Researcher Says Russian Trolls Targeted ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images)

Russia wasn’t just messing with the 2016 Presidential Election. It also played a part in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi controversy. According to University of Southern California researcher Morten Bay, Russian actors and bots helped stir up the hater-ade online against Episode VIII, creating a pop culture war that would be a distraction from real-world stuff like, uh…stealing an election.

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Bay’s abstract, entitled “Weaponizing the haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation,” claims it found “evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments.”

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Bay lays out a diabolical plan worthy of the Emperor: “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.

The movie’s backlash was mainly targeted at The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, who took a whimsical approach to the beloved franchise and did Luke Skywalker dirty. A ragtag crew of online rebels even tried to band together to crowdfund their own Last Jedi remake

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Johnson seems to be on the side of Bay’s scholarly findings (which you can read in full here), although he was quick to point out that it was not a matter of liking or disliking the movie.


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