The rise, and popularity, of social media has made creators more available to fans than ever. The downside is that some fans are real jerks. But a respectful fan recently asked Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson on Twitter what he thinks about his “polarizing” film. He replied, but should he have to?
A lot of fans take for granted they can ask creators and actors questions directly online, never stopping to think if they should. If you’ve ever been on the internet at all you know it can be a crummy place filled with crummy people (it can also, of course, be the opposite). But when it comes to genre projects, it seems extra obvious people forget there’s a real person on the other side of the screen.
Our Germain Lussier called The Last Jedi “shocking,” among other things, but once the wider audience got to view the highly-anticipated film, reactions were mixed. Fans of the franchise can be incredibly generous and supporting but they can also be jerks. Some fans disliked the film so much they started multiple petitions to express their distaste. But that wasn’t enough. No, others went directly to Johnson to tell him how horrible they thought his film was.
I saw Last Jedi at one of the earliest public showings. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but I know I didn’t love it. That was a weird feeling for me. I felt deflated. After so much anticipation, and so many years spent obsessing over this franchise, I didn’t immediately fall in love with the latest installment. But while I was trying to digest the film I saw the discourse starting online and knew it was only the tip of the iceberg.
The conversation went from people who loved it, to people who hated it, and everything in between but it also included people on either side of the spectrum getting angry at the other. It was exhausting. And I knew what was next—journalists asking the creator and actors what they thought about some fans hating the film. And that would start a whole other round of discourse. But fans got there first and yesterday, Johnson replied to one:
I know it might be difficult for some to accept but people creating fiction products are just trying to make something good. They do not want to hurt you personally. This was a great answer from Johnson but it’s unfortunate he had to address it at all. Of course he didn’t want to divide people. Think about it. This guy is a geek, just like us, and got the opportunity of a lifetime. He created something he was proud of, something Lucasfilm appreciated so much they gave him the keys to the kingdom, and a portion of fandom couldn’t wait to tell him how shitty they thought it was. To his (online) face.
Our own Rob Bricken was upset over the film. He considered it for a while and wrote a thoughtful essay. Discussing and dissecting a film can be great and reveal interesting things but asking someone why they made a “bad” movie is decidedly not great. I’m not saying we all have to like/love the movie (we all have varying opinions on literally everything), or that we all have to deal with the uncomfortable feelings that come along with not liking the new “thing” in the same way, I’m just asking fandom to think first. Taking your anger out on someone isn’t a very Jedi thing to do, after all.
I’ll leave you with this bit of advice from Johnson on creating: