Here’s something that Star Wars fans might find interesting. A new study from The University of Southern California’s Morton Bay has found that half of the hate and criticism targeting director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi was politically motivated by Russian trolls.
The report is called “Weaponizing the haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation” and I know this may seem a little far-fetched but the Russian objective was said to increase media coverage of the fan-conflicts, “adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society. Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation.”
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. A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls. The paper concludes that while it is only a minority of Twitter accounts that tweet negatively about The Last Jedi, organized attempts at politicizing the pop culture discourse on social media for strategic purposes are significant enough that users should be made aware of these measures, so they can act accordingly.
You can read the report in its entirety here. This is a real report that is backed up by research and facts, which is what makes this all so fascinating. Makes me wonder how many fans unknowingly decided to jump on the bandwagon of Russian trolls.
Obviously not all of the hate came from Russian trolls. Lots of fans formed their own opinion on why they didn’t like the movie, which is fine. It’s good to have different opinions and be able to have respectful debates over them. It’s the true fans that don’t attack and bully one another in the process.
Johnson sent out the following Tweets upon finding out about the report’s publication.