Together We Can Improve the Culture of Star Wars Fandom
Star Wars is no stranger to disgruntled fans complaining about how the creative forces behind the franchise have “ruined their childhood”, “killed Star Wars”, and similar. Lately, however, certain individuals in the fandom have left me (and I’m sure many others) longing for the days when all you heard about in online forums were complaints about Jar Jar Binks and Anakin’s forced turn to the dark side. Like Obi-Wan on Mustafar, Star Wars fans used to have the high ground, but since the dawn of social media, a true evil has slowly infiltrated the fanbase and seemingly disrupted all peace and rationality.
The most recent attack on actress Kelly Marie Tran (one that we won’t give the offenders the satisfaction of talking about here) has definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth and caused me to question the future of the Star Wars fan community. But has this disgusting mentality killed Star Wars fandom? How should kind, sincere, rational people respond to the issue? Hopefully, I speak for the vast majority of Star Wars fans when I say that this toxic bigotry rooted in blatant racism and sexism needs to stop. And it may be time for the silent majority to speak up and take back the fandom that we love.
So maybe you’re reading this and you hated The Last Jedi. Guess what…that’s totally okay. It’s a movie. You didn’t like it. You are still a legimate fan of Star Wars and the world continues to spin. Maybe you disagree with the current direction of the franchise. It might just be that the “new” Star Wars is not your jam, and guess what…that is also totally fine. Love the entertainment you love, and hate that which you hate. That is your prerogative.
Maybe you are one of those fans, like myself, who has not loved every Star Wars movie in the Disney era. Maybe you don’t agree with all the creative decisions being made, but you can still engage in rational discussion and debate without resorting to personal insults or targeted attacks at the actors, directors, writers, or even other fans who hold opposing views. If this is you, then hopefully you can appreciate what I’m trying to say here.
It’s perfectly fine and acceptable to hate a movie, a book, a comic, etc. What’s not okay is to let one’s hate of a piece of entertainment that didn’t live up to their own personal expectations bleed over on to other individuals. I realize that this toxicity is directly related to the state of the world in general, and I also realize that the scum and villainy in any fandom is only proportional to that of the world around it. But too long has the silent majority allowed this disease to infect our beloved fandom by saying nothing.
Star Wars is not going anywhere and will probably outlive us all to be honest. For generations, the franchise has captivated the hearts of its fans, and if the quickly disappearing tickets for Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago is any indication, that fandom is still alive and well with a bright future ahead of it. But it’s time to start calling out bigotry wherever it may manifest itself.
I may not have loved The Last Jedi as much as I wanted to, but I realize that the creators behind it are still people who deserve to be treated as human beings. If Star Wars is such an obsession for you that it keeps you from remembering this simple fact, then you’re doing it wrong. Not just fandom, but life itself. At the end of the day, Star Wars is just entertainment. Love it, hate it, it doesn’t matter. But as fans, we need to come together. Silence the hatred by not allowing it to persist unchecked, and don’t give this mentality a foothold in the community.
Personally, I will forever love the classic Star Wars trilogy, even if one day I decide to step away from the franchise as a fan of the new material. Would that make me less of a fan? Does that make my love for Star Wars in my childhood obsolete? I don’t think so. My childhood and my humanity will remain intact.
If you ever get to the place where you don’t like Star Wars anymore, I hope you feel like you can walk away from the current material with no hard feelings. Or, continue to hang around to air your valid criticisms of the newer entries in the franchise. It makes no difference to most of us rational human beings who can actually appreciate different opinions and who realize that not everyone experiences the world around them (and yes, even entertainment) the same way. There are all kinds of fans with all kinds of different views. But resorting to bigotry or personal attacks against individuals who don’t share your same vision is exactly the type of mentality that we need to come together and purge faster than old Sheev can whisper “Execute Order 66”.
So will you join us at Star Wars News Net in taking a stand? We hope that you will, and we maintain a positive outlook on the franchise and its fanbase moving forward. We can be divided in opinion but still remain united in our love for Star Wars in general, and we are so much stronger when we join together. Let’s do this.
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.