A Fandom That Doesn’t Want Me

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

This post is a day late, but all the Star Wars talk yesterday and the new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer got me thinking about where I am with Star Wars right now. I was about 12 years old when I first saw A New Hope, and I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise ever since. Despite being disappointed on numerous occasions, I still eagerly anticipated each new movie/game/whatever with optimism.

My general feelings have changed in the past couple years, though, and it all started with…you already know what I’m going to say…The Last Jedi.

Now I really love The Last Jedi. Yes, it’s got a few cringy moments, but this is Star Wars, camp is built in and every mainline film has cringe-inducing moments here and there, so…whatever. The film was beautifully shot, was original in many ways, had great action, and was just flat out the most fun I had at a Star Wars film since Empire.

No, what made me shift on Star Wars was the massive negative reaction this film got from the fanbase. People can enjoy or dislike whatever they want, that’s fine, but my enjoyment of this movie seemed to make a shocking number of Star Wars fans mad. I can count on one finger the number of people who disliked The Last Jedi and asked me why I liked it. Everyone else had some variant of, “OMG IT’S TRASH, YOU’RE WRONG, AND HERE’S WHY,” (yes, even in real life with aquantances). It was so bad that much like “Trump” and “Elon” I didn’t even dare use the text “The Last Jedi” in a tweet because doing so would guarantee my mentions would be filled with randos telling me how wrong I was.

And this is of course nothing compared to what people directly connected to the film got. Rian Johnson was public enemy #1 for many people, and let’s not even get into what Kelly Marie Tran dealt with in terms of abuse.

And this was different from what I had known of the prequel trilogy. If I tweeted today, “I loved The Phantom Menace,” my replies would be asking me why I liked it so much and that “man, I should rewatch that to see if it’s better than I remember.” If I tweeted the same thing about The Last Jedi, I don’t think the replies would have as much curiosity.

Basically, my enjoyment of a particlar Star Wars film made me feel alienated from the Star Wars fandom in general. I felt it was a club I didn’t want to be involved in, and even if I did, it seemed they didn’t want me. I’m sure other fandoms are like this to some extent as well, I just haven’t experienced anything at this scale and with this much anger in any other media I’ve enjoyed in my life.

I think this is why I have been a bit more tepid about Star Wars content after this. I still had affection for the stories and characters, but the distance I felt from the fandom made me less interested in the whole thing.

All that said, the new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer looks great, and I have high hopes that it will bring me unabashed joy for a few weeks this summer. I hope that I can love Star Wars again and that the toxicity I’ve associated with its fandom over the past few years can fade away.