After appearing briefly in the D23 Behind the Scenes reel for The Last Jedi , porgs had officially made their Star Wars debut. StarWars.com and the Star Wars social media channels confirmed much of the information which had been previously leaked by Making Star Wars earlier this year. These wide-eyed creatures live on the planet Ahch-To with Luke Skywalker, and will appear alongside Rey and R2-D2 in The Last Jedi. Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group after describing the porgs quipped:

Besides, porgs are cute. You fall into those deep, soulful eyes. I think a lot of people are going to want a porg as a pet.

Hidalgo also noted that the idea for porgs came directly from Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, but his interview still makes porgs sound like a shameless marketing ploy: they are adorable critters that can be put on t-shirts and sold as a variety of stuffed toys. Despite this, since the official announcement, the porgs have been met with a warm wave of enthusiasm from Star Wars fans on social media. The marketability of porgs does not seem to be lost on the fans who are singing their praises; in fact, a number of fans have expressed their excitement by talking about their desire to buy porg-themed products. But while porgs seem popular now, will they continue to capture fan’s hearts or will they be viewed more cynically with time?

d23 porgs sketch the last jedi tall e1500575560640 Star Wars: Are the Porgs the New Ewoks?

This is hardly the first time that Lucasfilm has been accused of pandering to fans (and especially children) in order to sell merchandise. It’s one of the major criticisms that some fans have with the Ewoks, the race of fearsome teddy bears who somehow use their primitive technology to defeat stormtroopers in The Return of the Jedi . Likewise, a number of fans and critics had a similar problem with the prequel films, and especially with the character of Jar Jar Binks. Arguably, other creatures, such as the Opee Sea Killer in The Phantom Menace  or the Nexu in Attack of the Clones were also added into the films to generate eye-catching toys for children. In all of these cases, the accusation is that some part of the movie (e.g. the Ewoks) exists because it appeals to children rather than actually contributing something worthwhile to the film. This debate of style over substance has plagued Star Wars fans for decades.

However, the ebb and flow of these debates shifts over time. The Ewoks, which were particularly vilified before the prequel trilogy, have become less controversial as fans who grew up with Ewoks (and perhaps Ewok toys) have come of age. Jar Jar Binks has not been so lucky. Before The Phantom Menace premiered, Jar Jar Binks was a prominent part of the marketing campaign for the new film. He was a central character and an example of cutting-edge digital technology, and so he appeared on a wide array of products and promotional material, including on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with the caption “Jar Jar Superstar”. But after the film was released, the backlash against Jar Jar was so severe that his part in the later two prequel films was reduced significantly.

Next Page: Porg Backlash?

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