Disney and LucasFilm’s The Last Jedi was a divisive movie upon its release a few weeks ago, becoming, perhaps, the most polarizing installment in the entire Star Wars franchise. Many of the flaws that riddled J.J. Abrams’ Force Awakens were overlooked by many because it was so ‘nostalgic’. While it looked different, it felt very familiar, and at times almost too familiar. Where the original trilogy does not look or feel like it came from the late 1970s and the early 1980s, The Force Awakens jolts us into the Millennial frame of mind right when Finn yells, “That’s what I’m talking about!” The viewer is instantly reminded of memes and emojis with dialogue like that. He might as well have said “booyah.” In The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson took risks and flipped the script, making something that stands on its own within a franchise of a carbon copy. So why do so many Millennials, such as myself, hate it so much? And are Millennials to blame for the majority of Last Jedi hate?
The Force Awakens appealed to Millennials because they could relate to the new young characters. Kylo Ren is trying to live up to his elders in the first installment, but now in The Force Awakens, he represents the bad behavior of a Millennial. Snoke calls Kylo Ren out for wearing a silly mask, which is what it is. Darth Vader needed his cool looking mask and gear to survive, whereas Kylo Ren is just doing it to look cool. That is something that no one should ever do on purpose, or at least not in front of their supervisors. Kylo Ren’s faults are on full display and it feels real, something that hasn’t really been seen in a Star Wars movie. And perhaps something that Millennials don’t want to admit to themselves.
The Force Awakens was praised by Millennials because it was just familiar enough. It never broke any new ground and was basically the same movie as A New Hope, but made nearly 40 years later with new technology. The movie was perfect wish fulfillment. The Last Jedi on the other hand, does not get into any of the wish fulfillment and only dabbles in nostalgia, angering Millennials who preferred the familiar, who were upset by the blatant changes thrown in their face without warning. This is a new Star Wars and one where everything doesn’t have to be explained right then and there. People sure weren’t asking who Emperor Palpatine was and what his backstory was. He was an elderly bad ass, that’s all we needed to know.
The Last Jedi also shows Rey’s Millennial tendencies of being nice to everybody, making her come off as naïve, which again isn’t something that should be brought to the surface. It’s perfectly fine that Rey suddenly knows how to expertly fly the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens, but it’s suddenly looked down upon that she has to go through some work at being a better Jedi, as well as do some growing up. She’s a nobody from drunken parents who ditched her, not the obvious choice, which would have pleased many who wanted her to be a Skywalker or a Kenobi. Rian Johnson took what we all thought about Star Wars and made something new, but apparently, it’s not old enough to be deemed cool. More than anything, Millennials always wan there way. The director didn’t give them what they wanted. And they are railing against that for the most part. Just how many 40 year-olds who were around when the original movies came out are this upset. Judging from social media alone, not many. It appears to be the younger audiences who have the most problems with the movie. Or at least, they are being loudest about it.
The Force Awakens made everything instantaneous, just the way Millennials like everything. Instant gratification. And that was okay, because for all audiences, it kept the action moving. There was no time to sit back and think about what had just happened or how the story was progressing. At least not until everything had past, and audiences really had time to think about it. Finn goes from conflicted brainwashed First Order soldier to every bro in the galaxy. Finn and Poe become best friends within 3 minutes. The Last Jedi takes some time to develop the psychologies of the characters. Poe and Vice Admiral Holdo do not become fast friends, Poe has to learn some lessons before he earns her respect. We see more of Finn’s struggles, not just the catchphrase-yelling dude from the first installment, though there’s some of that left in for good measure. Rian Johnson takes time to breathe, allows silence, therefore allowing the viewer to take in and process what they just saw and how it pertains to the story. Instead, the pacing is called boring because the action isn’t going on during every scene.
There is no one reason why Millennials hate The Last Jedi more than the generations before and after. But it may have to do with some of the aforementioned differences between Rian Johnson’s vision and J.J. Abrams’ vision. The Last Jedi is huge and it’s critically acclaimed, which already makes it uncool for many, so might as well get on the cool train to hate on it. George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back had similar criticism as did the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. Now both of those pieces of art are considered to be the best of their careers for stepping outside of the box. So, The Last Jedi might finally be cool when it’s old and familiar. You can read more about The Last Jedi via StarWars.com.