Opinion: Star Wars Fandom Is Hurt by Bullying, Bitterness, and Disguised Toxicity

Fandom of any kind can normally be fun to get involved with. Engaging with a community of people who share the same enthusiasm for media can be amazing, but that’s not always the norm. When it comes to most fandoms, there’s always an element of conflict or drama that pops up for one reason or another. In the worse scenarios, it can give off an impression of hostility that is never fun to be caught in. Star Wars fandom is one of the oldest and greatest fan communities around, but even its massive popularity and resonance with so many people doesn’t make it immune to this problem. Unlike other large communities of fans, however, much of the conflict often starts from within, resulting in bullying and bitterness, and a disguised form of toxicity.

Toxicity can appear in many different forms, not just the obvious that people will recognize. But the ongoing results are always the same, dividing people in ways that are both ignorant and stupid, with a lack of empathy and understanding on multiple sides. It can stem from misrepresentation, the inability to talk to people honestly, and even come from good intentions that become warped into bitter feelings of resentment or jealousy. It’s nothing new, but only in recent years has it gotten a spotlight through social media and various content creation platforms. Whether it’s YouTube and Twitch, or Twitter and TikTok, you know it and feel it immediately when you see it.

Most recently, discussions surrounding Star Wars media have been a whirlwind of debates, with mudslinging all around. This includes the reception of shows like Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as the ongoing back and forth about Disney Star Wars films and other show, including supplemental media like books and comics. A lot of the tension and hostility comes from multiple people, including content creators with significant audiences, within the Star Wars fandom that benefits from the hostility online, putting on an image of perceived positivity that is questionable. It’s a combination of many things that urge people to take sides and bully others with an opposite opinion. Attacking and demoralizing those who see things from a different perspective. It’s not something that contributes to a greater discussion, but an attempt to annihilate an opposing viewpoint to look good towards peers for little to no reason at all. What good comes from any of that?

This is where we have major problems within Star Wars fandom. It’s not the media or journalists misrepresenting or attacking the Star Wars community, but individuals or cliques of the fandom doing so. Different examples of this over the last few years from various sections of Star Wars fandom has put this on full display for all to see. From out-of-context misrepresentation of live streams and video clips, to bold lying about community figureheads and creators on platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

One of the largest personalities within the Star Wars community is content creator Star Wars Theory, who has a YouTube channel with over 3 million subscribers. Criticism and scrutiny often come with the territory of being a large content creator, but many portions of his videos and live streams are often taken out of context and misrepresented by detractors. This at times comes from fellow creators within the scene that have an axe to grind. After the release of Andor on Disney Plus, clips of his videos talking about the show have circulated in various circles, decrying his opinions and making fun of his statements to a very harsh and toxic degree.

One statement passed around referred to the screws and bricks shown on structures in different episodes that he felt affected the show’s presentation and connection to the Star Wars universe. The clip that was judged by many was less than 1 minute out of a nearly 4-hour watch party stream of the show’s season finale, where Theory discussed many aspects of the show before and after the clip. This included parts he liked and felt were good, not just what Andor lacked.

Sadly, the trending conversation among many was how the largest content creator in the Star Wars fandom said the show was bad because it had screws and bricks being shown, and that’s all. This prompted many on social media to scrutinize and borderline character-assassinate Star Wars Theory over a benign opinion from a short clip. Along with memes about his take, much of the conversation became about attacking Star Wars Theory as a person, poking fun at his mental stability and the bitterness people have towards him within the Star Wars community. It became a hateful de-characterization of a person that was cosigned by multiple content creators (including some large ones) within the Star Wars fandom. While clowning around and poking fun at takes has always been part of internet culture, at what point is a line drawn, and when is it crossed? Since when did it become OK to misrepresent a person and bully them out of having a pretty mild opinion about Star Wars media? It’s not something many within the Star Wars fandom that are doing the dogpiling are willing to address, let alone come up with a fair and honest answer.

