The Right to Criticize

If you want to get a feel for how big Star Wars truly is, consider the Youtuber “Star Wars Theory”‘s apology video. It’s an apology shared with three million people — all fellow Star Wars fans. Theory can live well off his channel. The video is filmed in his Lamborghini. It’s a million-dollar lifestyle, all thanks to Star Wars.

But the subject of the apology reveals even more: Vader Episode 2, Theory’s long-awaited sequel to a 2018 live-action short film he produced with donations and channel earnings, is delayed yet again. The budget? $500,000.

That’s how big Star Wars is — fans raise serious money to produce their own indie movies to add to George Lucas’s original trilogy and sequels, and that’s to say nothing of the millions of comments, ideas, quotes, and opinions being shared every day.

In the comment section of Theory’s video, two themes emerge: People criticizing him for talking about budget constraints while obviously being well off, and people who claim they are happy to wait for a better result, offering advice on how to make Vader Episode 2 better.

The first group got sidetracked. Theory reveals very little about his personal life. For the first two years of growing his channel, he didn’t even show his face. He only offers details when they add to the message, and in this case, it was: “You don’t have to worry about me, but producing a budget movie is hard.”

There’s little worse than a sideline-hater. The commenters now complaining about their $10 donations potentially going into Theory’s gas tank have forgotten what they are experts on: Star Wars. They know next to nothing about Theory’s life, but that’s the part they choose to criticize — and it makes them look petty and little else.

The second group remembers: Star Wars is what we are here for. We can either rally together to get this thing done, or we’ll never see this universe go where we want it to go. When they offer criticism, it’s about the subject matter. “Go this direction with the episode.” “I would love to see…”

In one of his watch party live streams, Theory agrees with a fan: “When people say no one hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans, [that’s] because we possess the appropriate level of understanding to call out the Star Wars BS when we see it.” “Finally someone gets it!” Theory yells.

It’s a theme worth adapting well beyond the confines of fandom: Earn your right to criticize.

Unless you invest serious amounts of mental and emotional energy into something, don’t throw shade from afar. It’s easy to critique something you know nothing about, but that’s exactly what makes your critique flimsy and easy to dismiss. If you want to give feedback that can actually change outcomes, you’ll have to work for that power. Otherwise, you’ll only look like yet another jealous commenter, complaining about the man in the arena from the stands.

May the Fourth be with you, and may you choose work over words on most days.