After announcing that Jurassic World director, Colin Trevorrow, would no longer be directing Star Wars Episode 9, Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars Episode 7 director, JJ Abrams, would be returning to the franchise he helped reboot to helm the final film in the planned trilogy. The announcement sent ripples across the internet as fans began to express their happiness or anger with the decision.
However, this week, one fan decided to take things to another level by starting a petition on the popular petition website, change.org, to have Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm, and The Walt Disney Company fire JJ Abrams from his newly announced position. The petition reads as follows:
Star Wars fans abroad were upset with the result of J.J. Abrams’ directing of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Although not reflected in the box office sales, most fans agree that Abrams’ vision for Episode VII resulted in a rehash of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. There was virtually no creativity, and no risks taken. Such complacency cannot be the trajectory of this sequel trilogy. More specifically, the metric for success in a Star Wars movie cannot be box office sales. Lucasfilm and Disney *need* to listen to fan criticism. Star Wars fans deserve better. They demand better.
At the start of the new sequel trilogy, beginning with The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm and Disney promised a new director for each movie to promote a fresh new vision on every installment. With the hiring of J.J. Abrams to direct the upcoming Episode IX, Lucasfilm and Disney have both reneged on this promise.
Therefore, to prevent Star Wars Episode IX from becoming yet another rip off of the original trilogy (specifically, a rip off of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), and for the good of the Star Wars brand, we demand that Kathleen Kennedy remove J.J. Abrams as director of the upcoming Episode IX film.
At the time of writing, the petition has close to 3,000 signatures.
Personally, I find this whole scenario laughably idiotic. The point of a petition is to give a community a unified voice in order to enact social or political change, not for fandoms to throw a bitch fit about the direction their favorite franchises are going in. People using petitions for this kind of thing only decreases the likelihood of major studios taking future petitions, that may address legitimate concerns from movie lovers, seriously. There are times when I could see a petition addressing legitimate concerns, like petitioning against Jeepers Creepers 3 premiering at the historic Chinese Theatre because the director is a registered sex offender or your local theatre having a Roman Polanski Night.
This is not the first time, nor probably the last time, petitions have been used in such a ludicrous manner. Just last year, someone started a petition to have Rotten Tomatoes “shut down” because the site was giving DC Comic-based film franchises lower scores than Marvel films. This is equally ridiculous because Rotten Tomatoes is not a film review site, but a film review aggregator, compiling movie critic review scores and showing the average in percentile form.
While I love the fact that people can be so passionate about these kinds of things, this is another case where people take their fandom too far. I have previously addressed this entitlement some fans seem to have in my May The 4th Be With You article. I understand what it means to have a franchise mean the world to you, so much so, you believe you have a type of ownership over it, and in a certain way, I think fandoms do.
However, just because you have dedicated your time and money to this franchise, doesn’t give you the power to dictate who does what. This is someone’s job, their livelihood. Lucasfilm and Disney are the ones footing the bill and putting these amazing creations to screen, not you. If you really want to enact change on that level, you better be an important cog in that machine. Since you aren’t a part of the machine, you could just not watch the film. Speak with your wallet.
While I’m not thrilled with Abrams returning for the last installment in the trilogy, I understand why. Lucasfilm has been burning through these young, talented directors and they can not afford to continue that trend. Choices like Ron Howard and JJ Abrams may not deliver anything revolutionary, but they are strong and dependable filmmakers. That is what they need right now over at Lucasfilm.
The idea that JJ Abrams did not take any risks with The Force Awakens is another idiotic one. Star Wars was a dead franchise before The Force Awakens, and Abrams had the daunting task of breathing new life into the most beloved series in the history of cinema. He also introduced a new level of diversity, with our central protagonist being a woman, and our secondary protagonists being black and Latino males.
While there is no denying that the movie echoes plot points from previous entries into the franchise, this is something George Lucas himself has done within the original trilogy and the prequels. It’s no wonder why The Force Awakens feels so similar to the original trilogy, especially with so much riding on its success. I’m sure Abrams has heard the criticisms and is looking forward to getting another chance to play in the sandbox.
In the end, this is just one man’s personal opinion. Now I want to hear from you guys. Do you think anything should come of this petition? How do you feel about JJ Abrams returning to direct a Star Wars film? What did you think of The Force Awakens? Let me know in the comments below.