Mention the words “Rian Johnson” and the Star Wars fandom whips itself into a frenzy. His controversial take on the Star Wars franchise, and the Skywalker saga in particular, drove a wedge through the center of the fandom. Sure, The Empire Strikes Back was controversial in its day. Its cliffhanger ending and darker tone were definite departures from the original Star Wars. Notwithstanding, Empire can’t hold a candle to The Last Jedi when it comes to divisiveness. Joke that Rian Johnson is returning to the episodic franchise, however? Whoa boy.

Rian Johnson
Star Wars: The Last Jedi..L to R: Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Director Rian Johnson..Photo: David James..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Yesterday we here at That Hashtag Show decided to poke the proverbial bear with a little April 1st tomfoolery. We (jokingly) reported that Rian Johnson would return to do re-shoots on Star Wars: Episode IX.  For some that might be welcome news. To a great many fans, on the other hand, his return for Episode IX would signal the end to their fandom of the Star Wars franchise forever. Now knowing that, we didn’t want to joke to go on too long. In fact, you can only get about 2/3 of the way through the original article before we revealed the joke. But….

Star Wars Fandom Makes Rian Johnson Joke Go Viral

Rogue One; Rian Johnson; Last Jedi
Rian Johnson directing The Last Jedi. Photo: Lucasfilm, ltd.

All fans had to do was read the whole article to know we were playing an April Fool’s Day prank. Nevertheless, that fact didn’t stop the article from going completely viral. It has continued to run viral even though today, April 2nd, a full day after the post ran. And that’s well after anyone reading it knew Rian Johnson was not, in fact, returning for Star Wars: Episode IX. Further, unlike some other sites that gave no initial clue that their April Fool’s Day articles were in jest, we let you in on the gag from the get-go. The fact that the piece still went viral? That, my friends, represents your power as a fandom.

The Star Wars fandom is most certainly passionate. Our feelings on the franchise are strong. Fandom feelings on Rian Johnson, it seems, are even stronger. I once questioned whether or not The Last Jedi, and Rian’s direction of it, was good for the franchise. Despite those things about which people complain when it comes to The Last Jedi, I think I now have my answer.

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Rian Johnson directing Carrie Fisher in The Last Jedi. (Image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Rian Johnson triggered a tidal wave of fan interest when it comes to Star Wars. And if you think for an instant that all these people who *claim* they’ll boycott Episode IX will actually do so, I have lake front property on Tatooine I’ll sell you, cheap.

To all those that played along with our Rian Johnson April Fool’s Day shenanigans, we thank you. Not only for making the post go Internet bonkers, but for proving the Star Wars fandom is not only alive and well, but that it still has a sense of humor.