JJ Abrams Tells Star Wars Critics They’re Right
Art and Experience: JJ Abrams responds to those critical of the new Star Wars franchise by agreeing with them. We did not see that coming.
Star Wars fans have a lot to say and a lot of opinions. The franchise has been around since 1977. Over those four decades, billions of people have come aboard as fervent worshippers at the altar of the Jedi.
So with every new Star Wars release, you have to expect an outpouring of divisive comments.
It probably started with Empire’s bleak ending, then anger at the Ewoks, the political themes of the dragging prequels, not enough originality in The Force Awakens, too much originality in The Last Jedi, and now a general malaise post-Skywalker.
Most of the time this happens, we’ve seen the directors and studio just let people meltdown on the internet and kept raking in the bucks.
But now, JJ Abrams has stepped forward to address the controversy surrounding the detractors of his new film. JJ made these comments at the Academy screening of his work, saying:
“I’d say [the film’s critics are] right. The people who love it more than anything are also right. We knew going in—I was asked just seven hours ago, ‘So how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ and I was like ‘What?’ Not to say that that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars.”
This is a rather stunning statement since it was widely believed that the studio was determined to please everyone after the controversial and mostly minority opinion of hating The Last Jedi, which still had an “A” Cinemascore.
While there’s no proof of the studio’s decision, people have cited a lot of the fan service and callbacks within the film as placating a vocal minority in order to bolster revenue.
JJ was not done and went on to discourage “outrage culture” by adding,
“We live in a moment where everything seems to immediately default to outrage, and there’s an M.O. of it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy… But it’s a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion—this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything—and acceptance. It’s a crazy moment, so we knew starting this, any decision we made—a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision—would please someone and infuriate someone else.”
All in all, I feel like this is a positive message to fans everywhere. Toxic fandom has been the talk of the town over the last decade. The rise of social media commentary and accessibility of talent created a disturbing bully-ridden culture we’re still trying to combat. After the last Star Wars, Kelly Marie Tran was chased off Twitter by vitriolic comments and even Rian Johnson and JJ himself have been the target of petitions and campaigns tearing down their work.
As Star Wars looks toward the future of releases, I think they better knuckle up and decide what kinds of stories they want to tell.
Like JJ asserted in the beginning, you can’t make something to please everyone. So it might be best to lean into the artists who have something to say and back them when those decisions are made.
Only time will tell what Disney and Kathleen Kennedy have in store for the next installments.
See you soon in a galaxy far, far away.