I have been a Star Wars fan since I was old enough to watch movies. To me, there has never been a greater story than the Star Wars saga. The story of Star Wars has its roots in fundamental concepts (the clash between good and evil; the corruption of power; the destructiveness of good intentions with bad methods) that everyone can relate to, regardless of age, race, creed, politics, gender, etc.
That is, until The Last Jedi was released.
The Last Jedi was released at a time where it is impossible to avoid political comparisons. It definitely feels like we, as a society, have outgrown media which does not reinforce certain political beliefs or viewpoints. In certain ways, this has made the background context to media even more important compared to media in the past. In 1939, it did not really matter who was involved with the creation of The Wizard of Oz. Instead, the quality of the media determined how much the public went to see the film. In 2018, Black Panther became the biggest Marvel movie of all time because it was the first movie to have an entire black cast and creative design team, and this profound political moment created a billion dollar movie. This is not to say that politicizing movies lowers the quality of film, but it just adds a different context to understanding the creation and the role of media. It also does not mean that just because a movie is progressive that it is going to be inherently good; it must still meet certain criteria of what constitutes a "good film." This is a concept that the general public accepted since politicizing movies began.
That is, until The Last Jedi was released.
The Last Jedi was a lot of things, but it definitely was not a Star Wars movie. Besides one or two scenes (such as the "Dark Side Cave Scene" which I will admit is one of the finest scenes in any Star Wars film), the movie differs radically from what is expected from a Star Wars film, and not in a positive way. This shift ruins the character and mythology of Luke Skywalker, fundamentally alters the way the force does and should work, and provides completely disappointing resolutions to all of the beautiful mysteries that The Force Awakens created. In addition, it creates completely problematic plot holes and failed subplots with the characters of Finn, Vice Admiral Holdo, and Rose.
It is with this last criticism that generated the massive cultural clash over Star Wars.
The three characters I mentioned as being problematic were also representative of the three characters that generated much needed diversity in the Star Wars mythos. Considering that the story takes place in an infinitely huge galaxy, the main story did focus too much on white, male actors to portray this incredibly diverse world. These characters represented something new and progressive into Star Wars. Finn was a black character thrust into a main role (the only other role remotely close to this status for a black actor would be Lando Calrissian), Rose was the first major role played by an Asian actress, and Vice Admiral Holdo was, for the lack of a better word, a pink-haired feminist. These characters definitely represented an important shift in the diversity of the Star Wars cast, but that did not translate into perfect film characters. Instead, Finn and Rose's romance felt too rushed and unneeded, their subplot on the casino planet was boring and contributed nothing to the plot, and V-A Holdo could've solved a major portion of the mutiny plot by just communicating her plans with Po and not pretending that she was just going to let the Imperial fleet destroy them all.
After people, mainly hardcore Star Wars fans, began to harshly criticize The Last Jedi, many progressives were floored. They felt like attacks on the actions of the characters in the context of the film was an attack on the progressive agenda of the "New Star Wars" in our real world context. Suddenly, criticizing the movie meant you were also criticizing blacks, Asians, feminists, and progressiveness in general. Progressive critics wanted to frame the critics of The Last Jedi as part of an "old boys club" of white men being mad that their movies suddenly had diversity in them. Nothing could be more dangerous to movie criticism than that idea.
In essence, it is time that we can all agree that we can work to make film more progressive and diverse without having to defend poor quality films. If a movie is bad, it does not matter who made it, who is acting in it, or who the film is targeted towards; it is just a bad film. Saying that a movie with an all-female cast is bad is not an attack on women, it is an attack on that movie and its film merits. If we want to focus on real progression, we must focus on making better films and better roles for minorities, not just checking "progressive" boxes in mediocre films. It is an amazing feat that the biggest film franchise in the world currently has such a diverse cast, but that is not enough. It won't be true progression until that franchise is the same quality as it has always delivered.