Listen to Austin 360 Radio

The outrage over ‘The Last Jedi,’ explained

Jake Harris

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened at the top spot at the box office last weekend to a whopping $220,009,584 weekend total. Lauded by critics and hotly anticipated by fans, the eighth (ninth if you’re counting “Rogue One”) entry into the “Star Wars” movie series was, on paper, a success. 

Related: The Force is with this San Antonio ‘Star Wars’ Christmas lights display

For at least 66,500* “Star Wars” fans, “The Last Jedi” was a disaster. petition entitled “Have Disney strike Star Wars Episode VIII from the official canon.” was posted to the popular petition site on Dec. 14 (the first day the film was in wide release in America) by a Georgia man named Henry Walsh. 

Related: Still haven’t seen ‘The Last Jedi’? Here’s what you need to know

***“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” semi-spoilers ahead***

“Episode VIII was a travesty,” the petition states. “It completely destroyed the legacy of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. It destroyed the very reasons most of us, as fans, liked Star Wars. This can be fixed. Just as you wiped out 30 years of stories, we ask you to wipe out one more, the Last Jedi. Remove it from canon, push back Episode IX and re-make Episode VIII properly to redeem Luke Skywalker's legacy, integrity, and character.”

Related: Review: ‘The Last Jedi’ puts incredible moments in an incredibly long movie

People from all over the globe have been signing this thing. 

“This was one of the worst films i've [sic] ever seen and an insult to star wars canon. From start to finish this is a complete trainwreck of a movie,” one signer wrote.

“This has disappointed millions of fans. I hope you remake this movie. Because it had so much potential,” another signed.

One signer went so far as to compare the making of this film, a high fantasy set in space featuring laser swords and space wizards, to the act of unlawful and unwanted sexual contact: 

“But above all, can you officially recognize you are raping the saga please?”

Fans who singed this petition said it was too joke-y. It was too serious. It focused too little on characters that were established in “The Force Awakens,” and didn’t have enough familiarity with old characters from the original trilogy. It was unrealistic. There were too many porgs. There weren’t enough porgs. It was too different. It wasn’t different enough. 

More: Review: The Force is with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Oddly enough, a main theme of the film is a demonstration of how dangerous it is to blindly cling to the past without moving forward.

For the record, “Jedi” director Rian Johnson knows some fans are mad, and he had this to say, in Business Insider

“And I also know the same way the original movies were personal for Lucas. Lucas never made a Star Wars movie by sitting down and thinking, “What do the fans want to see?” And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, “F— you, you ruined Star Wars,” and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.”

The movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score is somewhat of an anomaly — it’s currently sitting at a 93 percent fresh rating with critics and a 54 percent rotten rating from audiences. You expect something like that with Oscar bait, but not with blockbusters. (People still showed up to see “Justice League,” remember?)

And while Rotten Tomatoes is hardly an indication of a film’s merit, that 54 percent rating is the lowest audience rate of any “Star wars” film, including “The Phantom Menace,” which has a 59 percent. (If you want to see a very inside-baseball analysis of “Jedi”’s RT scores, head over to Birth.Movies.Death. It’s bonkers.)

After the petition went viral, Walsh made an update on the site, saying that while he still hates the movie, he posted his screed as a way to blow off steam.

“I was frustrated and medicated,” Walsh wrote, stating that he was still recovering from a painful vehicle accident last year. “So, I made this petition. It was a bad idea at the time and I feel that we are pooling our efforts in not a healthy direction.”

Walsh goes on to write that back after he was in his accident, he made a GoFundMe for hospital bills, and this “Star Wars” petition is getting more attention than that GoFundMe ever did:

“I couldn't get the help on GoFundMe to help pay for my surgery, and yet *this* gets this kind of attention? To the point that this petition has been in multiple news publications at this point? How many other people out there need help and can't get attention? I'm not comfortable with that...”

More: The anger over the ‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’ video game, explained 

This isn’t the first time “Star Wars” fans have been angry with directors for where they’ve taken the franchise (or even the second, or the third).

The series has a long history of its fans having a love/hate relationship with George Lucas, the prequels, the remastering of the originals, etc. There’s even a documentary, “The People vs. George Lucas,” about how angry the fandom was after “The Phantom Menace.” For a more humorous look at what the films mean to people, check out 2009’s “Fanboys.” 

One thing’s for certain, though. No matter what happens in Episode IX, Disney probably isn’t doing a thing about “Jedi” and its place in the canon. They just bought up most of 20th Century Fox. Think they got that way by listening to petitions to tarnish a movie that they paid for? 

*This aticle was first published on Dec. 20, 2017, when the petition had a little more than 39,000 signatures. Since that time, the petition has grown.