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You’re Rian Johnson... now what?


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I'm already perturbed that they've done two films (and will do more) with female leads, because that was my idea with the Jedi origins story and now I feel sort of uninspired to write it because these new films are all about the female leads and nothing else (Kathleen Kennedy's own admission).

Is having a female lead in a movie a 'gimmick'? Or should it just be one of the normal choices?

If you had a story idea that was good, should it really matter that your lead was female, male, trans, etc.? This shouldn't really be a factor.

 

You left out the part where I said the story I was writing had a female lead, so obviously I do not feel the way you are attempting to frame it. It's different, however, when the head of LucasFilm says, "We do not need to appeal to male audiences." Translation: Moving forward, our films will force unwanted identity politics down your throat.

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No, what she is saying is that traditionally Star Wars has slanted far more to boys than girls. They feel they will have huge percentages of males watching Star Wars movies no matter what they do. They want to try to appeal to more girls because they want to make as much money as possible. It's like before when someone said Lucasfilm would be ok with a trilogy that didn't appeal to kids and would be happy with young adults. Just not true. Disney wants everyone. They want males, females, kids, adults, teens. They want every single part of the market to pay money to see these movies.

 

And even with that, with Rey and Jyn from Rouge One there are still far more important male characters in these movies than female characters and the movie coming out in 2018 is going to have a male main character.

 

The idea of having female leads has nothing to do with "unwanted identity politics", it has to do with money.

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I have the main sequences, the problem is connecting them in logical ways. Also I wanted to come up with a ship that can sort of the "Falcon" of this thing. I mean I'm not going to come up with someething that cool but I wanted something. I think my idea works and the ship is about as different from the Falcon as can be. Also wanted to find a role for a droid, which I have and I hope works out.

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This isnt attack, but it frames my reasons for disliking the mindset behind fan fiction.

 

You cant get mad when you love an IP that isnt yours is taken in a direction you dont like. Its not yours. Its there for you to enjoy or not, but you dont have ownship of it.

With respect, that is utter BS and is the defense used by many a thin skinned producer or writer who does not want to confront the possibility that they are taking an IP in a direction that isn't popular. That line of thinking is dismissive of fans. Just because someone is a fan of a particular IP and not the owner doesn't mean said fan cannot feel anger when that IP is taken in a direction that fan doesn't like. Basically, if you subscribe to this thinking, then you support corporations like CBS who didn't originate an IP (Star Trek!), and have totally snubbed fans, and taken an IP in a direction that many long time fans disagree with. The reason IPs exist (at least at the level Star Trek or Star Wars is at) is BECAUSE fan support in the first place. Snubbing those fans does that IP no favors. Not saying this is something you do, Tank (because I don't thing it is), but, in general, I think it is very arrogant of both owners, as well as producers, directors, and writers to think that way. Basically its saying "we own this IP, and we owe you absolutely nothing. Shut up and take what we give you. We will take your money, but not acknowledge the fact that without fans like you, we wouldn't have a medium to tell this story in the first place." No. When an IP like Star Wars becomes as big as it is, it becomes part of pop culture, and in that sense, it belongs to everyone. And with that perspective, properties like Star Wars should be treated with respect, and fans wishes, to a certain extent, should also be treated with respect. I am not saying that writers necessarily need to poll the audience and ask them how they want the story to unfold, but I am saying that dismissing 20 years of established books, comics, video games, media, etc, and expecting fans who are upset by that to just get over it, is unrealistic at best, and is in some contexts, disrespectful.

 

Let me be more clear--

 

Yes, fandom can accept some ownership. For example-- I argued a lot round here that Star Wars belongs to everyone, so George doing his own thing for the prequels was a disservice.

 

At the same time though, it was his at the time to do whatever he wanted. It can be a fuzzy line.

 

If everybody in fandom is dying for a particular thing, I do think it would behoove the the IP holders to cater to the fans somewhat and give them what they want, because you're right, the franchise would be nothing without them.

 

That said though, it is impossible to make everyone happy. When I say I am irritated with fandom assuming ownership of their favorite thing, what I mean is they reach a level of fandom where they are impossible to please.

 

If everybody agreed on what Star Wars should be it wouldn't be an issue-- but there are fans out there who think it has to be a very specific thing, and if it isn't, they are ready to cry, scream, shout, send death threats, whatever they can to let it be known how unhappy they are.

