The Star Wars saga is quite possibly the most important piece of American cinema to date. No franchise has ever reached the level of success of that of “a galaxy far, far away.” However, there has been a disturbance in the Force. You’ve felt it, I felt it. It’s the ever-growing toxicity of the Star Wars fandom.
After a 10-year hiatus, the seventh entry in the Star Wars saga opened to glowing reviews and packed theaters, and it brought us a warm return to a galaxy far, far away in 2015. In the following months, fan uproar called it a “retread,” criticized Daisy Ridley's (admittedly so-so) performance, and memed the heck out of antagonist “Emo [Kylo] Ren.”
Before the teaser-trailer hype had even set in, that small subsection of the internet who hate women and people of color were, as they tend to be these days, livid. Citing “first diversity,” a made-up concept used to undermine inclusivity, a vocal minority of fans called for a boycott, apparently and conveniently forgetting Princess Leia, a woman, and Lando Calrissian, a person of color, were integral characters to their ruined childhoods and the plight of the rebellion. Fun fact, however: “The Force Awakens” is the highest-grossing domestic film of all time, so it’s abundantly clear how that went.
After two years of speculation, theorizing and getting so far in our own heads we could never possibly be satisfied by the actual product, “The Last Jedi” arrived in theatres. While the film lacks a coherent plot, likable characters or any meaningful payoff to the events of the previous entry, what started as legitimate criticism quickly began to border on harassment directed at Kelly Marie Tran and her portrayal of Rose Tico. Rose, to put it bluntly, sucks, but poor characterization is not, and never has been, a reason to harass another human being off social media.
Love them or hate them, neither entry reaches the level of peak Star Wars. There is a lot of legitimate criticism of both. ”The Force Awakens” is a retread of a much better movie, and “The Last Jedi” is the cinematic equivalent of that scene where Luke kisses his sister. However, when your criticism borders on harassment, you’re effectively opting out of reasonable discourse. It’s fine to say Daisy Ridley’s acting isn’t great, it’s not a problem to think Rose Tico was an unnecessary and terribly written character, and you’re not a bad guy for hating the sequel films. However, if you decide to spread hate, not only do you stray from the path of the Jedi, you also discredit the very real problems of the lack of coherent storytelling put forth by the sequel era. All you succeed in doing is making Star Wars fans all over the world look like bigots, just because you lack the emotional maturity, or security, to avoid hating someone who looks different than you — and Baby Yoda would be very disappointed in you.