You’re Wrong About Star Wars, and So Am I

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.” – from the Sith Code (Qotsisajak), by Jedi heretic Sorzus Syn (6900 BBY)


Before we get started here, you should know that I haven't seen The Rise of Skywalker. Yet. I'm going to eventually, even though I haven't bothered to shield myself from the spoilers and I pretty much know all the big stuff that happens. (Not going to spoil anything here.)

You should also know that I am basically a casual Star Wars fan. It's not at the top of my list of favorite franchises, though I do love it. Star Wars wasn't really a part of my childhood, as my interest in sci-fi didn't really develop until my late twenties, and at that point I was more of a Trekkie than a…Warsie? Is that the term? I'd prefer Mandalorian.

Because the Mandalorian is AWESOME hold on, sorry, I'll get to that later. Gotta keep things in sequence here.

Shall we sum up what's happened to Star Wars? I think we'd better. Please be aware, however, that this is my own personal take, and it will probably annoy people on both sides of the aisle. Prepare to be annoyed. (Also, there will be SPOILERS for Episodes I though VIII from here on out.)

Way back when, Star Wars happened. Three movies. They were awesome. And flawed. But also awesome.

Way back later, Star Wars happened again. It was less awesome. But not horrible. And it was made more awesome by other people coming along and building on the foundations George Lucas had laid.

Then Disney bought Star Wars. Everyone cheered, because now the franchise could be freed from George Lucas' creative vision, and we would never have to see another Gungan or hear anyone pontificate about the unpleasantness of sand again.

Yes, you did cheer. Don't tell me you didn't. (Okay, it's possible that quite a few people saw the potential problems with the Disney purchase back then, but I certainly didn't hear many of them speak up.)

Then The Force Awakens happened. It was…safe. Mostly. Aside from killing off a major character from the original series, that is. It was, essentially, a re-do of A New Hope. Which, in part, is why it was successful and left most fans believing that the franchise was in safe hands with J.J. Abrams and company.

And now we come to The Last Jedi.

Full disclosure; I do not hate The Last Jedi with the fury of a thousand burning suns, which is probably partially due to the fact that I didn't grow up with Star Wars. For me, seeing Luke Skywalker as a jaded hermit was more of an interesting creative decision than an affront to the character's legacy. A great story could have been told with Luke as a successful Jedi master, but there would have been a major risk of it being predictable. The version we got could have been great as well.

Was it?

My very brief take on Ep VIII is this: take out the weird blue milk thing, the entire Canto Bight plotline, and the characters of Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo, and you've got a fairly decent (if short) film. Just like if you take Jar-Jar out of Ep 1 and trim some of the other elements (like the pod-racing), you've got a decent film. Actually, if you took out all the dumb and unnecessary stuff from The Last Jedi and expanded on some of the moments that were off-putting to fans, you might end up with something that would have gotten a far better reception.

By now, I've probably managed to irritate Star Wars fans across the board, and unlike many people on the internet these days, that is absolutely not my intention. Because let's be honest: outrage gets clicks. After The Last Jedi, a great number of Star Wars fans (male and female, just so we're clear on that) started going on YouTube and giving the film scathing reviews. Those reviews got lots and lots of clicks, which equaled ad revenue. So they started making more videos, beating the movie and every single piece of related news to death. Then they beat Solo to death, despite the fact that it actually wasn't a bad film at all (from what I've heard, anyway; I still need to watch that one). Then they moved on to Captain Marvel, which became nothing more than a money dispenser for angry YouTubers throughout early 2019. Now they're on The Rise of Skywalker. Click, like, ka-ching, click, like, ka-ching…

I'm not saying that Star Wars YouTubers don't have valid takes, or that every single person who covers Star Wars on their YouTube channel is out for money alone. But let's not ignore the fact that Star Wars negativity has become a source of easy cash for a lot of people.

