After nearly a year and a half, the Star Wars fan community is still toxic. STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI was an incredibly divisive film. The film made a number of bold choices that many STAR WARS fans did not accept. TLJ is nowhere near a perfect film. There are entire sequences and subplots that I do not enjoy. However, the uproar in the community is outrageous; it’s unfair! There is a distinct difference between disliking a film and spreading hatred against the filmmakers and actors. TLJ hate has become insane. There is no reason that a community engaged in such an uplifting story should be running actresses off of Instagram.

star wars the last jedi
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

I am confident that the community will embrace STAR WARS again. The only question is when. With Star Wars celebration going on, I hope the community can begin to come back together. There are several reasons why I have hope that the divide in the fan community will subside with the lead up to and release of THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI: No Conclusion

Trilogies, and stories in general, can be segmented into three-act structure. The quick way to explain three-act structure usually goes something like, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. The hero is introduced to the problem, they reach their lowest low, and then they rise and claim victory.

Despite what many people may claim, STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI did not discard all of Lucasfilm’s plans for the trilogy. There may not be the same central planning that is seen under Kevin Feige at Marvel, but they absolutely knew where they were going. The filmmakers at Lucasfilm understand story structure, and THE LAST JEDI is a fantastic example of that. The film is all about failure, concluding in what may be the biggest failure for the heroes in STAR WARS, other than Order 66. The First Order devastated the Resistance, following traditional story structure. Using this model, Rian Johnson has set up the inevitable victory in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER to be as grand as possible, because the heroes experienced a massive defeat.

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI- There's Still Hope
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

There is another STAR WARS film that ended without much resolution. It was a little film by the name of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The film is hailed as one of the greatest sequels of all time, and it is widely believed to be the best STAR WARS film. I am too young to have seen EMPIRE without the context of RETURN OF THE JEDI. However, I can certainly imagine feeling disappointed that it ended with so many dangling threads. After seeing so many people comment on how TLJ ended in such an abrupt spot, it is crucial that you consider the context or lack thereof.

Prequel Effect

Nowadays, STAR WARS fans live for “Hello There” and all the other memes that were spawned by the prequels. This is a part of the changing of the online discussion surrounding the prequel trilogy. Upon release, fans hated the trilogy. The vitriol and toxicity of the fans shut down several actors. Jake Lloyd, the child who played a young Anakin Skywalker, was bullied and harassed. Ahmed Best, who portrayed Jar Jar Binks, received obscene amounts of hatred. Best contemplated suicide after suffering massive backlash. This toxicity is similar to what Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Kelly Marie Tran have undergone.

However, twenty years later, the discussion of the prequels has shifted focus. Following the release of the films, there was an intense disgust at the films’ poor dialogue, CGI, and direction. The focus of discussion is now mainly on what fans can celebrate within these films. People discuss the immense tragedy in Anakin’s fall to the dark side, the skillful choreography of lightsaber duels, and the world building. The redeeming factors of the trilogy have overcome its disappointments. Fans found ways to look for the best in these films and celebrate them.

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI- There's Still Hope
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

A large contributing factor to the evolution of Prequel trilogy discourse is the aging of the audience. The children who grew up watching these films and the animated CLONE WARS series are now the dominant demographic in online discussion. They have grown to inherit the forums, while many of the original trilogy fans have either moved past their hatred or moved past posting on forums. This growth is inevitable, and the cycle will repeat with the Sequel trilogy. This does not justify the hate brewed by STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI, but hopefully it offers a way through it.

In JJ We Trust

THE FORCE AWAKENS released in 2015 to much acclaim. Many people criticized its structure for being too similar to A NEW HOPE. Despite this, THE FORCE AWAKENS generally receives praise. Much of this was due to the incredible direction from JJ Abrams. JJ managed to capture the grit and lived-in feel of the Original trilogy while revitalizing the franchise and introducing it to a new generation, like the Prequels did.

Despite what many, including myself, feel was a great film from Rian Johnson in THE LAST JEDI, there is no doubt that his style was not what many had hoped for. Johnson’s filmmaking takes risks and plays with the tropes of a genre. His style was a nice breath of air for the franchise, and this unique style will be great in his own trilogy. However, in the Skywalker Saga, fans are excited to see stories based on the style of epic myths. JJ’s filmmaking lines up fantastically with the franchise.

With Abrams back at the helm, fans have an artistic force to look forward to. Abrams has been proven to work well in the STAR WARS mythos. Following the Prequel trilogy, Abrams had the monumental task of reinvigorating the franchise. He succeeded greatly, and this experience is exactly why he is the director for this job.

Sheev’s Back!

A vocal group of fans adores the Prequel trilogy, and they have been campaigning for the Sequels to feel the influence of the Prequels. One of the most beloved Prequel characters is Sheev Palpatine, the Emperor. STAR WARS fans worship his evil machinations, and many even consider him a greater villain than his apprentice, Darth Vader. Fans argue that because of how instrumental he was in the first two trilogies, he needs to be included in the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga.

The Senate STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI- There's Still Hope
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

In the Legends expanded universe, following RETURN OF THE JEDI, the Emperor returned multiple times. This was through several clones and other lazy plot devices. Hopefully we do not see Palpatine return through cloning, but the new teaser indicates he will be making a come back.

His return is already changing the landscape. The fanbase is nowhere near healed, but the tensions between the different STAR WARS community factions has eased. The Prequel super-fans, who notoriously hate the Sequels, have a renewed excitement for the continuation of the franchise. Palpatine playing a role in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is a major step towards winning back the fans who felt the Sequel trilogy was too disconnected from the overarching story.

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI: There is Always Hope

STAR WARS is a mythology worth celebrating. It has inspired millions of fans and countless filmmakers. It is almost a cliche now to say that STAR WARS pushed you to make films. That is something incredibly special. No other films have the cultural and historical significance that STAR WARS holds.

The fanbase is not in a good place now, but there are several things that are working towards healing it. The fanbase demonstrated toxicity in horrific amounts. However, the conversation is beginning to change. I believe that in the near future fans will be able to celebrate what they love, without judgment or hate.

One Comment

  1. Chris Carney

    Chris Carney

    April 16, 2019 at 9:14 am

    no, there isnt, let it sink into the kaka abyss that it was born from.

    Reply

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