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The media is run by trolls Desperate journalists are manufacturing news

Where has all the meaningful content gone? Credit: IMDB


June 10, 2022   7 mins

The Star Wars franchise has always been a cultural mirror, with each manifestation reflecting the fears, hopes, and political themes of the moment it was created. The original 1977 film was steeped in the anxieties of a postwar landscape; the late-Nineties prequel trilogy is imbued with the lighthearted confidence (and excessive CGI use) of the pre-social internet era. And as its latest property, Obi Wan Kenobi, is released, a post from the official Star Wars Twitter account launches in to the culture wars.

“We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold,” it read, alongside a photo of its newest cast member. “If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist.”

And then, just in case you didn’t get the message, there was a follow-up tweet: “There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.”

Suggesting millions of Star Wars fans are a bunch of racists-in-waiting might seem like a peculiar PR strategy. But if you were to plot the marketing trajectory of Star Wars alongside the fall of traditional journalism, a pattern would begin to emerge.

Today’s predominant mode of cultural engagement began incubating on Tumblr around 2010, spread to mainstream media in the lead-up to America’s 2016 election, and now dominates the entire cultural apparatus up to and including Hollywood itself. It owes much to the 2008 recession, and the mass layoffs in media which fundamentally transformed how news was covered.

Imagine a horde of freshly unemployed veteran writers, alongside new journalism grads, desperately trying to claw out a livelihood in a world where writing had been completely devalued. (It was not unusual, at this time, to be told that the job you were applying for paid not in money but “exposure”.) Gone was the $2-per-word magazine staff writer position; gone was the local shoe-leather reporting job that might launch a lifelong career. Now, a writer’s best option was freelance blogging, churning out listicles and aggregated new stories at $15 a pop — and with a quota, which at some outlets ran as high as 20 posts per day.

The pressure to produce content on such an accelerated timeline spawned a lot of half-arsed, hastily-executed work (“10 Times Brad Pitt’s Butt Made Me Want To Die: A List In GIFs”) but also created a constant scramble for something, anything, to write about. Social media, then in its infancy, was a lifesaver: as a reporter at MTV News, I could curate a quick roundup of Twitter or Tumblr reactions to last night’s Game of Thrones episode in less than 20 minutes, which allowed me to meet my quota while also prioritising more interesting, time-consuming work (for instance, getting a trauma surgeon to assess whether it was actually, medically possible for The Mountain to crush Oberyn Martell’s skull like a grape).

At the time, this interface between reporters and random posters was both friendly and fully symbiotic: the writers got free content, the posters increased their internet clout. And crucially, nobody took any of it all that seriously; even being cruel could earn you a coveted place in the Celebs Read Mean Tweets roundup on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

But, in 2014, as cash-strapped media outlets chose to prioritise opinion journalism (quick and cheap) over investigative reporting (time-consuming and expensive), the news cycle became increasingly outrage-driven, and our thinking about the type of post that was deemed worthy of coverage changed. The saga of Justine Sacco had recently introduced a hungry populace to the joys of playing hunt-the-racist on Twitter. The US was becoming more tribal, and art, in turn, more political. The ridiculous culture war known as Gamergate consumed the discourse for months on end, as did a massive controversy over the new, all-female Ghostbusters reboot. Liking this movie — even just liking the idea of it — meant you were one of the good guys. Disliking it, on the other hand, marked you as not just a critic, but a Bad Person.

The new Star Wars trilogy, then, was perfectly positioned to become a flashpoint in this newest culture war — a war that directly benefited a media economy in which controversy meant clicks. Its first piece of promotional material could not have been more perfectly designed to provoke the ire of the franchise’s less-enlightened fans: a teaser, released in November 2014, featuring the actor John Boyega dressed as a stormtrooper.

This is not to say that the Star Wars publicity department wanted racists to take aim at the trailer, but given the number of pieces about “racist Star Wars fans” which followed over the next 24 hours, they would also have had to be idiots not to realise they’d stumbled on marketing gold.

At the same time, celebrities had cottoned on to the value of clapping back on social media. Responding to a random dickhead was no longer undignified or beneath them, but the quickest, easiest way to get positive press. So when Boyega made an Instagram post addressing the black stormtrooper controversy, the internet went wild.

A representative post about Boyega’s clapback reveals how easy it was to map this new, slightly sanctimonious mode of media coverage onto the existing social media-based story model. All you needed was a vaguely clickbaity headline (“JOHN BOYEGA SHUT DOWN RACIST ‘STAR WARS’ HATERS WITH FOUR SIMPLE WORDS”), followed by 250 lightly editorialised words about the incident, followed by two embedded tweets showcasing the alleged racism, rounded off with Boyega’s post and a boilerplate link back to the Force Awakens teaser.

