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Rian Johnson says any fandom can turn toxic, but not all fans are bad

Photo: Phillip Faraone (Getty Images for WIRED)

Rian Johnson recently sat down with Variety to talk about his new twisty mystery movie Knives Out, and, naturally, a good chunk of the interview was spent checking in on his thoughts about Star Wars (as should be common practice in all interviews, to be fair). For starters, Johnson didn’t—or couldn’t—share any details on the Star Wars trilogy he’s supposedly working on, recommending that everyone just keep an eye on the Star Wars website in lieu of any other sources for Star Wars news (though we would suggest The A.V. Club as a good alternative).

Variety then asked about the recent Star Wars departure of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are just the latest in a long line of high-profile Star Wars departures, but Johnson doesn’t take the bait to gossip about anyone else’s Galaxy Far, Far Away experiences. “Other people’s sets are like other people’s marriages,” he says. “You think you know what’s going on with them, but the only thing that’s absolutely true is that you’re wrong.” He says his time working with Lucasfilm and boss Kathleen Kennedy was nothing but an “absolute dream,” for the record—though, lest we forget, he does supposedly have a trilogy of his own coming someday.

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Then Variety brought up the idea of “toxic fandom” citing rumors that Benioff and Weiss dropped out of Star Wars due to “trolling.” Johnson acknowledges that he has been “in the hurricane for the last two years,” so he knows toxic fandom is a real thing, but he wants to stress just “show small a part of the fandom that section is.” Without even specifically referring to Star Wars fans, Johnson says that the people who have “dedicated themselves to abusing people” who work on a particular film are actually a much smaller group than you’d think, “but it gets blown up.” He says there are bad people and that it’s something “every type of fandom is dealing with,” but “95 percent” of the people he interacts with online are “lovely and thoughtful and engaged” even when they don’t like his work.

So yes, it is possible to complain about The Last Jedi without, for example, making a new cut of the film that completely eliminates all women, but the people who do awful/hilarious things like that do exist.

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