"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" was a — shall we say — controversial entry into the storied franchise, but according to a new study, much of the online backlash against it had nothing to do with the film itself.
The paper by researcher Morten Bay, titled Weaponizing the Haters: The Last Jedi and the Strategic Politicization of Pop Culture through Social Media Manipulation," delves into the online response to Rian Johnson's movie and finds "evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments."
Bay organized the movie's haters into three groups: those with a political agenda, trolls, and "fantagonists" (actual "Star Wars" fans who didn't like the movie itself).
According to his research, "Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively [about the movie] was likely politically motivated or not even human."
In fact, Bay finds 21.9% of tweets analyzed about the movie had been negative in the first place and many of them were posted by Russian trolls.
And to what purpose?
Bay writes: “The results of the study show that among those who address 'The Last Jedi' director Rian Johnson directly on Twitter to express their dissatisfaction, more than half are bots, trolls/sock puppets or political activists using the debate to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality.”
We're shocked. Shocked!
Johnson himself had a similar reaction:
Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy. Read More