Failed Twitter Protest Ignites Conversation on Race
A small group on Twitter interrupted the near unanimous excitement over the new Star Wars trailer with the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII around midday Monday, expressing anger over the casting of several people of color but particularly black actor John Boyega.
What initially began as a handful of users accusing the film of “promoting white genocide” quickly developed into a series of tweets both condemning the racism and praising the diverse cast.
Users @genophilia (“End Cultural Marxism”) and @DarklyEnlighten (“Lord Humungus”) contributed to the early eruption of tweets and once the hashtag began trending it snowballed into hundreds of tweets a minute both supporting the early disapproval and mocking the accusations of anti-white propaganda.
“End Cultural Marxism” said “#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #whitegenocide”, along with referring to director J.J. Abrams as a “Jewish activist”. Though the blatant racism was only echoed within a small minority it was enough to outrage the rest of Twitter.
Most tweets expressed disbelief, openly condemning the suggestion to boycott a film over a cast that is more diverse than in previous films and mocking those who participated in the original intent of the first few tweets.
Some even pointed out the irony of wanting to boycott a film that had cast James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader throughout the series. User “Jeremy Jahns” said “Ok #BoycottStarWarsVII people; this is going to melt your brain, but you need to know…James Earl Jones voiced Vader & Lando is black.”
It is believed the few users that initially began the hashtag were merely trolls attempting to stir up anger, on 4Chan’s “politically incorrect” /pol/ thread, users were posting reactions to the outrage that was caused.
Whether users sincerely intended to boycott the film and spread the movement is unclear, as the hyperbolic racism could have been an attempt to provoke and the attempt was successful. The hashtag quickly gained national attention, as some headlines gave the appearance of an actual boycott threat.
Ironic bigotry or not, it allowed for conversation about race in a larger cultural context.