I don't love The Last Jedi. But I don't hate it just because a great number of Star Wars fans say that I should. My biggest problem with Eps VII and VIII is that (in my opinion) they didn't really do right by the actors and characters from the original films. Han, Luke, and Leia deserved three strong movies with very solid plotting and scripts, and they really should have all shared a significant number of scenes. In VII, Han dies after only sharing a brief scene with Leia. (You can blame Harrison Ford for that, by the way.) In VIII, exactly the same thing happens with Luke. I've heard that Ep IX seeks to rectify this issue to some extent, but as I haven't seen it yet, I can't say whether or not that is the case.

I also don't have a ton of respect for Rian Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy, or Bob Iger. Johnson's conduct toward fans who disliked The Last Jedi has, at times, been dismissive, mocking, and politically-driven. Granted, many of the attacks on him have been vicious and unwarranted, but his attitude doesn't really help. I also think he could have tried harder to dovetail with J.J. Abrams' storylines from The Force Awakens instead of deliberately subverting them (and the established conventions and mythology of Star Wars) at every turn. Kathleen Kennedy has made some very unwise decisions as the head of the Star Wars franchise which have only served to make the fallout from The Last Jedi worse. Bob Iger, by his own admission, was not as considerate of George Lucas' vision for the franchise as he should have been.

But these are all my opinions; nothing more. I'm probably wrong. You're also probably wrong. And that other person who thinks we're both wrong is probably also wrong.

Some–not all–of the current problems with Star Wars are due to politically-motivated decisions. I don't like it when established franchises get re-tooled for political or social-justice reasons, or when fans who disagree with such moves get labeled as toxic, racist, or sexist by default.

But I also don't like it when established fans of a franchise set themselves up as gatekeepers for what people should and shouldn't like. Not long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, people were mocked and shamed for liking the prequels. Now liking the prequels is cool because you're supposed to hate the Disney films instead. The truth is, both the Disney films and the prequels have their problems. Honestly, even the original films have their problems. But no one really cares that the continuity across the trilogy isn't perfect, or that Leia's accent changes halfway through A New Hope, or about any of the other minor issues, because we just enjoy sitting back and watching space westerns that have wizards with glowy swords that go vwoom.

Don't we? Anybody? Just me, then? Okay.

The Disney Star Wars films have problems which ought to be fixed, and some of the elements in them are less than respectful to what came before. But there are lots of people who enjoy them, and those people shouldn't be told that they're not “real” Star Wars fans. Conversely, the opinions of the people who feel betrayed by Disney Star Wars shouldn't be ignored; nor should those people be labeled as fake fans. Both sides of the debate have a responsibility to be civil. You can have strong opinions, but no matter what those opinions are, you don't have to descend into personal attacks on fans or the cast and crew of the movies.

And let's not forget about the one character who can bring us all together in harmony.

No, I'm actually not talking about Baby Yoda. I mean the Mandalorian himself, because he's ultimately the coolest character on the show.

Don't worry, I'm not going to let slip any spoilers for the series, but I think most of us can agree that it's amazing. And it may represent a new and improved era for the Star Wars franchise going forward. With more Clone Wars, Obi-Wan, and The Mandalorian Season 2 on the horizon, there's a lot for Star Wars fans to be excited about.

For better or for worse, the Skywalker Saga is over. It is what it is. Let's accept it, the way we have after each of the three imperfect trilogies that comprise it. Let's move on, share opinions in a courteous manner, and stop telling each other what we should and shouldn't like.

That's just my opinion, though. I could be wrong. And so could you.

Let's be wrong together.

“Chaos, yet harmony.” – from the original Jedi Code, author unknown, before the canonization of the refined verison by Jedi Master Odan-Urr in the fortieth century BBY

Comments (11)

Well put, Kyle. (Although let me be the one dissenting voice in the galaxy and say that I actually don’t care for the Mandalorian.)

I’d be interested to hear your perspective once you’ve seen Episode IX! The spoilers don’t really do it justice. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it at least gives the series some closure.

