Those in the Star Wars community probably know that Bonnie Burton (the woman behind the Star Wars social media & blog, as well as author of a wildly popular Star Wars craft book) was fired.
The social feeds have continued, but it’s obvious that the heart is gone from them. It used to feel like sitting down with a friend to talk about Star Wars- sharing pictures from various conventions, celeb tweets about SW love, and bringing up stories that caught like wildfire- like the outpouring of support for Katie, the first-grade girl bullied for liking Star Wars.
Now, it’s become just another bland corporate account. Sure they’ve begun sharing stories, but it’s just like every other feed out there now. Promoting their own new items, new shows, RTs when people beg for birthday wishes… and don’t get me started on this tweet:
Re-tweet if you love #StarWars!
— Star Wars (@starwars) June 12, 2012
A lot of the people I know from the fan community have taken to using #StarWars instead of @starwars on Twitter. I’ve seen a fair number of people admitting that they stopped following @starwars- myself included. While it’s improved since that first rocky week after Bonnie was fired, it still doesn’t have much of a personality.
But that’s old news. There’s more. The official Star Wars site went under a redesign, including their blog. And mysteriously, all of the past bylines (including all of Bonnie’s) vanished. All attributed to “Star Wars Blog” while those currently working on it get bylines. (On these posts, the photographers still get credit)
— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) July 3, 2012
Which isn’t cool. At all. It’s disrespectful to her as a writer (as well as everyone else who wrote content for them in the past). You don’t see the New York Times erasing the bylines of every person who stopped writing for them. Why? Because that’s who did the work.
Star Wars is the cultural mainstay it is because of the fans. Beyond that, it’s what it is because of all the people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm and contributed to it. Removing bylines is like trying to erase the past- and that’s wrong. You don’t see journalist’s names removed from pieces simply because they left a paper or were let go. You don’t see sports teams pretend that players they’ve traded or who retired weren’t part of their franchise. Why? Because it’s part of the collective history.
Bonnie Burton’s work is just that. By seeing a byline, nobody will assume that she still works for Lucasfilm. Most people are savvy enough to see that the date of the post was from months ago or a year ago, and that she hasn’t written anything recently and figure it out. All they’ll know is that she’s one of the hundreds (if not thousand or so) people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm, helping to make Star Wars what it is. Bonnie isn’t likely the only person who was affected by this- but she’s the one who pointed it out. Credit should be given where credit is due.
It’s hard to explain why this upsets me so much, but it does. But Star Wars is just that big a part of my life.
Update: It’s been pointed out below that Bonnie’s craft posts are still there if you keep scrolling backward, or if you figure out her author page name. But with the current design, these posts will be somewhat buried until someone else posts something craft related, and her name will never pop up on the sidebar.
So it is just her pop-culture posts that had the byline removed. As I said below, I feel even more uncomfortable now, since it wasn’t just a clean wipe of the bylines from all the old posts. They kept her bylines for craft items. Why? The only answer that makes any sense of why you’d wipe one but not the other, is that it’s to keep the SEO active for anyone searching for her Star Wars craft book, so that searches will lead back to the Star Wars blog and not just her social media profiles or shopping links to buy the book.