The cosplay fanfic approach of the new Star Wars movie will strike normal people as weird and off-putting, though in a way that's hard to explain. A gut revulsion suggests a role for disgust, rather than a conscious list of reasons why it looks bad.
I still couldn't put my finger on what is (mildly) disgusting about it, so I looked for another example of the cosplay fanfic approach to pop culture.
Here is the music video for "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, the song of the summer for last year, with over half a billion views on YouTube. Its set design, locations, clothing, hair, and plot vignettes are ripped from the 1995 movie Clueless, probably the last coming-of-age teen movie with likeable characters. Yet everything about the words, intonation, facial expressions, body language, and general attitude of the girls in the music video is the polar opposite of the characters in the movie.
In Clueless, the protagonist Cher is a well-meaning ditz who occasionally bumbles in her nurturing attempts at playing matchmaker. (The movie is based on Emma by Jane Austen.) She tries to make over the new student Tai, a free-spirited, socially awkward naif who becomes more savvy and popular, acts too big for her breeches, but ultimately reconciles and acts humbly around her friends. They show a basic concern with doing right by others in order to fit in. They want to be liked and accepted into a group, not to be worshiped by fans and feared by haters, both groups being socially distant from the diva at the center of attention.
See the trailer here, although it focuses more on dishing out one-liners than establishing character traits.
Fast-forward to Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX aping Cher and Tai in the "Fancy" video. Both are hyper self-aware pose-strikers, unlike the ditzy and spacey characters from Clueless. Their attitudes are smug, bratty, and decadent rather than uncertain, seeking to please, and wholesome. They're self-aggrandizing and condescending rather than other-regarding. They aspire to being distant divas and icons, rather than friends accepted into a clique. And they give off an overly sexualized persona, whereas the appeal of the original characters was not simply to gawk at their ass and thighs.
The contrast for anyone who remembers the movie is so harsh (way harsh, Tai) that it creates an uncanny valley reaction, where something lies between two opposites and leaves the viewer disturbed. Most CGI human beings provoke such a response -- neither human enough, nor robotic enough, but more like a freak of nature.
It gets worse. Seeing actors play totally against what we associate with their clothing, environment, and overall zeitgeist leaves us asking, "What happened to the real people who wore those clothes? Went through those vignettes? Lived in that place?" It feels like the impostors are not just try-hard wannabes, but body-snatchers who have killed what is familiar and replaced it with something alien. It's like that scene in Silence of the Lambs where the he-she serial killer is donning a wig and twirling around in his lady-flesh-suit.
Iggy Azalea has killed Cher from Clueless and is wearing her skin.
Earlier examples of LARP-ing in popular culture at least tried to remain as consonant as possible with the original -- Grease, Back to the Future, Forrest Gump. Now the point is simply to body-snatch the sympathetic original characters and assimilate them into the loathsome present, like some kind of pop-cultural Borg. It is appropriation not out of affection and nostalgia, but simply to claim more and more territory of the good old days for idiotic, imperial trends.
I know -- BFD if it's some throwaway music video. But remember that this is what's going to unfold during the entirety of the new Star Wars movie. And it will only grow from there: the decision of the Star Wars brand sets a binding precedent.
Earlier remakes and reboots tried to distinguish themselves from the original by using a different visual style, exploring other parts of the narrative and character development, and so on. Always boringly, but they were different. Now the rehash movies are going to move into cosplay mode -- "It looks just like real thing!" (don't ask how it tastes, though). Expect pop culture to get even more off-putting in the near future.