I’m obsessed with places where science fiction and pop music overlap. So I loved seeing recent reports about a veiled reference to musician Elvis Costello in the latest Star Wars movie.
Apparently, director Rian Johnson used the moniker “DJ” for Benicio Del Toro’s morally ambiguous hacker in The Last Jedi as a tip of the hat to Costello and his 1979 album, Armed Forces.
Promotional material for that album had a military theme, including photos with Costello holding a rifle to his mouth, looking like he’s ready to blow his brains out. The logo on these simply says “DON’T JOIN.”
Johnson reported that the character’s name is “DJ” is a reference to that “don’t join” slogan from Armed Forces‘ promotional material. It’s actually the character’s motto rather than his name, according to some Star Wars books. (It’s also on the character’s hat in the movie, but I never could read it clearly.)
Costello fans know that Armed Forces‘ working title was Emotional Fascism. The songwriter was wrestling with the rise of neo-fascists in 70s England. (The “Mister Oswald” referenced in his early single “Less than Zero”, for example, was British fascist Oswald Mosley.) Costello often found himself (lyrically) drawing parallels between fascist government and boy/girl romantic relationships, which played into the entire album’s cynicism.
Links to the original articles are under the photos of Elvis (one on left is designed by Barney Bubbles and from rockshot.co.uk, the right is from the link on ign’s article below):