What Really Went Wrong With The Last Jedi?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was probably one of the most anticipated films in the franchise. After two full weekends of its theatrical release, fans and the Star Wars Internet community are more polarized than ever. The film is on track to finish its run at a cool 1.6 billion dollars. That’s not too shabby for a film that a lot of fans are calling a bomb.
So do you really want to know what happened to The Last Jedi? I can sum it up in two words… the fans. Everyone was so hyped up for what was expected to be an epic Star Wars film that would rival The Empire Strikes Back. Anticipation was built up so much that The Last Jedi did not—and could not—stand a chance.
Wild fan theories and spoilers coupled with Rotten Tomatoes virtually poisoned the film within a matter of days. Controversy over Carrie Fisher, hatred of the Porgs, theories over whether Luke Skywalker would turn to the Dark Side. The film was hyped up for months, then panned so quickly after its release that failure was almost inevitable.
There are so many factors that contributed to the debacle that it’s difficult to touch on every single one. So let’s try to break down the most annoying factors that have nothing to do with the film itself.
Wild Fan Theories
This one is a doozy. The Internet is a wondrous and magical place. It is also the breeding ground for hatred, negativity, and trolls. No, not the kind of trolls that live under bridges—you know the kind of trolls I’m talking about. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. The Internet can spread word of mouth, both good and bad, in a matter of minutes. Fan theories, like any perceived power, have their good and bad sides. When used for good, they can be thought-provoking and entertaining. In the wrong hands, they can be crippling to any medium.
Luke Skywalker is really Snoke. Snoke is a reincarnated Emperor Palpatine. Rey is a Skywalker. I could literally go on forever with the fan theories that have surfaced since The Force Awakens over key story elements of The Last Jedi. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with fan theories. It’s only when those theories are taken as fact and become what the fans expect from the movie that they become dangerous.
I want Rey and Kylo Ren to be brother and sister. Luke Skywalker has to fight Supreme Leader Snoke. Leia has to be the last Jedi. Many fans were either so certain these things would happen or set their minds to accepting no less than what they built up in their minds, that nothing short of that would appease them.
When The Last Jedi took a complete turn and ended up being unlike any Star Wars movie to date, some fans lost their collective minds. Some even petitioned to have the events of the film stricken from official Star Wars canon. If that doesn’t seem to be a little insane to some of you, then it’s possible you could be part of the problem.
The bane of every director’s existence: your film’s plot ruined by spoilers and leaks. Most major film productions have security measures in place to prevent leaks and spoilers that would put any CIA operation to shame. Sadly though, they do happen and they happen quite often. A well-timed onset photo or a misspoken word can spread like a California wildfire. Mix that with wild fan theories and you’ve got the fuel for an online firestorm.
Then you have the most hated source of spoilers out there… social media. People go to the early screenings or midnight showings and then vomit everything over social media. I can tell you there is a special place in Hell for those people. Then through word of mouth, those spoilers spread like a virus across the world. Some fans go on a complete social media blackout until they see the film, which is a really good idea. There’s nothing like the jackass who, without warning, blurts out on Facebook that Rey’s parents are actually Lando and Phasma.
In the immortal words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.”
Remember that breeding ground for hatred, negativity, and trolls mentioned earlier? Rotten Tomatoes is the petri dish in which those elements often fester. What was once a refreshing new way of grading movies has become a battleground for movie purists and online trolls to clash. Movies quite literally live and die by the rating given them by this website.
Rotten Tomatoes started with the best of intentions: fan-based reviews. It all sounds pretty harmless in theory. But when the mix of petty, adolescent, bottom-feeding attention-seekers and people with a self-serving agenda or ax to grind, a public forum most often becomes a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Like so many things on the Internet today, data can be skewed to one side or another. There were even reports of an alt-right group that set out to negatively affect The Last Jedi‘s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s the kind of world we live in today, folks.
It’s reaching a fever pitch now that there are online petitions to have Rotten Tomatoes shut down. Similar petitions were launched last summer over bad reviews of Suicide Squad. The twist this time is that fans are upset over the GOOD scores of The Last Jedi. Will it ever end?
A New Hope
Whether you agree with it or not, Disney is going to push the Star Wars juggernaut for as long as it can. What a lot of fans fail to realize is that Star Wars has proven to be timeless. The franchise has thrived for forty years with no signs of slowing down.
Star Wars works because it spans an entire galaxy. There are countless stories yet to be told. No one ever said that all of those stories centered around the Skywalkers. The struggle continues, the torch is passed from one generation to another. As one hero falls, another is there to continue the fight.
It’s a simple and undeniable fact that you cannot please everyone. If the Internet has taught us anything, that is the one lesson to take away. We live in a polarized society on nearly every level. We nerds can be very fickle in our likes and dislikes. But we need to be careful and thoughtful in our criticisms. Because if we are not, then the movies we love could just go away as quickly as they started.