Star Wars fans unhappy with the direction of Disney-owned Lucasfilm's sequel trilogy are protesting its final installment, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, by encouraging like-minded fans to instead financially support charities. Dubbed "Salt to Gold," the effort originated on Reddit forum r/saltierthancrait, described as a community for Star Wars critics who wish to engage in "intelligent, respectful discourse." Originally a gathering for fans who opposed the Rian Johnson-directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the forum is named for that film's newly-introduced salt mineral planet Crait, also where a Force-projected Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) held his final confrontation against twisted nephew Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
The Rise of Skywalker, helmed by returning The Force Awakens writer-director J.J. Abrams, is "the final bookmark in a series of films which divided a fandom of 40 years and fractured the most famous movie series in history," reads a thread pinned to the forum's front page. "The Disney Trilogy has caused a fair bit of ire within the fandom - many dedicated lifelong fans have felt that Disney has [eschewed] the fundamental [tenants] and characters which have made this series so beloved. And worse, the company's attitude and actions towards upset fans has been deplorable at times, furthering the dissonance between corporate decision makers and fandom."
Now self-described "salty" fans have launched #SaltToGold, representing "all the positive things Star Wars fans have been known for throughout the years - kindness, compassion, and good will."
Between Nov. 30 and Jan. 1, the campaign will support NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in honor of late Leia Organa star Carrie Fisher. The forum is encouraging direct donations to NAMI, described as "the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness."
According to the post, the campaign intends to highlight other Star Wars-related charities in the future.
"Please consider donating even if you're still seeing the movie -- [it's] a wonderful gesture and a great way for the Star Wars fandom to work together, even if we disagree about things," the post reads in part.
Despite the sometimes negative fervor surrounding Star Wars, Abrams believes "spirited debate is not a bad thing."
"You can't look at fans of Star Wars as an adversary. They're passionate, and certainly can be contentious, but the fact they care — I feel like I, as a Star Wars fan, understand that love for the series," Abrams said when promoting Rise of Skywalker on Popcorn with Peter Travers. "So I feel blessed to be involved in something that matters so much to so many people."