Another day, another PR nightmare for Disney-owned Lucasfilm.
Racism is front and center once again, months after John Boyega attacked the company for sidelining Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and days after Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones was seemingly snubbed by the official Star Wars Twitter account on his 90th birthday.
Krystina Arielle was recent announced as the host of The High Republic Show on the official Star Wars YouTube channel. Arielle, an actress who built up her social media following on the popular tabletop gaming series Critical Role, enthusiastically accepted the gig.
But soon after her announcement, conservative-leaning pop culture news site Bounding Into Comics unearthed some angry tweets about “white people” that many fans found a little troubling.
Enter right-wing personality Jack Posobiec, who retweeted the Bounding Into Comics article. The backlash lead to the creation of a trending hashtag on Twitter… #IStandWithKrystina.
Twitter completely rewrote what actually happened to make her the victim https://t.co/wyRaDtbHeP
— Han Poso 🛰️ (@JackPosobiec) January 23, 2021
Many were quick to defend Arielle, including her Critical Role friends…
There are few as bright, badass, and altogether wonderful as @KrystinaArielle, and anyone who tries to step into her ring better know we’re right there beside her.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) January 22, 2021
Don't mistake the power of a pissed off bard who went through the exact same shit last week.
— CRITICAL BARD! ✊🏾 (@CriticalBard) January 23, 2021
While it’s possible that Arielle’s tweets were simply coming from a place of frustration and taken out of context, many Star Wars fans (some black themselves) were calling her out as a “racist” on social media.
The more you hire and support people who spout racist drivel like Krystina Arielle, the more Star Wars fans will slip through your fingers. https://t.co/XmKuRzUQBy
— Just Some Guy (@justsomeguycc) January 23, 2021
The backlash lead to the official Star Wars Twitter account posting about racism and inclusivity, saying that they stood behind Arielle in an official capacity…
Our Star Wars community is one of hope and inclusivity. We do not stand for bullying and racism. We support @KrystinaArielle.
— Star Wars (@starwars) January 23, 2021
(It should be noted that the official Star Wars account has still not acknowledged James Earl Jones’ 90th birthday, despite making multiple posts about Martin Luther King, Jr. the day after. But more on that later.)
And it was after this tweet that things got really weird, and seemingly off-topic.
Twitter is using the Krystina Arielle tweet to call for the firing of Gina Carano.
While some are using the Star Wars tweet to show support for Arielle (or criticize her), many (and I mean many) are taking it as an opportunity to once again call for the firing of Gina Carano.
Carano, who plays Cara Dune in The Mandalorian, is an outspoken conservative who has come under fire for what some believe to be controversial views as well as her unwillingness to kowtow to Twitter outrage mobs.
There’s been a rumor that behind the scenes at Lucasfilm Gina Carano is at the center of a “civil war” between the Kathleen Kennedy / Lucasfilm Story Group / High Republic camp and the Favreau / Filoni Mandalorian camp.
Twitter, being predominately used by people identifying as leftwing or far left, doesn’t like Carano or her views and many users are looking for reasons to get her “cancelled” from the show.
But again, Twitter is not real life. And things said on Twitter often do have real world consequences, regardless of political affiliation. Just ask Star Wars author Chuck Wendig about that.
And to be completely fair, many defenders of Krystina Arielle who know her personally claim she’s also more than her tweets.
Twitter, however, is many people’s first impression and it also tends to present a distorted version of the person tweeting. This is true of anyone on either side of the aisle.
James Earl Jones was seemingly ‘snubbed’ by the Star Wars Twitter account. He’s also a Republican. Was this… intentional?
It’s obvious to anyone paying attention that many working at Lucasfilm current year are incredibly political. This likely includes whoever is running the official Star Wars Twitter account.
A growing sentiment among far left activists working in the entertainment industry is that no voice should be given to Trump supporters, Republicans, or even anyone with a whiff of conservatism about them.
Jones, who is of mixed descent, has also talked about his own grandmother’s bias against white people.
I’d go to school with white kids and Indian kids. I knew they weren’t the devils that she said they were. I had to start thinking for myself, and I had to start understanding the extent to which she was right too. But I can now live in the shoes of racists. When I hear about racists, I know exactly what they’re feeling. I said ‘I’m gonna allow myself to feel that, just for the hell of it.’ So I know what they’re going through.
Despite James Earl Jones having been a speaker at Martin Luther King, Jr. day events, is it possible that his views that non-whites can be racist against whites gotten him put on “the naughty list” by some at Lucasfilm?
The Tran Maneuver?
The Last Jedi caused a massive split in the Star Wars fandom that lead to declining Star Wars merchandise sales and a declining box office for subsequent Star Wars films. This is provable.
What is more subjective is just why many fans didn’t like the movie. Most felt Rian Johnson’s treatment of Luke Skywalker was a travesty. Some said the sudden introduction of new female characters, seemingly just for the sake of there being more female characters in the franchise, was off putting.
The two characters often brought up as a point of contention are Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo and Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico.
The Last Jedi defenders often suggest it’s just misogynists who didn’t like the addition of these characters, when it could effectively be argued that neither one brought anything of long-lasting value to the franchise (Holdo is quickly killed off and Tico is sidelined in the next film) while taking screen time and character development away from the three new leads introduced in The Force Awakens (including John Boyega’s Finn.)
For better or for worse, Rose Tico became the poster child for the failure of The Last Jedi, as toy shelves were cluttered with her action figure for months after the film’s release.
This became conflated with some probable legitimate online harassment against actress Kelly Marie Tran.
But the media’s spin on this was that Tran was harassed off of social media by angry white male Star Wars fans, when it seems more complicated than that.
The narrative with Krystina Arielle might very well wind up being that “angry white boys” attacked a Black host without any provocation, proving that Star Wars fans “are shit” and a good portion of them need to be publicly denounced by Lucasfilm.
In fact, some people are already calling on Lucasfilm to publicly denounce the subsection of anti-The Last Jedi fans known as “The Fandom Menace” …
— WesleySnipesYah (@WesleySnipesYah) January 23, 2021
The situation could also be used to prop up The High Republic initiative, which seems to be struggling with getting many oldschool Star Wars fans on board.
Again, if rumors are to be believed, there’s a game of chess being played by various factions at Lucasfilm right now and the fandom (as well as Star Wars personalities like Krystina Arielle and Gina Carano) could be used by “The Powers That Be” for whatever end goal they desire.
Keep this in mind when the media unleashes a flurry of anti-Star Wars fan articles in the coming weeks and months and years.
You know it’s coming. We’ve seen it before with The Last Jedi, and they’ll use the same plays again because it did sway public opinion of Star Wars fans. For awhile, at least.
Disney NEEDS to Reign in Lucasfilm Employees’ Social Media to SAVE Star Wars.
While I believe that individuals should be allowed to say what they want, as company representatives of Lucasfilm and Disney, their obligation to is make the brand look good while employed there.
And right now, it’s a free-for-all at Lucasfilm and also Marvel Comics.
You don’t see the kinds of controversial tweets from Disney Proper employees because Disney keeps them fairly reigned in.
But the acquired IP? The “stepchildren?” Not so much.
And if Disney wants to help keep the fan goodwill they’ve earned by bringing back Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, they’d do well to keep Lucasfilm employees in check regardless of their personal opinions.
And they need to be even-handed in how they deal with political hot buttons such as racism.
Picking a side… either side… in this highly polarized political climate risks alienating 50% of your audience. That’s 50% of your customers. 50% of your revenue. And Disney can’t afford to lose a single penny right now.
[Source: Bounding Into Comics, Twitter]
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