EDITORIAL: STAR WARS: The Last Insult - Can A Franchise Alienate Its Core Fans and Survive?

Disney clearly thinks girls are better than boys. Fine. But letting that ideology infect the movies themselves necessarily leads to colorless characters who are either blandly pure or blandly bad.

Editorial Opinion
Wow.  Just...wow.  
 
Weeks after seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I’m still in shock at just how awful it was.  
 
I am now convinced that LucasFilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy is willfully steering this once-beloved franchise into the ditch through a combination of (1) disregard for the logic and lore of the Star Wars universe and (2) an ill-advised commitment to American gender politics.
 
Let me explain:  
 
Kennedy has famously been seen parading around in a shirt that reads “The Force is Female.”  Anyone remotely caring of — or conversant in — the famous energy source of the Star Wars universe knows that in fact it transcends such trivial, physical attributes.  

As Yoda told Luke, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”  Or as Obi-Wan explained, “The force is an energy field, created by all living things.”
 
All living things.  Not just females.  
 
Now, one might counter that Kennedy’s shirt was but a lark for a special occasion.  I don’t think so.  She has bragged“Fifty percent of our [LucasFilm] executive team are women. Six out of eight of the people in my Story Group are women.”  Crucially, Kennedy admits that this is all, “...making a huge difference in the kind of stories we’re trying to tell.”
 
I'll say.  The “Force is Female” shirt, and the hiring practices at LucasFilm, clearly indicate a conscious desire to prioritize one gender over another in the Star Wars universe.  And boy, does it show in The Last Jedi, a movie in which every man is either a well-meaning fool or cartoonishly laughable villain, and every woman is a super-powered saint or savior.
 
Unfortunately for Disney’s bottom line, Star Wars needs boys.

Sure, lots of girls have always loved Star Wars. But as far as the people who see the movies multiple times in the theater and obsessively consume the merchandise, does anyone doubt that it is mostly boys who have buoyed this franchise into the billion-dollar behemoth that made it attractive-enough for Disney to buy in the first place?
 
Imagine if a male producer brandished a shirt that read “The Force is Male.”  He would be drubbed out of polite society and his career ended faster than you could say "porg porridge." It would (rightly) be perceived as a deliberate affront to female fans, signaling that they are not welcome in the sand box.

But in our Upside Down, the mirror of that scenario is not only possible, it is lauded.
 
Whatever has motivated Kennedy to stick her thumb in the eye of the very people who carry the franchise, the results were utterly predictable:  A lower audience score on Rotten Tomatoes for The Last Jedi than Attack of the Clones, for crying out loud. And who ever imagined a world in which unwanted Star Wars merchandise rotted on the shelves?

Not to mention the disappointing (by franchise standards) box office. Per Forbes, The Last Jedi, "...will finish about 36% below the global box office of prevous series entry The Force Awakens."  That's a catastrophic drop no matter how you slice it.  

China alone has been a disaster: In the largest movie market in the world, it opened behind a romantic comedy, then dropped 92% in its second week before disappearing completely soon after.
 
Congratulations, Kathleen Kennedy: You’ve made a film so left-wing it’s loathed by even actual communists.
 
Disney clearly thinks girls are better than boys.  Fine.  But letting that ideology infect the movies themselves necessarily leads to colorless characters who are either blandly pure or blandly bad.  
 
Not only is nuance and logic lost. So is your audience.

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