Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has opened up about the backlash against the film, whilst praising the the Star Wars fan community at large and encouraging debate among them. Johnson’s comments were made during WIRED’s live Q&A event to promote his upcoming movie, Knives Out. Beware of strong language.
One audience member asked Johnson about the negative reaction to The Last Jedi from certain viewers, and his thoughts on people who complain about the film’s cast diversity. Johnson did not mince words in his reply, which was met with immediate applause: “if someone’s responding to diversity negatively, f*** ’em.”
As the applause died down, Johnson immediately clarified that not everyone who dislikes his film is a bigot: “if anyone didn’t like the movie, I’m not saying that’s why they didn’t like it.” Talking about the backlash, Johnson admits that he expected that the film would not appeal to everyone. “It wasn’t surprising at all to me. I grew up as a Star Wars fan. I was in my 20s when the prequels came out. This whole idea that it’s been sunshine and roses, and then everyone’s yelling at each other, is baffling to me.”
Johnson believes that the passionate debates that fans have about Star Wars is all part of the series’ appeal. “People care deeply about Star Wars, and every single person has a slightly different version of what they think Star Wars is. And so much of the fun of it is arguing about it.” He believes that the negativity around the film has been covered extensively because it “is fun to write about, and it gets clicks,” but he also says that the majority of folks who reach out to him about Star Wars are actually very pleasant.
“95% of my interactions on Twitter are absolutely lovely and constructive and wonderful with Star Wars fans,” he says. “Star Wars fans are the best fans in the world, all of them.” He also believes that the rest of the fandom needs to push back against the folks who are angry at the diversity of his film’s cast. “I think the fandom has to take a stand against getting defined by a very small slice of it, that does not represent the lion’s share.”