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I Wish I Could Talk about The Last Jedi

It’s May the 4th, so I am thinking about Star Wars and how much I like it, particularly the new trilogy. However, I can no longer think about my love for the new films without thinking about how often I’ve been made to feel inferior for liking them. In fact, in the wake of the divisive release of The Last Jedi, I’ve often regretted publicly stating my affection for the new trilogy. So on this May the 4th, I want to speak candidly to Star Wars fans. In fact, what I have to say should be helpful for all fandoms (Game of Thrones fans come to mind, maybe even Sonic fans). However, before I do, I have a confession and an apology to make.

Sometimes it feels like fans are the worst at letting other people enjoy things. I think that’s a real shame.

I’ve not always been charitable when it comes to discussing Star Wars with those who dislike the new trilogy. In the last year or so, I have made a lot of jokes at the expense of Star Wars fans.

I think I can say with a clear conscience that I meant these jokes in good fun, but nonetheless need to clear the air. If you hated TLJ, I shouldn’t view this as a reflection on your intelligence, your worth, your character, or even your taste. If I ever thought less of someone for not liking TLJ, it was me who was in the wrong—that’s not only ridiculous, that’s morally wrong.

And truthfully, most people I know who didn’t like TLJ are wonderful, reasonable people who I’m really glad are a part of my life. I even enjoyed talking about the film with some of them. Most of these friends stated their dislike, and why they disliked it—then moved on. I do, however, want to take a moment and address the people (myself included) who just couldn’t let the other side have their opinion.

Despite my bombastic posts on social media, the truth is my opinion on Star Wars or any other piece of media is not definitive—and neither is yours. Open discussions about why we do or don’t like certain things are part of what I love most about nerd culture, but no one should have their credibility or their character judged based on their appraisal of a film, ever. Period. The minute we start doing that, then the nerdy stuff we love has lost its ultimate value: enjoyment. As a Christian, I would call that a symptom of idolatry.

Discussions and charitable debates are great; I am just tired of the campaigns to convince me that I shouldn’t enjoy something I enjoy. I like Star Wars and I don’t want to stop liking it. The films are things I watch to decompress and take in an exciting story with relatable and engaging characters. What I don’t enjoy is the discussion that always unfolds after I state as much. Sometimes it feels like fans are the worst at letting other people enjoy things. I think that’s a real shame.

Here is the truth that we know deep down but are too often slow to admit: there are wonderful people out there in the world who loved, hated, or are indifferent to The Last Jedi—and that’s ok. It’s fine to have a healthy debate about its merits or lack thereof, but can we please drop the name calling, labeling, and gatekeeping? We aren’t  accomplishing anything other than making content creators more fearful and fans less vocal about their enjoyment.

I like to talk about the things I enjoy. Here’s to hoping I can talk about The Last Jedi again some day.

Executive Editor at Penguin Random House. Author of Know Thy Gamer: A Parent's Guide to Video Games and founder of Love Thy Nerd.

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