A Communications Disruption Can Mean Only One Thing!

It seems like more and more, Disney|Lucasfilm and Star Wars fans are unable to talk. If fans disagree with corporate policy on any level, or hold any opinion deemed negative by the Star Wars overlords, there is a total communication blackout between these two groups. And that blackout, I’m here to say, does not originate with the fans. It is a calculated thing coming from within the company, originated by those working for Lucasfilm.

I know this is not true Lucasfilm. Therefore, this cannot be the desire of the people who work so hard to create the stories that mean so much to so many. So where is it coming from? It must come from ignorance. The people in charge simply must not know that this is going on. So how do we fix it? A good start is by bringing things into the light — like my bleak encounter with a Lucasfilm employee nine months ago.

It was the end of February, the beginning of my Wednesday work day, when somebody I was in a conversation chain with on Twitter asked, “Have you seen this?”

“This” was a still from a Disney|Lucasfilm web show; I’d never heard of the show, I don’t remember the name of it now, and I don’t think it’s important to the story to look it up for you. At first I didn’t see why it possibly mattered. Some woman, evidently the host — some random YouTuber, I assumed — stood in an office-looking place with bits of ephemera all around. And then I noticed the picture under her left elbow: the famous shot of Luke and Vader in the Death Star turbolift, a scene with particular meaning for me as it kicks off my favorite 45 minutes of cinema in the universe.

But Luke’s face had a big red X over it.

“Well, that’s a little ungracious on a Star Wars show,” I thought. This was barely two months since December’s big catastrophe — namely, the decision of nucanon to discard Luke Skywalker like a wad of gum and not treat Mark Hamill, his actor, much better.

And then I found out something that made me sit up and pay attention: the show was an official LFL production. It was recorded in their office. This crossed-out picture of Luke was displayed in a fairly prominent location in the office of a corporation named after the man who created Luke Skywalker, Lucasfilm, the entire franchise, the very thing that gave these people a job in the first place.

Now I was upset.

I should point out here, if you’re unfamiliar with me or my work, if you started rolling your eyes that I never heard of this show or its host, here’s a couple things you need to understand. I don’t follow Disney’s “nucanon” Star Wars. I don’t accept into canon anything produced after the buyout in 2012. I unliked the official Star Wars Facebook pages in 2014. I unfollowed their Twitter account in 2015. I have never followed any employee of Lucasfilm on Twitter, ever. Mark Hamill is the only real life person involved with Star Wars I even follow on Twitter, which I’ve done since the day he got the account. I use Twitter’s “mute” filters to keep any Disney Star Wars out of my feed. I don’t have a YouTube account; I don’t watch internet videos. My engagement with “Star Wars current events” is very limited in nature and specific in scope. Basically the only thing I do is remind Lucasfilm that it was immoral of them to declare 38 years of canon “non-canon” and then cannibalize it for parts in their reboot. I think the reboot was foolish, but I’ve never asked them to cancel it. I’ve never gone after the employees. As someone who endured a stalker for years, I’m sensitive about how I interact with others, and I have always been explicit that my objections are objections against the entity of Disney|Lucasfilm, and they are not personal on any level against anyone.

So I wrote this tweet, after doing a little brief research to identify the person in the picture (since that’s just good journalism):

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I didn’t tag her, didn’t even think to check if she had a Twitter account, because she had nothing to do with the content of the tweet. I didn’t assume the artwork belonged to her, was her doing, or was even endorsed by her. So I accused her of nothing, because she had absolutely nothing to do with the point I wanted to make. She was merely in the picture. Despite using the word “viral,” I expected no reaction because, firstly, I had under 500 followers at that time; and secondly, because I’d made similar tweets in the weeks before with little attention.

It’s worth pointing out that by the time I made this tweet, almost noon for me and not yet 9 AM for her, Ms. Gutierrez had already announced on her Twitter (which I didn’t know existed) that she was “done” because she had already received “so many” emails about it. I shouldn’t have to add that I don’t know what her email is, and could not have been directing anyone to harass her inbox because the image had been circulating on Twitter and Facebook long before I even learned of it. (People did immediately run off with my MS Paint recreation of the crossed out Luke picture, though — that makes me laugh.)

Now, to be honest, I have no idea how Ms. Gutierrez found my thread. I did reply to her on another account, but I had no idea who she was (her @ handle was what had displayed, not the boldface nickname). If I had known I was addressing an LFL employee and not a fellow Twitter fan, yes, I would’ve worded it differently.

When she made the remark about it being her livelihood, I checked her feed and realized who she was. So I responded a little more deferentially but with evident frustration:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Because this has been the ongoing interaction with Disney|Lucasfilm. Fans say “this makes us uncomfortable,” “we’re upset about this,” and the DisLFL employees respond with taunts, bullying, or the brush-off.

I was completely shocked by her reply, telling me that she “couldn’t tell” if I was trolling or not, but ‘bye!

So I posted this as a follow-up to my earlier tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This lit an absolute fire. Notice two things: first, that I didn’t reply to her because she said the conversation was over. Second, that I chose to screenshot rather than RT, and that I didn’t tag her in it, because I didn’t wish to drag her into something she said was over from her point of view.

But that didn’t stop her from finding it (was she stalking my feed?!) and retweeting it to her ~500,000 followers (again, I was sitting on about 480 followers at the time), commenting something about how she might have cancer and really couldn’t deal with people like me right now. I must’ve gotten about 200 @’s, most of which I never read because they got vile fast. I also got maybe a dozen direct messages that included threats, profanity, insults. I had to aggressively filter my Twitter notifications for the next week, just to keep this garbage out of my sight.

I was alarmed that she might be getting entangled in something like this while dealing with a serious health concern, and yet simultaneously disgusted that she chose to target me of all people. Not the @JarJarAbramss account she had been replying to initially. Not any of the other many accounts that shared the image or even the Facebook page that posted it first. Hours after she declared she was going to ignore it because she was fed up with all the emails, she was engaging with tweets on it, and then, it seems almost arbitrarily, chose to broadcast my handle to her followers as a target.

I decided to shut it down and walk away while I still could. I’m an anxious, introverted person who can’t handle confrontation well ever since I picked up a stalker in my senior year of college. If someone with half a million Twitter followers was going to send them after me, I thought, it’s very possible they can get my Twitter deleted. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk — I love my Twitter, love the interaction I have there, and didn’t want to jeopardize it over this, or wreck my health by putting myself in a situation to field dozens of vile threats in my DMs. So I closed the lid.

For a week.

(Next page!)

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One Response to “A Communications Disruption Can Mean Only One Thing!”

  1. […] a week after my horrific encounter with a Lucasfilm employee (read part 1 here), a member of the Alliance to Preserve the Expanded Universe approached me on Facebook messenger, […]

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