And it has been for a while now.
Fandom is like religion. And, like religion, there is the potential for both good and evil. When fandom is at its best, it’s a positive experience that enriches people’s lives. On one hand, there’s the community aspect which allows us to develop bonds and enjoy conversations with like-minded people. On the other, being a fan of something can be more personal, a source of comfort and inspiration which provides a temporary escape from the real world or, in some cases, imparts wisdom and provokes thoughts which help us understand it better. This type of fandom is worth celebrating, and most people associated with it fall into this category.
Like religion, though, fandom also has its fair share of toxic imbeciles who do their utmost to smear the overall phenomenon. They’re in the minority, but they make the most noise. For the most part, these people are just very rude, argumentative, and self-entitled. At their worst, however, they’re abusive bullies who actively set out to make people’s life a living hell. And Star Wars fandom has more than its fair share of these people.
Toxic fandom is a constant in the Star Wars community, but every so often it rears its ugly head more so than usual. Case in point — Kelly Marie Tran. The actor, who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, wiped her Instagram account after months of racist and sexist abuse. It remains unconfirmed if harassment motivated her decision to exit the social media platform, but her departure has shed some light on the disgusting hazing she’s had to endure every single day since the movie was released.
But Tran isn’t the only female involved with the franchise to receive abuse because of her involvement in films some people don’t like. Kathleen Kennedy, who produced the last four movies, has experienced more than her fair share of vitriol from grown adults who are disturbingly attached to their fictional stories. She can’t even enjoy her birthday without flocks of angry fanboys — most of whom appear to be adults — reminding everyone that she has an SJW agenda that’s killing the franchise and ruining their childhood.
Elsewhere, Daisy Ridley has also been vocal about how overwhelming some fans can be. She deleted her Instagram account for the sake of her own mental well-being and has discussed how she had to attend therapy in order to cope with the stress.
Of course, this doesn’t only concern the aforementioned women. Try spending a day in the shoes of John Boyega, who has been the recipient of his fair share of racist criticism since fans found out there was going to be a black Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens. While there was never any canonical reason to suggest that Stormtroopers couldn’t be people of color, in the authoritarian mindset of toxic fandom, it was sacrilege.
Rian Johnson, meanwhile, is the evilest man in the galaxy in the eyes of some. After all, he did helm The Last Jedi, which supposedly destroyed the legacy of the entire franchise. The director has taken the outrage in good jest thus far, but the crybaby contingent really doesn’t like him for seemingly killing over four decades worth of stories and promoting liberal identity politics at the expense of story and preserving what’s pure.
In what was either an act of committed trolling or depressing sincerity (I’m guessing it was the latter), one fan created a petition demanding a personal apology from Johnson for The Last Jedi’s mere existence. At the time of writing, it boasts over 9,000 signatures. Another petition demanded that Disney remove the film from the Star Wars canon and remake it from scratch. That one gained over 100,000 signatures. In a more sinister turn of events, Johnson also received death threats. Still, you’re not a real Star Wars director unless you have righteous fanatics promising to end your existence. George Lucas can also attest to that.
The Last Jedi wasn’t given a chance from the get-go among the hateful Star Wars faithful, though. They made efforts to sabotage the film before it even hit theaters. As Max discussed in this article, some of these so-called fans used social media to devise plans and strategies in a bid to negatively influence the public’s perception of the movie and discourage people from seeing it. This involved unleashing bots on review aggregator sites that would leave negative reviews and affect scores. All because they were angry at the fact the film featured a high percentage of women heroes and promoted social justice values.
The truth is that some Star Wars fanatics aren’t mature enough to handle movies about porgs and battles taking place beyond the stars. You know… stuff predominantly aimed at families with children. They’re not open-minded to the franchise’s progression because they fear change. They’re the type of people who want to see the world burn and rebuilt in their narrow-minded image. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to be going away any time soon, and they’re distracting us from fun conversations about Porgs and Ewoks.