 

And maybe this is pompous coming from the creator side of it-- but if you're the one making the thing, you cannot, and should not, try to cater to every fan. It's a fool's errand.

 

This is going to sound terrible and pompous, but most people aren't creative enough to know what they want. They know what they don't want, that's for sure. The THINK they know what they want, but they don't.

 

They may think they have a great idea-- "It's a movie about Boba Fett hunting people!" But that's an idea, not a story. A lot of hardcore fans think they know what would make a great Star Wars movie cause they have a good idea-- but they aren't thinking about character arcs, a structure, sub plots, rising complications and resolutions, not a thing that actually goes into building a story. They just have a cool image in their head and want to see it.

 

There is absolutely no way to contribute to a franchise in a way that will be universally loved. Especially not something the size of Star Wars. There's so many subsets of fans-- PT fans, OT fans, EU fans, and every combination of them combined.

 

You can say the creators should cater to the fans-- but it's literally impossible when there's so rarely a dominate voice.

 

When I say fandom assuming ownership, I am referring to all the lovely hate mail I get for writing a franchise character in a way people don't like. They are such a big fan, they assume I must not be because I don't agree with them.

 

There is a very ugly side to fandom. When people let fiction effect their lives to the point that it dominates every choice they make, how they decorate their home, who they'll be friends with, who they'll date, and most importantly, how they treat those working on their beloved franchise, I don't think that's very healthy.

 

Again, not judging, it's just a line a drew for myself a long time ago. I think it;s very hard to be a fanboy and a legit creative at the same time. There's a level of criticism and objectivity that has to come with being a writer that I think is tossed out the window if you are obsessed. This is George RR Martin's line when it comes to GOT fanfiction.

 

 

Id say if you love it that much, why can your head canon and fan fic not just do what you want? Why does them doing something you hate stop you when NONE of it is real? Its all fiction. Make your own version and leave the official one behind. You hate the Disney owned Lucasfilm, and yet you respect their stamp of officialdom as what counts.

 

That said, and this is just me talking about myself, but why waste time at all on something that isnt yours? Make you own thing so theres never any danger of it doing something you dont like.

I get what you are saying, and I get that you are advising ZN to not let these changes bother him so much, which is good advice. And at the end of the day, Star Wars is just a movie franchise. But I also understand where ZN is coming from. The way he feels about the Disney-Era Star Wars (or how you feel about the PT for that matter!) is exactly how I feel about how Paramount treated Star Trek (Namely Into Darkness), and how CBS has given us Battlestar Trek Discovery. I have just started coming to terms with the Kelvin-verse (again, namely Into Darkness) and grudgingly accept that it exists, and even enjoyed Beyond, but I personally pretend it just exists in a bubble by itself and has nothing to do with my favorite era of Star Trek: TOS movie and Berman era. And I refuse to even acknowledge STD exists at all.

 

So, bottom line is once a franchise is as big as Star Wars is, we fans have a right to like it, or hate it, and express approval or disagreement (so long as it doesn't get nasty or personal).

 

 

Star Trek is even worse, with every show having it's preferred fans. Discovery was a miss-- but it was put together people people with legit Trek love and pedigrees. I don't disagree with you-- but it's not as callous of a middle finger to all Trek is as you claim it to be...

 

But I don't disagree with any of the stuff you said.

 

My point to Zarimar was exactly that-- he was saying Disney canon didn't count to him, but at the same time let their stories block his own-- and theres no reason they should.

 

I have some very strong, and personal, opinions about fanfiction, but I don't judge people who want to spend their time on it. If it makes them happy, it certainly isn't effecting me. Have your fun, enjoy your thing!

 

But you know, if you happened to have made a prequel Texas Chainsaw Prequel fan film a decade ago and are so obsessed and mad that the official release went a different direction that you decide it's totally okay to threaten the lives of the writer and his family cause it's THAT important to you-- you need to get a life.

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The whole idea of something not being part of your personal canon is just a slippery slope. I mean if I made a post and said that Vader not Luke's father I'd be wrong. I can't just be like "well its not what I wanted to happen, so it didn't happen." There is no difference between that though and not "counting" the Disney stuff.

