I recently had the chance to read Chris Taylor‘s excellent book How Star Wars Conquered The Universe, which chronicles the franchise from its earliest days all the way up to the Disney acquisition. One thing that Taylor wrote early on in the book that resonated me was, “To truly love STAR WARS, you must also hate STAR WARS.” While the statement may sound like an oxymoron, it really isn’t. People who love the franchise, study it, and make it part of their life; they also are very vocal about what they don’t like, what doesn’t work, or where the franchise contradicts itself. In other words STAR WARS fans are passionate.
With the advent of social media, fans have become even more vocal about their displeasure with certain elements of STAR WARS, to the point that it sometimes becomes toxic. Don’t believe me? Try having a civil conversation about THE LAST JEDI on Twitter sometime and see how that goes. In the last forty-eight hours alone, the actors of the new trilogy have drawn the ire of the Internet about perceived slights against both Rian Johnson and THE LAST JEDI. It just baffles me that a franchise that’s inspired imaginations for four decades can also prompt such vitriol.
One of the actors just as perplexed as me about the divisiveness and conflict is John Boyega. The twenty-seven year old actor, who plays Stormtrooper turned Resistance fighter Finn, has been making the press rounds for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. When asked about what it’s been like to navigate fan expectations, particularly as it pertains to the potential Finn/Poe romantic relationship, Boyega had this to say:
“Navigating that for me has been interesting, because I love all of “Star Wars.” And I think that “Star Wars” should be a hub for imagination and it should be an opportunity for you to be able to expand on the characters how you see fit. What I don’t like is the conflict between ‘ships. I think it’s the most stupid thing in the world. This is “Star Wars.” It’s a big universe. Someone can be a Reylo and then you know, someone can like the fact that you know, Finn and Poe are together. Someone can like, you know, Poe and Rey together, whoever. It’s “Star Wars,” you know? Let’s all have fun! The conflict is when I’m like, all right, ‘Let’s all calm down.’ This is “Star Wars,” not “Tribal Wars”!”
While Boyega is specifically referencing the relationship aspect of things, it think his sentiments apply to STAR WARS as a whole. We’ve seemingly gotten to the point where it’s not OK to have a different movie opinion from someone else. People shouldn’t have to be verbally threatened if they didn’t like THE LAST JEDI or if they loved it. That’s not to say people can’t or shouldn’t point out valid criticisms, however at the end of the day it’s just a movie. Nobody is curing cancer here. The fate of the world doesn’t rest on your opinion about old man Luke drinking green milk. As Boyega said this is a “big universe” and there’s room for a multitude of interpretations and perspectives.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER starring Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Keri Russell, Lupita Nyong’o, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Richard Grant, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Dominic Monaghan, and Greg Grunberg goes for its final trench run December 20.