Kylo Ren. Ben Solo. Darth Bitch Boy. Whatever you want to call him, the main antagonist of the new Star Wars trilogy is more than just a Marilyn Manson doppelganger. He’s a metaphor for the entitlement generation. WARNING: If you have not yet seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, this article contains spoilers. And if you haven’t seen it, you should haul ass to the nearest Cineplex, post haste.
As the newest trilogy unfolds, we’ll undoubtedly learn more about Kylo Ren and what prompted him to turn to the Dark Side of the Force. For now, he’s a pale imitation of his grandfather, Darth Vader. And that is precisely what he is supposed to be: a tantrum-throwing spoiled brat dressed in his big boy Sith robes, infatuated with the idea of his legendary grandfather without ever truly knowing him or the reasons for his actions.
Kylo Ren only sees Vader’s melted mask. He only sees the legend — not the man. Actor Adam Driver seems to understand this and plays the role perfectly. Kylo Ren’s role as a pawn in Supreme Leader Snoke’s as-yet-unclear plot to restore a galactic empire is pretty apparent to the audience.
And while they may not fully understand the young Dark Side adept’s role in it themselves, the latest batch of Stormtroopers lack the respect for Kylo Ren that Vader’s brigade had for him.
There is a brief scene that provides some comic relief in the film when Kylo Ren is throwing yet another of his snit fits — destroying consoles and other extremely expensive equipment. A pair of Stormtroopers hear the ruckus and realize it’s Darth Bitch Boy throwing yet another fabulous freakout fest. They look at each other and turn around, walking in the opposite direction instead of going in to check on Baby Vader. You can’t see their facial expressions beneath their masks, but you know they’re silently saying, “Fuck this shit. I’d actually like to live to see another day. In my plastic uniform. That makes it really hard to pinch a loaf on my coffee break.”
Making a Monster: The Ballad of Darth Bitch Boy
What makes Kylo Ren all the more deplorable is that he is not just a portrait of entitlement, he’s a child of privilege who is unable to appreciate his parents’ sacrifices. Before he was Kylo Ren, little Ben Solo was the son of Princess (now General) Leia and smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo — instrumental figures in the galactic Rebellion that toppled the Empire.
Ben displayed Force tendencies, however, his family sensed that “he had too much Vader in him.” Whether that meant he was setting baby Wampas on fire or just displayed a generally angsty, overly emotional disposition remains unclear. Either way, Ma and Pa Solo shipped little Ben off to Uncle Luke Skywalker’s Finishing School for Young Jedi in the hopes of straightening his ass out.
Since the fall of the Empire, Luke had committed himself to reviving the Jedi and opened his own academy to train young Force sensitives to become Jedi Knights. Well… Instead of learning to temper his outbursts during his stay at Luke’s academy, Ben Solo honed his Force skills and used them to take out the new Jedi Order that Luke had worked so hard to create. What prompted this and the extent of the damage still remains unknown. (Hey, I never went to my prom, either. Suck it up, Darth Cupcake.)
Side Note: Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks Kylo Ren has some lingering teen angst to spare. Check out the brilliant fake Twitter profile for Emo Kylo Ren. As an added bonus, the account also pokes a little fun imagining Nazi-esque douchebomb, General Hux as Kylo Ren’s high school chum.
mom please don’t even pretend you know what I’m going through right now also we are out of conditioner
— Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) December 22, 2015
Making matters worse, he somehow teamed up with Supreme Commander Snoke — who’s all about that Dark Side life. Kylo Ren even managed to get his black-gloved mitts on the melted mask and helmet that once belonged to his grandfather, Darth Vader. He has since dedicated himself to “finishing what Vader started.”
Just when you think Kylo Ren couldn’t suck any harder, he does the unthinkable: He kills his father Han Solo and, with him, the childhoods of every Star Wars fan that grew up watching the original trilogies.
As hard of a scene as it is to watch, it’s beautifully portrayed by both actors. It delivers shock value, and from the moment Han steps out onto the metal platform, you hope that The Force Awakens does not go there.
They go there. And damn, is it rough.
The scene is emotional and hearkens back to an earlier point in the film where Kylo Ren battles with himself over feeling a pull to the light side of the Force. He wants to complete his turn to the Dark Side — finishing what his grandfather did not. This could mean he aims to purge himself of any attachments to people in favor of adhering to a higher cause or ideal (however misguided it may be).
Kylo Ren believes that killing his father will cement that mindset by freeing him of one tie to his life before turning to the Dark Side — and conversely, to the one link in his genetic chain who does not have Force tendencies. Yes, Kylo Ren is conflicted at that pivotal moment. But he still kills his father anyway.
Darth Vader had no father I envy him — Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) December 22, 2015
In doing so, not only does Kylo Ren go past the point of return, he solidifies his position as a member of the entitlement generation. Despite having a family who were willing to give him everything, it still was not good enough for Ben Solo. Nope. He needed more validation, more reassurance that he was special. It didn’t matter that his parents’ relationship dissolved as a result of guilt over their perceived failures as parents, or that he destroyed everything his uncle Luke had built — prompting Skywalker to send himself into a self-enforced exile following the demise of the new Jedi Order. The feelings of others didn’t matter to him.
Nature vs. Nurture?
Kylo Ren is a portrait of entitlement, as well as an argument for nature versus nurture. Is there such a thing as a bad seed? When, despite being given all the advantages others lack, is it merely within their nature to take that potential and turn it into something dark and self-serving? Or is it just a matter of perception that seems warped to others, but perfectly justifiable to that person? Did Ben Solo feel pressured by a legacy of good and greatness — parents and an uncle who were near-mythical heroes to an entire galaxy? Rather than living up to a lofty mantle of responsibility, did he crack under pressure and turn to the other, darker side of his heritage because Vader set a lower bar for achievement?
It remains to be seen as the trilogy unfolds and Kylo Ren continues along his journey. However, things probably don’t bode well for Darth Bitch Boy.