Among the many potential consequences of the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality, perhaps none was as unpredictable as a “Star Wars” marquee actor questioning the Jedi worthiness of the commission’s chairman.
That’s exactly what happened Saturday when Mark Hamill, best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the space-movie franchise, took a shot at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who earlier in the week had dressed up as Santa Claus and filmed a bizarre video outlining “7 things you can still do on the Internet after net neutrality.”
The video, as dad jokey as they come, included footage of Pai reassuring viewers that they could still “gram” their food even without the Obama-era regulations that prevented Internet providers from speeding up some websites and throttling or blocking others. Among other head-scratching scenes, Pai also hugged a puppy and danced to the “Harlem Shake” to convince viewers that they could still “drive memes right into the ground.”
But the scene Hamill publicly took issue with was one in which Pai donned a black hoodie and swung a light saber around while the “Star Wars” theme played in the background.
“You can still stay part of your fave fandom,” the FCC chairman declared.
Hamill, well, struck back.
“Cute video Ajit ‘Aren’t I Precious?’ Pai,” Hamill tweeted sarcastically, along with a vomiting emoji, before declaring that the FCC chief was “profoundly unworthy” of wielding a light saber.
“A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations,” Hamill wrote.
Hamill also questioned whether Pai had paid composer John Williams any royalties for use of the “Star Wars” theme song in the video, which was published Wednesday by the conservative news site Daily Caller. The video, which used music from several copyrighted sources, prompted an online protest led by producer and DJ Harry Rodrigues, who created the “Harlem Shake.”
Rodrigues (also known as Baauer) vowed to take action, and his record label, Mad Decent, said Thursday it would pursue legal recourse if the song was not removed. The video was briefly taken down from YouTube on Friday but restored later, with “Harlem Shake” still included.
It’s unclear whether Hamill was implying in his tweet that similar action would be taken for Pai’s use of the “Star Wars” theme. The 66-year-old “Star Wars” actor is known for regularly engaging with his fans on Twitter and has been an outspoken critic of President Trump and his administration’s policies.
Whatever his intention, Hamill, fresh off his appearance in “The Last Jedi,” finished his diatribe against Pai with a withering hashtag: #AJediYouAreNOT.
On Sunday, Hamill also had some fresh words for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who tried to compare net neutrality to “the dark side” in a tweet intended for the actor.
“Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet,” Cruz tweeted. Unfortunately, he misspelled Hamill's Twitter handle.
Nevertheless, Hamill responded shortly afterward.
With his tweets, Hamill joined a growing list of actors, artists and musicians who have argued that the loss of net neutrality will be detrimental to those in a creative industry. Dozens of artists signed an open letter earlier this month arguing that gutting net neutrality would allow Internet providers to charge fees that would essentially act as a tax on the creative community.
“The medium that allows us to be great artists is under threat. Without a free and open internet, so much music, writing, film, art, culture, passion, and creativity would be lost,” the letter stated. “A few corporations will have control over what you see and hear, while independent and up-and-coming artists’ ability to make a living will be devastated. Without net neutrality there will be less awesome art. Period.”
That was, of course, before the vote last week. What comes next remains to be seen. As The Washington Post’s Brian Fung reported, several legal battles loom, as those who support Obama-era regulations on net neutrality have vowed to sue the FCC.