Spoilers, there are. Warned, you have been.
BEIRUT: Audiences, as of late, have been complaining about recent franchise films and serialized content, and access to social media platforms has made those subjective opinionated voices more accessible and easily heard, or read.
Sure, professional film critics are guilty of criticizing and sharing their objective opinion but they also tend to be the kind of audience members that actually seek to truly enjoy what they are watching.
After the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, fans took to Rotten Tomatoes, the film review website, and began their wrathful complaining, whining, grumbling, and tore the film to shreds.
Their anger even went as far as to create a ridiculous petition to force Disney to make The Last Jedi non-canonical.
All this, because the film resulted in the subversion of fan expectations.
But isn’t that what audiences should want from a film?
Back in the days of the original trilogy, social media was nonexistent, spoilers were also nonexistent, and so the films had the advantage of an audience’s ignorance up until the day of the release.
Now, not only are there risks of leaks, but every fan has a theory, a speculation, and a vision for how they believe the studio or director should make the film. Expectations have now become doctrine and if they are not met, then the film is not worthy, the studio is ruining the franchise, and the director is hounded on social media.
Opinions on a film experience should be voiced, but what was occurring in this instance was more aggressive and verbally violent than anything ever witnessed within the fandom.
Some proclaimed it was too long, others too slow, or too revolutionary because of the way the film handled the beloved Luke Skywalker, or whatever else they came up with.
Even after watching it three times, however, the film continued to fascinate on the genius of the latest Star Wars film. As a screenwriter, it was apparent what director and writer Rian Johnson was trying to do, and the strategic reason The Last Jedi’s story was very much a meta-narrative.
What Johnson and Disney are trying to do with this entry is simply open the door for the various storytelling possibilities in this galaxy far, far away that has been loved since the 1980’s.
It’s no wonder Kylo Ren tells Rey, “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.”
Unfortunately, we've simply become cynics.
Gone are the days of watching and believing in magic. Gone are the days when plot twists shocked us. Gone are the days of letting go and giving ourselves fully to the stories we are told. We constantly have to question, and ponder, and analyze, and theorize.
To clarify, nowhere is it said that we should dumb ourselves down so that we can enjoy, but asking too much and expecting that our versions of the stories are the versions we will see on the screen and that all our speculations should be met is ultimately the cause of our disappointment.
Fans were disappointed that Johnson’s decision to kill off Supreme Leader Snoke, in what was one of the most epic scenes in the film, all because there was no backstory on the Supreme Leader.
Have those fans forgotten that if it weren’t for George Lucas’s prequels, none of us would have known about the Emperor’s backstory?
The killing of Snoke allowed for Kylo Ren’s evolution into the true villain of the story. Snoke, much like the Emperor, was a stepping stone or a catalyst for a more leading character to reach the path that they were meant to be on.
Luke Skywalker’s behavior and ultimate passing was another major issue with fans that disliked the film. However, if those fans thought about it logically for a moment, and remembered that the “legendary” Luke Skywalker was and always has been a human being and not a deity; it would be far more acceptable for him to become a skeptic.
This is a man who risked it all to save the galaxy and bring balance to the force, only to have evil and the dark side rise again. Look at any films that dealt with soldiers returning from Vietnam or WWII, and how broken and disenfranchised they felt.
Luke battled against the Empire and sacrificed a lot to do it. Is it so strange that he be tired of it all?
Finally, Rey’s lineage, which was handled the only way it could have been handled, enraged Skywalker line loyalists, fully forgetting that Kylo “Ben Solo” Ren is still half a Skywalker.
Rey being a nobody is exactly like Luke being a nobody before her, and Anakin being a nobody before him. She is us and we are her – witnesses in an intergalactic war who want nothing more than to be a part of it and to make a difference.
But none of that seemed to satisfy.
Each audience member demanded their version of the story, and when they did not receive it, they exploded.
And yet regardless all of the disappointed fans’ complaints and rage-filled tantrums, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi crossed the $1billion threshold and was recently announced to have dethroned Harry Potter for the highest grossing franchise of all time.
Maybe the whole concept of on-demand is to blame. Maybe this ability for audiences to receive what they demand the moment they demand it is what is somehow affecting the way content is being received.
As a screenwriter, this makes me rather nervous and fuels me with self-doubt.
Could this whole thing be human nature's obsession with tearing down good because of some deep sense of dissatisfaction with our own lives?
We demand, and demand, and demand, but what do we offer in return?
Do we offer the benefit of the doubt? Do we let go and respect the work that is laid before us? Do we give credit where credit is due?
Don't get it wrong, as someone who loves cinema, and serialized content obsessively, while looking for all the technicalities and the process of how a film or a series was made; but would over-do it. we should allow our inner child to enjoy it; allow the magic of it all to fill us, and let go of all our real-world cynicism and just watch.
Yes, there are times where, however, when even that is not enough, cue the many blockbuster letdowns this year.
A dear friend once said that the higher you place your expectations on people, the more disappointed you are going to be.
With that in mind, it’s adequate to say the same thing to the worldwide audience of films and serialized content. The higher you place cinema, or serialized content on a golden pedestal, or an iron throne, or a Jedi Temple, the more disappointed you are going to be, and the more you are going to feel like showrunners, directors, producers, and studios are failing you.
You are the cause of your own disappointment.
It is just that simple.
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