Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is almost unquestionably the most highly-anticipated film of 2016.
And, of course, as with any major Star Wars release, the film became the subject of intense online scrutiny months before its release, thus generating word-of-mouth that usually serves as free advertising for Disney.
Now, however, a week before it hits theaters, Rogue One is at the center of a heated debate that could wind up hurting its box office receipts for the most bizarre reason imaginable.
Past Star Wars controversies have centered around mixed responses to story developments within the franchise, or retroactive changes to the original films.
Sadly, the Rogue One debate has taken a much more sinister tone that says more about our nation's current political climate than about George Lucas' film franchise.
On Thursday, the hashtag #DumpStarWars began trending on Twitter, and it quickly became clear to any fan who investigated that this was not the result of some spirited critiques of the series' creative shortcomings.
While it's unclear how it originated, the hashtag has proven popular among white nationalists and members of the "alt-right," both movements that have been tied to the KKK and other hate groups.
The most common complaint is that the film (which the outraged have not yet seen) is "anti-white" and espouses a "feminist agenda," because the cast is multi-cultural and the film's main character is a woman.
The baffling outrage began back when the first Rogue One trailer was released online several months ago, with YouTube commenters describing the film as “nothing but a Jew masturbation fantasy of anti-White hate.”
The bigoted movement gained steam back in November, when two of the film's screenwriters, Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta, pointed out that the Empire has always been an obvious metaphor for Hitler's regime.
“Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization,” Chris Weitz tweeted.
Whitta retweeted the statement, adding:
“Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women.”
Indeed, fantasy and science-fiction films and literature have a long history of advancing (usually left-wing) political causes, but don't tell that to the chronically butthurt boycotters who are currently stamping their tiny feet and holding their breath til they turn blue all over social media.
Some lowlights (complete with newly-trendy #FakeNews):
"Stop using your multiculturalism anti-American agenda in a science fiction Disney movie. We just want to enjoy a fun movie."
"Just got a full refund on my Rogue One tickets. Keep your politics out of my galaxy."
"Star Wars writers rewrote and reshot Rogue One to add in Anti Trump scenes calling him a racist. Disgusting."
"Rogue One is an anti-Trump propaganda film. BOYCOTT!!! Trump supporters!"
"#DumpStarWars Race baiting will not be tolerated."
On the sane side, the situation might be best summed up by David Slack, who tweeted:
"If Star Wars — an obvious allegory about Nazism — feels like an attack on your candidate, the problem isn’t with Star Wars…"
Of course, our favorite #DumpStarWars tweet belongs to the incomparable Patirck Monahan, who writes:
"After the election they changed the title of ROGUE ONE to DONALD TRUMP HAS A TINY WIENER? I'll be spending my money elsewhere!"
On point as always, @PattyMo.
As for the anticipated impacted on the film's bottom line - something tells us Disney will be just fine.