But what it also reveals, in hindsight, is how this mode of coverage blurred the boundaries between identifying a trend and manufacturing one. The two embedded tweets in that piece had a total of 11 retweets between them, suggesting that the sentiment within them were anything but popular. If not for the existing practice of trawling Twitter for “people are saying” stories — and if not for the absurd expectation that journalists should post new material every hour — there would never have been any reason to dig them up. The racist haters would have simply languished in obscurity, their tweets lost to the sands of time.

This would have been a good time for culture writers to step back, both from the quota model of journalism and from its engagement with stupid social media controversies. But this was 2015, which was followed by the year in which progressives abandoned all pretence of being culture war noncombatants and went all-in on sneering contempt. The purest form of this shift is Molly Fitzpatrick’s article, “Angry baby-men hate the new Ghostbusters trailer”.

In hindsight, the “baby-men” article marked a point of no return. The ossified smugness of it, the right-side-of-history certainty, the way that books and movies and television and music now sorted automatically on political grounds into things one ought to be either for or against. By the time the new Ghostbusters was actually released, the criticism of it was not criticism so much as a celebration of its mere existence, so that any assessment of whether it was good or not became entirely irrelevant. (It was, for the record, not good.)

And Star Wars was an opportunity like no other to stick it to the baby-men. It was about strong female characters, and intergalactic diversity, and standing up against the fascist forces of the Trump admi
 uh, I mean, the Empire. By the time The Last Jedi came out in December 2017, the American Left had so thoroughly fused its pop culture with its politics that it was no longer possible to discern if the “Resistance” movement people kept referring to was the one with the spaceships, or the one with those ludicrous pink hats. By 2020, every Star Wars news cycle included stories about how the franchise’s forays into diversity continued to infuriate its toxic fanbase.

This brings us back to Obi Wan Kenobi and Moses Ingram, a story whose trajectory is as good an example as any of how Hollywood has learned to leverage this aspect of the discourse. On 22 May, Ingram told The Independent that she’d been warned about racist Star Wars fans by none other than the execs at Lucasfilm, and took a light jab at the lack of diversity in the franchise: “If you’ve got talking droids and aliens but no people of colour, it doesn’t make sense.” The Independent led with that quote, and the interview was dutifully re-reported over the next few days by multiple outlets — under such provocative headlines as “Lucasfilm Warned ‘Obi-Wan’ Star Moses Ingram About Racist ‘Star Wars’ Trolls”. And within a week, Ingram began posting screenshots of abusive messages she’d received on Instagram, including one calling her a “diversity hire”.

From there, it was a short distance to the “don’t be racist” tweet from the official Star Wars account. As of this writing, it has been retweeted upwards of 30,000 times, and dozens of mainstream media outlets from NPR to the Daily Show have run at least one story about it.

None of this is to say that racist Star Wars fans do not exist. They do; the question is whether they are emboldened, even incentivised, by this continued, bizarre symbiosis with an outrage-driven media that relies on them for content. Consider one of the top citations in these stories, a YouTube video titled “Obi-Wan Series Is Going To Be AWFUL Because It’s Hiding Behind Diversity AGAIN!”, apparently made in response to Ingram’s 22 May comments in the Independent. The video is objectively offensive (the word “darkies” appears in the thumbnail), and the creator, an account named MechaRandom42, seems to specialise in intentionally inflammatory content with an anti-woke bent. But it is content that people mostly don’t watch: within the past month, she has posted multiple videos per week, most of which have paltry view counts in the 1,000-2,000 range.

The official Obi Wan Kenobi trailer posted a month ago by Disney has been viewed 11 million times. The “hiding behind diversity” video, on the other hand, has 13,000 views — the bulk of which came after journalists started citing it in their coverage of the controversy.

Who benefits from this? The trolls do, of course. They’re getting exactly what they want, their status and influence growing with every indignant squawk, every angry celebrity video response. But they’re not the only ones. A media class that makes its living on outrage gets a story that does numbers. Moses Ingram gets an outpouring of support and waves of positive press coverage. The studio execs behind Obi Wan Kenobi get the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from persuading a bunch of impressionable people that the best way to signal their moral correctness is by putting more money in Disney’s pocket. Everybody wins.

