Matt the Radar Technician to benefit Arts in the Armed Forces in honor of Adam’s Ben Solo performance. The donations started piling up, and then Adam himself got wind of the fundraiser and thanked fans personally for raising money… more donations poured in, and then Joonas Suotamo, AKA the nextgen Chewie himself, urged the fans to even greater charity by promising his own reprise of the #BenSoloChallenge. Fans didn’t disappoint and reached the $75,000 goal and then some. Go to the GoFundMe link and at least read the updates (especially significant is how this has impacted the fan who started this up), it’s worth a read.
Isn’t that amazing? A good redemption story, a good actor, good fans with a good cause… sacred secular indeed. A lot of people mock fandoms, but when one does something like this, something meaningful, to salute a job well done, well, it does a bit to redeem one’s outlook on humanity, doesn’t it? So, after praying it over, and you can, why not join in? The campaign runs for awhile longer (at least until 1/21/2020, and sits at almost $80,000) and if it’s over and you missed it, go to Arts in the Armed Forces and donate there. My point here isn’t just to plug this one human effort at making a difference but to look at the phenomenon (that we’ve seen in fandoms before) and see something a little bit brighter than the norm.
Christians tend to admit a good story is tough to beat, and we believers know someone quite fond of parables. There’s power in words, make yours good ones. There’s power in actions, make yours count.