Racism and bullying: when fans can’t keep quiet


Bullying and racism isn’t a new reality for Star Wars fans. While most fans don’t condone it, others feel it’s necessary to blast the cast and crew of the films.

I wrote an article on the harassment that has gone on since the Disney buyout. Most criticisms have been thrown at Disney for making Star Wars denser because of their family-friendly image. However, I didn’t cover the bullying racism aspect as much.

Let’s begin with the casting of John Boyega as the Stormtrooper, Finn. Boyega’s casting as the first-ever black lead in a Star Wars film caused a massive stir. When the first trailer showed Boyega dressed in Stormtrooper armor in late 2014, people were quick to criticize a black stormtrooper.

When a stormtrooper has their helmet on, you can’t tell whether they’re alien or human! You can’t even tell what the color of their skin is when the bucket’s on their head! A rational fan would ask themselves why a black stormtrooper is an insult. For anyone who has seen the original films, do you recall ever seeing an Imperial Stormtrooper take off their helmet?

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Not only is this racist toward Boyega, but it also paints a bad image of what non-Star Wars fans think fans of the franchise are. No one kicked up a fuss when Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace. Jackson is a black actor playing a Jedi, and no one criticized his casting. Also, Mr. Boyega said the criticisms towards his character being black didn’t bother him.

Diego Luna’s portrayal of Cassian Andor was applauded by Spanish fans. The reason was because he kept his Mexican accent throughout the film. We also saw veteran black actor Forest Whitaker play Clone Wars character, Saw Gerrera. Now, I don’t understand why people didn’t complain about an A-list black actor playing a Jedi. Yet, they complained about someone who wasn’t a black A-lister in relations to Boyega’s casting as Finn.

There’s the case of the Asian characters. The two most notable Asian actors to work in Star Wars is Donnie Yen and Kelly Marie Tran.

As I mentioned in my last article, Tran has been the constant victim of bullying and racism. The bullying became too much, and she quit Instagram. She explained she changed her Asian name to an English name so she could get work and to avoid racist remarks. She’d seen the struggles her parents went through when they arrived in America years earlier. They didn’t want their daughter to suffer the same racist bigotry they did.

Tran became a target because fans despised her character, Rose Tico. I don’t understand why. She should be applauded for becoming the first Asian woman to play a lead role in Star Wars. The backlash came because she was an Asian-American actor in a Star Wars movie.

Photo Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Does anybody remember Donnie Yen? He starred as Chirrut in Rogue One. He’s also Asian! No one was racist towards him for his role. Why shouldn’t Kelly have been treated with the kindness? And don’t say you hate her character!

Here’s a hard-hitting question for everyone. Why do people bully and racially abuse others? Do they get a rise out of making people perceive terrible thoughts about themselves? No. They’re selfish people who want to hide that they’re suffering. Bullies and racists are just people who have had massive injustices done to them.

For bullies, it could be from a traumatic childhood. For racists, they’re raised to fear certain cultures for no reason. No person with a different culture than someone else should be feared. It’s the actions of others that need to be held accountable.

Just because these trolls have suffered injustices, doesn’t mean they should take out their anguish on other people. No one deserves to be treated differently from someone else. Life isn’t one huge movie or fairy tale where almost everyone shares the same views.

Terrible things happen in the world. People want someone to blame to make themselves feel safe. Taking fear and hatred out on an actor who is doing their job is never okay.

Bullying played a huge role in young Anakin Skywalker actor Jake Lloyd’s decision to quit acting. In 2001, the actor quit because the torment from jealous classmates became too much. He refused to watch any Star Wars film because he deemed them too creepy. Also, Jake destroyed all the Star Wars memorabilia he owned. To make matters worse, he committed a range of small crimes that resulted in jail time. Lloyd was later diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

Another celebrity who has faced bullying is Ahmed Best, best known for his role as Jar Jar Binks. After the release of the prequels, Ahmed suffered terrible verbal abuse. This abuse came from self-proclaimed fans. They called Jar Jar, the worst character in Star Wars history. To make the situation worse, they said Best should kill himself. The character isn’t the greatest, but the actor isn’t to blame.

What makes Best’s story so tragic is he almost followed through with killing himself. However, when his son was born, he realized he couldn’t allow people to bring him down and that his son needed him. Since all this happened, he has reprised his role as Jar Jar in the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, many LEGO Star Wars products, and Robot Chicken.

Now, I’m speaking to those trolls out there, who are tearing these Star Wars alumni apart. Would you like it if people were calling you every name imaginable? How would you like if people were telling you to kill yourself? What if someone insulted your friends and family? Also, why insist on hiding behind a fake profile? People, let alone actors don’t deserve to be ridiculed for doing their jobs.

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Finally, I would like to say to all the trolls out there, the world doesn’t revolve around you. No one will agree with your hatefulness. If you don’t like something, keep it to yourselves. No one wants to listen you drag good people’s names through the dirt.