So Rise of Skywalker Catered to Fans: So What? Who Cares?

This is when being a ‘fan’ means a little less since Star Wars fans, from the most casual to the most hardcore, are for one reason or another citing as many issues with the Rise of Skywalker as they did with The Last Jedi, which has somehow, by magical means, risen in estimation in the minds of some, even those that were the most outspoken about it when the movie came out. Paul Tassi of Forbes has more to say on this matter. Personally I still think that there are plenty of issues that TLJ had that ROS didn’t, namely there was no overlying feminist agenda in ROS that plagued TLJ, making it seem less like a ‘girl power’ movie than a true addition to the Star Wars franchise that was so sorely needed. It was about redemption, it was about old grudges and what it took to bury them, and it was an adventure, not a trip down memory lane where heroes become whiners and ‘the future is female’ becomes the overlying message. Rey was allowed to be the hero she needed to be, Skywalker was finally given a fitting stance within the franchise, and even Kylo became more than a whiny, emo-type character that threw fits each time he didn’t get his way. So yes, it catered to the fans, the ones that wanted to see a great story, not too much realism in a science fiction fantasy. And that’s a problem?

Apparently so since Lizzy Buczak of IndieWire has reported that direct Rian Johnson, y’know, the guy that actually directed TLJ, states that catering to fans is a mistake. Well, he can talk honestly since TLJ did make a heap of money for Disney, but in the third week in a row of ROS being on top of the box office he might want to talk a little quieter since thus far catering to the fans hasn’t meant a huge drop in the profits considering that the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise has still managed to keep the top spot longer than anyone believed it would. Perhaps the one lesson that Johnson has yet to learn is that catering to the fans ALL the time is of course a bad idea, but keeping the story that people love intact. There are times when the director has to park their pride and realize that fans do know what they want at times, and while Star Wars fans are just as muddied in their thinking as anyone, sometimes even more so, TLJ was an obvious attempt at a director thinking he knew best. Ultimately the movie did make money, but it also made people nostalgic for the prequels, which were hated beyond anything else at that point. Like so many other things in the industry there’s a healthy balance of catering to the fans and keeping things balanced so as not to create a completely fan-driven movie that won’t make a lick of sense. From my own personal standpoint I’d love to see many of the stories that are a part of the EU no matter if George Lucas says they’re not ‘his universe’ simply because they do make sense and take the story in an exciting direction. But of course things need to be balanced and there needs to be a solid direction for each movie so as to avoid any massive confusion as to why this or that happened in relation to what’s already come before.

Plain and simple, Star Wars makes money. Disney knew this when they bought Lucasfilm, and they knew that the $4 billion they gave to Lucas would be recovered in short order, which it has been. Between the movies, the shows, and the merchandising, not to mention the theme park additions, the corporation has made its money back and then some and currently stands no chance of losing profits in the long-term so long as they actually DO cater to fans. At this point a child might stick their tongue out and blow a nice big raspberry to Johnson, but I’ll refrain for the time being. The whole point of catering to the fans isn’t so much giving them what they want most times, it’s trying to make money and insure that they’ll keep watching. After ROS it’s likely that people will be anxiously awaiting the next movie to come out, whenever and whatever that might be. Those ‘hardcore’ fans that didn’t like the movie and are being honest, not just falling in line to avoid being ostracized, will still spend the money to go see the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. Let’s face facts, Star Wars is a moneymaker, and catering to the fans is one of the big reasons why it’s remained that way.

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