Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi received praise from many, but the Alt-Right is not among them. Disney’s modern take on the Star Wars franchise drew backlash from elements of the extremist ideology. One group claimed to take matters in their own hands. After an oddly negative audience score appeared on Rotten Tomatoes, a Alt-Right Facebook group took credit. The group, Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys (DDTFF), claimed to use a bot to subvert Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings system.
By most accounts, The Last Jedi is a successful movie. Last weekend, it grossed an estimated $220 million. That made its opening weekend the second highest in the franchise. Cinemascore, a review taken from exiting filmgoers, gave the movie an ‘A’ rating. Yet, the Rotten Tomatoes glowing 93 percent positive critic rating strongly contrasted its abysmal 56 percent audience score. It bewildered observers.
The Alt-Right Strikes Back
While some criticism is understandable, the opposition that manifested in sexist, racist, and personally derogatory tones showed signs of the Alt-Right.
On Dec. 18, Alt-Right internet personality Paul Ray Ramsey took to Twitter. Using racist and sexist insults, he attacked actor Kelly Marie Tran. Comparing her to another asian actor, Battlestar Galactica’s Grace Park, Ramsey attacked her weight. He tweeted,
“…The First Order failed to cut off the #Resistance supply line of food.”
Worst, droves of his followers condoned the behavior and added their own insults.
Unfortunately, Alt-Right backlash may have gone beyond race baiting and body shaming. After users noticed Rotten Tomatoes low audience rating, the Alt-Right Facebook group DDTFF claimed credit for the score. According to The Huffington Post, a moderator for the group agreed to an interview and admitted fault. With the aid of a tech savvy friend, they attacked Rotten Tomatoes with a bot.
The bot used Facebook to overrun Rotten Tomatoes with negative user reviews. To add legitimacy, DDTFF used a small number of positive reviews so “their scent can be thrown off.” The unknown moderator admitted the program wasn’t “100% efficient,” and he said a small number of reviews slipped into an unrelated movie.
When questioned on his motive, the self identified Alt-Right moderator claimed patriarchical reasoning. He expressed dismay at the franchise’s inclusion of more female characters. Leveraging sexist belief, he called Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac’s character) a “victim of the anti-mansplaining movement.” The DDTFF moderator expressed fear that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Dameron would turn gay.
The Alt-Right moderator characterized the film as radical feminist propaganda. He told Huffington Post,
“Regarding female heroes: Did you not see everything that came out of Ghostbusters? That is why. I’m sick and tired of men being portrayed as idiots. There was a time we ruled society and I want to see that again. This is why I voted for Donald Trump.”
A Rotten Response
As for Rotten Tomatoes, they dismissed the DDTFF’s account. Despite misplaced The Last Jedi reviews within another movie, the company said they did not find any evidence of tampering. With this in mind, Rotten Tomatoes cited their host of experts and thier monitoring activity. One company representative attributed the claim to an Alt-Right troll attempting to take credit for something he did not cause.
“These things happen from time to time where somebody opportunistically seizes on a moment and says, ‘Oh, that thing? Yeah, I did that.’ We take it very seriously, and we’ve looked at this, and to the best of our investigation so far this looks like legitimate user behavior.”
True or not, Rotten Tomatoes audience score proved an outlier. Whatever the Alt-Right trolls might have thought or done, it’s unlikely to harm The Last Jedi or its talented cast.