Jenny Nicholson(l), Star wars scene(r)

Jenny Nicholson/Youtube

Jenny Nicholson’s ‘Star Wars’ hotel video essay has fans cheering on her Disney takedown

Nicholson’s video is a fascinating demonstration of consumer culture as mediated by social media.

 

Kira Deshler

Pop Culture

Decoding Fandom is a weekly column that dives deep into the world of fan culture and runs on Wednesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox. 


surprising piece of content captured the internet’s attention last week: a four-hour-long video critique of the now-defunct Star Wars hotel.

If those words don’t make sense to you in that order, here’s a quick rundown. Jenny Nicholson is a YouTuber who makes long-form videos about various topics in pop culture, including Star Wars and other Disney properties. Her most-viewed video to date is a two-and-a-half-hour-long explainer about Vampire Diaries lore, which has 12 million views.

Her most recent video, “The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel,” has enraptured viewers online and received two million views in its first two days, and 5 million within a week. The video is organized into 22 distinct chapters wherein Nicholson describes the factors that led to the hotel’s downfall (it closed last year after 18 months), and the few things she thought were done well.

The hotel was meant to provide guests with an immersive experience where they could role-play as Star Wars characters and participate in an interactive game—using an app and interacting with IRL characters aboard the “ship”—and Nicholson explains that the game didn’t work well for her. With a price tag of $6,000, or $3,000 per person, she concludes that it just wasn’t worth the money for a multitude of well-evidenced reasons.

Jenny Nicholson’s video essay describes the Star Wars hotel downfall

It might seem odd that such a long, detailed video went viral in the age of TikTok, but the data tells us Nicholson’s success is far from a fluke. A Google consumer research report from 2022 suggests that long-form videos are massively popular, particularly among Gen Z viewers. The report also explores the rise of the “professional fan,” a relatively new designation that describes Nicholson to a tee.

On X, the response to the video was largely positive. Many X users cheered Nicholson on, celebrating her surgical takedown of a massive corporation. People who had never watched her videos before and weren’t even big Star Wars fans tuned in and found themselves enthralled

One user noted that the reason Nicholson is so interesting is because she loves Disney but is also critical of them, which means the company sees her as an enemy rather than an ally. Others suggested that Nicholson is the only “Disney adult” they can stand.

The response to the video was not entirely laudatory, however. On Reddit, some Star Wars fans tried to discredit Nicholson’s video by saying they had a good time at the park, though these naysayers were dunked on by Nicholson’s fans. Others questioned Nicholson’s credibility as a speaker, noting that she has a history of making racist remarks about Star Wars’ John Boyega and providing receipts to prove their point.

The biggest point of controversy was an article in Screen Rant entitled “I Worked At The Galactic Starcruiser, & I Can Tell You What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About The “Star Wars Hotel.” 

X users immediately clocked the article as a response to Nicholson’s video, and many suggested it was “astroturfing,” ie. sponsored media made to look like unaffiliated content. The article even employs a Disney marketing tactic that Nicholson critiques in her video: Referring to a product by its (often clunky) full “legal” name instead of its colloquial one.

Viewers are convinced that Disney is terrified of Nicholson and has made a huge mistake not consulting with her on improving their theme parks, suggesting that her power to influence public opinion about the company remains unmatched. 

Why it matters

Nicholson’s video is a fascinating demonstration of consumer culture as mediated by social media. She critiques Disney’s business practices while also buying their products and giving them PR—albeit bad PR, in this case. 

The prevalence of the “professional fan” exemplifies this tricky dichotomy, blurring the line between creator and influencer, critic and fan.

What this ultimately means for media and fandom is up in the air. Does this phenomenon illustrate the power of the individual against corporations or suggest that we should disinvest from corporate adoration altogether

The debate rages on in one of the last bastions of democratic speech on the internet: the YouTube comment section


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