Disney’s decision not to offer advance press screenings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (except for a hand-picked few) merely confirms what we all know anyway: this film has nothing to gain from film critics. Tickets will sell anyway – in fact, already have done so in record numbers – and Disney has no need for critical voices to bolster, even maybe dent (as if!), their cashcow’s takings. We simply do not figure in this film’s marketing.
Well, good – because we never should figure in that, except purely by accident. Really the critical community should look upon this exclusion as a blessing, a liberation, and an opportunity to reassert its own peculiar values. Instead of being forced by the usual pressures – editorial, commercial – into ‘having an opinion’ within the immediate orbit of the film’s release, how about we all hold off on our critiques till, say, several months, even a year from now, by which point we will have had plenty of time to come to a considered view, free from the tractor beam of pre-release hype.
This is not meant bitterly, as some sort of passive-aggressive ‘revenge’ against Disney. On the contrary, we should be grateful to the Mouse Factory for reminding us of our small place on the outer rim of the cinematic galaxy, and for giving us a chance to produce some real, well-digested insights as and where we should: free-floating far, far away from all studio influence and interference. Otherwise we would just be part of the industry’s advertising wing.
Star Wars will survive. Will we?
© Anton Bitel