Did All Those People Really Hate The Last Jedi?
Or was Russia behind the loathing?
How much did movie fans hate Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
Perhaps not as fiercely as social media might suggest, according to a US academic study, which found half the negative tweets about the 2017 movie came from bots, trolls or political activists, some of whom may be Russian.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi attracted a lot of online criticism after it’s release in December of last year.
A lot of the complaints lashed out at the roles given to women and actors of colour in the film, others were upset with the death of Luke Skywalker, others still were annoyed with the choice of font in the credits. That last one isn’t a joke by the way, people complained about the font in the credits.
A study by University of Southern California research fellow Morten Bay, released on Monday, analysed the language, Twitter handles and IP addresses of more than 1200 tweets sent to Last Jedi director Rian Johnson's Twitter handle in the seven months after the film's release.
"Overall, 50.9 per cent of those tweeting negatively was likely politically motivated or not even human," Bay says in the paper.
It does of course mean that the other half of the tweets were real, but if you’ve ever met a Star Wars fan you know their favourite thing is Star Wars and their second favourite thing is complaining about Star Wars.
He says they appeared to be using the debate around The Last Jedi "to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality".
"A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls," Bay says.
Disney did not respond to a request for comment on the research but Johnson said on Twitter the overall findings were "consistent with my experience online".
Bay says the likely objective is to increase "media coverage of the fandom conflict, thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society".
A US Senate panel has been examining reported Russian efforts to influence US political public opinion before and after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.
Next time you’re online and start to engage in debate about whether or not Poe is a dunce, just take a moment to consider that you might be yelling at a Russian robot; which in it’s own way is very Star Wars-y.