When Star Wars: The Last Jedi was first released this past December, audience reaction over Episode VIII was divided, especially with online criticism running rampant and driving several cast members off of various social media accounts in the face of constant harassment. A new academic study this may have been part of a coordinated effort by Russian online bots to sow division and strife in American society by targeting pop culture.
Researcher Morten Bay in his study Weaponizing The Haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation, examined the online reaction to the Star Wars film. In his studies, Bay discovered that approximately 50.9% percent of negative response on Twitter to movie was from non-automated accounts while only 21.9% was from verified human accounts.
“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,” theorized Bay about his findings. “A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls.”
The study certainly explains the heightened amount of online vitriol directed towards the film and its cast and has come to filmmaker Rian Johnson’s attention as well.
A bit of Morten’s research came out awhile ago and made some headlines – here’s his full paper. Looking forward to reading it, but what the top-line describes is consistent with my experience online. https://t.co/MTRgmPxGgZ
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) October 1, 2018
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
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