The Last Time

A particular movie has prompted a vast amount of reaction on my timeline in the last few weeks. I feel this is the right moment therefore to highlight some basic truths about art, entertainment and expectation to this very vocal selection of an audience who feel… well, somewhat aggrieved.

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A long-time contributor to my Twitter feed linked this man’s video into my timeline yesterday. Normally, I’d pay such stuff little mind (mostly because I’m one of six people who’ve still not seen the movie) but the You Tube screencap for the video made me literally spit out my tea:

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NOTHING WENT WRONG with this movie. At time of writing, it’s cleared the 1 BILLION DOLLARS made worldwide mark in less than three weeks. However, if you want to cash in on a huge commercial success, the current trend is not to acknowledge acceptance of how good something is, but to savagely rip off its genitalia and then wield it in the manner of a trophy. That, all told, is not good criticism. Saying something is fundamentally flawed is also not good criticism, but this video is, by its own admission, a ‘discussion starter.’ If this video had been titled ‘What I didn’t like about The Last Jedi’ it would be a vast improvement. But hey, that’s not nearly as snappy, and You Tube remains a pretty cutthroat marketplace.

There’s been an inherent problem with the Internet for a while now, and I’ve experienced it at first hand more times than I care to remember. Not liking something is totally fine, discussing that in a respectful and realistic fashion is also fine, but telling people they’re wrong and you’re right is not. That’s not how art works. It is not how cinema, or books, or TV works either. You are presented with something that is whole, made a certain way, and that’s it. This is not a video game where complaining at the design team will get your issues addressed. Art is what it is and if you don’t like it, that’s acceptable as part of the experience.

Just because you don’t like something does not make it fundamentally flawed. It means you don’t like what you saw.

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I’m making no comment on the content of this movie, because (as was stated at the top of the article) I’ve not seen it. However, there’s plenty to say on people who create an online petition to strip The Last Jedi from Star Wars canon. I get that outrage gets you click throughs and makes money, but seriously? All this kind of behaviour does is reinforce a stereotype that trust me you will not want to hold onto for much longer if 2018 goes the same way as 2017. Yes, you can object to a film if it ruins your idea of a canon, and that is totally fine. The fact remains that if the film-makers decide to take things in this particular direction, there’s a good chance in the second part of a trilogy it has been done for a damn good reason.

That’s the small issue I feel that’s been utterly overlooked by the vast majority of the haters. You’re dissing a piece of cinema that’s not even finished yet.

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I made a promise this year to be more tolerant of those people with whom I do not agree, and so there is just this post to remind myself that when somebody else spends millions of dollars on something and I don’t like it, letting that hate consume my existence or capitalising on it for my own financial gain is not the ethical way to react. As a result, I won’t watch that video, sorry. When this work of art is finally finished, feel free to tear everybody a new set, haters. I still won’t respect you, and that’s the bigger takeaway. However, if by the time we get to the next episode of this serialised content and you’ve learnt some humility? Perhaps we can talk.

It is one thing to disagree with someone’s motivations, but quite another to make money on the back of a wave of hatred.

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