I remember being leery of the Disney acquisition when it was first announced. They’re consistently showing a lack of creative writing talent these days 🤷🏼‍♂️

Is there a particular reason you like the Mandalorian? I’m curious what the draw is for so many fans … it just doesn’t have any appeal to me. And I was actually excited for it!

I will definitely share my thoughts on Ep IX once I’ve seen it–I’m actually looking forward to it, because I’ve heard a fair amount of good things. Interestingly, I wasn’t excited for The Mandalorian at all, but in the end, it left me feeling more like a passionate fan of Star Wars than anything else I’ve seen from the franchise in quite a while. The main reason I like it is because it leans heavily into the space-western side of Star Wars, which I consider to be one of the two pillars which makes the franchise successful and popular. The other is the fantasy-esque Force mythology, which I’m hoping the Obi-Wan series focuses on. I love both elements, but I’ve got a particular fondness for the space-western stuff because I like westerns in general. And I love how The Mandalorian borrowed tropes and concepts from classic westerns and re-interpreted them in a sci-fi setting. I admit that the anthology-like structure of the season, with a very slowly-advancing season arc, might not be to everyone’s tastes, but I felt that the individual stories were strong enough to keep me invested. Plus, Taika Waititi’s brilliant direction in the finale made it worth waiting for. That said, I can see how the show wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and it perhaps isn’t served well by being over-hyped across the entire internet. There’s a lot more to it than meme-able moments from Baby Yoda, LOL.

Lol yes. Baby Yoda was clearly a crowd-pleaser 😂

So the character of the Mandalorian himself—you were able to connect with him? Emotionally, that is?

I just couldn’t connect with his personality. He doesn’t say much—which, since we can’t see his face, is the only real human connection to him left—and even when he does talk, it still fails to make him likable. He’s another of many Disney Star Wars characters that I find hard to like.

The sudden shift into his fatherly relationship with Baby Yoda also felt unnatural—and totally out-of-place—to me. Maybe I was just expecting a more Star Wars-appropriate plot, something a little less like Daddy Daycare. (Plus the “hey-look-I-found-an-orphan” storyline has already been told a million times already.)

Rant over 😉 I got it off my chest, I’m done now 😂

I’m definitely willing to change my mind if there’s something deeper to this story that I’ve overlooked. What do you think?

For some reason, even though I have heard from multiple people that they had issues connecting with the character, it wasn’t an issue for me. And that may be due to the Western thing. The Virginian, from the excellent 1960s TV series of the same name (and a classic novel, originally), was of a very similar archetype, and may have had some influence on The Mandalorian. The character’s name was never revealed on the show, and very little about his past was ever divulged. Granted, you could see his face, and his personality was still very fleshed out, but he wasn’t particularly talkative and the air of mystery never really left him. I think my prior experience with that kind of story helped me to connect with The Mandalorian more readily. Plus, I do tend to like antiheroic characters, so his not being as likable or morally sound in the earlier episodes worked for me. I do hear you on the fatherly relationship with Baby Yoda; I think the writers were trying to back this up by connecting it with his being orphaned as a child, but there’s a lot of guesswork involved in establishing his motives thus far. Maybe they’ll expand on that in Season 2. I also think that the finale helped to ground the Mandalorian’s relationship with Baby Yoda by giving it a purpose within the framework of Mandalorian customs and religion.

Really, the whole show is very light on dialogue and explanation, when you come right down to it. But I personally like that kind of story. Some shows and movies go out of their way to over-explain stuff, which can get tiresome. I feel that The Mandalorian doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of its audience. To me, that’s very refreshing. Just my take, though. 😀 It’s quite an unusual show, and I can completely understand why it won’t land with everyone.

I definitely agree that people should be civil to each other and that everyone can have different tastes when it comes to movies.

