Bethany Lacina, the Associate Professor of Political Science who once published a questionably researched report citing sexism and racism as the reasons for the massive backlash against Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has published a new report which falsely equates backlash against Marvel’s Captain Marvel with alt-right viewpoints.

On March 15, Lacina linked to her new study, published in The Washington Post, titled “The smash success of ‘Captain Marvel’ shows us that conservatives are ignoring the alt-right:

Lacina begins her report by stating that several movies have been the targets of boycotts, all of which were led by the ‘alt-right’:

“Captain Marvel” succeeded despite right-wing calls for a boycott. Alt-right movie outrage has targeted several films now. Right-wing activists called on moviegoers to skip “Ghostbusters,” “Wonder Woman,” “Black Panther,” “Aquaman,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the four newest “Star Wars” films — all films in which the lead wasn’t a white man. The fact that these boycotts have fizzled reveals the alt-right’s limited influence on conservatives offline.”

It is immediately apparent from Lacina’s opening thesis that the report is based on faulty research. Fans did not call for a boycott of Wonder Woman, instead garnishing the film, lead actress Gal Gadot, and director Patty Jenkins with lavish praise and an $821.8 million box office (in fact, the only calls for banning the film came from countries that took issue with Gadot’s Israeli heritage, such as Tunisia and Lebanon).

While a fringe group of fans opposed to “SJWs”, Down With Disney, called for a boycott of Black Panther and were mostly met with derision and mockery, the media coverage of boycotts against Black Panther revealed that the largest boycott campaign was a false , non-existent campaign wrongly attributed to black female fans.

A quick internet search for boycotts of Mad Max: Fury Road cite only one instigator, blogger Aaron Clarey writing for the self-professed neomasculine blog Return Of Kings, rather than a large group of alt-right activists.

Lacina also fails to recall that Solo: A Star Wars story not only featured a white actor, Alden Ehrenreich, as the film’s lead, but that the film also faced some of the most intense scrutiny of the Disney-era Star Wars films.

Unsurprisingly, Lacina goes on to provide a vague definition of ‘the alt-right’, before citing internet movements GamerGate and ComicsGate as prominent alt-right campaigns and stating that media criticism is a gateway to the alt-right:

“The alt-right label is applied to a variety of causes, from men’s rights activists to neo-Nazis to Internet pranksters. One segment of the alt-right opposes liberal politics in stereotypically male-dominated parts of popular culture, such as video games and comics. The best-known instances are Gamergate and Comicsgate.

On the Internet, the alt-right harasses journalists, actors, creatives and fans and tries to influence public perception of the quality and popularity of media projects. Criticisms of popular culture are an entry point to the alt-right, offering fun subject matter and a jokey culture that obscures commentators’ far-right politics. People with extreme alt-right ideals build camaraderie with newcomers who do not yet share their views.”

GamerGate’s relation to the alt-right has been hotly debated across the internet, but a previous Bounding Into Comics piece provides evidence that the ComicsGate movement is made up of a diverse group of comic book fans who stand in opposition to the industry over product quality and treatment of fans, rather than being based on any political association or racial supremacy. In response to Lacina’s tweet linking the study, many ComicsGate-affiliated fans spoke out against her disingenuous classification:

To Lacina’s credit, the report does back up her claim that a supposed ‘alt-right boycott’ had no effect on the movie, though the data used is questionable as a definitive source. In the study (which can be viewed in full on Lacina’s personal website), Lacina focuses solely on geographical, media-market Google search metrics regarding four different films, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman, to prove that said boycotts have no effect on ‘conservative consumers.’ However, this data only measures general interest in these specific areas, rather than actual ticket sales or demographics.

While Captain Marvel has been an unequivocal financial success with a $575.5 million gross worldwide, the data cited by Lacina does not account for numerous factors which may impact ticket sales, such as whether or not Carol Danvers’ appearance in the upcoming Avengers: End Game was a deciding factor in seeing Captain Marvel, how many people bought multiple tickets as a political statement, or if the removal of competing films during opening weekend pushed audiences towards Captain Marvel. With reports circulating that screenings of Captain Marvel are shown to empty theaters despite record sales, it appears to be far too early to make any conclusive arguments regarding Captain Marvel’s success.

Shockingly, after falsely conflating backlash against Captain Marvel with alt-right beliefs, Lacina equates those who participated in the ‘pop-culture tantrum’ with the recent perpetrator of the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand:

What do you make of Lacina’s comments and “analysis?”

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  • About The Author

    Spencer is a contributing reporter for Bounding Into Comics. Unabashed anime fan, life-long comic book reader, avid video game player, and in need of a separate house for all of his figures. Trying to sift through the noise to bring the readers the facts.

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