For all of 2017, I thought I’d be spending December 14th seeing the new Star Wars in theatres. Instead, I found myself trapped in the hospital, battling cancer. Worried I was going to miss the movie, I started a Twitter campaign for someone to send me a copy of The Last Jedi. It was mostly a joke at first and something to help pass the time and distract me from the stress of being in the hospital but it also got me thinking about all the other hospitalised kids stuck in much worse situations than I was, who were also going to miss Star Wars. So I shifted the focus away from myself and made the campaign to “Fight Cancer with Star Wars” by requesting Disney to stream The Last Jedi for anyone trapped in the hospital or unable to make it to the theatre. I ended up getting the attention of Mark Hamill and Laura Dern, as well as a brief segment on WUSA 9 News.
Luckily, I was released from the hospital just in time to see the movie (albeit with a mask and gloves on per the doctor’s orders to avoid movie theater germs, which actually worked out well for my Kylo Ren costume). Still, I couldn’t help but think of the countless hospital-bound people, who were missing out on the movie event of our lifetime and would most likely get it spoiled for them online. I loved the movie so much and found its message of hope to be extremely inspiring. Without giving too much away, I loved the idea that Luke Skywalker was not the perfect hero everyone made him out to be, and the fact that he had to accept his own flaws in order to find true redemption. Dealing with cancer is scary and isolating, so I related a lot to Luke’s feeling of being trapped and haunted by forces beyond his control. There are also a couple striking moments in the film, where young slave children are shown finding solace in rebelling against their oppression. I knew other hospitalized kids would be able to relate to and appreciate the movie’s strong message of uncovering hope in spite of dire circumstances.
I was shocked to find out that some people hated the movie so much that they started a Change.org petition to strike The Last Jedi from existence (not unlike The Empire’s destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope) and remake the entire movie from scratch. This was ridiculous to me first of all because Disney would never erase one of its biggest movies of the year to appease some angry fans. It was also immensely disrespectful to the memory of Carrie Fisher in her incredible final performance, plus the rest of the cast and crew, who worked hard to make an amazing film.
So inspired partially out of anger about this petition, as well as a desire to help out my fellow hospitalized Star Wars fans, I started my own Change.org petition for Disney to host a secure, payable stream of The Last Jedi for anyone stuck in the hospital. I figured it was a win-win situation for Disney: make more money, get good PR, plus help some sick kids in the process. Disney has also done similar acts of kindness before by giving private screenings of Star Wars for terminally ill fans such as Daniel Fleetwood back in 2015 and Air Force veteran Ron Villemaire just last month. But why only grant this amazing wish to a select few terminally ill patients? It seemed to me that everyone fighting cancer or unable to make it to the theatre deserved a chance to see the movie along with the rest of the galaxy. Disney even streamed The Last Jedi to astronauts in space, so surely it was within the realm of possibility to stream it in hospitals too!
More than anything though, I really wanted the message of hope in The Last Jedi to be seen by all these kids, who deal with so much pain and suffering on a daily basis. They need a spark of hope in their lives and a sense of normalcy to keep their spirits up. While admittedly the movie also deals with heavier themes such as death, despair, and letting go of the past, it is not a good enough reason to strike the movie from canon or forbid suffering kids from getting to see it. Everyone should be able to experience the film’s resounding message of optimism and strength demonstrated by the plight of the Resistance, the slave children’s rebellion, and Luke Skywalker’s heroic redemption. At the time of my writing this, the petition is currently at 100K signatures and counting. Join the campaign to fight cancer with the power of Star Wars.
Everyone hates January. The post-Christmas comedown hits us hard, especially with 2017 being such a tough year. Kindness 31 is our antidote to that. Every day we’ll share a good news story about someone (or a group of people) and their act of kindness or how they helped others. If you want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively if you’d like to nominate someone to be featured, fill in this form.