The critical reaction to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has not been kind, and now the film’s co-writer and director J.J. Abrams has responded to those who disagreed with the choices he made in this final installment of the Skywalker Saga. Early reviews for Rise of Skywalker weren’t great, and the film still currently stands at 57% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes—the second-worst score in the entire franchise. The audience score is higher at 86%, but on social media reactions to the film are quite divisive. Some love it, some hate it, and both sides are convinced the other side is wrong.
Abrams responded to the film’s critics at the Academy screening of the film last week, acknowledging that both sides are technically correct:
“I’d say [the film’s critics are] right. The people who love it more than anything are also right. We knew going in—I was asked just seven hours ago, ‘So how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ and I was like ‘What?’ Not to say that that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars.”
There is a feeling of trying to please the masses with Rise of Skywalker’s liberal use of mythology and callbacks and references to objects and characters from the entire Star Wars saga, but I don’t doubt that Abrams is being genuine here. He continued by discussing “outrage culture” in general, and noted that in writing the script, he and co-writer Chris Terrio went in knowing some people would dislike their choices:
“We live in a moment where everything seems to immediately default to outrage, and there’s an M.O. of it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy… But it’s a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion—this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything—and acceptance. It’s a crazy moment, so we knew starting this, any decision we made—a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision—would please someone and infuriate someone else.”
I honestly think the larger “outrage culture” problem is more a symptom of the anonymity of social media than anything. Twitter and Facebook and reddit threads allow people to hide behind a keyboard, and we lose sight of the humanity of the other individual who we’re telling to die in a fire. I’d like to think if these discussions took place in person, face-to-face, they’d be less heated and more civilized. Alas, we live on the internet now, and thus the most outrageous comments seem to be the ones that get the biggest boost.
I have serious problems with The Rise of Skywalker and have a hard time understanding how anyone can love the movie, but I would also find it far more interesting to have a discussion with said individual rather than just yell at them about how they’re wrong. So here’s my advice: Whether you love or hate Rise of Skywalker, try having that conversation in person, and approach the conversation as just that, a conversation, not a debate. You may even learn something about the person you’re talking to, as we all bring our own baggage to the films we love/hate.