Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams sounds off on the fan backlash that Star Wars: The Last Jedi received.
In an interview with Esquire promoting the ninth and final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, J.J. Abrams was asked about the fans’ response to Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. Ever since the film hit theaters in December 2017, it experienced a varied response from fans that reached toxic levels from certain segments of the fanbase. In one notorious case, Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran left Instagram after dealing with racist/sexist comments from online trolls that didn’t like her performance and/or presence in The Last Jedi.
J.J. Abrams gave his thoughts on the fans’ response to The Last Jedi and the negativity amongst toxic segments of the fandom:
“I think that the bigger question is: How has everything changed? The reaction to Star Wars, the increased attacks, the increased negativity, the Fandom Menace as they call it, you know, that is not unique to Star Wars, obviously. And I think we live in a time where if you’re not being divisive, if you’re not creating something that’s aversive quick-bait, sometimes you don’t quite feel like you’re playing the game. I always loved Star Wars because it’s got a huge heart. Did I always believe in and agree with every single thing that happened in every movie, whether it was the prequels or the original trilogy? No. But do I love Star Wars? Yes. So, for me, I hope — and I’m sure naively — we can return to a time where we give things a bit more latitude. We don’t have to agree with every single thing to love something. I don’t know anyone who has a spouse or a partner or any family member or any friend, who loves and agrees with every single thing that that person is and does. We have to return, I think, to nuance and acceptance. And so I feel like, as a Star Wars fan, do I love every single thing about each of the movies? No. But do I love Star Wars? Hell yes, I do.”
It’s worth remembering that before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the Star Wars fandom had its share of toxicity with some proclaiming that George Lucas “raped their childhood” with the release of the controversial Prequel Trilogy. Toxic fandom was so prominent even during that time, it took a toll on The Phantom Menace stars Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best. In the case of the latter, whom portrayed Jar Jar Binks, he contemplated suicide following the reception to his character.
J.J. Abrams’ comments on the response to The Last Jedi showcase that every fanbase can have its share of bad apples, and even the biggest fans that do not hold onto bigoted mindsets can still have valid criticisms of a franchise without using such vitriol. Either way, it’s nice to hear J.J. Abrams’ comments on toxic fandom and it’s also encouraging that he also considered the impact that The Last Jedi played on him developing The Rise of Skywalker.
What do you make of J.J. Abrams’ comments on the response to The Last Jedi? Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to continue following Heroic Hollywood for all the latest news on J.J. Abrams and the future of the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available to own on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.