The 'Star Wars' Fandom Has A Toxicity Problem

The 'Star Wars' Fandom Has A Toxicity Problem

As a long time "Star Wars" fan I feel it's necessary to point out some of the negative and toxic aspects that have developed within the fandom
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This one is going to get very personal for me. Last week I wrote about "The Phantom Menace" and, while I didn't say it was a good film, I defended some of its aspects and felt that it doesn't deserve the level of hate that it still receives (almost 20 years later) to this day. However, over-the-top "Prequel Hate" isn't the only negative thing to have wormed its way into the fandom.

Over the last few years, I have noticed some severely negative behavior within the fandom ranging from the relatively minor (horrendous "gate-keeping" behavior) to the extreme and terrifying (straight up racism, sexism, and homophobia). What follows are some of the toxic behaviors I have witnessed from fans within the community. I hope to shed light on these problems, so we can fix them and (hopefully) make the "Star Wars" fandom a fun and welcoming place for everyone.

Here's something that almost everyone knows at this point; a plurality of "Star Wars" fans don't like the Prequels and that's fine. I'm not a huge fan of them either, I feel that they were wildly mediocre (except for "Attack of the Clones" which I consider straight up bad). I mostly just appreciate them for their visuals, world building, music, and the fact that two really good "Clone Wars" animated series spun off from them.

However, do you know what I also don't do? I don't use my feelings toward the Prequels to spew venom at the younger kids who did like the Prequels and I don't tell them that they aren't "real" Star Wars fans for it. First of all, no one should ever use the term "not a real fan". Who are you to say what does or doesn't make someone a fan? Second, what does make a "real fan"? What are the set guidelines needed to reach this ridiculously vague and abstract idea? Does one have to only love the Originals? Does one have to swear all of the other films and Expanded Universe (EU) material?

I bring this up because I have seen some fans try to convey they same behavior toward the still unfolding "Sequel Trilogy." While these fans aren't nearly as large in number as those who dismissed the "Prequel Trilogy", they are still there. I see many "click bait" videos on YouTube in bold attention getting letters titled "Why 'The Force Awakens' Sucks" or my favorite "Why 'The Force Awakens' is the Worst Movie Ever Made" (seriously, that last one actually exists on YouTube).

I know opinion is subjective and you can dislike films if you want to and all that, but "worst movie ever made"; really? I can see people having some issues with it (it's not a perfect film, but what is?) or think it's bad (Many "Star Wars" fans, myself included, think it's a good film), but to call it the "worst movie ever made" feels like an opinion that is far removed from reality.

If you do feel that way, I would like to know what makes it more unwatchable than things like "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "The Last Airbender," "Disaster Movie," "Movie 43," "InAPPropriate Comedy," or even most of the recent Adam Sandler films.

It almost feels like certain fans are trying to turn "The Force Awakens" (which did receive critical and financial success) into another "Phantom Menace" level disappointment as a way to tell everyone how the "Original Trilogy" was so superior and how anyone who says that they genuinely think it's a good film are either stupid, lying, or are just saying they like it because they let nostalgia blind them, or just "slaves to the brand."

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are prime examples of this whiny entitled fanboy (if you want evidence of this just watch episodes like "Free Hat," "The China Probrem," or all of Season 20). These are seriously possessive and entitled forms of "gate-keeping" in a fandom that can turn off many younger fans who grew up with the newer material and got them into loving the series in the first place.

You don't have to start liking the films (I'm still not fond of the "Prequel Trilogy"), but don't deprive someone else of their enjoyment of it and certainly don't claim they are "not a real fan" for it. If there was ever a reason to say someone "isn't a real fan" it would be for the following reasons.

The "gate-keeping" behaviors I mentioned in the previous paragraphs are pretty bad, but they don't compare to the absolutely vile act of attacking someone or attempting to keep them from getting into the fandom based solely on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. I thought things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia were beneath the "Star Wars" fan community (or any fan community; I'm looking at you, so-called "Ghostbusters" and "Mad Max" fans), but I guess I was wrong. I started to notice this when the first teaser trailer for "The Force Awakens" was released and it featured the character of Finn (John Boyega) in a stormtrooper outfit.

Shortly after racial slurs and hate speech were thrown at John (who is a British citizen of African descent) and at Disney/Lucasfilm for featuring many people of color (which includes Oscar Isaac) as leads in the film. Later, after the film was released, many threw sexist remarks toward Daisy Ridley after her character Rey was revealed to be the main protagonist (similar to Luke Skywalker) of this new trilogy.

Not only is this behavior uncalled for and just morally wrong, it doesn't make any logical sense coming from, supposed, fans of "Star Wars". Why was the inclusion of a black actor as one of the main heroes a problem? This isn't the first time "Star Wars" has had black actors within the main cast.