Except the art, of course. In a culture that cannot conceive of appreciating something you love unless it’s part of a righteous backlash against the angry baby-men you hate, art loses every time.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago

I’m not into Star Wars and don’t understand many of the references in this article but there is one reference that I recognise. Kat stated that “the ridiculous culture war known as Gamergate consumed the discourse for months on end”. I’ve heard of Gamergate but I didn’t follow it and the only thing that I know about it is that it started in August 2014.
Something else happened in August 2014: the publication of the Jay report into “child sexual exploitation” in Rotherham which found that 1400 girls in the town had been sexually abused between 1997 and 2013 and the authorities knew about what was happening and failed to act.
Any writer, activist or media organisation claiming to be progressive, feminist or interested in social justice that spent more time, effort and what used to be called “column inches” on people that most people have never heard of arguing on the internet about video game reviews than on people with a legal duty to protect children covering up the existence of an organised network of child rapists needs to be told to get out more, starting by going to Rotherham where the scandal is still unfolding and other towns and cities in the UK where similar scandals are still being uncovered. Real journalists have been doing difficult work such as reporting on trials, speaking to victims who have belatedly got justice and trying to hold people in power to account but who else cares about underage girls being raped?
Hold on. A MP watched porn in Parliament. Get him!

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Gamergate was a massive deflection from game reviewers corruption.
It was never about social justice. When you consider how much money is made on video gaming and how much the gamer needs to trust the reviews before spending their money on games
 when the reviewers are not giving honest reviews and taking bungs, well that kind of thing needs either a cover up or deflection and it got both with gamergate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Trusting the paid industry reviewers about games is like trusting the so called “fact checkers” hired by the very same sites that spew the lies in the first place.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I don’t disagree, however everyone thinks that gamergate was about misogyny in the gaming industry/culture but it wasn’t, that was the deflection. That was my point. Gamergate was also predominantly American news whereas Rotherham is UK news and as America doesn’t have the Pakistani population density that the UK has, probably seen as a non issue to them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 years ago

“covering up the existence of an organised network of child rapists”
*covering up the existence of an organised Pakistani paedophile network of child rapists.

Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Richard, thank you for your correction which is probably right. My post was written when I was tired and in a hurry and what happened in Rotherham and elsewhere is very complex and there is a lot of information about it which some in the media haven’t gone through thoroughly.
For example, in October 2018 there was a minor political controversy when then Home Secretary Sajid Javid posted a tweet about “sick Asian paedophiles”. Amongst the people to criticise the tweet were Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler. The tweet was posted after the reporting of the conviction of twenty men for abusing girls in Huddersfield in a series of trials arising from a police investigation called Operation Tendersea which had been covered by reporting restrictions which were lifted in October 2018.
The national media reported the convictions but only a few media reports noted one piece of evidence from one of the trials. According to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner (which produced a lot of excellent detailed coverage of the story) at the third trial the court was told that “one of the victim’s mums was so failed by social services that she resorted to writing to the then-Prime Minister”, a statement also reported by the BBC in an article on the background to the trials. Neither report stated who the Prime Minister was because that may not have been stated in court but the Examiner did state that in the third trial “these particular offences took place between 2004 and 2010”.
A crown court trial was told that the mother of a girl who was raped by Asian men wrote to the then Prime Minister to tell him that her daughter had been failed by social services and the media and politicians didn’t think that this fact was worthy of further investigation but when the Home Secretary tweeted about “sick Asian paedophiles” he needed to be challenged. When Kat writes about the media being run by trolls she is right and one of the reasons why is because some people in the media have embraced “call out culture” (and its successor “cancel culture”) and will pay people to accuse other people of racism, sexism or other thought crimes and to follow online spats such as Gamergate but pay little or no attention to some victims of violent crimes and their families.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

More money in supporting the gamergate villains than actual victims of abuse? Not to mention that the perpetrators are a protected race by the left because racism?

Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

In journalism there is more money and more career progress in being outraged about the latest offensive remarks made by someone who is naive or naughty or in chasing whatever hashtag bandwagon is trending on Twitter than there is in trawling through reports of criminal trials or official inquiries into institutional failures going back more than twenty years.
A certain newspaper will pay hundreds for an article about being offended by something sexist and employ columnists on tens of thousands to write mainly or solely about feminist issues but the unwritten rule is that you don’t mention R*th*rh*m if you can possibly avoid it and you certainly don’t mention M*sl*ms. Major book publishers will give feminist activists a hundred grand advance for a book about the sexism that women put up with every day but they won’t publish a book about underage girls being gang raped above takeaways for years even though the police, social workers and politicians were repeatedly told about it. Whenever a large trial of a so-called “grooming gang” ends in conviction the entire feminist commentariat goes silent but as soon as a rich white man is accused of inappropriate behaviour feminists are there to call out sexism, the patriarchy and rape culture.
Bad people talk about “grooming gangs” so people who talk about “grooming gangs” are bad so if you don’t want to be seen as bad don’t talk about “grooming gangs”. That’s the logic of the left in journalism and politics and that’s why what an expert told The Times was “the biggest child protection scandal” of our time hasn’t received the same amount or thoroughness of media coverage as Harvey Weinstein or Ghislaine Maxwell, a member of a “grooming gang” it’s okay to talk about in polite society.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Not forgetting Rochdale where the first grooming gang scandal broke, more recently Hull and I think Oxford has also got an investigation underway. The U.K. grooming gang scandal is much bigger than just Rotherham, considering one of the Rochdale perpetrators said in court whilst fighting his extradition “it’s not that big of a deal”. Looking at the media outrage it seems the elite agrees, possibly because they don’t want grooming gangs looked into too deeply incase their own names come up?
There are also those who believe that #metoo was a cover up for Hollywood paedaphilia and Weinstein was a sacrificial lamb. Feminist activists are flunkies for the corrupt and perverted.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

You’re right about Rochdale which was the first case given a lot of media coverage. The cover-up in Rochdale was a scandal and what has happened post-sentencing is another scandal. The revelations about Hull (a police investigation but almost no charges) received almost no coverage. There have already been at least seven trials resulting in convictions in Oxford but most of them received little or no coverage outside the local media. There have been more than 50 trials about sixteen areas with more than 250 people convicted and more than 100 suspects charged in three areas have either already been involved in trials which have been covered by reporting restrictions or are awaiting trial.
There were five convictions in Keighley in the mid-2000s following an investigation called Operation Parsonage but that received little coverage and what coverage there was is hard to find because local news websites were in their infancy. What happened in Keighley should have been a massive scandal because two politicians and a corrupt senior police officer were involved in the cover-up but the recent convictions there received little coverage. I’ve found references in the media to rapes in Rotherham in 2001 where the victim blaming bears some similarities to the Hillsborough cover-up but with the honourable exception of Julie Bindel no feminist cares about the “grooming gang” scandal.
The full story hasn’t been told and given the current state of our media and our politics it isn’t going to be told.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

It’s also possible that there is a degree of classism at play too. The young people most at risk of exploitation by these gangs are typically lower/working class and are generally already known to social services if not already in care. They are deemed troublesome by the authorities and therefore it’s easier for the authorities to dismiss their accusations which tend to be towards seemingly upstanding citizens. Saville followed the same rule book. The “no-one will believe you over me” path. For those whose children are not at risk? Well it doesn’t affect them does it!

Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

You are right about class. These gangs weren’t raping the daughters of New Labour politicians, senior police officers, directors of social services, NHS managers, Guardian journalists or BBC employees. They were raping the daughters of people who didn’t matter in places that didn’t matter.
However, the reason why these victims didn’t get justice wasn’t that victims hadn’t been believed because the people the victims told knew what was happening. They didn’t get justice because if they had gone to court and the jury and the public had heard the victims they would have been believed and the failures of the police and social services and the lies of politicians who claimed to be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” would have been exposed.
These girls were not ignored. These girls were silenced. They were silenced to protect politicians and senior police officers and directors of social services.

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins
2 years ago

The Jay Inquiry found that rape gangs operated with impunity in towns and cities throughout the country for years on end. Politicians, the police and social services were made aware repeatedly but took no action. The offences were statutory rape due to the age of the children but this was ignored. Largely overlooked was the apparent pimping of the girls accompanied by threats, intimidation and physical cruelty. In Oxford, the day before the first day of the Operation Bullfinch trial the local paper ran an article where it provided a profile and photograph of each of the defence lawyers. The paper anticipated correctly the ordeal that the girls would be subjected to in the witness box. The girls ordeal did not end when the case came to court. This was so distasteful that it made the national papers. Notably, The Times.

