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State of the Union: Star Wars

hello world!
Tim Beisiegel
| July 1, 2024
hello world!

My fellow nerds, we desperately need to address the critical state of our beloved fandom and the current status of our cherished galaxy far, far away. 

Our fandom is in trouble. Forces from both inside and out are working to divide and split the fandom in two. Now, more than any other time in the history of Star Wars, we need to band together. But can it be done? Can the fandom be saved, or will it implode? And what we can do as fans to prevent the hatred we see in the fandom currently? 

Toxicity in the early Disney Days

Since October 30, 2012, a rabid number of fans have been thoroughly displeased with the sale of Star Wars and Lucasfilm to the Disney Corporation. Their feelings aren’t without merit and should be acknowledged. Disney is great for the family-friendly style of live-action and animated films they have become synonymous with over the years. This venture into Star Wars was a first for them, with essentially no other films or series like it before. 

Quickly, things began to change in Star Wars from the perspective of many fans. The beloved Expanded Universe was now no longer Canon and was renamed Legends. The stories and characters contained within these stories were no longer applicable to stories that would be coming in the future. 

Kathleen Kennedy was put in charge of the ship and its direction, a move met with much criticism. New movies were announced, featuring a mix of new characters and existing fan favorites from the Original Trilogy. 

Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm

Almost immediately, the complaints began. You know the complaints… 

  • Disney is too woke 
  • Disney is ruining Star Wars 
  • Kathleen Kennedy needs to be fired 

However, the complaints shifted over the course of the Sequel Trilogy releases to include a few other complaints. 

  • Rey is a Mary Sue 
  • Rey isn’t a Skywalker 
  • The writing is horrible and pushing agendas 

Where are we now? 

Those complaints haven’t gone away. But let’s not just summarily dismiss them at face value. There have been some questionable writing choices… I’m looking at you Mandalorian episode with Jack Black and Lizzo. And let’s not leave “Somehow, Palpatine returned” out of the discussion. We can easily include other choices here, but those two prove enough of a point. 

This doesn’t mean that all of it is bad or that all of the previous claims have merit. However, over the last 12 years, we have had a growing number of very vocal fans in their own echo chamber, reciting word for word what the person in front of them said.

Look, like what you like and dislike what you want. That’s part of being a fan. Where we drift into troubled waters is that part of the fandom not only believes the complaints shared above but builds upon them and then, in turn, mocks any and all who do not share the same opinion. 

Comment sections on Twitter are a show of fans who are willing to fight over the smallest details and feelings they have about current shows and movies. In particular, those arguments grow bigger and more venomous when the cast leads are either female or a person of color. If you doubt this, please feel free to research the hate that Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, and Ahmed Best (to name a few)  all had to endure for simply doing a job they were hired to do, and did the job the way they were directed to do it. Some fans are unable to distinguish the actor from the role. Even Hayden Christensen received hate for his portrayal of Anakin and Darth Vader in the prequel era.

But the hate isn’t stopping at the producers, directors, writers, and actors. The venom is being spread in the fanbase, with one side attacking the other because one side doesn’t like what’s happening in Star Wars currently. So if you do like anything about it, then you’re a Disney Shill, a simp, and if you’re a male, then you are obviously less than a male in their eyes. 

It used to be that you could like something or dislike something, which was fine. But in the last 12 years since the Disney acquisition of Star Wars, we have seen the gatekeeping explode. Like what I like or else, that seems to be the mantra these days. Even I have received hate for trying to explain why The Acolyte isn’t the franchise killer that many are saying it is and that maybe folks need to take a breath and let the story play out. Instead, I was called a “Beta Male Simp” for not thinking this was the end of all things Star Wars. This, of course, was the same thing that was said about The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and all the sequel movies. Somehow, Star Wars survived…. 

Where do we go from here?  

Simply put. The Star Wars fandom needs an enema. We need to purge the toxicity out of our fandom. Telling other fans that you hope they die for liking something or disliking something is insane and in no way a rational response to ANYTHING science fiction-related. I wish that weren’t something that really happened, but it does. 

Attacking other fans and hating them because they like or don’t like something has to stop. We, as a fandom, have to realize that things aren’t going to change anytime soon. Disney isn’t going anywhere, and George Lucas isn’t returning to save the day. Lucasfilm will continue to create content that is open and diverse for everyone. It’s time for that vocal, hateful minority to wrap their heads around that all. 

George Lucas, former owner of Lucasfilm

So, really, as a fan, you have two choices…. 

  1. Choose to allow others to have their likes and dislikes and stop gatekeeping. Watch the parts of the universe you like and call it a day. There is zero need to yuck someone’s yum just because you cannot be an adult and moderate your thoughts and emotions. 
  2. If diversity and inclusion bother you that much, and you can’t realize that Star Wars has been “WOKE” since the opening credits of A New Hope, then you can always leave. Stop watching, stop commenting, stop it all. No one is pushing you out the door except for yourself. 

Those are the options: accept it and like what you like, or pack up and move on. There is zero place for hate in the Star Wars fandom. We have to get back to a place of acceptance inside the fandom, and really, it’s a question of respect. 

We have to respect the opinions of others and their feelings. If you want your thoughts, opinions, and feelings to be respected, then you have to be willing to do the same for others. It’s a two-way street and requires both sides to participate. 

Look, I am not saying that you have to be a fan of Kathleen Kennedy, Leslye Headland, The Acolyte, or anything new that the Lucasfilm company is putting out under the direction of Disney. I am saying that you need to chill… so many people love what’s coming out of Disney/Lucasfilm for Star Wars. So many new fans are coming in and wanting to be part of our fandom. Let’s welcome them with kindness, not gatekeeping and toxicity. 

The long and short of it all 

Here’s the crux of it all: The fandom is in trouble. We allow those willing to spread hate and troll the fanbase to be more present in the media than they should be. It’s time to ignore the hate and vitriol and respect our fellow fans. 

We aren’t asking people to blindly like and support something just because it’s Star Wars. We are asking them to show respect and kindness to other human beings. Let people have their likes and dislikes. Let’s not repeat the hate cycle of the Prequel Era…. Star Wars is for everyone!

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Brandy Brown
17 days ago

I absolutely agree. The fandom needs an enema lol. If people are so delusional to think that in a Galaxy FAR FAR Away, there won’t be strong females or aliens or people of color…they are the problem.

Shana Martin
15 days ago

This is the exact reason I stopped watching anything Star Wars after seeing the Phantom Menace. The visceral hatred on either side of the fan base going at each other just really turned me off.

Drew Lewis
15 days ago

As a fan, I think it’s fair to be critical of something you love. We should expect great things from Filoni and Kennedy and hold them accountable by watching/not watching. That said, hate speech and name calling and review bombing stuff is not the way you get them to make a change. Give constructive criticisms vs just shitting on it.

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