Only a day or two into its release and ‘The Last Jedi‘ is already angering some Star Wars fans.
This is not surprising since Star Wars fans — and nerds in general — tend to be territorial traditionalists whose reactionary scales have no other setting than “outrage.” The slightest deviation in status quo evokes the perennial cry of “you have destroyed my childhood.” As if their childhood is some precious commodity to be preserved at all costs.
‘The Last Jedi’ has triggered this insanely extreme reaction like nothing since ‘The Phantom Menace.’ The internet is already abuzz with horrific accounts of childhoods destroyed, simply due to a deviation in aesthetic. It’s that misplaced outrage that risks the entire viability of Star Wars as a franchise.
Before we move any further, it bears stating that it is impossible to discuss this issue without spoilers. Frankly, this is a good thing, because people who have not seen ‘The Last Jedi’ do not need to be reading any sort of deconstruction of the film and should go into the theater with an open mind. However, the Law Of The Internet dictates fair warning before spoilers. So….
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
Now that that’s settled, let us get into the meat of the issue. Why inflexible, aging fans are suicide bombing their own franchise.
In making ‘The Last Jedi’, Rian Johnson took more than his fair share of liberties with the look-and-feel of the Star Wars Universe. From the very first scene showing Poe Dameron simulating a crank call to General Hux, all the way to Luke Skywalker brushing his shoulder off — humor runs as a thread through the whole movie. On top of that, the ever-divisive Porgs play no role in the plot other than to give Disney something cute to sell. Whereas ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ served as the dark and religious second act in the Original Trilogy, ‘The Last Jedi’ brings a levity to the story that was only background noise in ‘The Force Awakens.’
It’s hard for an old-school fan to accept this newer aesthetic. It’s different. It’s new. It forces us to accept the death of beloved characters in order to make way for new ones.
Admittedly, the film has some issues. Why do we never find out the origin of Supreme Leader Snoke before Kylo Ren murders him? (And how did he not see that coming?) How is it that Rey is strong with the Force if her parents were just random drifters? And how does a massive starship not catch up to a puny Rebel Cruiser and blow it to hell? On top of that, yes Poe Dameron is annoying as shit and yes the return of Yoda felt somewhat forced (pardon the pun.)
But at the same time, ‘The Last Jedi’ has moments of greatness too. The assault on Crait is visually stunning and works beautifully as an analogy for the struggle of The Resistance. The bombing run on the Dreadnaught is tense and enthralling. Adam Driver is utterly magnificent from start to finish and perfectly portrays the conflict of a young man saddled with the weight of the galaxy before he could walk. (And let’s cut the bull… the odds are better than you think that Kylo Ren and Rey are brother and sister.)
Also, Billie Lourd as Kaydel Ko Connix is the best character you refused to notice. Her desperate stoicism is perfect for The Resistance and splendidly balances out the insufferable Poe Dameron. Also, knowing Carrie Fisher gave her final performance next to her daughter… all the feels.
Finding it difficult to accept ‘The Last Jedi’ is honestly normal. When you grew up with the swashbuckling excitement of the Original Trilogy, it’s hard to accept when Star Wars follows the natural evolution of filmmaking. Yet in the same vein of honesty, it is asinine to expect the constant regurgitation of the same six movies over, and over, and over.
Fans simply cannot expect the franchise to stand still and rot on the vine as the world moves on around it. To do so would be a greater insult to Star Wars than a couple of space penguins and casino.
Disney is not destroying your childhood by allowing Star Wars to change and evolve. You are destroying Star Wars by demanding it remains stagnant for the rest of time. ‘The Last Jedi’ scares some fans because it’s new and different. It will take some getting used to, but ultimately it is the best thing for the franchise.
Kylo Ren said it best, that it’s time for old things to die. If you cannot accept ‘The Last Jedi’ for the evolution of the franchise that it is — it is you that is thrusting a lightsaber into the heart of your childhood. Not Rian Johnson and certainly not the Porgs.