Former Guardian Reader
Former Guardian Reader
2 years ago

Absolutely but hardly anyone cares. Here are some quotes from one report on a trial of abusers from Telford which ended in the conviction of seven men in 2013:
“A rape victim who was abused by a sex grooming gang from the age of 13 had to endure 12 days of excruciating questions during her attackers trial, it emerged today.”
“The girl, who was 18 when she took the witness stand, was aggressively quizzed about her sex life during the harrowing trial.”
“She broke down after being repeatedly accused of lying by lawyers acting for the seven men on trial and at one point was accused of being ‘naughty’.”
“The victim, who had been sold to men across northern England and the Midlands since the age of 13, was even rebuked by one lawyer for fiddling and told to concentrate.”
“The case even shocked the judge Robin Onions who was left close to despair and one defence barrister later walked out of the trial in disgust over the treatment of another witness.”
“Speaking to The Times, Keir Starmer, QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that he would be holding talks which could lead to young victims taking part in pre-recorded cross-examination sessions rather than being cross-examined in court.”
Judge Peter Ross, who presided over some of the Oxford trials, took early retirement and in an interview with the Oxford Mail he said “I challenge anyone to be left untouched by some of the horrifying stories you listen to”. Many parts of the media have spared their readers the ordeal of being horrified by choosing not to report the stories at all. There are more important things in this world to get upset about such as TV shows and what people say about TV shows on Twitter.

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins
2 years ago

“Hardly anyone cares” is sadly true – even the generously paid professionals whose very position is to care. It’s not just that these professions and Institutions often seem to do a bad, even a terrible job – they frequently achieve the opposite of their appointed role. With an Orwellian twist, the Irony-seal, does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Not all staff in childrens services are generously paid. More like overworked, underpaid and frequently abused by the very people we’re trying to protect. Most young people do not want to be in care and they are very resistant to it, which makes the job much harder. Deprivation of Liberty Orders have to court sanctioned and places in secure units are limited. However if you have the answers I’ll be happy to hear them!

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

The collective failure to protect girls nationwide from the rape gangs has been detailed in the Jay Inquiry. It recorded the scandalous unwillingness of those in authority to address the issue. The management of these tax-payer funded bodies are generously paid and yet individuals do not appear to be held accountable for even their most egregious failures. Your confidence in the Ministry of Justice is surprising. After all, it is under their watch that the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British history occurred – the prosecution of Post Office postmasters. My answer would be that individuals in position of responsibility should be held to account. How is the apparent culture of complacency, indifference and failure going to change if the same people are still running the show?

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

more staff on the frontlines would help and for that better pay. Also more preventative measures, it would be easier if these predators had a lot less lost lambs to pick off. Better parenting and happier home lives so less children need to be in the care system.

Dominic S
Dominic S
2 years ago

Rotherham, Rochdale, Reading, Richmond (Borough), and on and on the list goes.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

What this article is missing is how calling people ists and phobes is used to deflect from terrible writing, destroyed franchises, character assassination, hatred towards fans of the original IPs, and dodging responsibility from commercial failure. Star Wars, Star Trek, Halo, Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings, Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Wheel of Time, and He-Man, are just a scant few examples of either dead or on life support franchises. Just for fun, ask some old fans what they think of current offerings. Do you want to see Luke Skywalker as a bitter, old, cowardly, stupid loser who does not accomplish a single thing and then just dies? Apparently modern entertainment media thinks you should! Most of these articles are one big circle jerk. Sure, its fun to hate on the people who used to spend money on said franchises and feel smug, but it is a bad idea in the long run. Get woke, go broke is a cliché at this point, but you have to give consumers something they want to watch. At a time when money is tight, I can think of an easy place to cut back first.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Absolutely! Disney have destroyed the Star Wars franchise and use manufactured hate (sexism and racism) to deflect responsibility.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I’d love to see an interview with “The Critical Drinker” by Freddie about the film industry and their total dedication to the message. Will Jordan’s* reviews are crudely direct and don’t hold back in criticizing what MSM is producing in the film industry these days. He will also praise a well-made production, highlighting the well-written story, the dialogue, the film quality, the acting, and everything else. But he never holds back on criticizing the trash that is currently being produced.

As for the television series Halo, it will go down in history as the biggest piece of junk ever put on the screen, what a waste.

*Will Jordan is the producer of his YouTube channel “The Critical Drinker”.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Raymond Inauen

“Why Modern Movies Suck – They’re Destroying Our Heroes” by the Critical Drinker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY-GLeHS0Ik

John Sanchez
John Sanchez
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I think this is another comment who confuses story developments different to what they’d have liked to poor writing.
The prequels by George Lucas had unbelievably poor writing and destroyed most characters in that. Yet no one criticises those now.
Unfortunately what seems to work these days is the same film repeated over and over again, fans don’t want surprises, but want the same routine, story structure and plot and anything that is original is instantly dismissed.
Disney clearly have diversity quotas to fill, the only thing that surprises me is that they’ve cast ethnic minorities as villains, previously film studios have been loathed to do so.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  John Sanchez

