Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Scream.
2022’s Scream takes aim at toxic fandoms and in particular the response to Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but the parallel it draws doesn’t completely work. Much like the four previous Scream movies, the fifth instalment offers up some meta-commentary in keeping with the cinematic trends and discussions of the time, with the ending revealing Amber and Richie, mega fans of the in-universe Stab franchise, to be the new Ghostface killers. That leads to some skewering of toxic fandoms, and while the commentary really runs the full gamut of different franchises – everything from the DCEU to Rick and Morty has faced its criticisms over this over the last five years or so – the film decides to point most overtly at Star Wars.
Scream reveals that the most-recent offering of the in-universe Stab movie franchise, Stab 8, took things in a whole new, unexpected direction that essentially blew things up, ignored the past, insulted the real fans, and tried to turn it into “elevated horror.” As if it was in doubt, Scream makes sure the audience knows exactly what movie its most specifically referencing, revealing it was directed by “the Knives Out guy,” or in other words, Rian Johnson, and that the main character was thought by certain fans to be a “Mary Sue,” the eye-rolling accusation levelled at Rey by some quarters.
To that end, Scream‘s references and approach to toxic fandoms has a sense of clarity and it’s hard to argue with: of course, not all people who disliked The Last Jedi were toxic, but the backlash and discussion online went too far and became vitriolic and personal, with abuse aimed not only at Johnson but actors such as Kelly Marie Tran, who left social media. To this end, it’s easy to applaud Scream‘s commentary, but it forgets one key part of The Last Jedi when turning it into Stab 8, and that’s the divisiveness behind it. The Last Jedi was critically acclaimed (and rightly so), and divisive among audiences, which means the Stab 8 comparison doesn’t fully work because it serves as an oversimplification.
In Scream, there’s no one to fight the corner of Stab 8. It’s offered that fans openly revolted against it, leading to Amber and Richie’s new Ghostface killing spree in the hopes of saving the franchise, much like petitions were raised to try and remake Star Wars 8 or have The Last Jedi removed from canon. But even the rational fans – such as the movie’s leading cinephile (and niece of Randy Meeks) Mindy – believe Stab 8 was a terrible movie. Only one person offers a defence of it, and that’s Liv – a character portrayed as the dumb one in the group who is immediately shot down for having terrible taste. This doesn’t really fit with the response to The Last Jedi, nor does it do the movie any favors.
Instead, while rightly arguing against toxic fandoms, Scream also argues against Johnson’s movie at the same time, suggesting that, yes, the response from some Star Wars fans to The Last Jedi was bad, but leaving little room to argue that the same wasn’t true for the movie – their responses were wrong, but their opinions weren’t so much. It becomes a shot at both fans and movie, when only one is truly deserving; Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a stunning film that taps into the saga’s core themes, not so much trying to “elevate” it as it is respecting its legacy while pushing things forward in new ways. By not at least attempting to convey both sides of the argument, then Scream‘s Stab 8 parallel feels too imbalanced to completely land as the biting critique it’s intended to be.
Next: Scream 2022: Every Easter Egg & Horror Movie Reference Explained
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