The Left has now resorted to blaming the negative backlash against "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" on Russian trolls — the new boogeyman for every SJW vehicle the public rejects.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new academic paper by researcher Morten Bay is attempting to gaslight Disney's angered fanbase by suggesting there was no angered fanbase at all. The paper, titled "Weaponizing The Haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation," claims to have found "evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments" which were all a part of some master scheme to sow political discord in favor of the alt-right.
"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," the study claims. "Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation."
Of the haters, Bay identifies three different camps: political operatives, trolls, and "real fantagonists." He attributes approximately 50.9% of the negative hate to political operatives.
"Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively [about the movie] was likely politically motivated or not even human,” he writes, adding that only 21.9% of the analyzed tweets were negative, and most of those were from Russian trolls.
As to what could have contributed to the negative backlash, Bay does not blame it on Kathleen Kennedy's poor story conceptualizing — essentially turning the protagonist Rey into a flawless Mary Sue (because "the force is female"), a lackluster script, or feckless directing. He blames it on Donald Trump.
"[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."
Naturally, the makers of "The Last Jedi" are accepting Bay's study as a breath of fresh air. As noted by THR, director Rian Johnson is openly promoting it on his Twitter page. "Looking forward to reading it, but what the top-line describes is consistent with my experience online," he tweeted.
If Disney really believes that gaslighting their fanbase with studies about Russian trolls is the best way to save their failing franchise, then, as a great man once said, "I've got a bad feeling about this."