The worst thing Disney did was to scrap the expanded universe from canon. For all the failings of Lucas as a writer, Lucasarts as a company had ensured that the EU was solid and the writers that created for it were good. The games, the books and the comics were what captured my imagination far more than the movies and Disney has dropped the lot and replaced it with half @rsed movies and tv shows that milk the franchise and the suckers that remain fans. Pft Mandalorians that are good guys! Not in my star wars universe!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

All Disney needed to do was turn the best selling Thrawn trilogy of books into movies and they would have rolled in money. The expanded universe was great and they purged it entirely. Total lunacy.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

To be fair they’d probably rewrite Thrawn to fit the Disney image and ruin that too!

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
2 years ago

I mean, is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that she was a diversity hire? She even said she was! If stating the truth is hateful racism now, then so be it.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

It’s ridiculous though. When you look at the Star Wars universe, the majority of humans are armoured with helmets that don’t get removed (pre Disney)so could be any colour underneath and the majority of the non helmeted ones are related!

Nick Croft
Nick Croft
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Aside from anything else, it’s not as if Boyega or Ingram were the first black actors in the films. Both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi featured Billy Dee Williams in a major role.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Croft

Nor to mention the most famous voice in cinema. James Earl Jones. The best villain in Sifi. Darth Vader. The actual actor only moved around . Who made Darth Vader was James Earl Jones.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Croft

and Samuel L Jackson in the prequels
 my point about all the armoured characters was that there could reasonably be a majority black cast and no-one was aware because they were all helmeted and the only cast members to remove helmets in the Lucas films were pretty much Han and Luke when they snuck on the Death Star and Jango Fett and clones whilst on Kamino.

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago

So many words for a popcorn film franchise series that is long dead! Alone the hopes that pointing out all the failures of the industry at the moment will change something, I wonder. The thrill is over, the glam gone, the rushing excitement of the open seconds of anticipation wiped out. I’m to old to fit in to this world to young to jump to the next. Long live the days gone by, short lived the days to come. Now go away!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 years ago
Reply to  Raymond Inauen

But there’s still money to be made……

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I wonder, they spend so much for very little return.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago

If Alexandr Solzhenitsyn had lived a few years longer (he died aged 89 in 2008) he’d have been horrified at how quickly and how far the world of art, film, literature, and journalism has unravelled.

His words, written in 1970, are perhaps even more relevant now than they were then. Where have all the artists and writers gone?

“But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force – they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.

So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through – then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar TO THAT VERY SAME PLACE, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three?

In that case Dostoevsky’s remark, “Beauty will save the world”, was not a careless phrase but a prophecy? After all HE was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination.

And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today?“

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1970/solzhenitsyn/lecture/

tom j
tom j
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Great quote, it just has to be correct. To be fair, though, everything horrified Solzhenitsyn in his own lifetime. The USSR first, then the USA even more.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

Brilliant article. Somewhat ironic that it’s some proper journalism going after the journalisnts.

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
2 years ago

I hope Kat is disappointed by the comments so far. I have not seen a Star Wars film but feel some well made points will be true – Hollywood always has an eye for the main chance after all.

My appreciation is for the tale, once again, of how journalism has been lost since ‘creating’ content on social media is so much easier for the lazy and hard-of-thinking. That’s the audience it’s after and feeds on – just read some of Christian Broughton’s exhortations to his flock of content-providers at the Independent.

Slowly, slowly, we’re catching on that below the line stuff is less important (yep – this one too!) than the original article. David Mitchell made the same point several years ago in the Observer, picked up at the time in a nicely titled Cardiff University piece headed “I don’t think, I comment”.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Aitch

And I thought I was the only human that has never seen one!

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I’ve probably seen a few trailers – does that count?

David Richard
David Richard
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Aitch

The new normal is constantly being crafted in the media. Below the line is “first contact” with the antagonists.

chris gregory
chris gregory
2 years ago

Great piece, I would add that even in the example you use to illustrate actual racism the YouTube thumbnail is quoting a South Park episode in which the military use black people as human shields. Clumsy for sure but not racist in it’s intent.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  chris gregory

It’s the South Park movie that showed in cinemas in the late 90s as I recall.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

A good article. But what about the simultaneous rise of what is called “explanatory journalism,” pioneered by Vox?

That development, in which the contempt is implicit, is what makes reading The NY Times and other mainstream outlets today so wearying.

