Eckstein isn’t ignoring Star Wars fandom’s problems. As a victim of severe online bullying herself, she couldn’t miss them if she tried. It’s just that she doesn’t think they’re a new phenomenon. Ahmed Best, the voice of Jar Jar Binks, would agree with her. Though the prequels came out before the age of Twitter, he said he once contemplated suicide.
“I think the bullying has always been there,” Eckstein said. “It’s just that now, everyone has social media and can share their opinions on a bigger stage.”
Eckstein’s solution is to give fans an alternative. In addition to a clothing line, Her Universe also provides a stringently moderated fan forum.
“Her Universe is a bully-free zone, and we look at every comment and if it’s not uplifting, if it’s not positive, if it’s not productive, we will shut down the conversation.”
Star Wars fandom is in the midst of many conversations about who is allowed to call themselves a fan, and those conversations aren’t only happening on Twitter. Eckstein would argue that much of that self-expression is happening not through words alone, but through clothing.