 

It goes the other way too though, where some people are so into every release that they lose all perspective. You have people who think Ezra from Rebels is going to be Snoke. I love Rebels, but I mean cmon. Or you have people who are like "well KOTOR established this or that so it's possible." They don't realize that the only reason KOTOR hasn;t be decanonized is because they haven't had to do it yet. If Johnson walks into Kennedy's office in 6 months with a script that conflicts with KOTOR Kennedy is not going to say "oh this conflicts with a video game, rewrite it" She is going to call PR and tell them to draft a release saying KOTOR is no longer canon.

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I'm already perturbed that they've done two films (and will do more) with female leads, because that was my idea with the Jedi origins story and now I feel sort of uninspired to write it because these new films are all about the female leads and nothing else (Kathleen Kennedy's own admission).

Is having a female lead in a movie a 'gimmick'? Or should it just be one of the normal choices?

If you had a story idea that was good, should it really matter that your lead was female, male, trans, etc.? This shouldn't really be a factor.

You left out the part where I said the story I was writing had a female lead, so obviously I do not feel the way you are attempting to frame it. It's different, however, when the head of LucasFilm says, "We do not need to appeal to male audiences." Translation: Moving forward, our films will force unwanted identity politics down your throat.
I was directly referring to the part where you said your story had a female lead. I'm saying it doesn't matter.
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The whole idea of something not being part of your personal canon is just a slippery slope. I mean if I made a post and said that Vader not Luke's father I'd be wrong. I can't just be like "well its not what I wanted to happen, so it didn't happen." There is no difference between that though and not "counting" the Disney stuff.

 

It goes the other way too though, where some people are so into every release that they lose all perspective. You have people who think Ezra from Rebels is going to be Snoke. I love Rebels, but I mean cmon. Or you have people who are like "well KOTOR established this or that so it's possible." They don't realize that the only reason KOTOR hasn;t be decanonized is because they haven't had to do it yet. If Johnson walks into Kennedy's office in 6 months with a script that conflicts with KOTOR Kennedy is not going to say "oh this conflicts with a video game, rewrite it" She is going to call PR and tell them to draft a release saying KOTOR is no longer canon.

If tearing apart KOTOR so ideas and characters and beats could be utilised I'm all for it. I don't particularly care about what is cannon or not. I've experienced the game and it's stories, so they'll always be with me. But whether the events in the game are considered "canon" or not matters not to me. In fact "canon" has kind of always perplexed me... As the only purpose I really see for it is so writers can have some consistency... But I don't think it's this holy grail that some seem to.

 

The reason KOTOR and KOTOR2 get sited so much.. Is not because of canon or whatever, but that the writing is just so damn good. Particularly

KOTOR2. Next to the OT I personally think they as the best stories that exist within the Star Wars universe. I'd love for them to pillaged. And if they are de-canonised to make way for something else entirely? That's okay too. I didn't realise they were canon in the first place.

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Guest El Chalupacabra

Tank, I do not want to derail this thread (I may have already done that), but I will briefly respond (edit: this turned into a TL;DR post rather quickly!), but will limit my response. If warranted, we can always break this part of the conversation off into another thread if needed. But I'll address a few points.

 

First off, thank you for the detailed response. You are in a unique position on this message board, as you are a writer and work in the very industry the rest of us have very little (if any) first hand knowledge about. By default, that sort of makes you the resident expert on this topic. I've always found your posts very informative that give the rest of us a peak behind the curtain, so to speak.

 

What you say makes sense, and I agree that fandom can and often does get to the point where no matter what is done, some people will just not be happy. I think probably some of the worst fans out there are Star Trek fans, which we can call hard core Trekkies. I'm a long time fan, but I don't consider myself a Trekkie. I just like to watch the shows, and own them all on DVD or Bluray. I don't worship at the altar of Spock, or run around at conventions in approved Starfleet gear. I've participated in the past at some Star Trek message boards, but gave that up because I found that the Trekkies that post there are just...off. Ranging from mild shut ins, to Asperger-afflicted morons. So I know the type of crazed fan you are referencing, especially those that actually cyber stalk writers, and fill their inboxes with hate mail. Those types need to get a life for sure. And probably Prozac while they are at it.

 

I also agree that not everyone is a writer, and some do not even possess rudimentary fictional writing skills. I know I do not. But that doesn't necessarily invalidate their opinions, either. For example, I've voiced my opinions on a variety of IPs, and posted ideas here and there, as well. But speaking as a fan, I know enough about some of the IPs I have discussed, to feel I can contribute to the conversation. Though I know enough I am no writer, nor would I try to be, I feel I can at least point things out that don't seem to fit (like mutineer first officers in Star Trek, for example!).

