“Star Wars” has such an imaginative world and it’s an easy franchise to love, as its captured the imagination and hearts of generations of fans. However, it also has one of the most vitriolic fanbases of any franchise, and its behavior needs to be called out, especially towards the series’ creatives.
This vitriol arguably started in 1999, when fans had backlash towards Ahmed Best and Jake Llyod’s portrayals of Jar Jar Binks and Anakin Skywalker, which drove Llyod to quit acting and subjected him to years of harassment, with Best driven to consider suicide due to fan backlash. Let’s be absolutely clear; it is OK to criticize and not enjoy their performances, but fans crossed a line in directing constant harassment and hatred towards them, and that should be condemned. I will also say that the vitriol was overblown and unfair to both actors, as they were criticized for creative choices they didn’t make; neither directed the “Star Wars” films they were in, and had very little control over the overall direction of their characters and their place in the narrative. Revisiting their films, they did the best with what they were given and gave director George Lucas exactly what he asked for.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a continuation of this with sequel actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran, which again should be condemned. It seems that whenever fans don’t like something, their first instinct is to attack the actors involved, which is out of line, inappropriate and shameful. The “Star Wars” fanbase should not be this unruly mob people are afraid of upsetting, and there needs to be a fine line drawn between expressing dislike of the art its creatives make and personally attacking them as individuals.
Recently, we’ve seen the start of this with “Obi-Wan Kenobi” actresses Moses Ingram and Vivien Lyra Blair, but thankfully some sects of the fanbase have responded in kind: Don’t try it, we’ve been here before. Obi-Wan actor Ewan McGregor was even prompted to respond to the racist attacks towards Ingram, noting that those who engage in such behavior aren’t really fans.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing and tiring having to deal with this loud and reactionary part of the fanbase; they make all “Star Wars” fans look bad, and makes it seem as if the fanbase is one that is almost never pleased with any “Star Wars” content that comes out, and will make it their mission to destroy the lives of anyone who makes anything related to the franchise they don’t like.
“Star Wars” as a franchise and a concept I think should be a positive experience — it’s inspired generations to escape in its fantastical sci-fi world where it feels like anything is possible. It shouldn’t be soured because a part of its fanbase decides to go too far when they encounter a part of it they don’t like.