The "Original Trilogy" had the lovable and smooth talking leader of Cloud City Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). The "Prequel Trilogy" had the strong and skilled warrior Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). We even have an African American man, James Earl Jones, to thank for bringing giving one of the most iconic film villains of all time, Darth Vader, his iconic and frightening voice. After saying all of this, I literally do not understand where this deep seeded racist reaction to John Boyega has come from considering the long spanning history of black characters and actors throughout the franchise.

I also can't believe the sexism angle, especially since the series gave us strong female characters, such as Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), who were featured heavily as skilled fighters and great leaders (for Padme, these characteristics are shown more in the animated "Clone Wars" series than they are in the "Prequel Trilogy").

Over the last few months, I have witnessed the franchise receive Islamophobic slurs and hate speech from "fans," because the actor who portrayed Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is of Middle Eastern and Islamic descent.

The novel Star Wars: Aftermath received hate due to the inclusion of a gay character. I guess all of this was a symptom of the current political climate we are in, but nothing justifies this level of racism, sexism, and overall hate speech. It has gotten so bad that these "fans" have started a boycott movement called #DumpStarWars over the inclusion of all of the characters that just happen to not be cisgender, heterosexual, white men (and if you've checked the box office returns from the newest "Star Wars" films, you can tell that the boycott is totally working... I hope you can imagine me saying that in a sarcastic tone).

These diverse and varied characters are good for the series, because they help bring in entirely different demographics and can inspire new fans and give them role models. A Muslim can see Bodhi and view him as a hero of the Rebellion, instead of the damaging image of seeing another Muslim depicted as a stereotypical terrorist or villain. A young girl can get into "Star Wars" by imagining herself as the main hero through Rey in the same way many boys saw themselves as the main hero through Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Many young black people, Asian people, and various people of color can see themselves as heroes who make up the important core protagonists of the film; not just as extras, villains, or one dimensional sidekicks to the white lead.

I wrote this because I love "Star Wars" and I love the fandom. Despite everything I just said, the fandom (like any) is mostly made up of good, well-mannered, and kind people. For a prime example of this, look no further than the cosplay group called the 501st Legion. They do amazing fundraisers and charity work for various communities.

Most of my closest friends are die-hard "Star Wars" fans as well, but they are also good people (accept for you, Robert! You know what you did!). That's the real reason I wrote this article. There are kind and tolerant people in the fandom who are necessary now more than ever. We need good people like this to drown out all of the ranting, gate-keeping, and straight up hate coming from certain fans. These "bad fans" are spoiled, entitled, and whiny "snowflakes" who want to force the series to serve them and only them.

If you want a better look at this entitled point of view I suggest you watch Bob Chipman's, a.k.a. "The Moviebob", video called "The Phantom Menace 13 Years Later" on YouTube; it's a really good video. They feel it belongs to them and enjoy hurting others and love the idea of keeping women, homosexuals, and people of color out of "their series."

They are wrong. "Star Wars" is a very human story about fighting for freedom and oppression. It's about the struggle against hatred and how it can cause pain to many innocent people. "Star Wars" is a series that brought me great joy as a child and I want to see the newer generations enjoy it.

I want all people, no matter your race or gender or sexual orientation, to see something important and personal. I want to see it improve their lives and bring them all joy. I want everyone to see these diverse people bring their diverse level of experiences to the franchise, so new and interesting stories can be told within this universe. This is the power that art like movies, books, and video games hold. They can inspire and influence our lives in ways we rarely expect. All I want is to see any human being receive the same experience I had with "Star Wars" and I hope I'm lucky enough to share my experiences with him or her. May the Force be with all of you!

Cover Image Credit: youtube.com

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle: Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay.

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying. What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense. I've heard it all, "He was cute, why didn't you like him?" "You didn't even give him a chance!" "You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous; however, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well. Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

THIS IS CRUCIAL FOR FINDING A NICE GUY. It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault. If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs." Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him. If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it. He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush. Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling. :)

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The 2020 Election: The Democratic Party Part 1

We all have the duty of becoming politically conscious in order to wisely act on the crucial decision that lies ahead of us in the very near future. In this unbiased, multi-part series you'll be able to get a brief look into both the 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

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The race for the 2020 presidential election is on the rise as 24 Democrats and 2 Republicans have been officially confirmed as potential candidates. Ranging from California to New York, we may recognize "big names" such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, however, it's important to get to know all the candidates in order to have a clear idea as to who you want to be leading the country for the next four years.

*Due to the high number of Democratic candidates, they will all be highlighted over the course of three articles throughout the coming weeks.