 

But I do think you are reasonable when you say that some people don't know what it is what they want and it is best to let the story tellers unfold the story in their way. I also agree that with IPs that have entered pop culture, namely Star Wars, you make a valid point that at the end of the day, Lucas was well within his rights to do the PT his way, even if he would have been better off hiring someone to fill his ex-wife's editing duties, or hiring someone who wasn't the kiss-ass yes men he surrounded himself with.

 

However, at the same time, writers, producers, and owners of IPs need to recognize that they should at least listen to the fan base, and at least consider the feedback they get. I personally am OK with Disney scrapping EU in favor of the new films. I think they were in a hard spot, because if they simply had adapted the EU novels (literally hundreds of them, or comics, or games), they would have been accused as unoriginal. And considering the amount of EU that exists, there is no way they can adapt it all, without either doing it wrong, or leaving a lot out (both of which would face criticism). It was a tough call, but I understand why they did what they did, and decanonized the EU. I just think they could have done it in a more sympathetic way. I do believe Disney-era Lucasfilm is making an honest effort to try to at least incorporate some concepts from EU to pay it homage and respect. Kylo basically being Jacen Solo. Rey being basically Jaina (even if she is revealed to not be of Skywalker ancestry), and Rogue One is basically as close as we are going to get to a Dark Forces film adaptation (which I really enjoyed, BTW) are examples of this.

 

But I do understand the anger and frustrations from people like ZM. At least in my view, and based on the posts I have read by ZM, I don't think ZM is too out of line. Though you do make a valid point in that if he has chosen not to acknowledge anything done by Lucasfilm under Disney, then these new films shouldn't bother ZM, and ZM is best advised to continue to enjoy EU. But without rehashing too much of what I have already said, I understand ZMs opinions, because I feel the same way about STD. Since this is not a Star Trek thread, I won't dwell on that point any longer, other than to say I feel I am a fairly reasonable fan, and I disagree that STD is surrounded by people who love Star Trek. I don't think that is the case. Unlike Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, and even JJ Abrams (and I am loathe to admit that), these people LOVE Star Wars and are handling it with care. I don't see that coming from Les Moonves and Star Trek. Kutzman and his people have thrown everything that makes Star Trek Star Trek in the garbage can. All I see is actors piping up and either accusing Star Trek fans of being racist to shoot down those who are critical of STD (some are, sure, but why even acknowledge those fringe bottom feeders anyway), or people like Jason Isaacs who are openly hostile about respecting 50 years of established canon. I digress, and you can google it yourself if you want, but I see Star Trek being handled very differently (and poorly I might add), and it angers me. So, when I see posts like ZM's, I get it. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand it, and I can't say ZM is wrong to feel the way ZM does.

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... I don't see that coming from Les Moonves and Star Trek. Kutzman and his people have thrown everything that makes Star Trek Star Trek in the garbage can.

It's got a ship, and a crew, and aliens working together, often to combat other aliens. Not seeing what Discovery is missing that the rest of the franchise has.

 

Producers and writers of a franchise simply can't love the material the way a fan does, but that doesn't mean they don't love it. Who would work on a project like Star Wars or Star Trek unless they enjoyed the franchise enough to want to contribute to it?

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Guest El Chalupacabra

 

 

it's got a ship, and a crew, and aliens working together, often to combat other aliens. Not seeing what Discovery is missing that the rest of the franchise has.

And I am sure that is exactly what Moonves and Kurtzman think, too. Look, if you like STD, more power to you. I am only speaking for myself, but to answer your question, for me it's too dark, and it lacks the optimism and positivism of previous incarnations. That is an essential ingredient that differentiates Star Trek from every other sci fi franchise, to me. I don't think STD has any soul to it, and it suffers from the "let's get gritty and dark" syndrome other franchises, like DC have suffered from. If you or anyone else likes STD, I'm not going to try to convince you/them not to watch it, but there are a lot of fans who dislike STD for the same reasons I do.

