Russia is to Blame for at Least Some of ‘The Last Jedi’ Online Hate and Vitriol

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brian-mcgee - October 2, 2018

If you are among the detractors of The Last Jedi, know that you have been riled into a state of hatred by a calculated effort to sow discord in American popular culture. That's right, a new study has discovered that at least some of the online vitriol has been part of a deliberate effort on the part of (presumably) Russian trolls to further divide our culture.

Media/technology scholar, author and journalist Morten Bay, Ph.D, has published a paper titled "Weaponizing the haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation." In it, he studies the effect of internet discourse surrounding The Last Jedi, and how that specifically affected people's perceptions of the film, finding that a substantial portion of the discourse was deliberately slanted against the film...

"The study finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments. The likely objective of these measures is increasing media coverage of the fandom conflict, thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society. Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation."

This is not to say that there aren't those who have grievances and legitimate problems with the film, just that these comments were artificially bolstered by fake accounts designed to make it seem as if the minority was the majority...

"...among those who address The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson directly on Twitter to express their dissatisfaction, more than half are bots, trolls/sock puppets or political activists using the debate to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality."

These are the broad strokes involved in the full paper, which I recommend you check out right here. Those of you furious about the findings of this study should understand that there are many legitimate reasons to dislike the film, but people need to be aware of how easily they're being manipulated into sounding like zealots.

No one wants to listen to "the other side" anymore because they're convinced that their minds can't be changed. When facts are up for debate and people wield opinion as a weapon of legitimacy, the discourse has totally broken down. It's not beyond repair, however, and I hope the haters and the lovers of this film can one day find some common ground.

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