The petition’s creator, Georgia native Henry Walsh, has now backtracked on his initial mission, saying in retrospect it was a “bad idea.” He updated the petition on Wednesday, adding a note explaining his new position on the matter. It appears that Walsh does not want to be associated with the so-called alt-right in any way.
“People have been conflating this petition with a growing theory that all Star Wars fans who are displeased with the new film are members of the Alt-Right. We are, or at least I am, absolutely not. The issues people with this petition have has nothing to do with race, gender, or creed of anyone and has nothing to do with real-world political affiliations. The majority of people in this petition are here because they feel that the legacy of Star Wars was mishandled and didn’t enjoy the film. Nothing more, or less,” wrote Walsh.
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“My feelings are well known. I just didn’t want anyone who did sign this being caught in a very negative narrative, nor did I want anything I am a part of to be associated in the least bit, with the Alt-Right. This is about the characters of Star Wars. This petition started as a way to blow off steam, but regardless of that, I didn’t want to risk that kind of an association,” he continued.
“I also want to thank the petitioners who have signed this as well. You are all passionate Star Wars fans. Though initially there were some really aggressive posts (I received more than a fair share of those) in the last day or so, this has become a pretty positive group. I am very thankful for that. It was a bad idea at the time and I feel that we are pooling our efforts in not a healthy direction.”
He then followed up with yet another update, trying to further clarify where he stands on The Last Jedi.
“I still do not like this film,” he wrote. “I only know that the petition, which was made in a moment of compromised common sense, can’t achieve the goal that was set for it. It was meant as a way to blow off steam, and in the grand scope of realism there is a 0% chance that Disney would strip TLJ from canon, and they absolutely won’t delay Episode IX to remake Episode VIII. That was a flight of fancy, and a sarcastic statement.”
“Do I think The Last Jedi is good? No,” he continued. “I feel that it doesn’t get characterizations correct. I feel that it was poorly written and that, intentionally or not, Rian Johnson insulted the hardcore fanbase repeatedly and made poor use of the assets he had available with regards to classic characters.”
Walsh then asked any true Star Wars fans to donate to A Force for Change. rather than invest all their energy in a petition that will, by his own admission, most likely not achieve anything.
Indeed, director Johnson, Disney and Lucasfilm have not addressed the petition.
On Wednesday, Johnson spoke out about the negative reviews The Last Jedi has been receiving from audiences and purported long-time Star Wars fans. Despite all the rage pointed in his direction, Johnson was affable about the whole thing.
“The fans are so passionate, they care so deeply,” he said. “Sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter. But it’s because they care about these things, and it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love. I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out at me on Twitter. It’s my job to be there for that.”
“Every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.”
As of this writing, the petition is nearing its new goal of 50,000 signatures.
Despite relatively positive Last Jedi reviews from critics, fan reaction hasn’t been as glowing. The movie has a meagre 56 per cent positive rating among viewers. (To compare, recent Star Wars movies had much higher audience scores: The Force Awakens had 88 per cent, while Rogue One had 87 per cent.)
At the box office, The Last Jedi was an unquestionable success, breaking Canadian records and becoming the country’s second-biggest opening weekend movie of all time (second only to The Force Awakens in 2015). According to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada, The Last Jedi brought in approximately $17 million in this country alone on opening weekend.