Written by robotical712, the views expressed are my own.
Last week, Warner Brothers announced their intent to finally finish and release Snyder’s version of Justice League. While most fans met this news with elation, many in the media attacked it as ‘giving into fandom toxicity’. We can certainly quibble over what’s driving this moral panic on the part of the media, but I found Collider, Digital Times and Vanity Fair‘s denouncements notable for a different reason. The three editorials made a point of specifically attempting to associate toxic fans with decisions made in The Rise of Skywalker as well as the possibility of a JJ cut:
But while the Fast and Furious fandom seems to exist in a space of almost supernatural positivity, the massive fandoms behind geek monoliths like Star Wars come with vicious, loud voices who work hard to ruin the fun. A segment of the Lucasfilm community that was dissatisfied with Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi mercilessly hounded both the director and at least one of his stars, Kelly Marie Tran, in the wake of that film. J.J. Abrams’s decisions to reverse some of Johnson’s choices and the sidelining of Tran from his sequel The Rise of Skywalker felt like a direct response to those voices.
This isn’t the first time a studio has capitulated to its loudest, most toxic fans. Disney’s confused Star Wars sequel trilogy was capped off with Rise of Skywalker, a movie that seemed intent on ret-conning everything its loudest fans had condemned. Rey’s backstory was abruptly switched, Snoke finally got his reveal, and the Emperor was back out of nowhere.
But most damningly, new character Rose was sidelined. A Rebel mechanic who debuted in The Last Jedi, Rose was despised by some in the Star Wars fanbase. As some railed that the movie had ruined their childhood, a sizable chunk of critics framed her inclusion as evidence of what they deemed “forced diversity” in the film, a term fraught with racist undertones. They harassed Asian-American actor Kelly Marie Tran on social media constantly, ultimately driving her off Instagram.
How did Disney respond? They threw her character under the bus and all-but-erased her from the franchise.
We have seen the shadow of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement rear its ugly head recently, with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Fans, convinced that J.J. Abrams’ had an original cut that was far superior to the one that Disney and Kathy Kennedy released into theaters, began whining to #ReleaseTheJJCut. I’ve talked to several people involved with the film who said that it was a trial to get any cut ready for its December release, so the idea that an entirely separate version exists is laughable. Like any good conspiracy theory, the fact that it couldn’t be true doesn’t really matter. The idea that Snyder or Abrams have toiled away on some unseen masterpiece is ultimately more comforting than the reality of the situation that they just made lousy movies.
Now, as most fans who were disappointed by The Last Jedi can tell you, the idea TROS was made to cater to them in any way is utterly laughable (LFL thought undoing the Chosen One prophecy would make us happy? Really?). Yet, the media (the three specifically mentioned are hardly alone) still persists with the narrative ‘toxic fans’ drove the decisions that resulted in that movie. Then there are these articles’ omissions, such as their failure to mention the people who have been bombarding Social Media with calls for Lucasfilm and Disney to replace The Rise of Skywalker with a movie which keeps Kylo/Ben alive. Worse is how they’ve consistently ignored the incredible racism directed at John Boyega over the last five years (a huge portion of it by the same group of people calling for Ben’s death to be retconned I might add) even while rightly condemning harassment aimed at Kelly.
Further, if a different cut (or at least the footage to make a new cut) doesn’t exist, as Collider states, then why bother bringing it up? Why do so many in the media keep trying to associate dissatisfaction with the course Lucasfilm has taken with racism and sexism? Instead, these three publications, which I will note have been historically staunch defenders of the choices made in The Last Jedi, keep trotting out the same arguments and insinuations they have for the last two and a half years.