A lot of the criticism of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' actually came from Russian trolls and bots, new study finds

  • Much of the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” backlash came from Russian trolls – not fans – according to a new study.
  • Researcher Morten Bay wrote in a paper that there was “evidence of deliberate, organised political influence measures disguised as fan arguments.”
  • Bay said much of the hatred for the film was politically motivated, a result of the Trump era.
  • “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson said that much of Bay’s writing was consistent with his experience online.

New research suggests that much of the negative reaction to 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” came from Russian trolls and was politically motivated.

While critics loved it, the rest of world seemed quite divided on “The Last Jedi.” Some people liked director Rian Johnson’s experimentation with the story and the world we thought we knew.

But some in the fandom thought Johnson had destroyed what they once loved in a way that couldn’t be repaired.

In the wake of the film’s release, many of those who hated the movie aggressively made their feelings about the film known.

There were racist and sexist comments made toward actors in the film, particularly Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico and left social media.

In early 2018, a mysterious Twitter account emerged, the sole purpose of which was to get the movie remade with a different director. Johnson also experienced harassment online that has continued since the film’s release last December.

A recent study’s findings, published in “Weaponizing the Haters: The Last Jedi” and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation” by researcher Morten Bay, looks into the reactions to the movie online – particularly the negative criticism that’s made the movie controversial within the Star Wars fandom.

In the paper, Bay suggests that much of the aggressive negative criticism isn’t genuine and that some of it isn’t even coming from Star Wars fans. Bay wrote that there was “evidence of deliberate, organised political influence measures disguised as fan arguments.”

“Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively was likely politically motivated or not even human,” Bay wrote, adding that a number of those users appeared to be Russian trolls.

Bay also wrote that the Trump era influenced the fandom, because the themes and messages within “The Last Jedi” are the same as the other Star Wars films.

“The divisive political discourse of the study period and the months leading up to it has likely primed these fans with a particular type of political messaging that is in direct conflict with the values presented in ‘The Last Jedi,'” Bay wrote.

On Monday, “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson tweeted a link to Bay’s research, writing that it sounded like the experience he has had online since the movie came out:

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