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TLJ Targetted by Russian Trolls
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MrNexx
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 7:07 am    Post subject: TLJ Targetted by Russian Trolls Reply with quote

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-last-jedi-was-targeted-by-russian-trolls-study-says-1148475

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OCTOBER 01, 2018
4:31pm PT by Graeme McMillan
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Negative Buzz Amplified by Russian Trolls, Study Finds
An academic paper finds that half of criticism aimed at director Rian Johnson was politically motivated.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' (2017)

An academic paper finds that half of criticism aimed at director Rian Johnson was politically motivated.
Did Star Wars: The Last Jedi destroy the franchise and permanently rupture the fandom as its critics (melodramatically) have accused it of doing? According to a new academic paper by researcher Morten Bay, the answer is clearly no.

The paper, titled Weaponizing The Haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation, examines the online response to 2017’s Last Jedi, a movie that has come to be considered controversial amongst the larger fanbase of the franchise.

Bay suggests that reputation may not be earned, and instead “finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments,” as he writes in the paper’s abstract. He continues, “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. Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation.”

The paper analyzes in depth the negative online reaction, which is split into three different camps: those with a political agenda, trolls and what Bay calls “real fantagonists,” which he defines as genuine Star Wars fans disappointed in the movie. His findings are fascinating; “Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively [about the movie] was likely politically motivated or not even human,” he writes, noting that only 21.9% of tweets analyzed about the movie had been negative in the first place.

"A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls," Bay writes of the negative tweets.

Moreover, he suggests, complaints about Lucasfilm’s reported politicization of the franchise by many of the disaffected fans says more about the fans than it does Disney or Lucasfilm’s treatment of it. “[S]ince the political and ethical positions presented in the new films are consistent with older films, it is more likely that the polarization of the Trump era has politicized the fans,” Bay argues. “The divisive political discourse of the study period and the months leading up to it, has likely primed these fans with a particular type of political messaging that is in direct conflict with the values presented in The Last Jedi.”

In response to a tweet announcing the release of the paper, Last Jedi director Rian Johnson shared the tweet, adding, “Looking forward to reading it, but what the top-line describes is consistent with my experience online.”
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Pel
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those darn Rooskies! Razz


It's just not possible that the filmmakers turned out a bad film. Nope. Can't be. Obviously the work of malicious haters.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
Those darn Rooskies! Razz


It's just not possible that the filmmakers turned out a bad film. Nope. Can't be. Obviously the work of malicious haters.

Yeah, because it’s not possible Russians didn’t like the film either.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-last-jedi-was-targeted-by-russian-trolls-study-says-1148475

Russian meddling in the last presidential election is a fact, but there is no point in discussing that here. This paper's supposed claim that Russians also participated in amplifying politically charged online bashing of TLJ towards sowing general American disharmony is something I had never considered or imagined. Seeing as how that would negatively impact Star Wars fandom, I can see how that might seem like a topic we should discuss here. I have no issue with the skeptical joke replies so far but I did receive a PM expressing concern about this thread.

Hollywood Reporter is generally reliable, so I followed the article's link to the paper and downloaded it. I'll read it when I get a chance and chime back in. In the mean time, I remind everyone about the Forum Guidelines to not discuss politics. If things move in bad directions I will have to lock this thread.
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TauntaunScout
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well they didn't influence me. I liked TLJ more than I liked TFA.
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thedemonapostle
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i actually had to look up what everyone was talking about in reference to the political tones of the movie. seems i didnt grab any of them while i was watching it.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hollywood Reporter, meet Larry Correia.

Get popcorn. With extra salt.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:37 am    Post subject: Re: TLJ Targetted by Russian Trolls Reply with quote

MrNexx wrote:
...In response to a tweet announcing the release of the paper, Last Jedi director Rian Johnson shared the tweet, adding, “Looking forward to reading it, but what the top-line describes is consistent with my experience online.”

