Fandom Can’t Be Fixed If It Has No Shame: A Commentary

I hate to talk about this on a summer holiday when it’s supposed to be about happy vibes, but I was heartbroken to see this story (also on Ahmed Best’s Twitter) about the actor considering ending his life in the wake of the anti-TPM/Jar Jar backlash.

The comments on the THR story are horrible.  I don’t know if these guys are “fans” or not.   Sometimes trolls are just trolling.  But whether they are or not, I’ll just say this.  If you can read about a human being’s pain and say he deserved it or something along those lines because of a movie, you’re not a “fan.”  You’re not motivated by love for anything.  You’re not noble or brave.  You’re not a “rebel” fighting against the Lucas empire.  You’re just a no-good piece-of-crap sociopath.

Which brings me to a lot of the “fandom is broken and toxic” commentary I’ve been seeing lately.  Like I said, the good news is they’re finally noticing the consequences of the nastiness and cruelty of fandom.  The bad news is it seems to me nobody is really taking responsibility.  They act as though this started when Lucasfilm had the temerity to put an Asian actress in a Star Wars film when those who do know realize this has gone on for 20 years.  The ones who should be looking at their own behavior or their failures to act are instead pointing their fingers at straw men or certain factions they don’t like because it makes for a convenient distraction.

As I posted on Twitter yesterday, the fandom of the late ’90s needs to take responsibility.  They let this get out of control.  But the media, especially the so-called geek media and the entertainment media, are perhaps the most responsible.  They encouraged this behavior.  They cheered it on.  They laughed at how “everyone hated Jar Jar.”  They accused Jar Jar of racism.  They mocked and denigrated.  They didn’t care about the consequences or how it hurt an African-American actor.

Lucasfilm needs to take responsibility too.  It failed to protect its actors during the prequel era and that had real consequences.  I alerted the publicity department last week about someone who had abused her access to denigrate someone involved with Star Wars in a very cruel, vulgar way on a podcast and if they don’t do something about it this time, then they’re still not looking out for their performers.

Instead, fandom seems content to fight over podcasts, threaten each other, accuse poster artists of racism, and tell Rian Johnson for the 800th time they hated TLJ with every cell of their being while the Entertainment Weeklies and Nerdists and IGNs of the world wonder why Star Wars fans are so horrible.  Nothing’s going to change until people look themselves in the mirror and really think about their behavior.  I don’t want to hear about somebody in Star Wars now ending up mentally broken or addicted or worse yet, dead because of what was done to them.   This has to stop.

 


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