Star Wars News: What’s Fact, What’s Clickbait And Why Does It Matter?

This is my first article in four months, so apologise if I’m a little rusty. But I’m a bit annoyed. Fans like to know what’s going on with their favourite franchises. You want to keep up to date with news on it. It keeps you fanatic about it. Star Wars has a lot news happening at the moment, such as:

  • The Mandalorian on Disney+
  • Star Wars: Resistance Season II
  • Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season VII
  • The Cassian Andor Series on Disney+
  • Kenobi on Disney+
  • Along with many books, comics, toys etc

We’ve got a good line up of content between now and the next series of films. As there’s going to be a break between The Rise of Skywalker and the next cinematic release. And fans want to know what is going on. Not just with the above but with other future content from LucasFilm.

Now LucasFilm likes to keep things under lock and key. Hush, hush if you will on any/all projects being worked on. We know this thanks to comments from staff and actors that have worked for them. Earlier this year, Richard E. Grant took a moment to talk about the how LucasFilm goes to “extraordinary” measures to keep their Star Wars secrets under wraps, when he was on BBC’s The One Show. Saying:

“It’s extraordinary, they don’t give you a script, you have to go to a room where there are bodyguards outside, closed-circuit television cameras, and it’s printed on crimson pages so you can’t photograph it. You have to read it in there, and then leave.”

– Richard E. Grant

When “The One Show” host Alex Jones asked the question: ‘how do you remember your lines?’ (Which probably involves all cast members) it turns out LucasFilm also has an answer for that too. Which Grant providing:

“You’re given the pages on the day that you work, and you have to sign for them and sign out for them as well, there are security guards on the set.”

– Richard E. Grant

LucasFilm isn’t careless. There aren’t leaks happening daily. When LucasFilm want to announce something, they will do it.

Now a rumour is a different matter. A rumour can come from anywhere, be told by anyone. A fact is something we know is true, while a rumour can have element of truth within it, it needs to be looked into. But like fact, a rumour needs backing to make it work. Else it doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I’ll give you two examples, one from recent events and one fictional with elements fact added in:

  • It’s rumoured that Hayden Christensen will be returning in Episode IX. This is due to a last-minute cancellation of a Star Wars panel at a fan convention as it was reported that Disney (the distributor of the new Star Wars film) pulled the panel from the event at Salt Lake’s FanX, which was set to be attended by Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen. You also have both actors appearing together at the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City that very same week.

Now remember, this does NOT confirm Hayden Christensen is returning. This is speculation. It makes sense because Ian McDiarmid is confirmed to return. It’s curious that they are together for an event, months away from the release of Episode IX. And then you have Disney cancelling the panel. Which brings up more questions. Why was it cancelled? Why so close to the day? Was there a concern? This creates a rumour that is tangible. But this information can be looked up. But it doesn’t confirm his return, it just backs the rumour.

  • It’s rumoured that Hayden Christensen will be returning in Episode IX. According to sources close to me there will be a scene inside the remains of the second Death Star where Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) will come into contact with the Force Ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Kylo will try to communicate with his Grandfather, before revealing the burnt remains of Vader’s mask, only to get no response. Anakin’s Force Ghost still has his back to Kylo. Enraging his Grandson, demanding over and over that he says something before disappearing.

Okay what’s different between this rumour and the first? The source. I haven’t given you anything tangible to go with. I’ve brought up things that you already know to be in Episode IX (Kylo Ren, the Death Star and the mask of Vader) This information can be looked up. The rest, can’t. I haven’t given you any links, any quotes or any evidence to back what my source is saying. Why should you believe me? I’ve given you no reason to. I could have just made this up, sprinkled it with information that we already know and hit PUBLISH with the title: “Hayden Christensen Will Reportedly Return in Episode IX Like This”. Photoshop a Anakin Force Ghost with Kylo Ren for the cover picture and boom, I’ve got an article that goes viral. All I did was rip off the opening to Halloween (2018) And there’s really nothing you can do about it, the clickbait headline worked, the article is spreading, it’s being sourced by other sites & channels that aren’t looking into it properly (E.g. The Express) and they too will spread it and do the same, because it was easy money.

