Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters and even as the film has a successful opening weekend at the box office, the film isn't exactly winning over everyone who sees it. The film has notably had some not so stellar reviews from critics and while the audience response has been better, there are plenty of criticisms from the general audience as well. Many fans have taken to social media to air their grievances with The Rise of Skywalker. One such grievance recently captured the attention of Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo, but the actor's challenge of the fan's critique has ignited some mixed reactions from all sides of the fandom.
Before we jump into this situation, be aware that while spoilers aren't the point of this article there might be some spoilers contained in discussion of this matter or in some of the replies. If you're trying to avoid Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spoilers, you might want to back out now.
On Twitter Friday, Star Wars fan Klaudia Amenábar shared a thread on how The Rise of Skywalker offered "absolutely f***ing terrible messages about female power" and went on to outline her support for this take. She notes that all of the arcs in the film for female characters are tied to further developing male characters and she also notes that even the post powerful of them -- Rey -- is only able to overcome the doubt of her own power thanks to the help of a man. While Amenábar's thread itself inspired a bit of discussion with some fans agreeing while others markedly did not, Suotamo chimed in on Saturday, but instead of commenting on the discussion at hand, he chose to compare Amenábar's concerns to the larger toxic fandom -- and claimed that she wasn't a fan at all.
Toxic fandom is built on the same straw men that this thread is abundant with. Deceptively insinuating to be a fan this writer uses misleading claims to sow confusion amongst people who want to enjoy a story for what it is. Please find better things to do. Peace.— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) December 22, 2019
"Toxic fandom is built on the same straw men that this thread is abundant with," Suotamo wrote. "Deceptively insinuating to be a fan this writer uses misleading claims to sow confusion amongst people who want to enjoy a story for what it is. Please find better things to do. Peace."
Suotamo's comment hasn't exactly gone over well. While there have certainly been those applauding his take on things, many others have called Suotamo out for what they see as a personal attack against a fan with a strong opinion. Still others have suggested that the actor may need to take a closer look at the issues Amenábar is pointing out with the film rather than outright dismissing her. There were also some fans who found Suotamo's comments as being a contribution to the toxic fandom themselves, with several noting that his comment being tantamount to trying to silence a female fan with an opinion he didn't like simply because he can't take criticism.
The reactions to Suotamo's comment are, in a sense, an example of just how divided the Star Wars fandom remains but it's also not exactly a surprise. The Star Wars fandom has been incredibly divided since the debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and even director JJ Abrams acknowledged in a recent panel where he was asked about negative reactions to The Rise of Skywalker as well as whether there's a problem with the fandom.
"I'd say that they're right," Abrams said. "The people who love it more than anything are also right. I was asked... 'How did you go about pleasing everyone?' I was like, what? Not to say that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars. I don't need to tell anyone here, we live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage. And there's a kind of M.O. of it's either exactly as I see it or you're my enemy."
He went on to explain that they understood people would be angry by their choices but that the filmmakers were up for the challenge.
"It's a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance — it's not about Star Wars, it's about everything — and compassion and acceptance... It's a crazy moment, so we knew starting this any decision we made, a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision would please someone and infuriate someone else. And they're all right."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now playing in theaters.