Another example of this was the crazy treatment of entertainment content creator Matt Ramos, also known as Supes on TikTok. While Supes was often criticized for his opinions about Marvel and DC films, he caught a wave of hostility while covering the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus show. Most of his statements on TikTok and YouTube involved pointing out missteps of the show and how much Obi-Wan Kenobi could have been better to him. The backlash from this was so severe that Matt decided to avoid talking about Andor when it was released on Disney Plus. Yet despite that, he continued to receive hostility and blatant misrepresentation of his statements in videos.

https://www.tiktok.com/@supes/video/7146006137832377646

Many people in comment sections and replies turned the conversation about his takes into attacks on Matt’s character and how much they hate his existence. This was echoed by multiple content creators on both platforms, using the dogpiling as an opportunity to boost their following and be seen as good eggs by people hating on Supes. Who could honestly blame him, or anyone, for feeling like they should never talk about Star Wars topics to avoid that kind of response?

Once again, the fandom had a wave of hatred and toxicity that was more about attacking someone who offered an opinion that was different. It wasn’t a fair outlook on someone, nor was it a conversation about Star Wars. It became about bringing down someone and keeping them out of the discussion about Star Wars as a whole. Where is the line between genuine discussion and toxicity get drawn?

And yet, there are others within both the Star Wars fandom and other fandoms for a long time that get similar reactions. Joshua Lucas, the creator of the Den of Nerds YouTube Channel, is another creator affected by the same thing for little to no reason. Josh has made multiple videos and live streams talking about Disney-era Star Wars media, with his general thoughts about it.

When Andor was released, he stated he wasn’t happy with the direction of the franchise and pointed out how people were ignoring some major issues with the quality of Star Wars projects getting made. This was followed up by him with multiple live streams, including the Nerd Theory podcast hosted with Star Wars Theory, that touched upon how the reception of Andor and other Star Wars media has been divisive and openly hostile online. Josh’s content and perspective were scrutinized and misrepresented in multiple places, proving his point many times over, with clips on social media taken wildly out of context by those who disagreed with him.

https://twitter.com/JacobsQuest/status/1592619113717051393?s=20&t=CnqENhCMNJpvQ26jPNTZzQ

A clip of him and Star Wars Theory from live stream podcast discussing what other projects could be a good idea for a Star Wars show, such as a General Grevious show or more Tales of the Jedi stories, was used as points of contention and ridicule. Multiple creators within the fandom and others over social media attacked Josh relentlessly, going even as far as to wildly suggest he and Star Wars Theory didn’t support certain underrepresented communities with their takes on Star Wars. While this was 100% not true, many ran with the narrative and continued to make bold claims like this and attack Josh over every little thing in mass.

While Josh responded to a lot of the statements about him in videos and streams, multiple places continued to dogpile many times over, to the point where Josh decided to break away from talking about Star Wars content for a short time. Things had turned ugly, where the discussion about something Star Wars-related took a back seat to people feeling like they could throw insults at someone they personally didn’t like. It made one person’s opinion they disliked into a reason to be hateful in order to defend a show.

The contention continues even now to this day, despite Josh having multiple pieces of content putting forth ideas and perspectives for how Lucasfilm and Star Wars can make things better. Some people within the Star Wars fandom continue to feel like they have a green light to dehumanize someone over an opinion. We have to ask ourselves again, where is the line? How did disagreeing with others become an excuse to attack and push them out of fandom over bitterness or hatred for them personally?

There are many more examples of the cavalcade of debates and vitriol brought out by conversations about Star Wars. It’s bad enough to the point where the blind positivity and lack of open-mindedness have had a negative effect on how the fandom is perceived. At what point do we see toxicity for what it actually is and stop ignoring the obvious elephants in the room? At what point do fans of Star Wars hold people accountable to a better standard by not bringing others down, and not encouraging the very toxicity they claim to stand against? Something has to give one way or another because the engagement and attention for one’s personal brand should never outweigh the well-being of the community everyone is part of. But beyond that, everyone within the Star Wars fandom needs to see the disguised toxicity for what it actually is, and not let it continue to linger around any longer.

Are you a fan of Star Wars and like engaging with the community? What are your thoughts about Star Wars fandom? Post your thoughts in the comments!

Jakejames Lugo

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