I didn’t really grasp the extent of how bad this problem was until very recently, it’s not that it’s just a recent issue. I know fans of things generally suck as a rule, it’s just, after the release of Solo the buzz around the internet was that maybe we were already burning out on Star Wars. This seems like a ridiculous statement to me personally. I went into that movie with pretty low expectations and ended up enjoying it regardless. Because I’m a fan of the franchise and even if an individual movie isn’t my tastes, there is usually something in there for me to enjoy.
Some Disney executives have contributed this poor performance to something more than simple “burnout”. One thought would be that Solo under performed because a significant number of people were boycotting the franchise, this coming as a result of their distaste of The Last Jedi, which came out last December. I always knew the movie was divisive, but for this to be the reaction of some people who regard themselves as fans is baffling to me.
Just looking on social media or at articles regarding the movies, almost right away the comments section popped out at me. I was amazed and the sheer amount of vitriolic disgust and hatred being thrown at The Last Jedi. But not just toward the movie itself; nearly everyone involved with its production were under fire too. And this isn’t just a simple matter of people not liking it, words like “betrayal” are thrown around more than once, and people claiming it has ruined the rest of the franchise by existing. What absolute bollocks…
I will put my hands up and say that I have complained about old franchises returning in the past. Writing about my distaste for half-hearted reboots of movies that were popular in the 80s and 90s. But that’s not what this is. The new Star Wars movies are huge productions that want to succeed beyond making a quick buck from people’s nostalgia. Money is a factor, but there is a desire to keep this franchise healthy and profitable into the foreseeable future. But in all the time I criticised movies for being reboot or belated sequels, the most scathing I ever got was always at least a productive rant, breaking down why I felt it failed as a movie. I never carried on about it like a dog with a bone.
Here’s the thing about nostalgia, it’s inherently a bad thing. It’s an impossible standard for any piece of media to reach. You remember things so fondly from your childhood simply because you were a child, and more often than not, you probably had the terrible taste that came with being a child. The people who complain about the Thunder Cats or She-Ra reboots “ruining their childhood” aren’t exactly going back on a regular basis and watching those old shows. More likely, they’d rather those shows stay in their memories and nowhere else.
I’ll let you in on this little known secret: Rebooting a series doesn’t delete the original from existence. If you want to go back and watch those old shows, there’s nothing stopping you. But will you go back and watch them? Of course not. And hey, you never know, the newer shows might prove to be better made and written than the originals ever were. Like that 2011 reboot of Thunder Cats that nobody watched. People in the grips of nostalgia never want to give anything new a chance.
The point I’m trying to make is, nobody is taking the original Star Wars trilogy away from you, even though there’s a 90% chance the copies of the originals you own aren’t the originals at all, but the George Lucas’s remasters that people also claimed to hate. If you don’t like these new movies, then maybe there’s a chance you’ve simply outgrown Star Wars. Maybe you should stop seeing them and let the children they’re made for continue to enjoy them like you enjoyed the originals back when you first saw them.
Some simply won’t let it lie though, going online and bashing the movie over and over. Which is fine, personal taste is not something I’m going to criticise, where I do take issue is how people seem to want to target people associated with the movie in their relentless criticism. Hark Hamill has even expressed his resentment of social media in this regard. The people who don’t like this movie don’t have to look very hard to find like-minded individuals online. People who can justify their feelings and help whip them into a frenzy, making their outrage feel justified. Worse yet, social media lets them lash out at the people involved with the movie directly, whether they deserve it or not.
People do this without thinking. One of the worst thing about the advent of social media is that it allows people just spout out any thing that’s in their head without any barrier to wonder if it was something worth broadcasting and recording in the first place. This comes from this need to be involved in the conversation while it’s still fresh. So in their rush to add their own thought into the tidal wave of tweets and blog posts, people fail to take the time to digest any media before publishing their feelings on it online. Social media has made it so people decide their snap reaction to a movie are their actual feelings on it, and will hand on to that reaction with white knuckles, save they contradict themselves in front of a bunch of anonymous internet strangers.
