"Star Wars" fans have not taken kindly to recent ridicule from Miami's WPLG Local 10 News. Instead, they've started a worldwide -- er, intergalactic -- campaign to demand a “formal public apology" from the station, whose Facebook has been flooded by angry comments.
The fandom accuses Local 10 of cyberbullying in the "very rude and insulting" captions of a since-removed online slideshow of a recent "Star Wars" convention in Orlando. A few examples of the jabs, according to screenshots saved on Facebook:
"A reproduction of their prom picture... no girls."
“Someone got lost looking for the AARP convention.”
"Dateless men for as far as they eye can see. "
"These were a group of guys that spent the entire weekend jumping into other people's pictures. It was MUCH lamer than it sounds."
"Here's a shocker... it's dudes taking pics of the fake Princess Leias. Like they've never seen a woman before. Well, hmmm..."
"Being a Star Wars geek pretty much means you'll get no lovin'... being a Star Wars geek that wears these pajamas guarantees it."
"Poor kids... they were never given a chance. Geekdom is in their genes."
When the "Star Wars" community cried foul, the station removed the slideshow and posted on Facebook what fans considered to be an insincere apology. According to the blog Pink Sith, the apology only lasted a few minutes before it, too, was deleted.
Since then, the Facebook group "WPLG Local 10 Owes Star Wars Fans a Formal Public Apology" has exploded to more than 1,700 "Star Wars" and fantasy fanatics across the world and counting, and a Change.org petition is inching closer to 1,000 signatures. On every ensuing story Local 10 posted on Facebook, the incensed fandom responded with comments against cyberbullying.
Most of those responses have since been scrubbed from Local 10's Facebook, SFLTV reports. "I sense a great disturbance in the Force," wrote Adam D. Taylor, a member of the pro-apology Facebook group. "As if hundreds of Star Wars fans had their comments deleted by a great evil."
Member Erik Renoud said he even wrote to Local 10 affiliate Washington Post, arguing, "...no law-abiding citizen deserves to be flamed so ferociously by a public news outlet. The people that make up these fan groups are the people you depend on. We are doctors, we are lawyers, we are military, we provide tech support. We guard you while you sleep. We will not stand for this."
("I would like to 'Force Choke' a few people at WPLG," wrote another.)
According to the group's Facebook page, one member was meeting with Local 10 Thursday to discuss the incident and a “cease fire” of mean comments was called. Still, there was plenty of lingering rage, humor, and debate -- check out some of the best responses floating around the internet.
UPDATE, 6 p.m.: An unnamed WPLG producer has issued a first-person apology on Local10.com:
A long time ago in a galaxy... well, right around South Florida actually... this local news website producer attempted a little humor on a slideshow.
It turned out to be a really bad idea, and for that I apologize.
Although I’m an avid Star Wars fan, somehow I took a turn towards the dark side when assembling the web feature... The intent was for it to be a fun and lighthearted look inside my experience at the Star Wars Celebration VI and the people who devote a great deal of their lives to the films we all love. Obviously, I missed the mark.
The producer says the station received calls from offended fans as far away as Ireland and Australia. Read the whole apology here.