Last evening a rumor spread across Star Wars fandom stating that writer/director Rian Johnson had stepped away from the development of a previously announced new trilogy of Star Wars films. The rumor stated that The Last Jedi director was stepping away from the project in favor of concentrating on smaller films like his upcoming thriller Knives Out. The report also stated that the move was in part motivated by backlash Johnson received on social media from fans who didn’t like his Star Wars film.
Turns out the rumor was complete bunk, as Johnson himself took to twitter to dispel –
No it isn’t true, I’m still working on the trilogy. With all due respect to the movie bros, who I’m sure are lovely kind bros with good fraternal intentions.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) February 14, 2019
It is easy to understand how this rumor might have spread so quickly and to the point requiring Johnson to step in and debunk. The filmmaker’s Last Jedi seemed to irritate a small, but vocal subset of fandom who have fixated on the film having a diversity in its leads and the film’s plotline didn’t adhere to how they thought things should play out.
But the real lesson here isn’t that some fans will want to believe any news report that lines up with their biases. That’s just like real life. But people need to be aware of sites that pander to the baser instincts of fans, that trawl for clicks with headlines skewed to feed on that controversy. I am not going to dignify those sites by naming them today, but I am sure that you have seen them in the past. Their links get recklessly passed around on Facebook by fans both casual and hardcore because the allure of juicy gossip is just too hard to resist.
The real lesson should be before sharing a link, take a moment to think about the content you are about to share. Does the headline seem to purposefully lean into arguments going on in fandom? Does it seem like it would be enticing to the more negative elements in fandom? Is the headline purposefully stirring up shit?
And take time to actually read the article, not just the headline. Does the text of the article line up with what the headline purports to be? You would be surprised – or maybe not – how often the two don’t really match up. Keep mental track of what sites do such things. If you seem them using controversy baiting headlines often, it just might be because they are not serving you real news, but just looking for your click to add to their traffic and raise their income.