Remember, wanting a quality product that respects the mythos and fits the canon without ramming the fashionable sensibilities of the day down your throat makes you toxic.
Asking for something more than just remake with the roles gender or race swapped means you are #problematic.
Whatever you do, don’t ask anyone why writers these days can only make female characters strong by surrounding them with weak, incompetent men behaving in totally unbelievable ways? This marks you out as a misogynist.
Asking that writers have an understanding of the universe that they are playing in is probably some kind of privilege.
Now that these rules are established and we understand that everything is our fault, especially if we are white males, we can carry on.
Exit Stage Left
The sudden departure from Star Wars of Game Of Thrones supremos David Benioff and DB Weiss was big news this week. There was plenty of speculation as to why these two would walk away from one of the biggest gigs in Hollywood. Especially as they are both lifelong fans. Well, it turns out there were two main reasons. The first reason is you and me.
Benioff and Weiss were apparently feeling the heat from this so-called “toxic fandom” and had been having second thoughts for a while. After years of walking on water and receiving plaudits from all quarters for Game Of Thrones, things had started to turn.
The six-episode final season of Thrones was met with a critical backlash and fan outbursts. As they geared up to take on Star Wars they became very aware of how fandom was held responsible for bullying actors off social media and subjecting Rian Johnson to the internet equivalent of tarring and feathering for The Last Jedi.
According to a source quoted in the trade press this lead them to a bad place.
“Who wants to go through that again? Not them… this was in the ‘Life’s Too Short’ category.”
Even two-time director J.J. Abrams is off to Warner Bros after The Rise Of Skywalker and seems done with a galaxy far, far away once the trilogy ends.
Kennedy We Have A Problem
Which brings us on to the second problem. The one we could have all guessed. To lose one set of key creatives from behind the scenes is an accident. To lose two means you have issues. To lose SEVEN? Anyone who has worked in a toxic corporate environment at any company can imagine what could possibly be making Lucasfilm such an unhappy ship.
Josh Trank, Chris Miller, Phil Lord, Colin Trevorrow have all exited in the past under a cloud. Now Benioff and Weiss join them, along with Gareth Edwards who had his movie recut and reshot from under him. Even Ron Howard, who did an exceptional job in very difficult circumstances with Solo shows no signs of returning. Bloody white men!
The same trades are also finally starting to be brave enough to discuss the corporate culture at Lucasfilm. This is something websites like this one have been discussing for a long time and were dismissed in the mainstream and by other websites are known to take “pwesents” from studios in return for access and coverage. Some are still at it this morning despite the breaking news. Not cool.
Now the industry press openly pinpoints this culture. Late to the party guys, but welcome! It apparently invites little creative independence, is top-down command and control and is willing to replace new talent who deviate from the path with old standbys who will toe the line and, as Variety puts it, do as they are told.
The high rate of turnover among the creative talent and the lack of a real direction for the franchise since The Last Jedi is raising concerns among shareholders and higher-ups back at Disney.
Employees have taken to the internet to vent as that diverse and inclusive Lucasfilm Executive has gone into full CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode. The story group has been dismantled and a deliberate smokescreen is being generated. This is so clarity around past decision making is not certain, meaning accountability for mistakes cannot be assigned. Again, these are current employees telling the outside world this.
Among these mistakes is the big one, referred to internally as “The Billion Dollar Mistake” to only feature new characters in the theme parks. These are, according to the LA Times, a dead zone with merchandise and food sales also nosediving.
The icing on the cake is the news that The Rise Of Skywalker, despite trumpeting sales records, is in danger of opening soft. Examination of the sales records fanfare reveals some heavy caveats. It was a one-hour sales record when they first went on sale, and it was only through two online outlets. Still, these caveats are not enough to stop some less trustworthy websites and commentators using them as evidence that the world is wrong and they are right. Again, not cool.
Against this backdrop, the pair’s exit has apparently been brewing since August when Kathleen Kennedy was reported to be very unhappy with the Netflix deal the duo just signed for $250 million.
She reportedly was not convinced the pair would have the bandwidth to create a new Star Wars trilogy while working on film and TV for Netflix.
Finally, there was some concern over the future at Lucasfilm. For all the nice words in the press, Disney CEO Bob Iger is not a man known for inaction. The optics in firing a room full of women would be terrible, especially only a few years after allowing them to be trumpeted as breakers of the glass ceiling.
However, rumours coming out of Lucasfilm, along with the quiet dismantling of the story group, are that Kennedy has effectively been replaced and sidelined.
Jon Favreau has far more control over The Mandalorian than other creatives have been given, and Kennedy is apparently kept at arm’s length from that production.
Her input into the creative direction of Star Wars is strictly limited after Disney announced Michelle Rejwan will now oversee the live-action development and production of new Star Wars movies and TV shows as senior vice president.
Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige has been announced as developing a Star Wars movie. With Kennedy’s contract expiring within the next 24 months this timing is seen as interesting.
Despite all of this news remember one thing. This is all your fault.