Update: 20/10/2015, 17:03:
Posters on the “Politically Incorrect” sub-forum of image board 4chan are claiming that the #BoycottStarWarsVII movement is an elaborate trolling campaign, designed to elicit shock and outrage from “SJWs” (“social justice warriors”).
Tracking the usage of the hashtag shows the earliest uses of it in its current context stems from a troll going by @DarklyEnlighten. Corroborating these posts against 4chan’s archive doesn’t suggest a link.
While the intention of @DarklyEnlighten’s original tweet isn’t clear, the hashtag has since been jumped on by others making racist and anti-semitic comments.
In case you (somehow) missed it, the full trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived overnight. It’s pretty cool, and has fuelled a morning of nerdy discussion in the WIRED offices over its intricacies and implications.
But its depiction of a heroic black man — British actor John Boyega as Finn, a former Stormtrooper seemingly looking for redemption — has outraged a vocal minority. The hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII is trending on Twitter with some saying the film is “anti-white” and others making anti-semitic comments.
“End Cultural Marxism” said “#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #whitegenocide.” The account later followed up with an assertion that Episode VII was “basically ‘Deray in Space’,” a derogatory reference to American civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, and that “Jewish activist JJ Abrams is an anti-white nut.”
The vocal minority sincerely using #BoycottStarWarsVII is just that — a minority. The hashtag is equally being used to deride those actually calling for a boycott.
And the very idea of a racist Star Wars boycott remains laughable. It is, as Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig put it “like boycotting the sun. It will do nothing. The sun will keep on shining. Its heat will remain radiant and globally present.” And Wendig’s got experience dealing with these kinds of online attacks — a similar boycott was called for Aftermath for daring to feature gay characters.
While Boyega is getting the brunt of the hostility, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac — who play the mysterious Rey and roguish X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, respectively — are also being attacked on social media.
Star Wars was never an all-white universe. Although 1977’s A New Hope was troublingly devoid of non-white faces, James Earl Jones has always provided the voice of Darth Vader, and Billy Dee Williams appeared as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The prequels, oft-maligned as they are, did better with representation, notably with Samuel L. Jackson as Jedi Master Mace Windu, but also the likes of Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka and Maori actor Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett.