If the Empire Strikes Back hadn’t gotten the grace period it got, where the movies stopped being incessantly talked about within a year of their release, where audiences were allowed to discover it at their own pace years later thanks to home video, and form their own appreciations without having cheat sheets and talking points to reference, where the entirety of “social media” was the letters section of Starlog and maybe a couple fanzines with 5000 subscribers at most, nobody would be talking about it like the bonafide guaranteed all-time classic most people know it to be.
Luckily, it got to be what it was, on its own terms, and people came to recognize its qualities. If social media had been around, if lines were allowed to be drawn on those terms, and people had the capability to meme (and make money off those memes) their regurgitated opinions ad nauseum, Empire would have been just as divisive.
Who knows, maybe in 10 years someone can reboot Clerks and when the goateed chudlet in THAT remake goes on a rant about how The Last Jedi was really the best one, and all Force Awakens had was a bunch of “fanservice,” we’ll finally understand just how much of the current conversation about The Last Jedi doesn’t really have much to do with its quality as a movie at all. A lot of people just want to be rewarded for having learned how to pick a team, and play hard for it.
A lot of people don’t want to take time to think about what they just watched because there’s no incentive to do so. the incentive is in formulating a take (or stealing someone else’s as soon as you think it sounds good enough to repeat) and letting it fly. THAT gets you rewarded. That’s fandom. And that’s why when fandom got a movie as audaciously made and fundamentally altering to the canon as Empire was in its day, it didn’t know how to react. It doesn’t know what to do when confronted with something that hasn’t already been canonized.
And to clarify, this doesn’t denigrate, demean, or take away from people who have obviously thought about the film carefully, arrived at their opinion, and courteously shared it. But there’s a clear and obvious difference between someone arguing in good faith about their contrary opinion, and someone regurgitating talking points they barely even chewed before swallowing. I get why people hate having their thoughtful, considered opinions written off due to those other guys acting out and making their (mildly lucrative) stink, and I know that sucks. But there’s nothing that says you can’t distance YOURSELF from the “Fandom Menace” types voluntarily, either. You don’t have to pretend they don’t really count or aren’t really there in order to say your piece.
I think the Last Jedi is an amazingly made movie that’s almost as good as The Empire Strikes Back for a lot of the same reasons. I get why people would disagree, but like Dom, I’m sort of befuddled as to this idea that it’s poorly made. The craft on display is fairly apparent, to me.