Yes, a group of no-sex-having, basement-dwelling neo-Nazis who fancy themselves the “alt-right” have once again taken to their favorite medium, Twitter, to air their grievances. This time, their ire is aimed at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with a deluge of mostly anonymous trolls sharing the hashtag #DumpStarWars.
If that weren't enough, a fake chyron claiming that the Rogue One writers branded Trump a “Nazi” was circulated by Jack Posobiec, a prominent pro-Trump conspiracy theorist who also recently made (and then deleted) the claim that the Comet Pizza gunman was an actor (the insinuation being that this is some sort of conspiracy). The bogus chyron has been retweeted and shared by many Trump supporters.
You see, the blockbuster movie, due in theaters Dec. 16, shares many of the franchise’s anti-fascism themes, and back in November, Rogue One writer Chris Weitz tweeted: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human organization),” to which co-writer Gary Whitta replied, “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women.” After getting trolled by neo-Nazi Trump supporters, Weitz followed it up with this tweet, which was retweeted by none other than Mark Hamill, who plays Rebel hero Luke Skywalker:
Both Weitz and Whitta subsequently changed their Twitter avatars to the above Rebel insignia with a safety pin through it—a symbol promoting solidarity with oppressed minorities that resurfaced in the wake of Donald Trump’s shock election victory.
Though Weitz’s and Whitta’s initial month-old tweets were deleted, screengrabs of them were recently dug up on the Reddit board r/altright, with many of its neo-Nazi users calling for a boycott of the upcoming film—and the franchise as a whole. “They are brainwashing kids into hating white men,” wrote one user about the film. “All the villains are white and all the ‘good guys’ are minorities and women.”
The great irony, of course, is that an online hate group (the “alt-right”) that constantly accuses liberals of silencing free speech, often slandering them as “snowflakes” who cower in their “safe spaces,” are here trying to boycott a children’s movie over themes they deem offensive.
Rogue One, which stars the Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones as the leader of a group of multicultural Rebel fighters tasked with stealing the blueprints to the Empire’s planet-destroying superweapon the Death Star, is far from the first film in the series with an anti-Nazi message.The first movie in the franchise, 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, carried a number of explicit anti-Nazi references. The Empire’s stormtroopers were named after Nazi stormtroopers, or Sturmabteilung; the Empire’s uniforms, from Imperial officers’ coats on down to the insignias, were modeled after Nazi SS officers; and the Great Jedi Purge, or the efforts of Sith Lord Darth Sidious to commit genocide against the Jedi Order, parallels the Holocaust. Furthermore, the icy planet Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back is named after Nazi General Hermann Hoth, and filmmaker George Lucas modeled the space battles on World War II dogfights, as well as the film’s final medal ceremony on Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Despite receiving a PG rating stateside, Star Wars initially received a “12” rating—indicating content unsuitable for children—in Germany in part due to parallels between the Empire and Nazi Germany.
Last October, when Star Wars reboot The Force Awakens rolled out its new trailer, online racists—many of whom had Trump-supporting messages in their bios—took to Twitter to spread the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII, calling the inclusion of a black lead character “anti-white propaganda.”
Needless to say, the hacktivism campaign was far from successful. The Force Awakens ended up grossing more than $2.06 billion worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing movie of all time after Avatar and Titanic. The same thing occurred when angry right-wingers went after Hamilton, with the play setting a new Broadway record for highest-grossing week following the online backlash.