After my previous “Call to Arms”, you can imagine my surprise and elation when Jar Jar actually seemed to have a substantial lead when his turn came up. And yet, for nearly a week after the match’s conclusion, the final results had yet to be posted on the official website in spite of the competition’s continuation. Only on April Fool’s day was Jar Jar declared the winner, and only when there needed to be a contestant to go against Captain Rex (as of this writing, they’re switching off leads, though by the time this sees print a winner will have been decided)
Something is rotten on the site of Star Wars.
|"It sure is stinkowiff..."|
From the information I have gathered, Jar Jar’s lead came from three different camps. The first are fans like myself who are grateful for the chance to lift up the most unfairly maligned fictional character in cinematic history onto our shoulders as our champion. The second are internet trolls, mostly from the infamous 4Chan website, who wish to revel in the chaos they think will occur if the most unfairly maligned fictional character in cinematic history wins what is essentially a glorified popularity contest. The third faction, which actually bleeds into both of the other two, are the people who just don’t like Padmé for - and this is going solely off of the wording of their comments - disgustingly sexist reasons.
That third faction will be addressed elsewhere in the coming months – I’ve been meaning to write an article celebrating the women of Star Wars for a while but have lacked the time to do it proper justice. For now, let’s focus on faction two.
|"So...I heard you like Mudkips *SMACK!*"|
Frankly, in spite of their irreverent and disrespectful motives, I shall gladly accept their help as long as they’re simply voting in numbers. But here’s the controversy: 4Chan rather famously used voting scripts to rig other similar online polls, and was even caught doing it earlier in this year’s “This is Madness” both to build up Ahsoka and then to ensure Luke beat her (when the scripts were deleted from the vote tallies, Ahsoka had legitimately won).
Here’s the thing; After the scripting was discovered in the Ahsoka/Luke wild card match, the official website put anti-scripting measures into place for the remainder of the competition. Now, it is entirely possible that the trolls found a way around that as well. It is possible and in fact likely that the major delay in announcing this winner was based on filtering voter fraud, since Jar Jar ended up winning anyway.
But given the atmosphere in geek culture regarding Jar Jar for the past decade-and-a-half, can you blame me for having just a smidge of paranoia?
At the end of the day, it really isn’t about what people are doing, but the why. Why is this even happening? Why is there still this schism? Why do people act and react this way? Why is it an accepted part of geek culture to become the bullies that tortured most of us growing up? And this isn’t just about Star Wars, this is about fandoms in general – when did being a fan of something become less about loving a work and more about tearing down anything that seems even remotely different from it even in the same franchise? When did reveling in mocking ignorance of a work replace intellectual discussion? Why is the former often even confused for the latter?
When did a work of art become forever labelled objectively bad just because some people said they didn’t like it for reasons they can’t even fully articulate?
|"There's some prequel-bashers camped out on the Canyon Dune Turn!"|
If what people say is true – if these destructive, hypocritical, knee-jerk people are truly the vocal minority, then the majority needs to get a hell of a lot more vocal right now. Because while we’re all ignoring the whiners, the media is not. The studio heads are not. The people who dictate where the stories go and what gets slapped on the merchandise are not. And most importantly, the people who write the history books are not. And this is the age of the internet – the history gets set in stone far quicker and with worse consequences than ever before.
I’m still on Team Jar Jar. But I’m also on Team Padmé. I’m on Team Anakin, Team Qui-Gon, Team Grievous, even Team Elan Sleazebaggano. Because I love these movies. They’re the ones I prefer when I’m forced to make that choice. But if you ask me, I’m going to tell you why I love these movies, and I’m going to do it solely by what is in them – not by what some other films may be missing in my opinion. Why can’t we all just do the same? I’m not saying don’t criticize, but make it constructive, compassionate, and own it when it’s clearly subjective.
|"For the last time, just because I'd support you in a popularity contest, it does NOT mean I want Deathsticks. Or Tasty Wheat."|
Because, really, there’s already too much negativity in the world. Do we really need in in our escapes?
***EDIT 4/3/2015 - Jar Jar lost, just barely, to Captain Rex. I was never a huge fan of troopers in general, though I do find Clone infinitely more interesting than Storm. I would have liked to see Jar Jar trounce Han Solo, and I'd rather have a full-on I-III character in the running instead of simply a spin-off character from that era (and Clone Wars is a spin-off - an extremely well-made and worthy spin-off, but a spin-off nonetheless). But if Rex is the champion of the Republic era, then I will continue to back him.***