Why the fanbase is so toxic, and how we got here.
What a great read! Thanks for sharing. It is truly amazing what the vocal hate-mob in the Star Wars community fails to understand about this thing that they claim to love.
Best long ass post I ever read!
Jen, thank you for this. You really are great at making things make sense :)
Great post! I'm really enjoying your Thoughts posts. You bring a ton of nuance and insight into these complicated topics. One quibble: Rian Johnson was never directing/writing Episode IX. Instead it was supposed to be Colin Trevorrow (director of Jurassic World), who was no doubt scrapped for the reason you posit in your post. His script leaked online last year and it sounds like it was the complete opposite of Rise of Skywalker, in that it made hard choices and continued the themes of TLJ:
I can’t speak for others, but my contention with the modern Star Wars (or Disney’s Star Wars, if you prefer) has been that the writing has been incredibly bad, and that drags down the story with it. The biggest example of this is Rey’e character of being a nobody or being a Palpatine. I get that they kinda messed up because they didn’t have a real plan or a trilogy by the same director, but when you keep changing the entire character’s basis, that gives me whiplash.
Another example is Finn. I like the idea of a stormtrooper gone rogue. I also liked how well he and Poe played off each other. What I didn’t like is that his character got shafted in every one of the three movies because the screenwriters did not know what to do with him. Instead of giving him a compelling story and arc across the three movies, he’s just… there. He has good motivations for doing what he does, but other than just tagging along with Rose Tico on one mission that ultimately didn’t do much, or tagging along with Rey and being her yes-man, Finn has nothing to do with the story.
The Mandalorian was okay, although there were some plotholes and inconsistencies that still bug me. Where they went wrong was in Boba Fett’s show. The most badass mercenary in the galaxy constantly makes stupid decisions that bite him when he really shouldn’t. He should know better because his entire life he has been a bounty hunter and had to deal with the worst of the worst on a daily basis. However, here he just decides to fly over the Sarlacc pit with no regards to safety, gets his butt kicked at almost every turn, and generally doesn’t utilize any of his gadgets or skills properly as he should until the very final episode, and it’s jarring to watch. Hell, the last three episodes completely sidelined Boba in favor of Mando, and it’s really weird to be watching a show about Boba Fett without any Boba in it.
I could go on and on, but I don’t really think writing an entire essay here will do much good when there’s an entire section of youtube entirely dedicated to this sort of stuff. I can admit there are toxic elements to the fandom, and they are problematic, but to me it seems the biggest problem is the writing. Legacy characters are disrespected, and new characters are never properly developed. IMO, Disney needs to hire better screenwriters that focus their writing on characters and interactions between them instead of flashy visuals and gigantic CGI setpieces.
An excellent read! Us Star Wars fans have a ton to live down, and seeing where the particularly toxic and depressingly relentlessly vocal among us came from was worth reading, thanks!
Personally, I disagree about Star Wars being a Western (it has a ton of Western elements of course) as I find it a sci-fi war movie, but a lot of the inherent bootstrapping macho exceptionalism you mentioned is also found in war movies, so I still agree with your overall points in where the Fandom Menace arose. Also really nitpicky, but I don't recall Rian ever being attached to TROS, instead Colin Trevorrow was, but once Duel of the Fates was revealed to be ghastly, they promptly booted him off and had JJ take the skeleton if the script and rework it with Chris Terrio into TROS. I wanted to see Finn lead a Stormtrooper rebellion on the FO Destroyer in the final battle myself, but your idea of the two fighting at the end is simply electrifying, I'd have loved to have seen that.
You ma'am, understand Star Wars very well, and have this diehard Star Wars fan's complete respect!
“The tension that was immortalized in our constitution is that white men can only have equality with one another, not with anyone else.” That sentence blew my face off, in a good way. I’ve never seen or heard it described this pointedly, and it should be. Thank you for all this discussion.
Ironically, I liked TLJ, I think I might be the only person who does. But the last three films, which honestly, I like better than any of the others (like I actually could not stand to get thru Episode 1 bc of racist portrayals and Jar Jar Binks) could have been so much better. Much of what you said. FinnPoe forever among other things. I honestly liked the Rey as a nobody bit bc the “somehow Palpatine returned” was just like “really?”. I really hated the ReyLo stuff bc it promoted woman saving man from himself despite being abused repeatedly by said guy.
This is just a great, great read. Thank you Jen! MTFBWY
Great read! This really resonates with me since I've lived in some deep red cities in the past and have seen how disastrous their policies have been to those areas firsthand. Such brain rot that they continually vote against laws and policies that would positively impact their everyday life but refuse to do so to "own the libs."
Star Wars (and really all movies/tv shows/music etc.) is the perfect example of how a lot of people that aren't impacted by something (white cis males) take the shallowest view of said media. From Republicans loving Rage Against the Machine, to your example of them wanting to take politics out of Star Wars. The only reason they can even hold that viewpoint is because they don't have to worry about their livelihood on a daily basis.
Thanks for the deep post and being such an important voice in comics!
ps. Just picked up your foil DC Pride cover and I looooove it! :)
Speak for yourself, plenty of us WERE in fact quite happy with Rise of Skywalker, the original script wasn't chucked out because of fan backlash, it was because of Carrie Fischer's tragic death as she was supposed to be a major part of ROS, plus the original director Colin Trevorrow got fired(probably after Book After Henry bombed and was critically reviled)so they had no choice but to bring in Abrams in order to try and get some semblance of control back.
Good article otherwise though, I think Obama was a damn good president and i'm proud to have voted for him. The fact that Ahmed Best got bullied to the point of committing suicide as a result of the hate towards Jar-Jar shows that even back then there was toxicity in the fanbase.
Took me a while to get around to reading it, but now kicking myself I didn't do it sooner. Fantastic post - thank you for taking the time to lay it all out like this. <3
Thank you for writing this essay. The toxicity of fandom with its ‘you’re not a real fan’ views always had a bigoted streak to it that was familiar to me as an Asian admirer of Star Wars who experienced racism growing up in 1970s North America. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason for that attitude, given the source material’s clear (to me) progressive message of strength through diversity and plurality. You articulated with proof the reasons for the misplaced grievance and resentment of the loud toxic minority of fans.
I just don’t get why people are so mad that folks who in the past were not allowed to sit at the creative table are now being invited to help sustain these franchises. We pay to watch these movies. Why shouldn’t we see ourselves represented on those screens? We’re not asking to push out white men from those stories. We’re just asking for the opportunity to have characters that look like us portrayed as people with depth who can be the heroes (or villains) of the stories that entertain us.
Hi Jen! Newcomer here (via Exploding Giraffe). Thank you for this fascinating and insightful post. Explains a lot about both idiotic toxic fandom and why America is so very f*cked up. White Christian Conservatives are a malignant cancer which metastasized with the 45th prez and again recently with the Supreme Court, destroying everything they touch. There's a Grand Canyon sized gulf between what the USA thinks it is and what it actually is.
Seems to me The Last Jedi was Rian Johnson taking the mixed blessings and curses handed to him by JJ Abrams and doing the best he could to take Star Wars into the future. Then it was all completely ruined by Abrams and the shitscared committee backpedalling furiously with The Rise of Skywalker.