(OPINION) When Disney CEO Bob Iger said he wants to focus on entertainment instead of messaging, he apparently wasn’t referring to the “Star Wars” franchise.

“Star Wars: The Acolyte,” the eight-part series streaming on Disney+, is being pilloried by fans as a “new low” for Disney, “a queer Marxist vandalization of the myth of Star Wars” and an “embarrassment to the entire franchise.”

Even its defenders acknowledge its woke tilt. Drew Taylor, film critic for TheWrap, called it “arguably the gayest ’Star Wars’ yet by a considerable margin. It’s pretty gay. Let’s be honest.”


At the center of the drama is Episode 3, which aired last week. The segment featured what the LGBTQ publication Them described as a “coven of lesbian space witches” who appear to use the Force to conceive the twins Mae and Osha without any male involvement.

The episode also turns the whole good-versus-evil foundation of “Star Wars” on its head with lines such as: “This isn’t about good or bad. This is about power and who has the right to use it.”

The series intensified the battle between hardcore “Star Wars” fans who accused Disney of destroying the canon to score diversity points, and feminists who cheered the series as a much-needed rejuvenation of a moribund franchise.

So far the “Star Wars” fandom is carrying the day. The series registered an 84% critics’ rating but an abysmal 14% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes based on more than 10,000 reviews, an all-time low for a “Star Wars” spin-off.

The fan rating was even lower than the 21% notched by the 1978 “Star Wars” TV holiday special, the standard by which all “Star Wars” bombs are judged.

Those sounding the death knell for the franchise were led by Alan Ng, editor-in-chief of Film Threat, who recalled in his June 5 review that “I became a massive Star Wars fan in 1977” at the age of 10.

“I bought this galaxy far, far away, and today I don’t recognize the place anymore. [Creator] Leslye Headland’s The Acolyte managed to put the final nail in the coffin for this fully grown adult. Yes. I accept it. Disney Star Wars is not for me.”

Cosmic Book News reviewer Matt McGloin called “The Acolyte” series “boring, drawn out nonsensical garbage.”

“George Lucas should have never sold Star Wars,” Mr. McGloin wrote. “Bob Iger should have never appointed Kathleen Kennedy as the head of Lucasfilm. Star Wars is a complete joke. Disney is a complete joke. #RIPSTARWARS.”

The movie website Worth It or Woke? said Ms. Headland’s “casual disdain for the Jedi and Star Wars canon is eclipsed by her shlocky storytelling, ridiculous dialogue and laughable lesbian chat-group fantasy fan-fiction.”

Ms. Kennedy swung back, telling The New York Times, “I think Leslye has struggled a little bit with it. I think a lot of women who step into this because of the fan base being so male-dominated they sometimes get attacked. My belief is that storytelling needs to be representative of all people. That’s an easy decision for me.”


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