Star Wars, culture wars
Pop entertainment with positive messages is beneficial in two major ways: (1) it can help shift attitudes in a more positive direction by presenting appealing images of traditionally-rejected groups or practices and repulsive images of taboos and bigotry, and (2) it can give encouragement and moral support to individuals who would otherwise feel isolated in the face of the onslaught of malignant traditional prejudice (I recently noted this example, which is far from unusual). Again, the enemy is well aware of these things and rages against the "corrupting" effects of popular movies and TV, and occasionally a show from a more advanced culture is censored to avoid stirring up resistance in a more backward one.
The most recent wingnut eruption of this kind concerns the Star Wars franchise. It seems to have begun with last year's movie, The Force Awakens, which offended certain elements by the presence of a woman and a black man in the leading heroic roles. The freakout continues with the upcoming Rogue One, with the "alt-right" calling for a boycott, especially after the writers affirmed that the evil Galactic Empire is a metaphor for white supremacy.
I expect that the boycott will have no noticeable effect on the movie's success, even just in the US, especially since early reactions suggest it's the kind of thing the fans like. Racism is much less mainstream and respectable in the US than homophobia still is. However, the recent election of Trump has emboldened the alt-right and convinced them (and also a lot of us) that such bigotry is far more pervasive than we thought. If the boycott flops, it will be evidence to the contrary, especially since this movie's use of racist and fascist ideas and imagery to represent evil is fairly explicit, not just metaphorical.
A more bizarre reaction to the movie is an effort to "rebrand" it by re-interpreting its story to make the villains into the good guys. The concept has some precedent (an entire quasi-religion, Satanism, has arisen based on the premise that the "villain" of Christianity is actually the hero, properly considered), but in this case it's yet another example of the clumsy, tin-eared (in)sensibility that the right wing always seems to bring to the world of entertainment. Satan is a complex and deep figure with endless philosophical implications, but a cartoonish villain like Emperor Palpatine will never be anything but a villain. One can only hope that this "rebranding" of Star Wars becomes widely known; it will make the alt-right look silly and pathetic, which in some ways is even better than making them look evil.
Again, these kinds of things matter more than those among us who focus exclusively on politics realize. As I argued here, pop entertainment reaches huge numbers of people who are uninterested in politics and turned off by political arguments; its influences are subtle and metaphorical, bypassing the resistance that explicit advocacy of a social or political cause would arouse. Moreover, it's an arena in which we can operate almost unopposed, since the enemy's efforts (think of "Christian" films and the like) are almost always so preachy and heavy-handed that they have no appeal beyond those who are already true believers. The enemy's only real weapon in this arena is censorship, which tends to backfire by stoking curiosity, and is increasingly easy to circumvent in the internet age.
It's all the more important in times when the enemy dominates the political scene and the institutional power of government is temporarily lost to us. Note how much progress on gay marriage, not just in the courts but in the more important realm of popular opinion, took place during the Bush administration when our side held little or no political power. The enemy constantly complained that movies, TV, and advertising were relentlessly subverting their taboos by "normalizing" homosexuality. They weren't wrong.
Blogger Tengrain recently argued that the left needs to learn to tell stories, not just recite facts. In mass culture, if not in the political realm, we do do that -- and it works.
[Image at top: Rogue One villains and heroes, found via Crazy Eddie]