Rian Johnson Says Fans Want to Be Surprised and Simply Catering to Them Is a Mistake
Rian Johnson has had a rough time on the internet. So rough, in fact, you’d almost think he was a woman. His movie The Last Jedi was a controversial film, whose legacy only becomes more complicated with The Rise of Skywalker coming out and early critic reaction being as polarizing as it is. Recently, the Knives Out director spoke about why he feels catering to the desires of fans can be a mistake.
According to IndieWire, the director was speaking on a recent Radio.com interview on the “Swings & Mrs.” podcast and said the following:
“I think approaching any creative process with [making fandoms happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result. Even my experience as a fan, you know if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like ‘oh, okay,’ it might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.”
“I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater…What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”
This is a really interesting statement and I think “fan service” is always a complicated issue when it comes to franchises like Star Wars because there is an expectation for Easter eggs, but there should also be a balance between that and crafting something new. I may have my issues with The Last Jedi but they are not from lack of creativity. I think what Johnson created was important to the franchise and I think that if Abrams spends the entire run of Skywalker trying to “fix” everything, he’ll just be disappointing a different group of people.
I think fans should be listened to when they have good faith arguments and are talking about having diversity, but at the same time, I do think that not every fanboy should be behind the camera of their favorite franchise. To love anything, I believe that you should want to improve it, to play with concepts, and have a healthy amount of criticism about it. Fans are not always right. Critics are not always right. Also, this is Star Wars a franchise that has meant so much to both that it’s almost impossible to not come in with some biases.
As we all fight to avoid being spoiled on Skywalker, I think now is a great time to actually go back and remember what we loved about these movies, but also remember that most Star Wars movies never gave anyone what they wanted.
(via Indie Wire, image: Lia Toby/Getty Images for BFI)
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