Are political beliefs the main reason for the hate behind The Last Jedi? Social scientist Mark H. White II conducted a survey of Star Wars fandom and has come to the conclusion that politics may come in to play when looking at the backlash of Rian Johnson's first foray into the franchise. The Last Jedi hit theaters at the end of 2017 and received praise from fans and critics along with criticism from the start, with many calling the movie PC and bashing it for pandering to feminism.
Mark H. White II's previous study has broken Star Wars fans into three distinct groups. These include the Prequel Skeptics, who love the saga but rate the prequels lower than the rest; Saga Lovers, who rate everything highly; and TLJ Disowners, who rate only The Last Jedi very negatively. He then went about further interviewing in terms of what he calls "hostile sexism" and "benevolent sexism." White II had this to say about his findings.
"The Last Jedi (disowners) tended to score higher on sexism, though, as you can see, not everyone who hates The Last Jedi is sexist. This demonstrates some empirical evidence that sexism plays a role in attitudes toward The Last Jedi."
Next, Mark H. White II looked into PC beliefs and conservatism to see if he could find a direct correlation. In addition to having participants define their political correctness, White II also had participants rate themselves on a scale from "very liberal to very conservative." The findings do find a correlation between sexism, conservative views, and a negative outlook towards political correctness. White II says, "TLJ Disowners are more likely to believe political correctness is a negative force in society and are less politically liberal."
Looking at Mark H. White II's study even further, he found that Star Wars fans who had more sexist and anti-PC beliefs were more likely to enjoy the original and prequel trilogies, but less likely to enjoy the sequel trilogy. The study also discovered The Last Jedi disowners were more sexist and anti-PC, which gave negative reactions to female characters including Vice Admiral Holdo, Rey, and Rose Tico, all of which have been on the receiving end of online hostility. Both Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley have removed themselves from social media as a result.
In closing, Mark H. White II's sample size was only 5,000, which is relatively small. As he notes several times throughout the breakdown of his study, it does not represent all Star Wars fans. It does, however, give a broad look at some of the reasoning behind the hate for The Last Jedi and why certain clusters of fans enjoy the sets of movies that they do. You can head over to Mark H. White II's website to look at all of his findings to see if you agree or disagree.