As more and more stories release detailing the consequences of harassment from the Star Wars community, it’s quickly becoming necessary for the fandom to take a stand against this behavior and change the future of the franchise.
Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best recently posted this heartbreaking story of his troubles coping with the “media backlash” that plagued his life and career after the release of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
While his story is bringing attention to a worthy cause in suicide awareness (Need to Talk to Someone Now? Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255), it also sheds light on a problem that has run rampant through the Star Wars community for over two decades now. Rather ironically, it is a problem that Master Yoda warned everyone about in The Phantom Menace…
““Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
Many fans are vocal about their opinion, whether it is positive or negative, but there are numerous instances of these opinions turning into something so much more sinister, from sexist and racist harassment to blatant death threats.
It was recently reported that Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi actor Kelly Marie Tran had deleted her Instagram account due to overwhelming amounts of harassment over her portrayal of Rose Tico. They attacked her for everything from her performance to her ethnicity, forcing her to abandon the social media platform, leaving only a blank page and a bio stating “Afraid, but doing it anyway”.
This comes after a similar situation happened to Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens star Daisy Riddley, which forced to her quit Instagram due to harassment following a post about gun reform in the wake of countless tragedies in the United States. Many of the attacks focused on blaming Daisy Riddley for propagating a conspiratorial “liberal agenda” in Star Wars films, but they were not limited only to political beliefs. They also attacked Riddley’s portrayal of Rey and her possible ties to her African American co-star’s character, Finn.
The criticism against Rian Johnson for his work both writing and directing Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi has been well documented, but the backlash reached a point where he was forced to deal with threats against his life.
When faced with so many stories of harassment, it eventually forces the question, at what point should the vast majority of fans who still simply love Star Wars stand up against such actions?
The list of consequences created solely by the fandom continues, from the career troubles of actors Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christianson to the recent tweet from Mission: Impossible – Fallout director claiming fan harassment has “cured” him from wanting to direct a Star Wars film. However, the creator of Star Wars himself, George Lucas, may have given the most important insight yet when asked if he ever wanted to make another Star Wars film…
“Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?” – George Lucas
This response indicates a troubling issue that permeates through a large section of the Star Wars community, and that is the willingness to resort to extraordinarily alarming methods of voicing their “opinions”. Some even associate the result of this behavior with the lackluster performance of the latest Star Wars film at the box office, Solo, as fans have started boycotting new content.
Star Wars is one of the most renowned stories of all time, and it has attracted one of the largest fandoms in the world through incredible films, shows, video games, comic books, merchandise and more. However, the toxicity in the community is something that the fandom itself will eventually have to deal with if they ever hope to see the franchise last another four decades.
But as the old saying goes, the first step is admitting there is a problem.
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