The #StarWars fandom is huge. By huge, we mean tens of millions of fans around the entire globe and they all share one thing in common: a very strong & genuine love for the franchise. Unfortunately, there’s also a dark & toxic side within the fandom. While this toxic side is not indicative of every fan, it can occur within a very vocal minority of the fandom over a variety of complaints about things within the franchise that they’re unhappy about. And, unfortunately, usually the more unhappy they are about something, the more vocal they become.
As the monk & poet John Lydgate (c. 1370 – c. 1451) once wrote,
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
“The Last Jedi”
While the 7th film in the “Star Wars” franchise (“The Force Awakens”), was a huge box-office success when it opened in theaters in 2015 with earnings over $936-million, the 8th film (“The Last Jedi”) that opened in 2017 did not perform anywhere as well, though it did earn a respectable $620-million. Still, that was only about 2/3 as much earnings as “The Force Awakens”. Why the difference?
In the early weeks following the opening of “The Last Jedi” in theaters, movie goer ratings for the movie were very poor on both RottenTomatoes.com and IMDb.com. While some people claimed that RottenTomatoes.com had been hacked as a way to account for the poor movie goer ratings, other factors since then (that we’ll get to) demonstrate that to be unlikely. We posted on this blog about the poor movie goer ratings not long after the movie was released in theaters.
But that wasn’t all: the movie failed to maintain a large audience in the early weeks immediately after the film was released, which is in sharp contrast to how well “The Force Awakens” performed 2 years earlier. “The Last Jedi” did so poorly in China during its first week that 92% theaters removed the film after the first week.
Negative Reactions to “The Last Jedi”
So why did “The Last Jedi” not sit well with fans or do as well at the box office? An article from Forbes from last December gives several possible reasons. Another article that was released in March of this year (4 months ago) in futurism.media paints an even bleaker picture as to what made the movie terrible:
“Before I delve into my own personal feeling of betrayal, I want to first state that I understand that some people did, in fact, enjoy The Last Jedi. Several of my friends went to see the film and said they thoroughly enjoyed it. I, however, had a drastically different feeling about the film. Ever since the film’s release, there’s been a divide in the Star Wars community over the film’s reception. On popular review site Rotten Tomatoes, The Last Jedi scores a 48% audience rating, ranking it as the worst audience rated Star Wars film behind Attack of the Clones, which comes in at 57%. So even though some people, who are well within their right, enjoyed the film, here’s why I feel it ranks, for me personally, as the worst Star Wars film.”
The articles’s author then goes on to point out questions raised in “The Force Awakens” that many fans wanted to see answered in “The Last Jedi”:
“Who are Rey’s parents? Who are the Knights of Ren? What’s the significance of Snoke? Is there any hope of redemption for Kylo Ren? And most importantly, what’s going to happen to Luke? All questions we eagerly waited two years to find out the answers to. Instead, we get treated to The Last Jedi…”
The answers that director Rian Johnson gave in “The Last Jedi” weren’t satisfactory for many fans. As for Luke Skywalker, the author of the futurism.media article is very blunt about his feelings:
“Luke is probably the worst character in the film, mainly due to that fact there is a comparison to make between Luke in these new films and the original trilogy.”
True, Rian Johnson went into a very different direction with Luke Skywalker than most fans would have ever expected and many fans didn’t like how Luke was portrayed.
While this article paints a very negative picture of “The Last Jedi”, it still pails in comparison to a petition and a campaign that some angry fans started:
- Shortly after the film’s release in December, 2017, some angry fans started a petition to have “The Last Jedi” stripped from the “Star Wars” canon.
- Then only a few weeks ago, some angry fans started a campaign to raise money to film a remake of “The Last Jedi”.
We don’t expect Disney or LucasFilm to honor either of these requests from angry fans.
Actress Kelly Marie Tran Harassed Online
The angry fan reaction didn’t stop with complaints about the movie, petitions or a campaign to remake the movie. Some angry fans went after actress Kelly Marie Tran on social media. The months of harassment became to unbearable that she finally deleted her Instagram account last month.
The Hollywood Reporter best summed it up in an article entitled “Toxic Fandom Is Killing ‘Star Wars'”:
“But others hated [The Last Jedi]. Hated everything it stood for. Hated what they saw as a social justice warrior remix of the Star Wars they grew up with. And they hated Tran’s Rose most of all because they decided that she was the avatar for all that was wrong with the franchise. Those fans — a minority but a loud one — found their ‘them’ in the very thing they used to love.
Those who chose this particular vein of the Dark Side, emboldened by the faceless intoxication of the internet, went hard on Tran. Racist invective, misogyny, rape and death threats all hurled at her constantly, unrelentingly, transforming what had been a Cinderella story — The Last Jedi was Tran’s first major film — into a modern-day nightmare.”
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Rian Johnson Fires Back in Response to Kelly Marie Tran Harassment
Director Rian Johnson spoke up about the harassment that Kelly Marie Tran received, describing the fans harassing her as being “manbabies” on his Twitter account.
“Solo: A Star Wars Movie”
Angry fan backlash to “The Last Jedi” wasn’t limited to that film. It now includes the next movie: the standalone movie “Solo: A Star Wars Movie”, which we discussed in a blog post several weeks ago.
“Solo: A Star Wars Movie” now holds the dubious honor of being the lowest grossing movie ever in the “Star Wars” franchise. To date, it has only earned about $380,487,122 worldwide ($211,627,976 domestic + $168,859,156 foreign) in spite of the fact that it’s a very entertaining movie whose storyline is not directly connected to “The Last Jedi” with the exception of the characters Han Solo and Chewbacca. In fact, Chewbacca is the only character in common between these two films.
Ahmed Best Was Once Suicidal
In response to the backlash from angry fans that Kelly Marie Tran underwent, actor Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the “Star Wars” prequels, publicly admitted that he became suicidal from the negative reaction he received from angry, toxic fans nearly 20 years ago. He has since thanked fans who have expressed their support since he admitted just how bad things had become for him because of the toxic fans.
Director Christopher McQuarrie “Cured”
Earlier this month, director Christopher McQuarrie (who helped to do some reshoots on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) flatly stated that the toxic fan response to Rian Johnson on “The Last Jedi” has “cured” him of ever wanting to direct a “Star Wars” movie. He also won’t direct a superhero film for the same reason.
Advice to Toxic “Star Wars” Fans
Just remember what Yoda said in “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace” when he was talking with the young Anakin Skywalker:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” — Yoda.