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Star Wars Fans Have A Toxicity Problem

Toxicity in Star Wars fandom runs from bigotry to bullying and it's a bad look that we should not stand for.

I am supposed to be writing a review for the third episode of "Obi-Wan Kenobi." It was an exciting episode. Unfortunately, the Star Wars universe made bigger headlines yesterday for a sickness that has infected our entire lives, and now it's reared its ugly head again in our Star Wars universe.

Race and Bigotry In The Fans And Media

Yesterday, the official Star Wars Twitter account had to release a statement because of the vile messages and comments actress Moses Ingram was receiving for her portrayal of Reva (Third Sister) in the new "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series.

"There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist."

There is no dancing around it. Star Wars fans have been racist before, too. Before we address that, let me just declare what should be obvious. Moses Ingram is an incredible actor. She was a scene-stealer in "The Queen's Gambit" and in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" the desire of her character to prove something (we're not entirely sure the depth of all of it yet) leads her character in a way that is menacing and determined. She is terrific. Even if she was not doing a good job in the show, nobody deserves the treatment she has been receiving. Absolutely nobody. Sending her racially motivated hateful messages is abhorrent. On the off-chance somebody who reads this is one of the people who sent a message like that, I want to ask a question. Why would you treat a human being this way?

The Star Wars universe and the makers of Star Wars are not immune to racial issues in the canon. Yes, I'm talking about character archetypes (stereotypes) in the prequel films especially. You can't excuse a film series for these things even if the movies were made two decades earlier, in a time when a lot of these racial issues were given more lenient judgments. With that said, Star Wars fans, this is not the first time this has happened.

History of Abuse From Fans

Remember Kelly Marie Tran? She played Rose Tico in "The Last Jedi" and was barely in "The Rise of Skywalker." Her character was met with a barrage of online abuse. As an actress and person, she was also met with a ton of racist abuse online. She ended up having to scrub all of her social media presence because of the harassment she received. She said this about the experience.

“If someone doesn’t understand me or my experience, it shouldn’t be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Maybe they just don’t have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world.”

John Boyega, who played Finn in the Star Wars sequels, also received a lot of racial abuse online from fans. We can disagree about the use of their characters, the place in the story, etc. Star Wars fans are always going to disagree about that. That's fine. Every time I found that another actor in the Star Wars series was being harrassed, though, my heart broke a little. 

Jake Lloyd was a child. He received enough abuse from Star Wars fans that he retired from acting. His life took a downturn and he was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I'm no psychologist, but I know that schizophrenia can manifest and get worse from stress and emotional trauma. Star Wars fans—we caused this. We should be humiliated by this. This is not what Star Wars is for.

An Escape Has Become The Nightmare

The Phantom Menace was released the summer I started high school. I was so in love with it. Coming into high school is one of the scariest and most formative times of a kid's life. I knew I was a nerd, and frankly, I owned it at my peril. I walked in the hallways talking about Star Wars. I had the patches on my backpack. I accepted the "nerd" label right from the start. I saw it lead to some bullying and snickers from other kids. I did not care anymore, because I had an escape. I could put myself into the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker. I could crush on Padme Amidala the way any young teenage boy did. Since the first film was released back in 1977, Star Wars gave those without a crowd a place to belong. It gave the kids without acceptance a place to be accepted. It was the antidote to bullying for many of us. 

Every time I hear about Star Wars fans bullying actors in the franchise, especially for their race, my heart is shocked. How could we do this? That is the anthesis of what Star Wars represents. The little guy versus the big evil guy. The rebellion, which had nothing in comparison to the resources and menacing abilities that the empire did, was meant to give us a place to escape. How did we allow our fandom to fill up with stormtroopers and dark-sided zealots? 

"You've become the very thing you swore to destroy." - Obi-Wan Kenobi

I will not stand for it. Star Wars fandom has been toxic for a long time, but I will not stand for it anymore. If you choose to be racist and toxic towards the people creating this media for us, I will call you what you are. So-called "geeks" lamenting that Star Wars has become "too woke" have fundamentally misunderstood what Star Wars was about from the beginning. These people must get confused when Emperor Palpatine loses the fight. They don't belong to us, Star Wars fans.