Immediately after the release of The Last Jedi, disappointed fans took to social media to inundate the cast and crew with negative, personal attacks, while other fans praised the efforts of those responsible for the film. This wasn't an isolated incident, as the release of The Phantom Menace and some of its more light-hearted elements were also chastised by "fans," even though social media had yet to exist. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn weighed in on the dangers of "fans" personally attacking filmmakers and actors, advising them to focus their attention in other ways.
Earlier this week, Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best revealed that, due to the harassment he endured as the result of his involvement with Phantom Menace, he contemplated ending his life. Gunn shared a post about the trauma, while also elaborating on the dangers of bullying.
Gunn posted, "People responding to this post saying, 'Yeah, it wasn't the actor's fault! It was the writer's!' are missing the point. Critique it. Don't like it. But spewing hate and bile at individuals just doing their best to tell a story, even if the story sucks, is lame. Don't watch it!"
The filmmaker's comments mirror a common defense seen in The Last Jedi detractors, which involves focusing all of their anger at writer/director Rian Johnson. Many users know they're intentionally hurling insults at the cast and crew, while others think they can deflect their motivations for their criticisms by placing the blame squarely on Johnson.
Gunn continued, "Star Wars (or any movie) may be important to you, but it doesn't belong to you. If your self-esteem depends on how good you think the current Star Wars is, or your childhood is ruined because you don't like something in a movie, GO TO THERAPY."
The point about the film not belonging to a fan ties into the notion that fans who claim to be offering constructive criticism believe that their outlook for the franchise is more valid than Lucasfilm themselves. Gunn hoped to put things in perspective by saying anyone who genuinely feels emotionally distraught has much deeper issues they should be concerned with than the fate of a fictional character.
Best's confession is only a recent example of the results of harassment in the Star Wars community, with Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran deleting her social media accounts earlier this year, likely as a result of racist and sexist insults regularly being directed at her and her character of Rose.
Earlier this week, Mission: Impossible - Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie was drawn into a series of insulting tweets about The Last Jedi, leading the filmmaker to claim he no longer had an interest in directing a Star Wars movie due to the amount of negativity in the fan base.
The next chapter in the Star Wars saga, Episode IX, hits theaters on December 20, 2019.
What are your thoughts on Gunn's remarks? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!
[H/T Twitter, JamesGunn]