Star Wars is one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time, and is showing no real signs of slowing down anytime soon. George Lucas' colorful galaxy has entertained moviegoers for decades, with generations of fans brought up on the space opera. But Star Wars fans are also fiercely protective of the property, resulting in backlash that usually lives online. The Last Jedi's Rian Johnson knows this all too well, as his divisive sequel caught some flack for his bold narrative choices. And it turns out that he's happy about the push back he got online.
Rian Johnson purposefully subverted fan expectations in The Last Jedi, especially when it came to things like Leia's force abilities and Rey's parentage. While Lucasfilm was thrilled with his efforts enough that he'll be developing another movie for the franchise, the filmmaker did get some hate on social media-- particularly Twitter. Rian Johnson recently appeared on CinemaBlend's podcast Reelblend, where he revealed why he's actually happy for the online hate. As he put it,
In terms of the bad stuff, I’ll tell you it’s interesting. That’s been one of the really healthy things for me about the past couple of years, is getting exposed to it. Before I made The Last Jedi, I had never had anyone hate me on the internet. If during the course of a year I got one negative tweet I would go into a panic. I’d be like ‘Oh my god, someone out there doesn’t like me. I need to fix this!’ The thing is though, I am really really thankful. Because what that meant is that my sense of self-worth was attached to the notion of everybody liking me online. And the fact that this process has made me, out of survival, disconnect from that.
Well, that's certainly a healthy way to look at it. It seems getting some of the worse the internet has to offer put the power of social media in perspective for the Knives Out director. Rather than taking each nasty tweet to heart, he was able to disconnect from the online vitriol that The Last Jedi inspired. And since then, some naysayers of The Last Jedi have been turned around, now that the movie is available to be re-watched and streamed.
Because The Last Jedi had so many plot twists involved, the original reaction to Rian Johnson's Star Wars debut was intense-- at least on social media. While some praised the director's unique take on the long-running franchise, other fans were unhappy since their predictions for the story didn't come to fruition. Those naysayers took their angry calls to social media, with Johnson and Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran receiving a bulk of the backlash on their respective Twitter accounts.
Kelly Marie Tran eventually left social media altogether, although Rian Johnson is happy he saw the dark underbelly of the Twittersphere. Later in his conversation with Reelblend, Johnson elaborated, saying:
And also it’s given me a more realistic view of the system that is social media. There’s a lot of great, genuine interaction that goes on. The bad stuff, the systematic trolling, the almost gamified abuse that some people devote their entire online presence to; honestly, once you’ve seen enough of it, you see the pattern of it. It just sort of gets boring after a while. It doesn’t even give me that little negative ping anymore. And I don’t think it’s even my skin growing tough. It’s just I’ve put in perspective. I realize this is kind of a byproduct of this social Twitter system. There’s going to be some degree of people where this is their hobby, basically. So overall I found it made me adjust to social media where I’m seeing it and using it in a healthier way.
It looks like Rian Johnson got a lot of perspective from working on The Last Jedi, both on the screen and off. It should be interesting to see how his work on Episode VII affects his possible upcoming Star Wars movie. While nothing had moved forward on that front, he seems like a great director to craft a new part of the galaxy far, far away. This time disconnected from the rules of the Skywalker Saga.