They had some experience to draw from. In 2018, Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran deleted her social media posts after receiving racist and abusive messages; I would later describe the decision as saying, “I basically said to myself, ‘Oh, that’s not good for my mental health. Obviously I’ll leave that. ‘”
Three years earlier, John Boyega defended himself against similar attacks, telling an interviewer, “I’m in the movie, what are you going to do about it? Either you enjoy it or not. I’m not saying get used to the future but to what’s already happening. “People of color and women are showing up more and more on screen. It just doesn’t make sense to whiten things.”
Although the attacks are too familiar, the reactions to them have evolved a bit. Lucasfilm’s strong response to Ingram’s abuse was absent in both Tran’s and Boyega’s cases. Similarly, while two very visible Star Wars figures: Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill and The last Jedi Director Rian Johnson, spoke when Tran left social media, both of them did so obliquely, without explicitly calling out the racism he had faced. (Hamill went to Twitter to send “#GetALifeNerds,” while Johnson answered by censoring “a few unhealthy people [who] made a big shadow on the wall “, noting that the” majority AMPA “was fantastic and I guess not racist.)
But there’s also something instructive in Lucasfilm’s more direct response to attacks, perhaps a little blind to the franchise’s shortcomings.
The series is, to date, predominantly white, with the original trilogy, which is still presented as the prime example of what ownership may be, with exactly one non-white actor in a role speaking on screen. (That the first film only has one black actor, that it provides the voice to the bad guy in the movie, is a thing in itself.) Also, this is a fandom that has made a cosplay movement like soldiers without the face of a fascist. regime. The idea that Star Wars is, implicitly, a safe haven for diversity and an example of it is, to say the least, flawed.
So what can be done? If Disney and Lucasfilm want to rid the Star Wars fandom of its toxic elements, surely companies will have to redouble their efforts: denounce fanaticism more loudly and encourage others to do the same, preferably without reference to fictional realities. It will also be key to put more focus on diversity on screen, in increasingly visible and important roles. They would also do well to remind fans that the Empire / First Order is the bad guys, not the aspiring figures.
But these are just the first steps. Star Wars has struggled with the flaws of its fandom for a long time. This week’s tweets and videos are certainly signs that Lucasfilm is trying to address the racism that its actors receive more directly. But ultimately, part of the change will have to come from the fans themselves. Then, perhaps, Obi-Wan can know peace.