Anghus Houvouras on where the Star Wars love has gone…
If you had told me back in 1999 in the months that followed the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace that one day Star Wars would be in a more perilous place (creatively speaking), I would have chucked. Worse than the painful realization that the fictional world you loved as a child had been irreparably damaged with an outright atrocity of an installment? More troubling than that first epic burn when you realized that the perfectly realized galaxy far, far away was now permanently infected with trash characters and plot points while simultaneously ruining the origin story of the most awesome cinematic villain ever?
And yet, here we are. In this weird place where there’s no real passion for the latest trilogy and fans have resigned themselves to accepting the fact that the Star Wars movies, once the very foundation of this fictional world, are the least interesting & entertaining aspect. You can still find love for Star Wars; when fans discuss the first season of The Mandalorian or the last season of The Clone Wars. Or over in the gaming world where the well-received Jedi: Fallen Order has given fans hope for future console Star Wars‘ adventure.
This week Daisy Ridley opened up about the strange, surreal experience of being the star of the latest Star Wars trilogy and said;
“[Reaction has] changed film by film honestly. Like 98% it’s so amazing, [but] this last film it was really tricky. January was not that nice. It was weird. I felt like all of this love that we’d sort of been shown the first time around, I was like, ‘Where’s the love gone?’”
I’m guessing that last question was rhetorical, but I figured I’d try to answer.
I’d like to try and explain ‘where’s the love gone’ when it comes to Star Wars. First, I want you to know that I bear you no ill will. You’re a wonderful and charismatic actress who probably gets an unfair share of misguided frustration because you are the face of this current iteration of the franchise, and your character was the most terribly mismanaged. Unlike your co-star Adam Driver, your character was saddled with an incredibly unoriginal storyline which ultimately disappointed fans. You didn’t get a redemption arc or a noble sacrifice. Just a lazy attempt and wrapping up the trilogy by tying to your character to Emperor Palpatine which was the most deflating, baffling and eye-rolling moment since hearing the word ‘midi-chlorians’. None of this is your fault.
Unfortunately, film fans can be a hyperbolic lot. They are too wrapped up in the fictional world the entertainment industry creates. In this new connected world, they have almost limitless avenues to post whatever unfiltered thoughts cross their mind. They believe their anger deserves volume and their opinion must be considered. That’s not to say their dissatisfaction is completely unwarranted. There is still plenty of ‘love’ for Star Wars, just not a whole lot for the movies which you anchored.
Daisy, I want you to know that the ‘love’ you speak of was severely drained by your employer, The Walt Disney Company, which mortally wounded the film franchise with a thousand cuts. There was no clear direction and broad mismanagement of the franchise. Too many attempts to please everyone. Too much Star Wars related content in a very short frame of time. 45% of all Star Wars movies have come out in the last four years. Disney choked the franchise by trying to squeeze out every dime they could in the shortest amount of time possible. That lust for the almighty dollar led to sub-par product and watered down enthusiasm for ‘The Skywalker Saga‘.
The trilogy you starred in suffered for more reasons than just the content of those three films, but each installment had problems. The Force Awakens was a soft reboot of a franchise not in need of a soft reboot. The Last Jedi was an overcompensation and creative anomaly that some would argue went too far into new directions and polarized fans. Then, the powers that be, decided to overcompensate for their overcompensation with The Rise of Skywalker and go back to J.J. Abrams mystery box style adventure story that almost nobody was happy with.
That’s where the love went, Daisy. It was chipped away by neglect and watered down by greed. And while none of that is your fault, it does feel a little naive to think that fans should lap up whatever Disney releases and fawn over it like children incapable of critical thought.
I look forward to seeing where your career takes you next, as you were an engaging presence and better than the material you were given in your woefully mismanaged Star Wars trilogy.