"Okay, let me explain. Finn and Poe were both very engaged with one another. And there are moments in the story where I know I've tapped into something when I hear the audience laughing together, because I know that's where we're going."
This is the response J.J. Abrams gave to the question of whether his decision to have both Finn and Poe be gay, was a political gesture on his part or part of a genuine attempt to say something interesting about the characters.
Although it seems like an obvious, yet artistic, choice on Abrams' part for a long-delayed Star Wars sequel, the move was unlikely to please right-wing fringe fans. We've heard for years that homosexual fans are jilted, snarky, uninformed. (Who is Matthew Harrison Arnold anyway?) Though Abrams had strong words for those who want to deny sexuality from those in a position of power, he still believes that it's not one of the film's main themes.
It turns out the answer is that it's not at all. After he used a personal experience in his career to describe why it was right to have Finn and Poe gay, he released a longer statement to clarify his decisions. Specifically, he discussed his meeting with Walt Disney's management, who, according to the director, were supportive of the idea. It's good that he did that, because for once, his response appears to be spot on:
... I felt a responsibility to both the fans and to all of the people who were making these movies — especially going back to the original movies and what they represented. And I thought, How do I do something that honors those movies without kind of bucking that canon? There was no real answer, but I always felt, especially with this movie, that it was really important to find a way to bring these two characters in as brothers, even if it's not necessarily from the POV of that relationship, but to honor that kind of relationship as one that you get to see in the original trilogy.
Obviously, that's not really what happened at all. The scene where he meets up with Finn wasn't about "honoring that kind of relationship" either, as he clearly makes clear, but was about Finn himself—and no, not in a unique way, but because "it's important to find a way to bring these two characters in as brothers, even if it's not necessarily from the POV of that relationship."
As you probably noticed, Abrams just went from using the example of two Star Wars characters being gay to two brothers meeting up for a purpose that didn't specifically match a gay couple's alliance. He didn't address how much the relationship had to do with Flynn (Poe's character) or the romance between him and Poe (Finn's character). All he said was that those two characters share a bond, an emotional relationship, and the same sort of strange but sparkly blue reflection on the water that sets their post-credits scene off.
It's hard to believe that someone who is, on the one hand, out to produce a film that only revives old stories and references—there's no new storyline or setting—could have so severely underestimated his audience's intelligence, and become complacent about some of the issues that many had with his past films. Did he not bother to see the internet discussion in the time before release, when the idea of homosexual men was still a prickly subject? Can we really expect Abrams to stick to the best bits in this film? How can we expect him to know what buttons to push or where to go with each scene when it's taken from him completely off the script? And why is he still surprised when he's called out on his incredibly convoluted logic in interviews?
Drama, in the way that it should be approached, is a very tricky area. And one that sometimes leaves us scratching our heads and wondering if the man leading us on the most anticipated film in decades wasn't in it himself.