Weaponizing the Haters: The Last Jedi and the Strategic Politicization of Pop Culture Through Social Media Manipulation

This is a direct link to the page with Dr. Mortan Bay's paper. It's a 38-page document, but the first two are a webshot and title page, and the last eight pages are the ample bibliography for all the citations, so it's a 28-page read. I took a break from watching Star Trek on my lunch today to get a chunk of the reading done and finished it tonight, along with some outside research about the study. I found it to be a quite informational, interesting, and disturbing look at "fandom". In the next post are the complete Abstract and Conclusion for an abridgment, but I'll summarize some thoughts here.

Almost 1000 Twitter users who tweeted to TLJ Director Rian Johnson from 12-13-17 to 7-20-18 were analyzed and evaluated by criteria to be positive, negative, or neutral. I was a part of this study as a neutral (I asked RJ a question he never answered). It cites other studies and deals with anti-fans, fantagonists, trolls, sock puppets, bots, totemic nostalgia, and cognitive dissidence. 21.9% of the Twitter users in the study tweeted negatively. More than half of those were identified as Russian trolls, sock puppets, bots, and/or those who showed a clear political agenda in their tweets against the film, and the political messages support extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality. I personally witnessed this on a lot of Rian Johnson's tweets.

Some of the very same Twitter accounts identified and closed for Russian meddling in American politics were also involved in Alt-Right flavored TLJ bashing. This is undeniable evidence that the Russians are sowing American discord through sadly all too effective polarization efforts invading even our fandom. About one in three of the negative fans tweeted misogynist, anti-progressive, anti-social justice rhetoric.

Now this doesn't mean there is any massive Russian conspiracy against TLJ or any such silliness. From the paper: "It is important to stress, of course, that there are also a substantial number of fans who simply think The Last Jedi is a bad film and who use social media to express their disappointment." However studies have shown that internet trolling has an infectious nature, which means that the Russian trolls are negatively influencing the real fantagonists, which only makes things worse.

One more thing I'd like to mention. From the paper: "Regardless of motive, almost all negative fans express the belief that they are in the majority and that most Star Wars fans dislike The Last Jedi." This belief that TLJ-detractors are the majority has also been my experience. The low percentage of negative fans on Twitter is more evidence showing that TLJ detractors are not the majority of fans. (The so-called "ban" of Solo by TLJ-haters had a minimal impact on Solo). Of course, the proof that TLJ detractors are not the majority is the TLJ box office figures. Worldwide, TLJ grossed $1,332,539,889. There's no nice way to say that someone who believes that the majority of fans didn't like TLJ are just ignorant to how money or math works. As I have always said, TLJ has a very vocal minority of haters.


CRMcNeill wrote:
Hollywood Reporter, meet Larry Correia.

Get popcorn. With extra salt.

I also read this "response" to the Hollywood Reporter article about the study (I sincerely doubt that Larry Correia read the entire 28-page paper). He says he was holding back on reviewing the film until he inferred that the article was suggesting that negative reactions to the film weren't real. The paper does not say that. Again, the paper states there definitely is real dislike of the film, but not all of the negative fan reactions on Twitter are genuine. This article was a total bash-fest and had absolutely nothing to do with paper outside of the Hollywood Reporter story about the paper being his impetus for writing it.

The forum posting guidelines indicate to not post links to film hatred and to avoid politics, but I can see that revisions and clarifications are needed for the guidelines. I'm really getting tired of defending my least favorite Star Wars movie so much. Please check the Forum Posting Guidelines for updates. Thank you.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:38 am    Post subject: Weaponizing the Haters: The Last Jedi Reply with quote

