It’s been over a year and a half since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the online tension surrounding Rian Johnson’s film has yet to simmer down. Even in the current year, a mere mention of the 2017 flick on social media can prompt a barrage of angry comments and debate threads, and according to a recent survey from social scientist Mark H. White II, the line dividing the movie’s supporters and detractors is defined by more than just personal taste in cinematic storytelling.
In a survey of 5,000 people, White found that Star Wars fans roughly fell into three categories: Prequel Skeptics, who love the franchise but rate the prequels lower than the rest; Saga Lovers, who rate everything highly; and TLJ Disowners, who rate only The Last Jedi very negatively. In the third category, White noted negative reactions to female characters like Vice Admiral Holdo, Rey and Rose Tico, and wrote that sexist attitudes were found to be more prevalent in this particular group:
“Those disowning The Last Jedi tended to score higher on sexism, though, as you can see, not everyone who hates The Last Jedi is sexist. This demonstrates some empirical evidence that sexism plays a role in attitudes toward The Last Jedi.”
The survey also asked fans for their thoughts on political correctness, and to rate their political beliefs on a scale “from very liberal to very conservative.” According to White’s findings, TLJ Disowners are “more likely to believe political correctness is a negative force in society and are less politically liberal.”
As White repeatedly notes throughout his article, the above generalizations do not represent the attitudes and beliefs of everyone who disliked The Last Jedi. All the same, the piece is a worthwhile read for anyone hoping to gain further insight on the heated discourse that continues to define the film’s online presence. Speaking of which, you can expect the debates to only intensify as we edge closer to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20th.