This is Not the Movie You Are Looking For
The eight types of people who were disappointed, for the wrong reasons, by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Controversy and (mostly) well-intentioned insults ahead, but few spoilers.
1. People who don’t like science fiction or fantasy, but got hyped into hoping Star Wars might somehow “transcend” genre. Guess what? You don’t transcend genre. You learn it. If you’re not interested in learning genre — E.E. Doc Smith, Flash Gordon, the hero’s journey, samurai movies, old-time aerial dogfights on film, Arthurian mythology, Lord of the Rings, Dune, The Searchers, Metropolis, etc. — avoid Star Wars!
2. People who think The Force Awakens “rips off” A New Hope. Guess what? You’re not as smart as you think you are. Storytellers steal from other stories all the time. Star Wars was founded on this kind of creative looting; see above. Don’t be disappointed by the deliberate parallels between the two movies. Instead, be disappointed in yourself for not asking why the parallels might have been necessary at this point in the series.
3. People who wanted Han and Leia to have a happy ending. Guess what? THERE ARE NO HAPPY ENDINGS IN STAR WARS. None. Zero. Star Wars is not this triumphant happy story. The first six movies were about how a boy named Anakin became Darth Vader, and the Republic became the Empire. If you want happy endings, this is not the movie you are looking for. (In truth, the scenes with Han and Leia were the most — only? — beautiful thing about The Force Awakens.)
4. People who find Leia’s aging face and body to be offensive. Guess what? You’re getting older, too. And if you look half as good as Carrie Fisher, and have even a quarter of her wisdom, when you hit her age, then you’ll have had luck you don’t deserve. Also? You’re a sexist jerk. I’m talking to you, Eileen Jones, film critic for the supposedly progressive magazine In These Times.
5. People who think The Force Awakens violates the innocence of the young with its violence… unlike the original trilogy, back in the good old days. Guess what? You forgot that chopped-off arm in the Mos Eisley bar fight or when Luke loses his hand (that seemed so…permanent…when I was 10). And let’s take a moment of silence for that poor dancer who gets eaten at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. In fact, let’s take a moment of silence for your memory, Gen X, which is obviously fading.
6. People who don’t think black and Asian people can be heroes in science fiction and fantasy. Guess what? YOU’RE A RACIST. Go fuck yourself.
7. People who imagined Finn would be Django. They saw the teasers, they watched Attack the Block. They built up a wish-fulfillment fantasy. They expected Finn to be Shaft…or at least Lando. Guess what? That wasn’t the character. Finn isn’t a badass Stagger Lee and he was never intended to be. He’s gentle, he’s brave, and he’s starting on the ground floor after being raised by psychopaths and working sanitation in the middle of nowhere. The first time he’s deployed on a battlefield, the first thing we learn about him is that he’s not a killer. If anything other than Django is a disappointment, then you need to look inside and ask yourself what (possibly violent, sexist) fantasies you harbor.
8. People who thought Rey would be the badass superhero we’ve been waiting for. Guess what? You were right! She’s awesome! Now if we could just find her on toy store shelves…there’s some righteous cause for disappointment.