by Shelt Garner
As I have said before, I’m not really much of a fan of Star Wars. But the franchise is such a cultural powerhouse, that it is interesting to try to understand where it stands.
To me, the existential crisis of Star Wars has nothing to do with the franchise itself. It has everything to do with how the bolts are popping off civil society in the United States. Throw in the quirks of the modern Hollywood economy and you have a recipe for the entire edifice to collapse in on itself.
The reason why what’s “wrong” with Star Wars is so difficult to understand is there’s a lot going on with the franchise. The convention wisdom on YouTube, often advocated by angry young men, is Star Wars where it is because of the malfeasance of Kathleen Kennedy. She’s a very convenient scapegoat for some legitimate problems with Star Wars.
I’m of the opinion that things just aren’t that simple. Disney paid something like $2 billion for LucasFilm and, as such, they decided to use it as a money tree. It seems to me that what all the complains are about has more to do with modern Hollywood in general than Ms. Kennedy.
Three major things are warping Star Wars so as to cause a major rift between the studio and the fanbase.
- MAGA-Qanon is consuming America
A lot of unhappiness in the Star Wars fanbase likely comes from how the United States, in general, is extremely divided. This is out of the control of anyone involved. Everything — EVERYTHING — is seen through the prism of politics, and, as such, given that the Star Wars fanbase is made up of young men, it’s inevitable that they will be unhappy if there’s a whiff of “liberal bias” in the storytelling.
- Disney wants to sell toys
Next, Disney really, really, REALLY wants that sweet, sweet toy money. So that bends the storytelling associated with Star Wars to such an extent that they throw in an entire subplot that’s devoted exclusively to featuring creatures that are to be sold as toys.
- “Woke” Hollywood
This is probably the most conspicuous problem with the franchise and, in a sense, the most intractable. Woke Hollywood screws with some basic tenants of storytelling to such an extent that even the average casual Star Wars audience member can be left a little annoyed.
- Disney isn’t a fan of Star Wars
I think this is the real problem with Star Wars. They just don’t “get” Star Wars and where the magic comes from. It’s like a bookworm trying to be a basketball coach when they don’t even know the rules of the game. They know how to make money, but they have lost sight on how to tell a Star Wars story the way the fans will really like.
I honestly don’t have a solution to any of these problems. Disney does run a real risk, however, of driving the franchise into the ground to such an extent that they can’t make any more money off of it. I have suggested before than someone like Kevin Smith (who is a huge fan of Star Wars) should be given a three picture deal and a lot of creative control.
One thing that is really staring Disney in the face and they’re ignoring it is how huge the Star Wars universe is. It makes you start to think whomever is in charge of Star Wars (Ms. Kennedy?) is either not very creative or too timid to do what is needed.
Why not just find a minor fan favorite character and think completely out of the box with them. No Skywalker. No Darth Vader. Nothing from the known canon of the franchise. They’ve got a whole galaxy mapped out in various ways in “Lore” and so forth, why not just pick a direction, any direction and run with it? Why be so absolutely tied down to the major aspects of the canon?
But I guess all that would require money and risk that Disney isn’t prepare to get into. Though there may come a day when they grow so desperate that they don’t have any choice.