Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams acknowledged the Fandom Menace in a new interview.
Speaking with Esquire, Abrams recognized the Fandom Menace while touching on a variety of topics concerning the upcoming Star Wars film.
Esquire’s Matt Miller asked Abrams a loaded question:
“Over the last couple of years since The Last Jedi came out, I’ve been writing a lot about the response to that movie, and some of the toxic fandom around Star Wars in this new era. There are some fans who take issue with the filmmaking, other fans who take issue with some of the more progressive themes. I’m curious, how do you watch the response to Start Wars movies change in this modern era compared to maybe the prequel series or how fans originally responded to them?”
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Abrams responded by recognizing the Fandom Menace and describing them as negative and attackers of the franchise.
“I think that the bigger question is: How has everything changed? The reaction to Star Wars, the increased attacks, the increased negativity, the Fandom Menace as they call it, you know, that is not unique to Star Wars, obviously.”
“And I think we live in a time where if you’re not being divisive, if you’re not creating something that’s aversive quick-bait, sometimes you don’t quite feel like you’re playing the game.”
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However, Abrams acknowledges that he hasn’t liked everything that has happened in a Star Wars film, but it does not preclude him from being fan.
“I always loved Star Wars because it’s got a huge heart. Did I always believe in and agree with every single thing that happened in every movie, whether it was the prequels or the original trilogy? No. But do I love Star Wars? Yes.”
Abrams then expresses his hope that future Star Wars films and media will get “a bit more latitude.”
“So, for me, I hope — and I’m sure naively — we can return to a time where we give things a bit more latitude.”
He then reiterates that you don’t have to agree on everything about a Star Wars in order to still be a fan of the franchise.
“We don’t have to agree with every single thing to love something. I don’t know anyone who has a spouse or a partner or any family member or any friend, who loves and agrees with every single thing that that person is and does. We have to return, I think, to nuance and acceptance. And so I feel like, as a Star Wars fan, do I love every single thing about each of the movies? No. But do I love Star Wars? Hell yes, I do.”
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Abrams would also praise the passion of the Star Wars fan base.
I will say that the passion of the fans and the highlight of the fandom, I think, it’s more powerful than any one storyteller or creature. Fans love it in such a religious way.
“There are so many great ideas out there. I’m rooting for all those people because they are all great storytellers who love this thing and who are postulating what this might be or what something might mean. Those are all people who are deeply invested.”
The Fandom Menace is a growing portion of movie, television, and comic book fandom who seek the return of escapist entertainment without agenda.
Many of the Fandom Menace are independent journalists and content creators that span multiple platforms.
Notable members include YouTubers like Nerdrotic, Geeks & Gamers, Doomcock, Josiah Rises, MechaRandom42, Anna aka ThatStarWarsGirl, Odin’s Movie Blog, Drunk 3PO, ComixDivision, and more.
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Other members include Twitch and Mixer streamers, writers, and even Hollywood insiders.
Geeks and Gamers’ Jeremy Griggs responded to Abrams comments about the Fandom Menace, describing the movement as “the most diverse group of people on the internet having their own opinions, not trapped in an echo chamber, and simply wanting one thing, better things for our entertainment.”
“But truly what the Fandom Menace is, is a group of people that have come together that have similar ideas of what they want to see out of the entertainment industry, but we also have our own opinions and we don’t hold each other accountable for your opinion. We don’t determine what you think, and how you think, and what you are supposed to like. It just seems to be that the majority of us don’t like The Last Jedi.”
There were some other interesting things to come out of the interview.
Abrams confirmed that not only has George Lucas not seen the final product of The Rise of Skywalker, but that he has not even viewed the final product.
“I mean the truth is, I have not even gotten to see the final product.”
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He would also reiterate that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi did not cause any issues with his ideas for the Rise of Skywalker.
“As a filmmaker, working on episode IX, amazingly, nothing that he did in Last Jedi got in the way of things that we had talked about wanting to do down the line, ideas that I had about where things might go, so… it wasn’t like his story somehow derailed the things I wanted to pursue. In fact, strangely, they might have even helped strengthen them because we got to make some choices that sort of take advantage of the fact that Rian hadn’t done the things that we were thinking about doing.”
Finally, Abrams intimated he’s done with Star Wars for the foreseeable future.
“I just yesterday finished this thing. So it’s a bit like asking someone at the end of a meal at French Laundry, you know, if they want to get a burger. It’s like, you know, I’m sure that one day having a burger would be the greatest idea in the history of time, but in this moment I’m full.”
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The interview is pretty telling. The biggest takeaway is that Hollywood is now paying attention.
Grassroots movements like the Fandom Menace are making their voices heard.
We can only hope that the organic change that modern entertainment needs will soon follow.
What do you think? Comment below.