 

 

 

Producers and writers of a franchise simply can't love the material the way a fan does, but that doesn't mean they don't love it. Who would work on a project like Star Wars or Star Trek unless they enjoyed the franchise enough to want to contribute to it

Fair point, but I have read sites like reddit where Kurtzman and Orci, and others just plain go off on people. Now, some of that is warranted (like in Tank's case, some fans go way overboard and attack the writers personally,and even threaten them. One can take only so much abuse!). But actions speak louder than words, and when a franchise is completely transformed and turns itself into a shadow of its former self and only has a passing resemblance to previous incarnations of its own franchise, and more closely resembles other franchises (In STD's case, BSG), then I have to question if the love is there, why change it so much?

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I disagree. A franchise that is robust enough can change without ceasing to be that franchise. Trek has been around for 50 years, and Wars has been around for 40 years. They're both established to the point that they can withstand quite a number of changes without being eroded. The problem is the fans. They aren't enough to grow a franchise, which is the entire point. Change things and see what is popular enough to attract new fans. There's a hard core population of fans that will stick to a franchise even if they have to hate watch it. That's fine. Fair-weather fans, though, will drop off if they don't like the new stuff, but be replaced by as many or more new fair-weather fans that do like the new stuff. For instance, my wife hated the PT (common enough) but she hated it to the point that she avoided the OT, too! But the sequels have abated her hate; she likes TFA and is even somewhat interested in seeing TLJ. That's the target the producers are aiming for.

 

It's not like any franchise, Trek in particular, hasn't had the exact same problems before (it's not Trek without Kirk! It's not Trek without the Enterprise! It's not Trek...except that it is, if the label says so).

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Guest El Chalupacabra

Well, like I said, I don't want to drift too far off topic, and I am afraid I am the one to blame for bringing Star Trek up in a Star Wars thread. I will continue this discussion with you in the STD thread...

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If an admin wants to spin this great stuff into a fandom thread I think its a good convo to have.

 

When I started this thread it was more of a what would be cool to see thing, not a fanfic debate.

 

I have lots of Star Trek thoughts that I can post when not on my phone.

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You left out the part where I said the story I was writing had a female lead, so obviously I do not feel the way you are attempting to frame it. It's different, however, when the head of LucasFilm says, "We do not need to appeal to male audiences." Translation: Moving forward, our films will force unwanted identity politics down your throat.

I looked up this quote you refer to. It was from a New York Times article about Felicity Jones starring in Rogue One. Kennedy said:

I would never just seize on saying, 'Well, this is a franchise thats appealed primarily to men for many, many years, and therefore I owe men something.'

This was in response to some criticism that Star Wars was forcing unwanted gender politics down our throats.

 

My point, and maybe I was inelegant in trying to make it, was that having a female lead is not gender politics. And if you feel a couple of SW films having female leads somehow steps on your story idea, I think you're seeing having a female lead as a gimmick rather than just a very normal thing. You know, like having a male lead.

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A few thoughts:

 

1-On the idea of a franchise changing. It;s the old "it doesn't feel like Star Wars!!!" vs "This is just a copy of Star Wars!!!" stuff. I think for alot of people the space between those two things is very small or even non existent.

 

2-On fan fic, I have no problem with someone writing it or reading it but taking some kind of ownership of it? I just don't get it. I mean I wrote something that has to be considered fan fic but I mean it's just something I came up with. If Johnson dealt with a similar part of Star Wars lore my reaction would be "sweet, this was something I was interested in and now someone with talent is doing it"

 

3-On my fan fic. I don't know if I'll go any further. I appreciate the positive feedback from Tank and Odine, in fact that's the only reason I went past my first very small post on my idea. Just I have no talent for writing and I have no craft for writing either. The writing of it is tedious to me. For 2 reasons actually writing it out is kind of boring to me 1-I've seen the movie in my head dozens of times already, writing it down is just boring and repetitive and 2-I have no talent for it so what I write doesn't come close to what I have in my head. So that annoys me. 3-I've always like the idea of coming up with broad ideas for stories (in 6th grade I had a full 3 subject notebook about a ficitonal continent with 30 countries and a long exhaustive notebook about it all) and since I've basically already come up with the whole story of this trilogy my mind is already on to a sequel trilogy to it which since its new I like more. Basically I'd be writing this out just to get to that next one and by the time I got there I'll probably just be obsessed with speculating about Episode IX. Like I said I do appreciate the positive feedback I recieved and who knows maybe boredom will overtake me and I'll write more.

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