Despite their monstrous ambitions, the villains of The Force Awakens are almost adorable, none more so than the surprisingly dweeb-y (perhaps even goober-y?) Sith Lord Kylo Ren. As played by Adam Driver from Girls, Ren is tempestuous and touchy, climbing peaks of rage, only to descend into the valleys of melancholy beneath them. He’s a faintly ridiculous character, less a true evil mastermind than the kind of guy who wants to be thought of as one.
Maybe that’s why the best thing to come out of the film so far has been the Twitter parody account Emo Kylo Ren.
Created by the always funny Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post, it depicts the black-clad dark Jedi not as some master of the universe, but as a moody student. He’s super into Chuck Palahniuk, misses Darth Vader, and totally hates his parents. His only friend is Hux, eventual commander of the Starkiller Base, though they’re forever feuding, and he keeps trying and failing to impress Rey, who is better than him at basically everything.
Star Wars has long been driven by the creations of its most dedicated fans, by their attempts to correct the franchise’s excesses and failings, and Emo Kylo Ren is no exception. This is Star Wars for people who laugh at the series just as much as they love it. Unlike some other Twitter takedowns of the new movie, Petri clearly gets that the best way to spoof Star Wars may be to go deeper into the absurdities of its own fictional universe, dwelling on details that only appear after repeated viewings.
What emerges is a kind of fan fiction in 140-character bursts, enriching our understanding of the characters while still hewing to their already familiar molds. As the Independent jokes, it almost works as a prequel to the film, albeit a very silly one. But, more than that, it’s also an opportunity to spend just a little more time with characters whose official stories won’t continue for years. In their own goofy way, these slices of life feel as real as anything that unfolds on screen, even when some of the jokes feel a little … Forced.