My feelings on the Force Awakens changed a number of times as time passed from my first viewing of the movie. I didn’t like the fact that the movie felt like a rehash of A New Hope, but that was only one aspect of the movie. The inherent things in the movie that made it feel part of the greater franchise ended up far outweighing my issues with it. Plus, the events of The Last Jedi made me apprentice what the first movie was doing even more. Our perspective on movies changes as time passes, I wonder how many people who despise the Last Jedi would feel the same after watching it again now…
I loved the The Last Jedi right away after seeing it. I watched it again recently might have enjoyed it even more. I even wrote three articles about it on here to express why I loved it and pretty much still feel the same way now as I did when I wrote them. It was because Disney finally showed that they were willing to take risks and make major changes to the series, which was so important if they wanted to keep it fresh. While I wouldn’t say I’m in the minority, a very vocal collection of people began a crusade to shout down everyone who felt the same way I did.
Shortly after release, I found myself in a number of online debates with people on social media and on comments pages regarding the movie. I would try and explain my stance to people, but many of them simply wouldn’t hear it. There was never a case of agreeing to disagree either, more often than not, all I got was flat statements such as “The movie is garbage”, “Disney have killed Star Wars” and “Rian Johnson is an incompetent director.” Even now, I search Rian Johnson’s name and I easily find extended Reddit debates going into depth about how badly they felt he handled the movie.
So, do you want know what I think make a movie a good “Star Wars” movie. It’s literally in the title, that’s it. Star Wars is a vast, multifaceted franchise with books, T.V. shows, games and comic books that detail all different aspects of George Lucas’s created far away galaxy. Not all of them have the same tone, some are comedic, some are dry thrillers. Star Wars is a setting, one in which people can tell any kind of story they want. I mean, look at the prequel trilogy. Those movies are vastly different than the originals, and while people criticised those too, I don’t think I ever heard anyone say that they “didn’t feel like Star Wars”.
At the end of the say they, how people interpret these movies is up to them. If a movie needs to hit a very specific list of ideals in order for them to regard it as a “Star Wars movie”, then that’s okay. It just means these people have a high (possibly unrealistic) standard that needs to be met. That’s one of the best thing about movies. However, where this becomes something more sinister is when a person’s distaste for a movie extents in a way that means to interfere and upset the balance of people’s lives.
While many criticise the movie for it’s structure and tone, there is another vocal pocket of people whose problems with the movie seems to come from a place of anti-progresivism. I’ve seen so many people direct their hate towards the actors in the movie: Daisy Ridley, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. Three characters who are ironically, three of the strongest females in the movie.
The treatment of Kelly Marie Tran is especially heinous. People have harassed her online about her appearance and her heritage, just because she had the misfortune of co-starring in a movie they didn’t like. It got to the point where she deleted her social media accounts to just remove herself from all of it. This is disgusting, unacceptable behaviour. To criticise a director or studio is one thing, but to all go after a single actor in the rather large cast is awful.
And this, apparently, is what it means to be a “Star Wars Fan” these days. To be an entitled sexist who puts out petitions to try and get the Last Jedi stripped from the canon and remade. Something thousands of people seem to actually believe they can make a reality. Fandom is supposed to be a celebration of something, not an excuse to feel like you’re entitled to something that caters directly to your tastes. If you’re a fan of something, you should expect to take things as they are, with the good and the bad.
It’s Ironic really. That these people don’t see themselves in the slimy, Nazi inspired Empire: Full of elitist, older generation white people who try and uphold their dated ideals while a multicultural group of youngsters try and fight back against the unwarranted oppression being forced upon them. But fandoms have become toxic in nature in regards to pretty much everything these days, unable to accept anything outside of their personal world view.
I’ll end this post by saying this: If you don’t like The Last Jedi. That is 100% fine. Having your own opinion about a movie is great. What isn’t great is when you cut down the people who do enjoy it. Or when you reach out to people involved with the movie just to try and make them feel bad. Don’t do that, don’t ever do that about anything. At the end of the day it’s just a movie…