Star Wars: The Last Jedi is proving to be just as divisive as we predicted, and right now chat threads are burning up with heated fan debates about whether Episode VIII is a game-changing milestone, or massive disappointment. A lot of the negative reaction to the film gets aimed in one direction: right at director Rian Johnson.
Johnson recently opened up about being in the focus of Star Wars fan ire, and seems to have taken a decidedly higher-minded zen approach to this particular pressure:
"Having been a "Star Wars" fan my whole life and having spent most of my life on the other side of the curb and in that fandom, it softens the blow a little bit." Johnson told Business Insider. "I'm aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply, sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter. But it's because they care about these things and it hurts when you're expecting something specific and you don't get it from something that you love. It always hurts so I don't take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That's fine. It's my job to be there for that."
At the same time, Johnson does find a nice way to state that some of these negative reactions aren't from any flaws in his film, but rather from fan disappointment that his choices don't match up to what they imagined:
"...every fan has a list of stuff they want a "Star Wars" movie to be and they don't want a "Star Wars" movie to be. You're going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up. And I also know the same way the original movies were personal for [George] Lucas. Lucas never made a "Star Wars" movie by sitting down and thinking, "What do the fans want to see?" And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn't work because people would still be shouting at me, "F--- you, you ruined 'Star Wars,'" and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately that's the one thing nobody wants."
Ever the professional, Johnson makes sure to end on a positive note, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to the fandom, in general:
"And let me just add that 80%-90% of the reaction I've gotten from Twitter has been really lovely. There's been a lot of joy and love from fans. When I talk about the negative stuff, that's not the full picture of the fans at all."
While Johnson's perception of the situation is clearly laid out above, we can't ignore that there are some pretty unique things happening with fan reaction to the The Last Jedi. The wide divide between high critical acclaim and lower audience enjoyment stats is unique deviation for the franchise, and the debates about how the film changes the franchise forever are steadily growing louder, as more and more people see it.