Social media sites are the bridges between us and the rest of the world on the internet. And like any good bridge… they each have their share of trolls. But fandoms, parts of the nerd community that should bring people together to use our nerdy powers for good, are also bringing toxic nostalgia zealots together to use their powers for evil. No other fandom encapsulates that as well as Star Wars. The vitriol around the new movies is spawning some of the worst campaigns in the history of nerddom, driving cast and crew away from social media, disrupting the hype for other movies, and causing drama and turmoil throughout the fandom. These factions dividing us are unclear to some. But is there a correct, constructive way to discuss and air our grievances with our entertainment? Should we? How are lives being affected? Who is being caught in the crossfire? How does it affect other fandoms? And how do we move forward?
Jake Lloyd, Anakin from The Phantom Menace, quit acting.
Ahmed Best, Jar Jar Binks, nearly committed suicide.
Daisy Ridley left social media.
Kelly Marie Tran likewise left social media.
These are actors. People paid to tell a story. People who were given the dream-come-true task of being in a Star Wars movie. And toxic trolls ruined it for them. Stained their experience.
Let’s make a distinction. These people, these vile, toxic, hatred fuel trolls aren’t fans. They aren’t people who merely disliked a movie or a set of movies. Art is subjective and no one is forced to think something is good, or forced to love every piece of something in order to be called a fan. There are lots of valid reasons to dislike The Last Jedi. It wasn’t a perfect movie. It wasn’t the movie a lot of fans were expecting, and when you walk into something with years and years, decades of expectations, it’s going to be nearly impossible for that thing to live up to it all. At the end of the day, it’s just a movie. It’s just a group of people trying to tell their version of the next chapter of this story. And if you made your ‘perfect’ version of that movie, there would be just as many people who didn’t like it and would feel that yours didn’t do it right.
This is a difficult thing for us as fans to police. Watching the discussion happening around the movie shows a huge disconnect. Fans seem to be broken into factions.
On one side, you have the pro-The Last Jedi crowd. The crowd that either loved the movie or found enough things they loved not to mind the parts they didn’t.
On the other side, you have people who hated, loathed The Last Jedi, hated new characters, hated the interpretations of the way old characters turned out, and have a laundry list of ways to fix it.
Getting caught in the crossfire seem to be fans who genuinely disliked The Last Jedi, didn’t find enough redeeming qualities and feel lumped in with the hate-fueled trolls. Fans and bloggers alike will give The Last Jedi praise in one breath and shun the toxicity from trolls in the next, and fans stuck in the middle feel pushed away from the fandom, making their dislike for The Last Jedi even worse.
When we, as fans or as bloggers, talk about toxic “fans”, or talk about people who hated The Last Jedi, the conversation is being directed at those who make efforts to “remake” a movie they don’t have rights to. The people who campaign to have people fired. The people who harass actors and directors with not just points about the movie, but devolve the conversation into issues of race or gender. We’re talking about the people who refer to Rian Johnson as “Ruin Johnson”. We’re talking to the people PROUD that they ran Kelly Marie Tran off social media. We’re talking to the people who bombarded Christopher McQuarrie’s Twitter page with rants and insults because Rian suggested people follow him. Don’t know who Chris is? Unsure of what he had to do with Star Wars? The answer is NOTHING. The guy had literately NOTHING to do with the franchise, but trolls are still today yelling at him because Rian Johnson dared mention his name, and their hatred for Rian and The Last Jedi is just that strong. If you can’t stand those toxic people either, regardless of how you feel about the movie, then you’re excluded from that. If you really think calling someone “Ruin Johnson” somehow makes your point a little stronger, then you’re absolutely being talked about. And if you’re feeling lumped in with a specific group of people, maybe you should take a step back and look at why you feel that way. Are people really accusing you of being involved with those people? Or are you feeling that way for reasons that have nothing to do with what people are projecting on you, but rather what you’re projecting onto yourself?
But how do we move forward? When there are people who feel so entitled to a movie franchise that they’re willing to ruin lives, destroy careers, and when we call them out it only makes even more people feel alienated, how do we get past this?
First of all, we find more constructive ways to express ourselves. Communicating with actors and crew of movies is fine. A lot of folks appreciate constructive feedback. Start a Twitter thread, a Facebook post, your own blog. Do a scene by scene breakdown if that’s how strongly you feel, but keep it constructive. Keep it civil. There’s no need to use words like “dumb”, “stupid”, the moment you begin to complain about “SJWs” you’re going to be tuned out. Talk about WHY these things didn’t work for you, don’t just hate on the fact that they exist. Do you feel a topic was handled with a heavy hand? Discuss how you could have done the same thing more subtly. But first and foremost, realize that, with very VERY few exceptions, you’re not an entertainment professional. You don’t actually know what you’re doing. Approach everything, no matter how you go about it, with that level of humility and you’ll be just fine.
Some of the cast and crew make themselves accessible to fans, especially on a platform like Twitter. It’s mind-blowing how many times you can just tweet something, tag a person, and get a response, or end up in a full-fledged conversation with someone you otherwise would never have any kind of contact with. Respect that! Respect the fact that they’ve put themselves out there into the world for insane people like us to interact with!
A bad Star Wars movie doesn’t ruin your childhood. But how you react to a Star Wars movie you didn’t like can absolutely ruin your adulthood. And have horrid effects on people who simply don’t deserve it.
Do you have other ways to express opinions constructively within the fandom? Hit us up in the comments below or find us on FB!