Ray Park’s Tweet can be seen here:
#announcement I AM NO LONGER A 501st legion member. Reason: Disappointed!! However, A certain or a certain member spoiled it for me in Edmontont, 501 legion. I AM A STAR WARS FAN. I AM A… https://t.co/Q8056sHwOq
— Ray Park (@IAMRayPark) October 6, 2018
According to Yahoo Entertainment, Ray Park was fat shamed by other members within the 501st Legion, causing Ray to leave the ranks.
On Instagram Park says that, although he doesn’t care about the comments and he doesn’t need to justify his appearance in the film, he “worked his butt off” to play Maul once again. He’s also shared photos of himself looking absolutely ripped to silence the haters.
“Please remember I was 22 on Ep1 training 15hrs a day. For Solo I was getting a good 3-4 hours in of training with a serious hip injury, I had been suffering from for a few years which prevented me from doing a lot of what I love with my workouts.”
Ray Park is nearly 20 years older than he was in The Phantom Menace. So a certain amount of aging would be expected. In terms of the character Darth Maul would be older in the story line, and without real legs he would conceivably gain some weight. Particularly if his entire bottom half consists of robotics. So weight gain here would not be out of the ordinary or unexpected.
In addition, Daniel Logan who played a young Boba Fett in Episode II has also decided to leave the 501st Legion. DJ D reports:
aww much love to you guys..!! Hey just because we have left the 501st doesn’t mean we have lost love for starwars the fans or most of the 501st members we just don’t agree with a lot that’s going on within the Hierarchies that is making it not so fun to dress/suit up and donate your time at hospitals charity events and or conventions ROLE PLAYING AND COSPLAYING IS SOMETHING THATS STARWARS HAS ALLOWED ALL AGES TO BE APART OF..!! I REALLY LIKED THE LAST PERSON WHO RAN THE 501st HE WAS FROM SALT LAKE CITY (mark) I think 🤔 That’s when it was still fun.!! And people weren’t being thrown to the curb for small and minor violations after years of being a member to the club..!!!
It almost sounds like some within the 501st are behaving like…Nazis. But I digress.
As a result, there are some who are ready to jump down the throats of the purported “toxic fanbase.” The user Jettisawn at MMO Champion forums writes:
The Toxic Fans of TFA, TLJ, and more aren’t really fans and they just need to real life and not watch Star Wars anymore. If you don’t like a movie that’s fine, but if you harass people in real life over a movie you’re a loser and need to get your priorities straight.
I’m not saying that and didn’t intend to come across that way. My displeasure is more with the “fans” who go out of their way to harass the actors, directors, and producers over 9 months later on the most trivial stuff from Birthday tweets to them promoting upcoming series and fan art.
How dreadfully unsurprising.
However, the 501st itself apparently held the very same views as Jettisawn. Back in June of 2018, Paul Depaola (also known as TK-5990 from the 501st Legion) wrote a blog post at starwarsreport.com entitled, What’s a Star Wars Fan to Do if They Don’t Like New Star Wars? I commented on that blog post here.
In his blog post, he wrote:
I think part of the problem we have in fandom right now is that some people can not let it go. There is a completionist mentality to a lot of Star Wars fans. I have to have it all and it all has to be canon. But none of that really matters, what matters most is what you get out of it. To say otherwise is getting into “true fan” nonsense which is just a form of gatekeeping.
Maybe at some point you’ll revisit those books or movies that you did not initially enjoy, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. I just think we would all be much happier if we focused on what gave us joy instead of dwelling on those things that we did not like.
Paul’s entire blog post can be read here.
This makes one wonder, was the fanbase at fault in any way here?
Or was it those within the 501st (which does do work for Lucasfilm’s Fan Events Department) who are at fault? Did the New Guard within the 501st seek to push out the Old Guard, just as the rest of Lucafilm is rumored to have done? Did Ray Park and Daniel Logan voice some protest at something going on within the 501st, only to be recommended to “just move on?” Was the purported fat shaming comment perhaps a heated response to criticisms of the 501st voiced by Ray Park and Daniel Logan? Is there a similar culture war being waged within the 501st?
All of this is conjecture. But there is likely more bubbling beneath the surface of this story than is presently known.