era: rise of the empire Essay Media: Animation

Why Kanan’s blindness matters

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I have seen a couple of posts theorising that Kanan will get his sight back – some because they cann’t keep him in his mask all the time and won’t want to show his actual eyes (I… think these people missed the above shot which was literally the first thing shown in the panel.), or because they think it’s narratively constricting and that the spooky dathomirian things from the trailer will do something since we see him with glowy green posessed eyes.

I really hope that they don’t give Kanan his sight back. I know this probably sounds odd, but I will be genuinely disappointed. I miss his beautiful eyes, his face as a whole (I am very much into the trauma!beard after some consideration.) But bringing back his sight would be wrong.

Narratively, in terms of character… it’s a greater challenge keeping him blind. how does this work? How does he connect? How does he fight, cook, train, teach. What is his connection with the force like? The conflict of pain and darkness – literal darkness – within him as he has this real disconnect from the world that he needs to push aside for both himself and his padawan. And his crew. How do you not let that consume you?

They’ve cited references to blind samurai films (I am not familiar, so I can’t really discuss this), and the line that they are taking from these films.

We’ve decided to move forward with that…. giving him something to look at his life in a different way, literally. Change the way he’s doing everything, and you’ll see the implications for his character. The way this changes the way he looks at life will i hope make him a.. better Jedi in the long run. [x]

This suggests long-term ramifications, developments. Becoming a new and ‘better’ Jedi. And he is a jedi. A Jedi Knight, as declared by Quizzy/the Sentinel in Shroud of Darkness in the last season. He has his blaster still, but he is openly wearing his lightsaber. He’s lost his armour in typical Jedi fashion (looking at you Obi-Wan), and his costume is now symmetrical. Those lines are there, those Jedi lines. He may still effectively be wearing a jumper, but those detail lines are now overtly alluding to the tabards of the traditional Jedi tunic; those boots are more Jedi than his previous pair. (That triangle detail is more prominent and I am sure it’s relevant – hopefully not because Palps has a triangle brooch int he exact same place when he rocks up on Mandalore in TCW S5.) There is previous in having blind Jedi, thinking specifically of the Miraluka which, well. May be relevant thanks to things brought up in the season opener.

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He’s going to be learning and changing, looking deeper into both himself and his wider galaxy; looking through and understanding. Going by just the pictures shown in the panel, Kanan is working on the isolation thing at first, shutting himself away from his crew and family and presumably the wider rebellion, but we know that won’t be for long thanks to the trailer. He’s out there, he’s kicking arse. He’s learning how make this drastic dramatic traumatic change work for him. To push him through  all that – and it will be a push, it will be hard in itself, but especially with everything else going on and oh my gods Ezra what are you doing. To build and work and develop Kanan and then flip that around and give his sight back will feel like a disservice to the story and to Kanan. The audience will learn with Kanan, the other characters will. There will literally be a new perspective on everything,  a new way of seeing. Dismissing that may not mean ignoring all of his growth over the coming season but some element of that will be inevitable and a bitter shame.

(I do think that perhaps they will lose the mask? Once he connects back with the world, becomes comfortable in his new self. But I guess that is based on animation decisions, as I think Filoni mentioned using the mask to make it easier to show where and how Kanan’s attention is focused.)

On a very personal level….I got my first pair of glasses when I was 5, by 8 I was told that there was a very high chance that I was going to go blind. By 11 I was in contacts because my eyesight was so bad that the distance between my actual eye and the glasses lens was no longer assisting and there was very little point in upping prescription any more unless I swap to contacts.  As it turns out, I’m not blind (yay!). However, without my lenses I’m legally blind, with my glasses I’m basically useless. My eyes only stopped their rapid deterioration in the last year or two, but that possibility is still there and I’m at near constant risk of tearing which could lead to massive fully-blind black spots. Laser treatment won’t do anything for me.

Ok, so what, you may ask. Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation was so, so important to me growing up as a blind character that got shit done. He was brilliant and functional and had a jazzy visor. I got the chance to meet the wonderful LeVar Burton at Star Trek London a couple of years ago and he kindly listened as I told him how important a blind character was for a girl with a dim (gettit?) future, he was lovely and encouraging and we talked for a solid five minutes and I definitely wasn’t crying.

Functional blind characters are important to give hope and promise. Isn’t hope what Star Wars is all about? A magic fix won’t make Kanan whole, won’t make a poor sighted person whole (which isn’t to say that if you can get it, you shouldn’t. But that isn’t an option for some.) A character that has suffered this personal trauma – physical or otherwise – learning how to live with it whilst it is very much a constant presence is important. Brushing things away, hiding them, hiding from them isn’t the only way to develop and proceed. An adjustment and a new understanding of self in a new context. There might be another little girl out there waiting for the world to go dark learning that maybe, maybe there is another side to that future.

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