Jim R
Jim R
2 years ago

What’s really sad about Star Wars is that George Lucas protected it for so long before selling out. In fact he used the prequels to warn us all about many things that have since come to pass. The real enemy in the prequels are the supposed ‘good guys’, who’s fear and attachment (helped along by the bad guys) cause them to grant the chancellor the powers of a dictator or conspire to destroy the institutions that protect democracy and freedom. As the pandemic wore on and our governments made a mockery of our freedoms I often thought of Padme’s line “So this is how freedom dies, to the sound of thunderous applause”. I still watch the garbage Disney puts out but it’s messages are simplistic nonsense now – often contradicting key themes of the original stories. Note to Disney – once you control the empire, you can’t pretend to be the ‘resistance’ anymore.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

Of course perhaps there should be a mention of Disney erasing John Boyega from the The Force Awakens film title posters for the China release.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

A desperate newcomer to western shores, escaping authoritarianism and squalor, or a rigid theocracy and deprivation of the mind, must, with their first few steps at a bus or train stop, where they are weighing their options in the wonderful West, on seeing the parade of grim and woeful countenances bearing down upon him, that bear the Disney logo, must, or might well, associate Disney with being something to do with the local waxworks museum that titillates passersby with life-like figures of horror mugs and personalities from the past. These newcomers know not of good old entertainment. They’ve never heard of Elvis! And here the modern entertainment industry of the West is leading its masses of subjects, anybody under the sun potentially, down the garden path. Whatever happened to a happy and cheerful future? Do those grim countenances from various posters and billboards of the stars declare that they affect their dire expressions precisely because they have signed on to the right side of history? And are waiting for you to sign up? Is their utter cheerlessness therefore a signal that the future is bleak, because the West is forever ridden in guilt, and the best you can do is do everything you can to pretend song-and-dance men never, NEVER, existed? By pretending so, then the warm, fuzzy feelings will be yours forever and ever. As technology gets more complicated, so does the idea of entertaining and being entertained. How long has Disney been in the game of cheering folk up? As for those gloomy billboards, what effect is that having on the very young today? In the long run, was there any point in making Mary Poppins?

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
2 years ago

The sequels were bad because the people in charge of the creative process were awful. 3 movies made of random crap. The only good things were the actors, regardless of the their color or sex. They are probably still figuring what hell happened. And that was 99,99% of the “hate”. In a universe of hundreds of millions of fans it’s inevitable that a few are racist, but they are vastly outnumbered by the insane. As for Obi Wan Kenobi, we can say something similar. A waste of talent. Visually beautiful but like a californian orange. All looks and no taste.
However, regarding the Ghostbusters’ sequel, thre is some truth about it. Many just rejected the concept from the start. I was one of them and I was later vindicated, the movie is bad. But I was biased. The thing that upset me the most was why retrofit female actors into an old model? Why not do something new? They are very talented comedians, they deserved something unique and not a copy. Atomic Blonde is much better than any of the latest Bond movies, with all that internal struggle idiocy. Because atomic Blonde was fun and made around a female character.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

I agree with your criticism of ‘retro-fitting’. It annoys me no end when a long-standing character who has had a number of hetrosexual liaisons is suddenly gay, or a white charcter becomes black, or a character is revealed as trans. The actors themselves should see this for what it is – tokenism. These actors should be looking for original material with characters which just happen to be gay or black or whatever. But then, money speaks and virtue-signalling is money.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

That linked wikipedia article on Gamergate might be the most biased and twisted narrative of events I have ever read on the Internet. I recommend the author replace it with a more impartial source.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago

I knew nothing about these race wars on twitter, but having watched the first couple of episodes I did comment that the dialogue and scenarios are clunky to say the least: particularly the moment when the Reva character is told by her (very white) superior officer that, whatever her talents, she will never be truly accepted in the elite because of her origins. After the CRT primer, we were then shown that the Empire’s chief crimes these days appear to be environmental – they have moved on from the destruction of entire planets to mining them in a highly polluting way. Still, the gun fights are exciting.

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
2 years ago

I think another aspect of this is that Disney etc actually want to destroy these white male led franchises completely as part of the tearing down of society by cultural marxists. They still want to take as much money out of it as they can, so for the moment they are riding on the coat tails of white Star Wars, white Dr Who, white Bond etc written by white people, acted by white people and paid for by white people and simply replace all the white male actors with black/trans/anyone who is not white and male (and straight) and hope to make a bit more cash before it all goes south.

athena worrier
athena worrier
2 years ago

Not sure why a black storm trooper would be a shock – the clones were all Temuera – a Māori actor
 brown and indigenous even!

