Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran has been bullied off Instagram. The media has characterised the abuse as racist and sexist, which I would whole-heartedly agree with. However, on this occasion, I’d like to focus on one of the deeper issues that goes to the core of this abuse: fanboys. Specifically, Star Wars fanboys.
It feels like a lifetime ago, but I used to be one of the founding admins of one of the world’s biggest gaming forums. I know how mobs like this work. I know how they can take a little idea, run away with it, and egg each other on to turn it into something else entirely. It’s how memes are made. It’s how things go viral. There are much larger forums and communities that do this sort of thing now, but the mechanics are the same; and without fail, they always bring out the absolute worst in people.
In this case, it begins with the idle quip that Rose (Tran’s character) is even worse than Jar Jar Binks (for reference, Jar Jar Binks was a universally maligned character from the previous trilogy of films). It then becomes a race to pile on as many additional insults as possible to gain the mob’s approval, which for many means ridiculing the obvious: the fact that she is a woman, the fact that she is Asian. As time goes on, the insults get bigger, more outlandish, and eventually more violent. At some stage, people will start tracking down her social media accounts, her personal details, and start flooding her personally with this bile and vitriol.
As an aside, you’ve got to be as dumb as a box of rocks if you think Rose is worse than Jar Jar Binks. She was the only character who made any sense in the whole film. Her line, “That’s how we’re gonna win: not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love,” was the smartest thing said by anyone in the movie, apart from maybe Benicio Del Toro’s darkly pragmatic “It’s all a machine, partner. Live free, don’t join”.
And yes, both lines are smarter than anything to come out of Ben “Join me and together we can rule the galaxy just like Darth Vader” Solo’s mouth or even Luke “Every word of what you just said is wrong and this will sound better when I say it the second time to my nephew” Skywalker’s mouth.
So it’s no surprise that Tran left Instagram. Daisy Ridley has also sworn off social media for the same reasons, apparently.
It’s disheartening to see that a new generation of creatives are being discouraged from bringing something new to the table. It’s disappointing to see that their livelihoods and their wellbeing are being held to ransom by a bunch of fanboys with an inflated sense of nostalgia.
If you take these fanboys at their word, they’re clearly not enjoying themselves. And they’re making life miserable for everyone else in the process. Nobody is having fun. And these “fans” just aren’t worth it.
I think the time has come for Star Wars to die.