A US critic has penned an open letter to angry Star Wars fans after being hit with a barrage of hatemail over his negative review of new instalment The Force Awakens.
Andrew O’Hehir of Salon magazine is one of just a handful of reviewers to have given JJ Abrams’ space opera reboot a poor verdict - the film has a 95% “fresh” rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. After being tagged as part of a Twitter meme, along with several other journalists who delivered a negative verdict, he was told to “die (like Roger Ebert did) and leave us alone” by one Canadian Star Wars fan. O’Hehir has now hit back at his critics in an online essay.
“Why is it important to fans of a hugely popular movie, which has already dominated the entertainment media for weeks and will surely wind up among the top-grossing releases of all time, that no one disagrees with them or adopts a more detached perspective?” asks a bewildered O’Hehir. “Why are dissenters from a mass-culture wave phenomenon like The Force Awakens or the Avengers and Dark Knight movies so often subjected to venom and name-calling?
“Have we dampened their enormous collective love-fest with our complaints (many of which are exceptionally mild in nature) or our attitudes of irritating intellectual dispassion? Have we cast doubt on the movie’s box-office prospects, or endangered the production of future sequels?”
O’Hehir suggests that angry fans are really engaging in a form of reverse snobbery against the “last ghostly vestiges of the old, defeated high culture” for daring to challenge the prevailing pop culture-friendly establishment.
He adds: “If there is still a tiny clique of cinephiles who would rather see Son of Saul or Phoenix than The Force Awakens – and you can like both things, for Christ’s sake – and if the mere existence of such people and their continued willingness to raise their artsy-fartsy objections in print invades the safe space of those who long to bask in a uniform golden tide of Lucas-Disney-Big Brother adulation … well, where have we gotten to, anyway?”
The few negative reviews of The Force Awakens appear unlikely to damage its chances of overhauling Avatar’s all-time $2.78bn box-office record. Abrams’s film continues to break new ground, with its $37.3m haul from yesterday representing the biggest Tuesday total in history in North America, ahead of The Amazing Spider-Man’s $35m in 2012. The new episode has now passed $300m in the US and Canada, the world’s largest box office, and has a staggering $689.4m worldwide after less than a week on release.
This article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Thursday 24th December 2015 11.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010