Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi divided the Star Wars base. And regardless of what director J.J. Abrams says, his follow up, The Rise of Skywalker, did address the controversies of its predecessor. In some ways it do so in almost bludgeoning fashion. But did these too films serve to illustrate a bigger problem in geek pop culture? Star Wars may be a glaring example, however the problem is far more pervasive. Blame Kathleen Kennedy when it comes to Star Wars all you want. Cite David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for Game of Thrones’ woes. But when it all boils down, could it simply be that fan entitlement to blame?
We live in a time when the demand for instant gratification is the norm. The Internet only serves to exacerbate the premise. Google “Game of Thrones Season 8” or “The Last Jedi” and you’ll find more petitions and complaints than anything positive associated with the two productions. Why? Fan entitlement, that’s why. Fans invest their time, money, and emotions in these franchises. To some extent, yes I think they are entitled to some fan service in the products they support. IS there a line, however, that shouldn’t be crossed simply for the sake of making fans happy?
Is fan entitlement ruining geek pop culture?
The BBC recently explored this subject in depth. Take Star Wars, for example. Their recent analysis of the phenomenon of fan entitlement described The Last Jedi as “a film that aspired to show that stylistically bold and thematically challenging filmmaking was still possible within the constraints of the franchise system. Many critics and fans adored it.“ The piece then blames a “vocal minority” of entitled fans for “clogging the Internet for months with vitriol…”
(On this point I wholeheartedly disagree with the BBC. A couple years removed from its release, I’ve found that it’s a majority of Star Wars fans that take issue with The Last Jedi, not the contrary.) The article then proceeds to provide one of the most blistering descriptions of The Rise of Skywalker I’ve seen yet:
And so, in a craven capitulation to the worst impulses of modern fandom, J.J. Abrams followed Johnson’s film with The Rise of Skywalker – a desperate and creatively bankrupt barrage of fan service which will forever serve as a reminder of the difference between giving fans what they want, versus giving them what they need.”
Was it indeed fan entitlement that resulted in The Rise of Skywalker? Can it be that simple? Or was J.J. Abrams trying to fulfill the central theme of Star Wars by maintaining (or restoring, depending on your point of view) the balance of the franchise and the fandom?
Let us know your thoughts on fan entitlement and what role you think it should play in your favorite franchises.