Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rian Johnson Talks Fan Response to 'The Last Jedi'

By: Dominic Jones

It's rare that you can get a group of Star Wars fans to all agree on something when it comes to the galaxy far, far away, and that includes reaction to a Star Wars film.  The most recent film release, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is no different.  While some think it's the greatest installment in the saga, others claim the film is a betrayal of all that came before it.  The film's writer/director Rian Johnson spoke with Business Insider recently about the reaction to film, specifically the negative ones.  Johnson states that the negative responses hurt, but he understands where they come from and doesn't take it personally.

Johnson said,

"Having been a "Star Wars" fan my whole life, and having spent most of my life on the other side of the curb and in that fandom, it softens the blow a little bit. 

I'm aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply — sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter. But it's because they care about these things, and it hurts when you're expecting something specific and you don't get it from something that you love. It always hurts, so I don't take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That's fine. It's my job to be there for that. Like you said, every fan has a list of stuff they want a "Star Wars" movie to be and they don't want a "Star Wars" movie to be. You're going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up. 

And I also know the same way the original movies were personal for Lucas. Lucas never made a "Star Wars" movie by sitting down and thinking, "What do the fans want to see?" And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn't work, because people would still be shouting at me, "F--- you, you ruined 'Star Wars,'" and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that's the one thing nobody wants. 

And let me just add that 80-90% of the reaction I've gotten from Twitter has been really lovely. There's been a lot of joy and love from fans. When I talk about the negative stuff, that's not the full picture of the fans at all."

I really appreciate several aspects of Johnson's response to the criticism.  I love that he took a page from George Lucas and focused more one what he thought was best for the story, rather than what was fans wanted (who can forget Lucas' subtle dig at The Force Awakens for being a movie "for the fans").  Star Wars needs to grow and evolve, rather than rest on its past accomplishments.  While there are moments in The Last Jedi that lean a bit too heavily on the past, overall the film does a good job at moving the myth forward.

I'm also glad to hear that Johnson is taking the negative responses in stride, especially given that he's going to be writing and directing at least one more film and involved in at least three.  It's good to see that Johnson "gets" fandom and understands the passion of fandom and knows how to take it in stride.  That being said, I don't think fans should be sending vitriolic tweets to Johnson or any other creative even if they didn't like the movie (and I say this as someone who felt let down by the film on opening night, though my tone has shifted upon multiple viewings).  Those sorts of tweets are more likely to chase creatives off social media than change anything in future films.  Johnson's social media has been a lot of fun to follow during the film and I would hate to lose that source of entertainment because some fans want to take out their anger (ironically missing the point of Star Wars) on the director.  (Obviously I'm not saying don't express your disappointment in the film if you were, just don't be rude about it).

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now!

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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