(That got a little harsh at the end)

You see a lot of sites will do this. They will disguise a “report” with no source, with information that you already know. Think about it, how many times has this happened to you? You’ve seen an article. For example: “LucasFilm is Reportedly Developing a Darth Maul Series”. So you’ve clicked and gave it a read. But there’s nothing. Just paragraphs that he was in The Phantom Menace, returned in the Clone Wars, came back for Star Wars: Rebels and had a cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story. You already know this information, you’ve watched them or read about them. And the so called report? Nothing more than a “trust me on this” an unnamed source told me. Sorry but that’s poor journalism. It’s just filler, because without it the article would be bare as bones. As someone that studied Media & Film for five years it’s shocking to see these sites that are meant to be professional produce such trash. That a plot leak from Episode IX is being presented as fact and yet when you look into it, it’s sourced from a YouTube channel recycling the same “leaks” from previous videos from years ago for Episode VIII. Yes, I am referring to the infamous Mike Zeroh.

These Leaks don’t happen every day. Remember the build up to Episode VIII: The Last Jedi? The rumours, the speculation and the theories? With several sites reporting on some of these claims as fact. Sourcing Zeroh on these leaks for scenes such as:

Han Solo’s funeral, along with a shootout during his funeral, Rey losing an arm, Kylo Ren killing a Clan Leader, Snoke with a hologram of Emperor Palpatine, Rey’s new double bladed lightsaber, an invasion of Ahch -To, Snoke ordering Kylo to murder Hux, Luke dismantling two Lightsabers, Lando coming back, Chewbacca fighting the Knights of Ren, Kylo’s new helmet and not forgetting the confrontation between Luke and Snoke. Such memorable scenes.

None of these leaks happened. Many of these leaks had no backing, no links, no source, just take my word for it. And as I said before, LucasFilm keeps a tight lid on things. Looking at Mike Zeroh right now, there is no way LucasFilm would allow eleven story leaks happen in the past 24 hours.

That’s a leak every 139 minutes. Just over two hours. No wonder there’s so many sites sourcing him. It’s an endless flow of content to use.

Fans are trusting you for news and you are deliberately exploiting them. And for what? A quick buck. Sites like: The Express, We Got This Covered, That Hashtag Show, Cosmicbook News, Bounding Into Comics, MovieWeb etc. They don’t care about giving you information, all they care about is getting money from your clicks. Same with channels like Mike Zeroh. Minimum effort required. Either by fooling you into clicking or by exaggerating/twisting the story to get you riled up. And they most likely know that. Piss people off with half truths and misleading information. It’s dishonest.

But fans are getting wise to it. I’m in 4/5 dozen geek related groups on Facebook and I’m seeing more and more fans calling them out when posted. I think people in general need to read articles, not headlines. Look into them, and see what sources they site. If it’s “we heard” or “someone close to the” it’s most likely not founded in reality.

In a way it’s a lot like the lightside and the dark. Clickbait is poor journalism, it’s the quick and easy way. It’s selfish. While putting the effort it, doing the research and informing your audience properly is more rewarding in the long run.

I do think there is a way of combating these types of sites. As I said, fans are getting wise to them and in doing so they have created a demand for actual news content. Not to mention these sites have unwittingly created the conditions for their own demise. Which you, if you care about geek related news can take advantage of. And it’ll benefit sites that do care about news.

  1. Follow sites that are reliable. That do fact checking, that knows the difference between fact, rumour and speculation. Sites that source information properly, with quotes, links and evidence.
  2. If you are into both geek culture and news, why not start your own site. In the long run you’ll gain a reputation for being reliable and putting the effort in.
  3. Again if you are into both geek culture and news, but won’t want to run a site, maybe get in touch with existing ones to write for. See if any are looking for writers.
  4. If like me and you have a large following or you are in a decent size group, share the work from reliable sites. That way, they can gain attention and get information out. Thus less misinformation being spread.
  5. Educate, inform others which sites are reliable and which are unreliable. Out the clickbait and recommend better sites.

So if you are tired of seeing clickbait on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the Star Wars Community from sites taking advantage, then I have some recommendations for you. You can be safe in knowing what’s a fact, and what is just plain crap. These are sites and channels that are independently ran and actually care about giving you the best content and news available, that properly source their information:

Star Wars UnderworldHelloGreedoThe Force.netMaking Star Wars.netStar Wars ExplainedThe Dorkside of the ForceStar Wars JunkBattlefront UpdatesGet Your Geek OnEckhart’s LadderRebelscumThe Expanded UniverseStar Wars News Net, Jedi NewsClub JadeStar Wars HQTosche StationSteele WarsThe Star Wars Guru, Chatter SquadronGeetsly, Urban Acolyte, 100% Star Wars and The Star Wars Post.

I hope you enjoy them. It’s funny how independently ran Sites and Channels can do a better job at journalism than established ones.

For this site, the Hub. I want to get it back up and running. It’s been awhile since I’ve done writing for it. Get some folks on board, sort some things out with it and turn it around. I’ve got this platform, might as well use it.

Connor Heggie

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