The response to Star Wars: The Last Jedi from "the fans" has been quite the story. While everyone's entitled to an opinion, many of the film's harshest critics have displayed staggering closed-mindedness when it comes to the film's attempts to do things differently. And anger plus closed-mindedness leads to some pretty silly actions.
Case in point: a fan edit has already emerged, built exclusively from videotaped pirate footage. But it's no mere series of tweaks - dubbed “The De-Feminized Fanedit,” it’s made up of mostly misogynistic (but also racist) decisions from the worst type of fan, cutting the movie down to 46 minutes of mostly male characters shouting at each other:
I’ve skimmed through this edit, and honestly, there's not much I can add other than to confirm that it is both real, and as bad as you’d expect. This fucking guy (I'm pretty comfortable assuming he's male) is so desperate to retain more male characters that he turns Snoke into a Force ghost rather than let him die. He hates Luke Skywalker so much he kills him off with a single blaster bolt, and similarly erases nearly the entirety of Carrie Fisher’s final performance. Characters are reduced to two-dimensional action figures to be smashed together, which is apparently all this dude wants from movies. The fandom at work in this “fan edit” isn’t of Star Wars - it’s of penises.
He didn’t even succeed at his stated goal of removing all women from the movie - even going so far as to add another one in:
Even giving it the benefit of the doubt it doesn't deserve, the edit isn't even well-done as far as fan edits go. Its obsession with eliminating as much female presence from the film as possible has created a laughable, incoherent 46-minute montage, with zero nuance, conflict, or narrative connective tissue. Some scenes are chopped down to individual shots or lines of dialogue, with no sense of flow. In order to cover up the vast tracts of missing plot-supporting material, it uses an abundance of voiceovers and artificial slow motion - the tools of trailer editors and cowards.
If this was a serious fan edit, it's a terrible one; if it's all just a troll, it's an incredible waste of time and effort for something people are just gonna (rightfully) laugh at.
Priscilla hits all the major points here but I’ll just add hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha https://t.co/f0bKJ9NeUe— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) 16 January 2018
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a fan edit, get ready, because there are hundreds of them out there. Basically, the idea in the mind of a fan-editor is that if a movie, as released, is “flawed” (quotes added to emphasise the ENORMOUS subjectivity going on here), it's up to fans to “fix” it.
Fan edits gained popularity, as one might expect, with the release of the Star Wars prequels, coming as they did alongside the advent of consumer video editing software. The legions of different bootleg versions of these movies out there do everything from tweaking pacing to reducing the emphasis on certain plot points or characters to even completely redubbing performances deemed unsatisfactory. Since then, fans have been re-editing everything from The Lord of the Rings to The Godfather, putting their own touches on classics and failures alike.
I've never watched a fan edit in full - why would you watch a version of a movie tuned to the specific tastes of some rando? - but the phenomenon has always fascinated me. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't fantasised about how I'd re-edit the Hobbit trilogy, for example.
Fan edits bear one important similarity to fan fiction and fan films, and one important difference. Both are frequently defended as exercises with which to hone one's craft, and there's something to that defense. Taking apart a movie and putting it back together again can teach the power and versatility of editing as a tool without needing to shoot anything, just as fan fiction and fan films let burgeoning creatives practice putting words and stories together without the burden of actually inventing characters or settings. But where fan edits and fan fiction/films diverge is in the fact that fan edits are, for the most part, presumptuous attempts to “improve” somebody else's work. It's an inherently destructive process, maybe even akin to vandalism.
On the other hand, there are also more interesting, transformative sides to the fan edit phenomenon. One could place things like video mixtapes, comic overdubs, parody videos and the like under a similar heading, though they owe more to remix culture than to obsessive fandom. Some fan edits are less about “fixing” a movie than seeing if certain radical changes are possible - switching which character is the protagonist, changing a film's genre, or in one case turning Jaws into a cheap sharksploitation knockoff. Others are actually fan-made remasters of films (Star Wars) whose original versions languish in SD hell. Even Steven Soderbergh made his own black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark - set to the Social Network score - purely to examine the lighting and cinematography. These things, I have more sympathy for. They have aspirations.
Naturally, the legality of all of this is dubious at best, with morality subject to your own personal values regarding ownership of ideas. Who has the right to determine whether a work of art needs “fixing” - let alone the right to actually do that fixing? Alternate cuts get released officially all the time, of course, but crucially, they're typically produced with input from the works’ original creators - and even those are often viewed as cheap revisionism, sometimes by the very fans who create fan edits.
The more pervasive issue with fan edits that purport to “improve” films is the thought process behind them. Just like the petitions and boycotts that follow similar lines, they're driven by the selfish notion that content should be made just for you - doubly so if it's something from “your” franchise. This type of toxic fan - which by no means represents all of fandom - doesn't know what they need, or even really what they want. They only know what they think they want.
"The De-Feminized Fanedit" is definitely the product of this type of fan. Here's a guy clearly apoplectic with rage over female characters taking a larger role in “his” franchise - and just as egregiously, male characters showing fallibility - that he'll spent hours retooling a movie to his personal specifications. One imagines him grinning with mean-spirited delight as he cuts yet another female character's reaction shot, or nodding in self-approval as he turns the pitiable, all-too-human Kylo Ren into the same unemotional badass he fancies himself to be. This guy deserves the ridicule he's getting, but much like Kylo Ren, I can't help but feel some pity for a man who's likely been taught his entire life that feelings are bad, women are weak, and the world belongs to him alone. I want to believe there is still good in him, but it's hard to see it right now.
Dude needs a porg, is what I’m saying. But sadly, it seems in his anger, he killed them.