Some things remain the same. We have to same imagery of nazism in the what is now called "the First Order", the powerful military force that probably replaced the Empire defeated in the trilogy. We have the same "bips" and "bops" of robots everywhere. We can see the same deserts and aliens all around.
Some things are new. The protagonists of this are very representative of the culture nowadays. First we have Finn, which is black. And there´s nothing wrong with that, all I´m saying is that it is very different comparing with the cast we had all over Star Wars ever. The original trilogy had Lando Calrissian, but he was a secondary character, important, obviously, though he was a minor character.
But this "change" is not very important.
The one that gets me most is the girl, Rey.
Let´s recap. In the first trilogy, we had Leia Organa, who was a princess (stereotype), and she didn't do much stuff besides "princess-y" stuff in the first movie. She was there with an obvious reason. To be rescued, to be sought for. That was THE whole goal of the first movie. To rescue the princess.
The main heroes, were all male, including the droids (you just know R2-D2 would be a male as well, even though in the English language we would use the pronoun "it" to refer to a robot - not the same in Portuguese, in which we use the "male" gender to refer to the robot, but I digress).
Of course, Leia Organa is a bit more (or tries to be), than a "mere" princess. She is feisty, she is brave, she can take care of herself, during some parts of the movies. Good. Feminism was a movement that was transforming social relations since the 60's, possibily before. And the movie came out in 1977, almost 20 years after the beginning of the first waves. Still we can definitely see that Princess Leia was very much a princess, with a definite role - be rescued by the heroes, and be desired, and possibly ending up with one of the two main male characters. That´s it.
Even though she tried to demonstrate that she was a powerful girl, she even ends up as a sex slave of Jabba the Hutt, in the third movie, Return of the Jedi, which have scenes that, even though they are not explicit in any way, we may not ever see in another movie of this politically correct era ever again.
The second trilogy began in 1999, and it was already a bit different. We had a lot more of diversity in the roles, and a more powerful feminist character, even though, for the most part, she was still very much, another princess, with a very definite role, which was to be rescued, protected, and to be desired by the male protagonist, in this case, Anakin Skywalker.
In this third trilogy, we have a girl who IS the protagonist, with maybe exchanging places with Finn between protagonist and deuteragonist for parts of the movie. She doesn't appear to have force powers or to be a Jedi, which are the crowning protagonists of the Star Wars sagas, but she is very much a protagonist. Her character is not a princess to be rescued anymore, she gets prominence in the trailers and she is fighting side by side with the main characters, even though she is not brandishing a lightsaber as of yet.
She is definitely a female character of this day and age, where women refuse to be the prize of the male protagonists only. They want to be side by side to them, not being sought after or being rescued. Women nowadays demand that. Mothers out there demand that. They want to show this to their daughters. And on and on. Take a look at another Disney blockbuster of last year, Frozen. Frozen was made entirely to women. The male characters in that movie are all of them a bunch of caricatures, from the buff, funny, gross and stupid, to the coward, to the villain. None of them are good or valuable, with maybe the exception of the father of the two girls (girls and their father complex, go figure). The movie is entirely focused to women. There´s no lion king here, there´s no lovable thief who ends up saving the day. No, the movie is entirely an ode to women and feminism.
And this goes to this year's SW as well. Girls refuse in this culture to be seen as prizes, even though they clearly still are. Unless her character is extremely unnappealing, boys will still be looking at the main protagonist desiring her, and she will still be sought after to some degree by either a character or the audience.
It´s like women suddenly decided that they don't want to be seen as women anymore, which is kinda ludicrous to me, and one of the reasons I find this all pretty damn stupid.
Whether you agree with the way things are going or not, thing is, this is how they are now. The world has changed indeed.