Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Claims Some of 'The Last Jedi' Backlash Comes From Fans "Threatened" By Women

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Yes, Rian Johnson's "The Last Jedi" riled up many long-time "Star Wars" fans and quickly became the most divisive movie in the franchise's history. There's no arguing that. You may say the film was "bold" but there's no discounting the fact that those that did the complaining were longtime fans that, in all essence, were purists when it came to the franchise and were allergic to any kind of change emerging through the characters and storylines. The main complaint was, of course, the way Johnson treated Luke Skywalker and how his all-encompassing statement that the "Jedi was dead" could not have been uttered by the same guy who told Yoda in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" "I won't fail you, I'm not afraid." Alas, this deviation from the original spirit of the character rubbed many people the wrong way. Others were also complaining about the new characters whom, coincidence or not, were mostly female characters, (Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo and Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico,) which even led to a fan deciding to edit his own 46 minute version of the "The Last Jedi" without any women in it. That was going a little too far.

With all that being said, JJ Abrams' claim that the reason for the nasty backlash is because these very fans felt "threatened" by having strong women in the movie kind of misses the point. Sure, there is some truth in that statement, but it wasn't just the fact that Rose and Kelly were in the movie that had fans wanting Johnson's head on a golden platter. No, it was a lot more than that, but first let's get to Abrams' quote which derived from a fascinating interview he did with IndieWire's Kate Erbland: 

“Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars,” Abrams told IndieWire. “If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars. You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”

Point taken. Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo was perfectly fine and brought some much-needed tension to some of the scenes she was in, she was a highlight and went out with, quite literally, a bang. But I'd have to disagree about Marie Tran's Rose Tico, a character that felt like a non-starter, underdeveloped and thinly written.  Of course, we want strong female characters to be included in these big-budget tentpole blockbusters and "Star Wars" has, quite frankly, done it quite well with this new trilogy, especially when it comes to Daisey Ridley's Rey who is, no doubt, turning into one of the great sci-fi heroines of our time. 
However, Abrams assertion that fans who didn't like "The Last Jedi" feel threatened by strong women kind of misses the point of the backlash. Being against art that doesn't affect you or resonates deeply inside you is not always as simple as just a matter of sexism.

For many, the joys of Star Wars comes from the comfort of familiarity, the mythology Lucas created. "The Last Jedi" erases all that. I knew "The Last Jedi" would likely rub purist fans the wrong way within the first few minutes. The primary intent of the film was to reinvent the franchise. Of course, these purists wanted things to stay the same, but watching "The Last Jedi" you can sense director Rian Jonson trying to, as Kylo Ren says to, "let the past die." It's a theme that resonates throughout the film.  The little moments that make up this backlash are not "little" to fans of Lucas' original films. For example, Rey handing off Anakin's blue lightsaber to Luke, who then goes on to toss it over his shoulder and brush off Rey? That's a nono for them. Luke doesn't even believe in himself anymore.  The mythology, his legend, was, in fact, a sham according to this new movie.  I, of course, enjoyed the film, but I do understand some fans' frustrations and even though sexism may be the reason for a minority of fans, Abrams needs to realize it is much, much more than just that. And remember, Carrie Fischer's Leia was an integral part of the first three films. A strong, sensible, independent female heroine that everyone took into their heart.