Some of you who keep up with the “Star Wars” series might have been one of the 28 million viewers of the newest teaser trailer for Episode 9 or “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” others I assume are desperately shielding their eyes from “trailer spoilers” until the movie’s release on December 9th. Never Fear! This article will be trailer-spoiler free. I respect your mission and may the force be with you.
The “Star Wars” series has become one of the most iconic and well-known properties in America (and the world) since its release forty-two years ago in 1977. Since its not-so-humble beginning in “A New Hope,” the series has earned over 9.5 billion dollars in ticket sales worldwide from not only the main episodes but also numerous spin-offs and special showings. Keep in mind, that number is not adjusted for inflation or including sales of merchandise and the like. I don’t know about you, but I have about thirty individual pieces of “Star Wars” memorabilia in my house. The crazy thing is, I don’t even remember how we came to own half of it. If I’d have to guess, I’d say we consciously purchased a third of it. That’s how pervasive it is. My neighbor has never seen a single “Star Wars” movie, yet owns two lightsabers, a Princess Leia mug, a Darth Vader shirt, and regularly quotes lines from the movies. Whether you like it or not, “Star Wars” is nearly inescapable so it is surprising to most when they hear about the controversy surrounding the newest trilogy of episodes. Some opponents go as far to demand the films be struck from the “cannon” film list. My goal today is to lay out the whole nerdy battle over the newest trilogy and do my best to explain it.
Before we get into the arguments, I do want to explain my personal bias. It’s not exactly a secret that the “Star Wars” movies are some of my favorites. I have an ewok teddy bear on my bed and have watched the movies countless times (including that one time I watched “The Last Jedi” in theaters utterly alone because my friend bailed on me, but we don’t talk about that). Personally, I like the new trilogy. Sure, it may have issues, but it’s a vast improvement from the prequel era (comment below if Jar-Jar Binks still haunts your nightmares). Overall, I find the characters interesting and the story to be heading in a direction I enjoy; however, it is clear not everyone agrees with me.
The Loud Opponents:
Let’s start with the con side. These are the people you see on Twitter sharing their absolute disappointment in “Star Wars” and the fact that the newest trilogy “ruined their childhood”. Honestly, it’s not hard to see where they’re coming from. Any sequel-like release that builds upon a prior, much-loved series is going to face a lot of backlash. It feels like you’re handing your pet fish to a new owner just after you got it back from the people who stuck your fish in the middle of a badly animated robot war and forced it to talk to Jar Jar Binks (No, I won’t get over it). The idea of change in a nostalgic film series is frightening to some, and many would rather the the cinematic universe be left as-is.
Several people cite the new cinematic direction as the problem with the third installment. Many find the animation and cinematography too drastically different from the original series and consider the tonal shift to be disturbing. To their credit, many are correct about the shift in narrative between the series. There has been a noticeable difference in animation quality and directorial administration. The newest trilogy sometimes seems to have a darker edge than the priors. Again, however, this opinion is all based on preference. Some do enjoy the different flavor of “Star Wars” and enjoy the use of new animation technology and CGI as well as the change in staff.
Another qualm fans have with the new series relates to the characters and storylines. There’s essay-length Reddit posts on how Rey, Finn or Kylo is dragging the series down. While several of these concerns hold merit as the new selection of characters do possess flaws, it is hard to draw the line between supportive criticism and disguised social issues.
While people certainly have the right to protest the involvement of characters who they believe are damaging the story (JAR JAR BINKS), there was been an outpouring of outright misogynistic and racist hate towards the new cast.
Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) reportedly deleted all of her social media accounts after receiving thousands of harassing messages regarding her involvement in the series. “Fans” sent her threatening comments that criticized her appearance, ethnicity, gender and performance in the series. While not all people on the opposing side condone actions like these, it is worth noting that some criticism of the new changes might be coming from a deeper place of hate than meets the eye.
The Support Crew:
Now for the pro side. Though they’re usually quiet about it, a large group of people actually do love where the new generation of movies is heading. Common reasons to love the series are unsurprisingly the same points the rival group brings up. Supporters cite changes in direction, storylines and characters as the reasons they absolutely adore the new series. There are a plethora of fans who consider Rey and Kylo to be their favorite characters. Rey is extremely appealing to fans, especially to women as she is the first female protagonist in “Star Wars.”
Whether you love or hate the new trilogy comes down to change. As I said before, any change in a beloved series can be polarizing, especially when it is a series as well-loved as this one. I believe, however, that this change was necessary. If “Star Wars” recycled the same characters and plots as the prior films, it would be boring and uninspired. Sure, change is controversial, but it’s necessary. The cast needed “young blood” as well as people outside of the Skywalker bloodline. Drastic changes in the patterns of the films make it unpredictable and exciting for the viewers. While people’s opinions about the direction of the series are valid, ultimately the dramatic alterations are extremely necessary to the prosperity of the series.
I hope you have an incredible summer, and may the Force be with you.
Here are some summer movies I recommend:
“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.” Call me a nerd, but I’m absolutely obsessed with Silicon Valley. After living there, I’ve become obsessed with how people are able to amass success - whether that be through earnest ideas or utter lies.
“Love, Simon.” This movie is wonderfully cheesy and the perfect teen movie to kick off your summer. The book was delightful, and the movie made my friend and me weep actual tears. It’s worth it for sure.
“Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes.” This special is awkwardly funny with witty jokes delivered by a comedian that is actually famous but you don’t really know.