There Is No 'Black Stormtrooper Controversy'

Except for the one whipped up by people who live for controversy

November 30, 2014

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was thankful for this:

New Star Wars trailer! NEW STAR WARS TRAILER!!! At first, you want to be all cynical and like "Nah, I got fooled before by the prequels, ain't gonna get me excited again, not this time" and then


So yeah, that was cool.

Of course, this being the Internet Age, where Everything Is Terrible, soon people were talking about the "black stormtrooper controversy." And then, all of a sudden, there were a series of denunciations of all the "racist" Star Wars fans who freaked out because a black dude was wearing a Stormtrooper costume. This Mashable post is representative of the genre. But there's something odd about this so-called controversy. All of the people writing about it just kind of take for granted that there's some hardcore contingent of Star Wars fans who are writing that the series is ruined because a black dude is playing a stormtrooper. It's just assumed that this is true.

But ... is it? I mean, sure, I bet someone somewhere on the Internet is ranting about minorities taking the jobs of, um, Maori clones, because the Internet is a large and terrible place filled with any number of terrible (and probably large) people. That being said, if you search Twitter for "black stormtrooper," you'll find 1,291,074* tweets decrying the super duper racist people who are super duper butthurt about a black stormtrooper, and roughly zero** tweets from people are actually upset about the fact that a black dude was in a stormtrooper costume.*** Go back and read that Mashable post. You know what's fascinating about it? There're exactly zero pieces of evidence backing up the belief that there's any "black stormtrooper criticism."

What we have here is a prime example of a fascinating Internet phenomenon: the preemptive denunciation of a controversy that doesn't exist. People live to be outraged, and they're so excited for things to be outraged about that they'll more or less invent an outrage to get their dander up. We can see another example of this phenomenon here, in which a blogger denounces a raft of columns questioning the character of a football player who walked off the field before the game was over before a single column of that variety had even been written. The preemptive denunciation is a form of moral posturing, an effort to show that you're a serious person who believes all the right things, unlike other, bad people who believe all the wrong things.

It's also dumb. Stop being dumb, Internet people. Just enjoy nice things when we're given them and calm down. Yeesh.

*Approximate figure.

**Precise figure. 

***There are probably a few people raising continuity questions, given that the prequels made it rather clear that the Stormtroopers are clones of Jango Fett. That seems dumb since we have no idea if he's actually a stormtrooper (remember this?) and who knows how things have changed in the 30 years since the end of Return of the Jedi. But arguing over continuity isn't, you know, racism. It's just being a nerd. That's what nerds do. That's ALL nerds do. Of course, it's entirely possible that arguing over continuity is now totes racist, and I've simply missed that addition to the pyramid of grievances. It's hard to keep track these days.

Published under: The Politicized Life