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…although I’m old enough to have enjoyed Star Wars from the beginning, I’ve never really been so interested that I’ve even registered this story…but without doubting there are some racist SW fans out there, I wonder if the problem for the real obsessives…the ones who do actually have Aspergers’s or some such, and are genuinely incapable of moderating their views…
…is that as I recall the back-story ALL Stormtroopers are manufactured clones of Jango Fett, or some such…which so far as I see means they should all look pretty much the same. Like Boba Fett…so maybe for some, that is the problem, not race…
I’m confident somebody will correct me if I’m wrong!

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  R S Foster

The initial Stormtroopers that were clones that fought in the prequels get quickly phased out and replaced by ‘normal’ recruits from imperial worlds. This is depicted in the TV series The Bad Batch. So it isn’t unlikely there would be black Stormtroopers. It’s just bizarrely ‘anti-anti-racist’ from a real world perspective to show black people as willing foot soldiers of an explicitly anti-alien authoritarian regime. I expected them all to be evil moustache twirling Englishman!

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

OMG! Old Misery Guts Obi Wan Kenobi. Who would ever have thought that of Obi Wan what with the glint in Alec Guinness’s eye? Was Star Wars not originally just for teenagers? It was like Bond for teenagers and set in space. The kids were alright, the adults now all awry.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Read a newspaper, e.g. The Times or the Telegraph, from fifty years ago and see at a glance how journalism has slithered downhill.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

I’ve always found it strange that in SF shows out heroes land on a technologically simple planet where there is only one settlement which has never contacted anyone else from on or off planet and the racially mix mirrors that on modern-day US. What sort of evolution has taken place here? Do our heroes ever wonder how this came about? No they don’t. I would find it far more credible if they were all black or Asian in appearance (there was a very early ST-THG episode where the locals were all of one race – all black I think). If they producers really wanted to show that they were not racists this is what they would do – why don’t they?

Harry Bo
Harry Bo
2 years ago

Don’t feed the trolls.

Martin Temerov
Martin Temerov
2 years ago

Problem is, there are plenty of examples of people not having a problem with POC characters. Group that is always painted as the worst of all- gamers, had no problem with POC characters in SW: Jedi fallen order. Why? Because they were well written. The sentiment of fans wanting a well written story is true even on the movie side. There is a tweet where people agree with the author that Finn (character of Mr. Boyega) should have been given more importance. Why would the racist fans want that? What this shows is, that people want a quality product above all else. I don’t think that this will ever be repaired. This mindset of “Well my product is not good quality, but it’s the -ists fault that it’s not doing good” is slowly seeping into every corner of media, eg. right now it’s talked about in localization circles. I think and hope we are all on a verge of a big media implosion that gets rid of this Social media Journalism.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Temerov

Star Wars fans were angry that the black character was reduced to a character arc-lacking Jar Jar Binks style joke character. His picture was airbrushed out of movie posters in China because Disney wanted Chinese cash and believes the Chinese are incredibly racist against blacks

Martin T
Martin T
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

It’s not so much about a black character, it’s that the first movie built him up to be an important character, just to be as You say arc-lacking Jar-Jar Binks style character (Jar Jar had a bit of an arc). To be fair, he is still in the Chinese poster but less like one of the main cast and more like important-ish side character (btw Poe Dameron and Chewie are missing completely).

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Temerov

Baldur’s Gate had a similar issue. A recent revival of the franchise included a trans-character. A lot of fans were put off by this because the character dialogue was so painfully woke. However, those who left bad reviews on game sites were literally called transphobes by the developers.
It wasn’t that the character was trans that put players off; in fact in the original game there was a magical cursed belt that changed your character’s sex and no players had a problem with that. In the later expansion, it was simply that insufferable wokeist moralism had been inserted into the game.
Here is an article about it: https://www.mandatory.com/culture/974283-baldurs-gate-developer-states-will-change-trans-character-remove-gamergate-joke

N T
N T
2 years ago

I wish that news did not consist of clowns finding trolls on Twitter to quote, because they’re too lazy to use FB.
The First Amendment exists because journalism has always been this way.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
2 years ago

It’s far more relevant to look at the drug, drink and mental health problems of those working ‘in the MSM’. What you have are a bunch of attention-seekers constantly projecting their own problems onto others. Have been for years.
Then you have the editors prostituting themselves to tax-avoiding old white men, setting ‘editorial lines’ utterly in conflict with the values of the average man and woman.
It’s hardly surprising that the MSM is on the verge of collapse merely kept going by subsidies of billionaires.