When someone tells me they loved The Last Jedi, my response tends to be, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

I disagree with you about the fans/gatekeepers thing, slightly though. No, I don’t think fans of a series should tell people what to like/not to like. If you ONLY love episode 2, or 8, or The Mandalorian, or whatever… you’re a fan. You count. If you don’t like ANY Star Wars, that’s fine, too. Your opinion is every bit as valid as everyone else’s – and I have friends I love who don’t love Star Wars… we don’t talk about Star Wars much, because we don’t understand each other’s opinions about it, but we are content to let each other love/hate the franchise in peace.

Fans of a franchise, however, are always going to be the gatekeepers of the stories that get told. If fans don’t like a movie, it won’t sell, and the creative people then have to make a decision: am I creating for fans and would like to be reimbursed for my efforts, or am I creating for critical acclaim/to make a statement/some other reason and I don’t care what it costs me to do so?

Whatever the creative person decides is their prerogative, of course, but they also have to be ready and willing to have their “baby” not oohed and aahhhed over and not fill their pockets with cash if what they create isn’t beloved. Which is what happened with Star Wars. And as we can see from the box office numbers, (an interesting exercise is to go to boxofficemojo.com and look at Ep 7, Rogue One, Ep 8, Solo next to each other to see exactly what the numbers did and how badly Ep 8 damaged Solo’s profitability… Solo didn’t fail because it was a bad movie, Solo failed because by and large fans hated Ep 8)… and that bottom-line falling out from underneath them changed what Disney decided to do with the franchise, which tells us what it is they ultimately wanted: to be reimbursed for their efforts. (which, consequently, means making a movie that fans like)

It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

I actually completely agree with you on all your points. You’re talking about a different aspect of the word “gatekeeper” than what I was going for, but it’s a very important one. In fact, I think it warrants my writing a follow-up post, because the business side of this is fascinating and I have a lot of thoughts on it. My post is mainly inspired by the fact that I see a lot of fans attacking other fans for liking, or at least not despising, The Rise of Skywalker. This is thanks to all the bad blood created by The Last Jedi. However, the ethics of that issue aside, and even aside from anybody’s opinions of The Last Jedi, it does represent an objective failure from a creative and marketing standpoint that has essentially destroyed all goodwill that fans had toward Disney after The Force Awakens. Plus, Disney did a truly awful job handling the fallout, stubbornly refusing to address the problems and course-correct until after it was already too late. Everyone can like whatever they like, but in the end, it all comes down to the bottom line, and fans absolutely do have the right to speak with their wallets about what they want from their favorite franchises. Clearly, the majority of fans did not want The Last Jedi or anything like it, and I don’t blame them at all. Like I said, I don’t have quite the same perspective on the film as long-term fans, but I can see that I would probably loathe it if I had grown up with Star Wars. I think it could have worked with more sensitive handling of the story that Rian Johnson was trying to tell, but I’m not sure. It really feels like his main goal was to be subversive, which was unquestionably a huge mistake. And all that Canto Bight nonsense didn’t help. Not to mention the fact that the Rose/Finn interactions were (in my opinion) just as cringeworthy as the Anakin/Padme scenes that everybody complains about.

In short, I definitely support this form of “gatekeeping.” It’s really only now, with the release of IX and the not-entirely-negative reaction to it, that I think some of the fan interactions have started to get out of hand. Plus, the argument can be made (especially from the business standpoint) that Star Wars films can’t afford to be bad or even mediocre. The box office certainly backs that up. On the bright side, all the rumors I’m hearing say that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will be promoted from showrunning The Mandalorian to helming the entire Star Wars franchise moving forward, which could finally set things back on the right track.

Ah yes, I completely misunderstood your use of the “gatekeepers” terminology. Thank you for clarifying.

