Politics, Religion, and Star Wars.
These days, conversations about these three topics can lead to some heated debates.
Fandom is a result of passion and when the first film released in 1977 it not only would reshape the entertainment industry, but it would create it’s own culture.
Any creative medium speaks volumes with what it omits. “Fantasy” is a genre dependent on omission. World-building is in our imagination based on what we have not seen.
So after the original trilogy, fans filled in the gaps. They had over a decade of fan-fiction, novels, comics before “Phantom Menace” hit the theaters to a similar volatility.
The pre-quels were sinful – with their poor dialogue, aged CGI, and explanations to fantasy elements we did not need (mitochlorians? Really!?).
The sequels are out now and they’re good, but have a deep struggle with world-building. Any fantasy elements are drawn from past films and essentially – old news.
Rich Evans described the Star Wars universe with the old addage: “Wide as an ocean, shallow as a puddle.”
Again, these things are subjective. We live in an age where our blockbusters are “data-driven.” They use elements of what worked in previous films. Marvel does it, and now Star Wars does it. It’s an age of data-driven creativity.
Joshua Rothman of the New Yorker says the franchise is “caught in a loop of self-love” and it sure does feel like it with each and every new film.
The data points to things and plot structures that worked in past films, but that runs perpendicular to the very definition of fantasy which is about the mystery and the unknown.
Star Wars is unique in the fact that no fanbase has ever been this broad for any film franchise in history – and likely it will remain that way till the end of time.
It will be taught in art history books.
Also consider the delays between trilogies. As I previously mentioned “Star Wars” built a lot of their fantasy up in their omissions, leaving the fan to imagine, or explore other mediums to fill the void.
In no world were the sequel films ever going to be universally loved or even liked – but now the aura of political correctness looms over the fanbase and the hostility is, well, embarrassing.
I once talked with someone who was venting about how common political correctness was in media today. My reply has always been this – it is a reflection of our era.
Racism and sexism still run embarrassingly rampant in our country. Having a diverse cast in the new franchise is part of this movement and it hasn’t affected the quality one way or the other.
If all these characters were white and male they’d still have the narrative issues they have. For fans to even think about blaming diversity is intellectually dishonest.
On the other side is the frustratingly hypocritical nature of Hollywood. Film critics rave about The Last Jedi, almost unanimously. Given the nearly 50/50 divide in user ratings we have to wonder if this is a cultural thing.
With this movement we have made diversity profitable. Disney uses it as a selling point for Black Panther, which wouldn’t have happened in the past.
Another example is the promotional material for Wonder Woman – the biggest budgeted film ever directed by a woman.
It is a massive achievement that we have made diversity profitable – but many people see these ads by major studios inauthentic considering their poor record with hiring women and minorities.
There is currently a campaign on Twitter to remake The Last Jedi – which is absurd. The Twitter account is asking for donations with no game plan on how to secure the rights from Disney.
It would’ve been a muted effort if it wasn’t for bitter film critics and actor Seth Rogen tweeting at and quoting the account. They were appropriately critical, but I fear they’ve legitimized the cause.
Our society right now consists of small groups of loud, obnoxious people on each side of any given issue. They are small, but loud enough that it’s all we hear. It presents this false narrative that these bitter, angry people are a majority. When the majority is actually on the outside observing, and in regards to Star Wars, tilting their heads at the absurdity.