The past, the present & The Mandalorian

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Drawing upon the notion that the processes of nostalgia often strive to enable a continuity of identity (Davis, 1979; Wilson, 2005), this paper explores how the aesthetics of the Disney+ lynchpin property, The Mandalorian (Favreau, 2019), facilitate a return to, and continuity of, masculine heteronormativity in the face of rapid and widespread change within the Star Wars cinematic franchise. Launched in the run up to the theatrical release of the ‘final’ instalment of the ‘new trilogy’, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Abrams, 2019), The Mandalorian can be read as a reaction to the diverse nexus of fresh characters and social contexts explored in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Abrams, 2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Abrams, 2017). By re-establishing a predominately masculine lens, along with a simplified narrative structure, The Mandalorian revisits the Star Wars aesthetics of the past, forming a conceptual opposite to the ostensibly progressive lens of the Abrams’ trilogy, while functioning as a visual response to the resultant feeling of loss (Pickering and Keightley, 2006) as experienced by a particular subset of the original franchise fanbase. In doing so, Disney provide a specifically sentimental reconstruction of the past, reacting to the experiential mood of that particular subset, by providing a commodified style that defers The Mandalorian's “content to its evocation of a generalized feeling of pastness” (Grainge, 2002, p. 59). Specifically, the paper will explore how nostalgia, as a commodified continuity of heteronormative masculine identity, is realised via i) the excess of style in the visual and character aesthetics, ii) the reduction in scope and scale of the narrative aesthetics, iii) the role of the star as an agent of the past (Wyatt, 1994), iv) the conceptualisation of hyper-masculine fatherhood, and v) the role of the feminine in the articulation of narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalThe Australasian Journal of Popular Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Dec 2020


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