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Star Wars fandom showcases the darkside of pop culture and media

Star Wars fandom showcases the darkside of pop culture and media

Star Wars fandom showcases the darkside of pop culture and media
June 24
11:00 2022

It has been over four decades since Star Wars first took over the pop culture universe. Fans of the franchise come from all over the world and are introduced to this new universe at different moments in their lives. Star Wars, just like any other cult favorite, brings a lot of passion out of its avid audience. After a certain point though, “passion” is a word used to disguise problematic behavior.

Directors and actors have been on the receiving end of the fandom’s wrath countless times. With “Obi-Wan Kenobi” out on Disney+, there has been hope the beloved character could bring the fandom back together — which can not be farther from reality — as displayed by the amount of backlash.

There is an overwhelming amount of examples for this toxic behavior. Most recently, Moses Ingram has received racist and sexist comments online for her character in the newest “Obi-Wan Kenobi” show. The hate stems from her being a Black woman in a leading role. Fortunately, since the attacks on Ingram, many actors and directors have come to support the actor.

Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” claimed he quit acting after the film made his life a “living hell.” Lloyd was 8 years old when he portrayed young Skywalker, and the heavy criticism pointed towards him as a child actor was damaging to his mental health.

There was also the unfortunate situation of Ahmed Best, the actor who played Jar Jar Binks in the series’ prequels, who considered taking his own life after the overwhelmingly negative reception of his character.

There are more scenarios than just those, and there will certainly be more down the line. This scary display of how much power fans on the internet truly hold illustrates how some have decided to use that power for the worst.

An argument can be made that Star Wars fans were the reason the last entry in the franchise was such a huge mess. With nine episodes in the “Skywalker Saga,” the eighth entry was looked at as the film that split the fan base in half. The mixed reception of “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” caused the studio to fully panic, caving in to the ridicule from the fans.

The original director of episode nine, Colin Trevorrow, was replaced by J.J. Abrams. Abrams had directed episode seven, and bringing him back seemed to be a safe play on Disney’s end. The grand finale to one of the most popular franchises ever turned out to be a galactic-sized mess because fans threw a fit and demanded change.

The backlash from “The Last Jedi” also spilled onto the cast of the film. Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in the Star Wars universe, quickly found herself leaving social media in response to the hate she and her character were receiving. Tran says she had to step away from the real world because it all became too much to handle.

Publicity teams told her what to say, and how to handle situations, which led her to forget why she was truly in the franchise in the first place. Luckily, many have come to the support of Tran, like director Rian Johnson, and internet trolls have been screaming at walls ever since.

Daisy Ridley, who stars as Rey Skywalker in the sequel trilogy, also decided to take a break from social media after more hateful comments filled her page than positive ones. Many trolls claimed her character was “too powerful,” which was blatant refusal to accept a strong female lead.

John Boyega, the charismatic Finn from the sequel trilogy, also criticized Disney for their treatment of “people of color” characters in the newest trilogy after he also received widespread backlash throughout his time on the silver screen.

Harassment of actors is a terrible thing. Bullying studios into making the movie you want because you didn’t like the last one can have similar implications. The worst members of Star Wars’ fandom have shown time and time again nothing will ever be good enough for them. Anyone with plans of working on a Star Wars project in the future is in harm’s way.

In the future, there will hopefully be some solution to this outlandish and deceitful behavior, so we can all go back to enjoying what brings us joy and comfort. Until then, those who spread hatred will always say more about themselves than who they judge.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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