An Explanation Falls Short

Todd VanDerWerff at VOX attempts to explain the backlash that we’re either supposed to be ignoring, or pretending doesn’t exist.

“Naturally, whenever there’s such a massive divide between certain online voting metrics and everything else, it’s easy to suspect some sort of brigading of the vote, campaigns from unruly and discontented fans who (for whatever reason) slam the lowest-rating button over and over again — or program a bot to do so for them — in hopes of dragging down the overall score.”

Yes, but when it happens in the way that SJWs want it to, then it’s called “activism.”

“And at least one Facebook message (from someone who seems disgruntled about Disney consigning much of the old Star Wars expanded universe to non-canonical status) hints that just such a campaign has gone on for the Rotten Tomatoes score in particular.”

That’s actually been discredited.

“Yet it’s important to understand that even though a lot of the most obvious examples of The Last Jedi backlash are probably — probably — bunk, that doesn’t mean there’s not a Last Jedi backlash precisely where it counts: among Star Wars fandom.”

What is your evidence for this determination?

“But saying there’s a lot of cultural anxiety around this particular generational handoff is an understatement. And when you consider that Star Wars fandom has long been presided over by white guys, it’s natural this would lead to angry policing over what Star Wars is and isn’t. And that policing can be ugly and lead to toxic fandoms in which people who aren’t white men don’t feel comfortable.”

I can’t tell you how many variations of this comment I’ve read, and the utter inapplicability of it never ceases to amaze me.  There have always been non-white guys in Star Wars, from the very beginning. Honestly, the following video simply cannot be posted enough:

“The jokes are too jokey: Of the “nitpicky” complaints, this is the most nitpicky, in that plenty of fans don’t like The Last Jedi’s sense of humor.”

It’s really more that the jokes are just bad.  They’re just not funny.  But didn’t Lord & Miller get let go from the Han Solo movie for being too jokey?

“The movie is uninterested in fan theories: …even if you can get with the new trilogy’s ideas about how things ended up after Jedi, then The Last Jedi spends a lot of its running time telling you that a lot of the things fans have obsessed about since The Force Awakens was released just didn’t matter.”

It wasn’t so much about not addressing fan theories, as it was about not addressing things that were specifically set up in The Force AwakensLOST fans will sympathize with this.  For myself, I never really cared about the mysteries set up in TFA for any of this to really matter to me.

“But when you reach the third act, and the thematic impact of this plot clicks into place (as the Atlantic’s David Sims has written about here), it becomes more impressive within the whole of the film.”

At what point did it click?

“Ultimately, these sorts of plot holes and storytelling choices are of less interest to critics, who tend to focus more on a film’s craft and its themes, than fans, who like to pick apart the nitty-gritty details of a movie.”

Screenwriting is probably the most important part of film craft.  Everything else is window dressing.

“What’s interesting about the critiques of The Last Jedi is how often, when you talk about them, many of the above criticisms fall away, and you’re left with a distinct philosophical difference between people who love the film’s insistence that the future can be better if we make it and those who don’t like the way it forces us to grapple with the sins of the past, with the way it argues the Rebellion might have won at the end of Return of the Jedi, but it largely upheld the status quo.”

The Rebellion did win at the end of Return of the Jedi, until that was retconned in The Force Awakens.

“If you look back all the way to 1980, to the earliest reviews and reactions to The Empire Strikes Back, now almost universally acclaimed as the best Star Wars film, you’ll find lots and lots of people talking about what a disappointment the film was compared to its predecessor. (Look, here’s the New York Times doing just that!) What’s more, if you look to reviews of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, now largely written off as the weakest of the original trilogy, a lot of them talk about the film as a return to form.”

What about those of us who thought that The Force Awakens was awful too?

“Part of the movie is about how the worst people in the universe aren’t even the First Order, but the rich profiteers who are happy to go along with whoever’s in power, so long as they keep making a few bucks.”

Yes, it’s the deeply stupid social justice politics that makes the film so moronic at its core.

“To wit: I’m not precisely sure why Holdo’s sacrifice is noble but Finn’s thwarted sacrifice was considered foolhardy.”

You’re not the only one.

“But having that big of a tent (and Star Wars just might be our last big-tent American pop culture thing) means you inevitably have to rub elbows with people who’ve entered the tent thinking something very different from what you think. If Star Wars is going to continue being a major force in pop culture, then it needs to keep adapting.

“But if it’s going to keep pleasing those who love it most, then it needs to stay preserved in amber (or, if you will, frozen in carbonite), leaving Luke Skywalker as the best boy who ever lived and continuing to tell endless variations on the story of a young kid from a nowhere planet who learns he’s part of the biggest saga of them all. But that kind of fetishization of what’s come before is the quickest way to kill off a pop culture artifact.”

Au contraire mon frère.  Star Wars is a dying brand, thanks to the current mode of adapting.

As with the City of Detroit, Marvel Comics, the NFL, any cultural institution that SJW politics barnacles itself to is utterly destroyed.  It’s a fairly consistent phenomenon, a Reverse Midas Touch, where anything the SJW touches instantly turns into pure crap.  It’s now happening with Star Wars as well, and the facts clearly demonstrate this, for those who care to look.

Remember, the foundational core of the Star Wars story is the Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell; an ancient archetypal narrative that strikes a deep chord in humanity, hence its longevity for thousands of years without adapting.  Tampering with that archetypal narrative in order to serve the petty small-minded political fashion trends of the moment can only be a recipe for disaster.

“I suspect, in time, it will age just as satisfactorily, but it’s also possible I’m wrong. “

The basic editing issues with this film alone suggests that you’re wrong.


Has Rian Johnson explained the backlash yet?

1 thought on “An Explanation Falls Short

  1. Pingback: 20 Points That Slumming Through SJW “Think” Pieces Teaches Us | Disney Star Wars is Dumb

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