We just rewatched The Last Jedi last night, kind of with an eye toward nit-picking, and honestly, after rewatching it… I still don’t come away from it hating the movie. It didn’t make me mad the way it seems to have made everyone else upset. (Possibly because I watched the “Cinema Wins” guy’s take on it and he makes some excellent points… I don’t agree with everything he got out of it, but he makes good points) 🙂 But yes, Canto Bight, and Rose/Finn… we made the same, “Wow, this is Anakin/Padme-level shudder-worthy dialogue” comment 😀

I love Cinema Wins! I think I actually got into that channel because I saw you recommend it on Twitter. I haven’t seen his take on TLJ yet, though, I’ll have to watch that. But yeah, the whole Canto Bight/Rose subplot is the only part of the movie which actually irritated me; the rest of it was either ok or at least meh in my opinion. Which isn’t an excuse, given that there really wasn’t any excuse for the movie to be that low-quality, but it still doesn’t lead me to actually despite the film. I intend to rewatch it and The Force Awakens before I see Rise of Skywalker so I can blog about my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole.

Great post! As a somewhat new/casual fan for the past two years, I’ve been very on the fence with this new trilogy. On one hand, I side the with more critical fans because of the way Disney treated their response to The Last Jedi (which I mostly agree with though there are a couple of parts that have good concepts, if not well executed). On the other I have a bit of sympathy for those few who enjoyed it and get a lot of hate (even when objective), as well as the whole situation it turned into through the aftermath. Like many I haven’t seen Solo – or the Mandalorian but that’s not yet in my country – and was more interested in following the continuous news articles on the matter rather than what new stuff’s been released.

And it isn’t just Star Wars, but a lot of big movie franchises going through problems (ex. Harry Potter, Marvel (kind of), Doctor Who). I find it a little odd and rather depressing that it’s happening just when I’m giving these stories a chance: something I didn’t really get to do at a younger age. So now I wonder: what good will come out of this?
The fact that a lot of this is crashing down meaning new ideas can shine?
Or that it could still work but in a different medium(s)?
I don’t know about you…but in terms of coincidences it’s a lot to think about…

I agree! Great thoughts. The current state of all these franchises does sadden me, but I do feel that some of them are trying to respond to fan feedback by making changes. I don’t feel any great desire to go on with Marvel post-Endgame, not because I didn’t like the movie but because I don’t really see the point in carrying on the storylines of the MCU beyond such an effective conclusion. A few of the projects they have in the pipeline interest me (mainly WandaVision and Dr. Strange 2), but I don’t know if those will be enough to draw me back into the fandom. I think that Star Wars could have a bright future if Disney applies the lessons they’re learning from The Mandalorian to the movies–and if that happens, I hope that fans will give the new films a chance. It’s similar to my current thoughts on Doctor Who: having seen the Season 12 premiere, I think they’re making a concerted effort to fix the problems of the previous season, but there still seem to be a lot of people determined not to watch it because they were burned by Series 11, which is a shame. It doesn’t do any good for us to demand change when franchises have declined in quality if we’re not willing to reward those franchises by supporting them if/when they improve again.

Ah, this is a great post!

I was disappointed in TFA. A lot of it seemed like it could be cut out/was unnecessary, but I gave the second a go anyways. That one. *That* one made me mad.
To sum up my frustration: with the route they took, they essentially Snapped the entire Extended Universe. The Skywalker and Solo families, the might of the New Republic, great character arcs, crazy-scary aliens, deeper exploration into the rules of the Jedi and Sith… ;-;
I also couldn’t help but notice some items on the leftist agenda that got jammed in both films. The only reason I noticed was because leftist agenda sticks out like a bantha on Hoth, because SW politics DON’T WORK LIKE THAT. (Imma stop before I start getting into SW court intrigue.)

I might give The Mandalorian a go (please tell me they actually speak Mando’a in it, pleasepleaseplease), because I love Mandalorians. Trying to hold out hope they didn’t completely nix the EU and include a cameo by Kal, Walton, Omega, or Alpha squad…

Also, in regards to the issues of the original films: after taking a peek at first/early draft ideas, I’m sure everyone can agree that the original films are perfect in comparison. XD
(It’s so weird, but I still want it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJ2CF7K/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1)

Okay, I think I’m done now… XP

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