Weaponizing the Haters: The Last Jedi and the Strategic Politicization of Pop Culture Through Social Media Manipulation

by Morten Bay, Ph.D

Abstract

Political discourse on social media is seen by many as polarized, vitriolic and permeated by falsehoods and misinformation. Political operators have exploited all of these aspects of the discourse for strategic purposes, most famously during the Russian social media influence campaign during the 2016 Presidential election in the United States and current, similar efforts targeting the U.S. elections in 2018 and 2020. The results of the social media study presented in this paper presents evidence that political influence through manipulation of social media discussions is no longer exclusive to political debate but can now also be found in pop culture. Specifically, this study examines a collection of tweets relating to a much-publicized fan dispute over the Star Wars franchise film Episode VII: The Last Jedi. The study finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments. 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. Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation. The results of the study show that among those who address The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson directly on Twitter to express their dissatisfaction, more than half are bots, trolls/sock puppets or political activists using the debate to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality. A number of these users appear to be Russian trolls. The paper concludes that while it is only a minority of Twitter accounts that tweet negatively about The Last Jedi, organized attempts at politicizing the pop culture discourse on social media for strategic purposes are significant enough that users should be made aware of these measures, so they can act accordingly.

Introduction
Background
Related work
Method
. Collecting Tweets
. Collection practice
. Sentiment analysis and coding
. Account analysis
. .1. Political agenda
. .2. Troll/Sock Puppet/Bots
. .3. Real fantagonists
. Identifying sock puppets, trolls and bots
. Russian trolls
Findings
. Negative-to-positive/neutral fan ratio
. Some bots – a lot of trolls
. Political agenda
Discussion
. Cognitive dissonance as manipulation tactic
. Disinformation and Russian influence operations
. The infectious nature of trolling


Conclusion

Assuming that the collected dataset of Twitter interactions with The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is at least to an extent representative of Star Wars fandom on Twitter, there are a number of statements that can be made on the basis of the collected data.

First and foremost, the data does not support claims that a majority of fans are so dissatisfied with The Last Jedi that they wish to boycott further Star Wars releases under Disney ownership. Whether you consider the 21.9% (including, political activists, bots and trolls/sock puppets), or the 10.5% (excluding them) tweets expressing a negative attitude towards The Last Jedi, it is clear that a majority is satisfied, more than satisfied or non-committal in their attitudes. It is also shown that a majority of the negative fans with clear gender identifications identify as male, with only a minuscule fraction of negative fans identifying as female. Approximately one in three negative fans express misogynist, anti-progressive, anti-social justice or conservative views. When some detractors of The Last Jedi correctly claim that it is an injustice to place these labels on all negative fans, these detractors also have to contend with the fact that the labels actually fit a large portion of their faction.

A number of fans feel like Star Wars has been politicized by Lucasfilm and Disney, but since the political and ethical positions presented in the new films are consistent with older films, it is more likely that the polarization of the Trump era has politicized the fans. The divisive political discourse of the study period and the months leading up to it, has likely primed these fans with a particular type of political messaging that is in direct conflict with the values presented in The Last Jedi.

The presence of organized influence measures, i.e. bots, sock puppet and troll accounts, is further indications of attempts to manipulate Star Wars fans as part of a political persuasion tactic. This similarity to political influence campaigns on social media – domestic or foreign – is also underscored by the manner in which misinformation appears and (sometimes strategically) gets propagated. The same misinformation mechanisms as seen in the anti-vaccination controversy and the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. are present in the debate over The Last Jedi. The three latter points are likely the most important contribution of this small study.

However, the assertions made in this article must be considered within the limited scope of the data set, which may or may not limit generalizability of the findings. Another problem for replicability is the fact that Twitter is a dynamic forum and only tweets from selected accounts are archived outside the platform’s own servers. This means that data collected during the study period in this paper may not correspond to later searches because users may have deleted tweets or taken down their accounts – a general problem with research based on Twitter data.

Yet, even considering the limitations of the data set, there are enough indications that pop culture debates on social media are being politicized, sometimes for strategic purposes that have nothing to do with the subject under debate. As the debate on misinformation, political communication and regulation of social media continues, researchers studying these matters may find it beneficial to turn their attention to pop culture and how political messaging is propagated in its fandoms.
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