The Neuroscience of Hating TLJ

SCARF slide

I didn’t hate Star Wars: The Jast Jedi but I’ve run across a couple of people who did, and even more commentary about people who hate Star Wars.  The main argument seems to be that these people disagree and contradict each other.  Since I didn’t hate it myself, but thought it was better than average, I can only guess at what really would bother folks, and here are those guesses based on David Rock’s SCARF model of change resistance.

Are there spoilers?  I don’t know what you think a spoiler is.  I will have to indicate the position of some content but will try not to say what the content is.  That is, I mention questions you should have had at the end of TFA.

Status:  The film threatened some aspect of my self concept from which I draw esteem.  I tend to think that people who were offended by Rey’s parentage might fall under this category.  Or people who feel like Star Wars movies represent a special caliber of entertainment.  While I grant that when it came out, no one had seen anything like it, that was 40 years ago.

Certainty:  This is the middle of a trilogy within an epic, so there are going to be some loose ends.  But the film’s opening scene flips the last scene of TFA on it’s head, and one scene in the first 1/3 that felt like a really cheap tease.

Autonomy:  This is the group most likely to have conflicting opinions with the first groups.  You can’t tell them what they will like, and they find the critic consensus that the film was good rather suspect.

Relatedness:  I don’t know if there’s much to say about this area without getting into what even I would consider spoilers.  But even in the original trilogy, we came to expect the unexpected, not only in effects but in story twists.  There will be shocking revelations and deaths (of protagonists).  Of course the director has to make you care about people before they twist their fates, and a lot of this will happen through relationships.

Fairness:  Fairness can mean everyone receives the same, or everyone receives what they deserve.  In this model, I think it means the former, with status and certainty representing the latter.  I’m not really sure where a person with a stronger fairness motive would fault this movie, or Star Wars generally.

One of the important axioms of the Neuroleadership Institute is that people don’t distinguish between the SCARF threats and physical threats.  So I guess that’s why there is such strong emotion about it.


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