If you thought snarky, obnoxious comments about sci-fi fans were limited to message boards, comments sections, and schoolyard bullies, then Miami ABC affiliate WPLG Local 10 went out of its way to blow that theory out of the water when they posted an unbelievably nasty slideshow mocking cosplayers at the recent Star Wars Celebration VI, which has held in Orlando a few weeks ago.
They ultimately did take the slideshow down (although re-edited versions have reappeared throughout the day), but not before various screencaps appeared around the blogosphere, and what Local 10 did was really damn vicious - you can see the whole collection towards the bottom of this page, although beware of the comments there. Using photos of costumed fans at the convention, Local 10 added comments like:
"Dateless men as far as the eye can see."
"Being a Star Wars geek pretty much means you'll get no lovin'...being a Star Wars geek in those pajamas guarantees that."
"A reproduction of their prom picture...no girls."
"It's sad when the most "normal" person in this picture is still wearing a lightsaber on her belt."
"Here's a shocker...it's dudes taking pics of fake Princess Leias. Like they've never seen a woman before. Well, hmmm..."
"Poor kids...they were never given a chance. Geekdom is in their genes."
"OMG, my Dungeons & Dragons meeting is scheduled at the same time as tonight's Love Your Lightsaber dance!"
There were also jabs at overweight fans, women, and some unnecessary swipes at Celebration guests Mark Hamill and Jake Lloyd. Really obnoxious stuff.
To be clear, and speaking as Star Wars fan who attended the very first Star Wars Celebration (the one in Denver where it rained all weekend), we are not devoid of a sense of humor. We love poking fun at our geekdom. Hell, when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog does it, it's practically an honor. But for a news organization to create a slideshow for the purpose of mocking someone's children, or their weight, or to presume that they're some kind of nerd loser isn't funny.
On top of that, a few of the people in those photos were members of the 501st Legion. These are the costumed characters who last year helped raise $12 million for charities worldwide.
By the way, those costumes are damn cool. I haven't bothered with a Star Wars costume since Halloween 1979 (when I was 5), but I've seen the 501st in action, as well as other Star Wars cosplayers, and I'm amazed at the detail that goes into those costumes.
I'm actually sorry that I missed Celebration VI this year. Not only could I have gone to a Star Wars convention and seen Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (Luke and Leia!!), but since it was in Orlando, it was right near Disney World and Universal Studios. And Local 10 is stunned that so many families attended this thing?
What also made this incident infuriating was Local 10's response. After complaints poured in (which included the mom of "Star Wars Katie", the little girl bullied by her classmates for being a Star Wars fan, and Ashley Eckstein, who voices Ahsoka Tano on Clone Wars), the station finally took down the slideshow, but then offered a rather pitiful 'apology' on their Facebook page:
“GOOD NEWS (or BAD NEWS… depending on where you sided). The infamous STAR WARS slideshow has been taken down.
For those offended (and let us know), sorry.
For those who enjoyed it (and let us know), sorry.
Remember… the force will be with you… always.”
That apology has since been taken down (although you can see a screenshot of it here) when fans called it out for the half-assed apology it was. While it was up, the station was actually deleting comments from fans who complained. Now their Facebook page is getting bombarded by angry Star Wars fans, as well as their Twitter page. They've also tried to justify it by saying the author of the slideshow was a big Star Wars fan who attended Celebration VI, but sorry...if he was really a fan, he should sure as hell know what this was all about in one of the photos he mocked, because it was actually quite hilarious.
Local 10...is it that hard to show some professionalism and just say you're sorry? To acknowledge that it was a really crappy thing to do? I've been a Star Wars geek for most of my life and as much as I love it, I know what it's like to be made fun of for it, and it hurts. I don't know any of these people in these pictures you mocked, but as proud geeks we certainly get the fandom, and it's like you insulted all of us, and nobody deserved that.
If Local 10 is really unclear as to what cyberbullying is, they might want to read this article about it. After all, it's on their own website.