1. Joe Biden

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Serving as the Vice President alongside Barack Obama and former senator of Delaware, Joe Biden has already ran for president twice, making the 2020 election his third and what he considers, final time. Biden hopes to strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage to a more livable standard. He also hopes to restrict the purchase of guns through background checks as well as being in support of a ban on assault weapons.

2. Bernie Sanders

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Having served on both the House of Representatives and The Senate, Bernie Sanders has caught the attention of many Americans due to his push for universal healthcare with the idea that "All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital." As well as making public secondary-education schools tuition-free in a mission to help lower student debt. Sanders believes in the threat of climate change as his campaign includes the future of passing a Green New Deal to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy as well as ban fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. Bernie Sanders additionally believes in abolishing the death penalty, reforming the police system, and ending the discrimination of applicants based on criminal history

3. Beto O'Rourke

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Beto O'Rourke has represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 2013 - 2019. He has a noteworthy platform towards business which includes increasing federal funding towards the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that would aid in creating competitiveness with America's small- and medium-sized manufacturers against global markets. O'Rourke also believes in the idea of increasing voter numbers no matter what the political party may be as well as help ex-convicts regain their right to vote after serving their sentences. In doing so, he plans to create more outreach to the younger generations by ensuring pre-voter registration for all 16 and 17 year olds. Moreover, Beto pushes for a change in creating new term limits for the US House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

4. Kamala Harris

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Kamila is a lawyer and has served as the junior US senator and Attorney General of California. While she is new to the presidential election process, Harris aims to increase teacher pay with the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history with a $13,500 raise." Moreover, using her specialization in legal matters regarding sexual assault, Kamila hopes to protect Planned Parenthood as well as women's reproductive rights. Harris states that as President, she will eliminate the wage gap between men and women as well as racial disparities involving maternal health care. Harris additionally hopes in protecting LGBTQ+ rights by not only passing an Equality Act to fight against discrimination in schools, work, and public, but appoint an Attorney General with the purpose of investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.


5. Elizabeth Warren

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Growing up in rural Oklahoma in a low-income home and eventually serving as a US senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is described as a progressive candidate who's campaign is working towards "universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All." Warren hopes to build the middle class up and defend unionized jobs by allowing 40% of board members to be elected through employees. Moreover, Warren is in favor of strengthening the military as well has bringing troops home from overseas, as well as banning private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana. She additionally has stated to end Washington corruption by banning lobbying along with preventing Senators and Congressman from trading stocks whilst in office.

6. Cory Booker

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Attending Stanford and later graduating from Yale Law School, Cory Booker became the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Booker's main concern is to end gun violence, ban assault weapons, and bring his battle to the attention of the NRA to create "liberty for all." His 14-part plan includes creating a more extensive process to obtain a gun, one of which would including an FBI-issued background check as well as requiring "micro-stamping" on all guns to ensure the ability to trace back the source of ammunition used in crimes. Moreover, Americans seeking a gun license would have to apply for a 5-year license after which would require renewal. Booker has also proposed the idea of providing newborns with savings accounts that would accumulate until they reached 18. He states that this plan would help settle the gap between the classes by offering lower-income households a nest-egg averaging at about $46,000. He also aims to make contraceptives employer-covered and repeal the punishment for an abortion outside of incest, rape, or for the woman's health.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand

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From New York, Kristin Gillibrand became a US Senator in 2009, becoming the youngest person in the Senate at the time. Her 2020 platform includes creating universal healthcare for all that would cover both mental and reproductive health in addition to it's regular standards. Her stance on Medicare For All also stands for reducing the price of prescription drugs as well as aiding in the process of overcoming addiction. Gillibrand also aims to introduce postal banking which would allow those without checking accounts have the opportunity to take out small loans through their local post office. Moreover, she believes in not only the legalization of both medical and recreation marijuana, but in erasing all past convictions from it. Kristin Gillibrand stands with strengthening the middle class by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, creating paid medical and parental leave for all Americans, and fighting for the right to form unions and protect worker's rights.

8. Amy Klobuchar

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Amy Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician who currently serves as a US Senator from Minnesota. Klobuchar's campaign fights for providing every household in America with high-speed internet by the year 2020 along with aiding farmers by increasing their access to loan programs as well as raising farm bankruptcy debt levels. Moreover, she hopes to better the education system by increasing teacher pay and putting more money towards public schools. As well as increasing the federal Pell Grant and tuition-free one to two year community and technical colleges. Amy Klobucher believes in re-instated the DREAM Act to grant citizenship for foreigners who immigrated to America as minors. She supports immigration reform as well as ending the cruel separation and treatment of families on the lines of the border and creating a refined pathway to gain citizenship.

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