A few weeks ago, the #BoycottStarWarsVII made the rounds on Twitter. Media outlets from CNN, Wired, and even TMZ jumped on the story. The media claimed the hashtag started trending because the new Star Wars movie is supposedly anti-white and promotes the social justice warrior culture. This is a culture that feels it must come to the aid of those they classify as disenfranchised by main stream western culture. Typically you see these folks dogpile on sites like Tumblr or Live Journal where they spend hours within their own upper middle class echo chambers claiming to speak for people that normally don’t care.
However, we have to ask ourselves was this a real movement or is the media being duped? Not surprisingly, the media was duped, and it seems they didn’t do their proper research, or for the more cynical folks they actively deceived you. #BoycottStarWarsVII was started as a trolling campaign on 4Chan’s “Politically Incorrect” sub-forum. If you don’t know what trolling is, it’s the act of sowing discord on the internet, normally social media outlets like Twitter or Facebook. The goal normally is to create provoking speech that will outrage users of the platform.
This isn’t the first time 4Chan started a trolling campaign. Around April of last year, “Project Harpoon” launched against the fat acceptance/feminist movement on Tumblr. They would go around and edit photos of overweight women to make them look thin. Another example of trolls fooling the media is when in 2007 the “/b/” board started the rumor that American Teens were huffing their own poop to get high.
When consuming any “news” that is specifically related to a twitter hashtag, readers should be openly skeptical. If you are working for CNN and the crux of your story is about a hashtag being pushed by an account with less than 200 followers maybe you should rethink hitting that publish button. They also need to be wary about their sources especially when it is coming from 4Chan, a known hub of trolling and other politically incorrect behavior.
Finally, the media should be ashamed of taking the voices of a few and implying they are a large faction of fandom. Because it simply isn’t true. Mashable reported 94% of the tweets associated with the hashtag were “expressing outrage over its existence.” I wonder what’s next. Will we see a headline that says #EndTerk because some troll on 4Chan claims the show targets minorities, while presenting no proof? Sci-Fi and fantasy have been at the forefront of positive social commentary and changes over the years (First interracial kiss on TV anyone?) Let’s hope that the media can play catch up and understand that we as fans are individuals and come in many different forms.
I for one look forward to seeing the Force Awakens. If there is to be any real crime or controversy, the movie will be another Episode I. Great, now I just gave myself nightmares…