The ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Controversy, Explained

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The Star Wars fanbase is infamous for its toxic fringe, the loud minority of hypercritical “fans” that harass actors for daring to play their parts, their criticism overwhelmingly infused with sexist and racist commentary.

They’ve chased actresses off the internet, mass-bullied a literal child, and now, are flooding actor Moses Ingram with racist messages after she appeared as the primary antagonist in the newly released Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

On Instagram, Ingram posted screenshots of some of the hateful messages she received, and posted an Instagram story in which she said:

“There’s nothing anybody can do about this. There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. I question my purposes in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening. I don’t really know.”

The official Star Wars Twitter account also spoke out against the racist backlash, writing in a statement:

“We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold … There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the latest Star Wars legacy character to inspire a Disney+ spin-off, and fan expectations were high; Obi-Wan has long been one of the most popular characters in the franchise, with Ewan McGregor’s performance considered to be iconic.

But, with the exception of The Mandalorian, the Disney+ Star Wars series have been surprisingly shaky, featuring some baffling creative decisions, dodgy writing, and plenty of disjointed editing; fans found as much to mock in the series two-episode premiere as they did to appreciate.

But an inordinate amount of the criticism focused on Ingram’s character Raya, a Force-sensitive Inquisitor who works for the Empire; fans criticized her character as “poorly written” and “one-dimensional.”




While the writing in Kenobi absolutely has issues, the focused rage aimed against Ingram’s character is telling - Raya echoes the pantomime villains that have always defined Star Wars, and hints to be just as conflicted as Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.

For a franchise filled with simple, archetypal characters, it’s interesting how certain roles seem to attract this particular criticism, and level of vitriol.

There’s a lot to critique about Disney’s Star Wars, but none of it should be focused on the actors, who are just doing their jobs; the hatred and harassment aimed at them shows an alarming inability of certain fans to distinguish fiction from reality.

Indeed, the backlash against Ingram began before the show even aired, as clickbait YouTubers have been performatively outraged by her mere existence from the beginning. Lucasfilm execs even warned Ingram to expect racist harassment from the fandom’s famously toxic fringe.


Ingram’s Instagram story concluded with her thanking her supportive fans, and dismissing the bigoted trolls with a devastatingly simple put-down:

“I really just wanted to come on, I think, and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I'm not going to put myself. And to the rest of y'all … …Y'all are weird.”

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