Politics

One Undeniable Reason to Get Excited About the New Star Wars Trailer

The release of the "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" trailer, on Monday, along with a ticket presale for the much-anticipated film has caused an internet frenzy. This was not just a thrilling moment for diehard fans, but it is also a positive step for diversity in Hollywood.

 

Not everyone, apparently, is as excited for the release of the "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens." And no, we’re not referring to angry Trekkies. In a failed call to arms, a small but very racist contingent of "Star Wars" haters took to Twitter to demand white people everywhere boycott a film that supports “white genocide.”

The tweets first appeared on Sunday, October 18, the same day Lucasfilm unveiled the film’s new poster, a few new teasers, and it picked up steam during the launch of the film’s final trailer during the Monday Night Football broadcast on October 19. Trolls, racists, and misogynists used the hashtag to support a boycott of the film. The basic idea is one used frequently by reverse racists and white nationalists: multiculturalism (in this case, the multicultural cast of the film in question) is a weapon of genocide against the white race.

Thankfully, the Twitterverse swooped in immediately as it tends to do and quickly slammed the ridiculousness of the situation:

Even a member of the cast chimed in with a few words:

It didn’t take long for fans to point out the obvious: the Star Wars franchise has long been a multicultural affair thanks to actors such as James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Temuera Morrison, and others.

The boycott, meanwhile, surprised no one when it failed to put the slightest dent in ticket sales for the hotly anticipated film. Variety reported that the "Star Wars" sequel "shattered" Fandango's first-day ticket sales record, which was previously held by "The Hunger Games." Various ticket vendor and theater websites, including Fandango, MovieTickets.com, Arclight Theaters, IMAX, and others, crashed due to overwhelming demand for presale tickets.

Whitewashing in Hollywood.

Though the failed boycott revealed the progression audiences today have made in terms of accepting diverse casting, whitewashing in Hollywood remains a problem. Many didn’t bat an eye when the olive-skinned Katniss of "The Hunger Games" novels became the very light-skinned Jennifer Lawrence in novel’s film adaptation.

However, the same is not true of Ridley Scott’s "Empire: Gods and Kings" or Roland Emmerich’s "Stonewall." Both films faced backlash over their whitewashing of characters.

Emmerich’s film completely erased the very real queer and transgender women of color involved in the Stonewall uprising of 1969 and replaced them all with a fictional white male. The director justified the change as an attempt to “universalize” the story. Activists called to boycott the film, which eventually did poorly in theaters and was panned critically.

Scott’s film was also met with similar resistance due to a majority white cast portraying ancient Egyptians. MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Philosopher called the film “simultaneously the dullest and the most insulting version of itself it could possibly be.” It too suffered financially and critically.

For his part, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas needed a bit of prodding to diversify his cast. Film director John Landis reportedly asked Lucas why his feature film "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" featured only Caucasian actors and people in prosthetic make-up. And his attempts at diversity haven’t always been pretty. Fans and critics alike called him out on the racist, stereotypical accents used by some of the alien species, such as the Trade Federation Officials in "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace," who speak in broken Asian-English accents, to use one example (the less we say about Jar-Jar Binks and the Gungans, the better).

Still, we can say that progress has been made when the first face that appeared in "The Force Awakens" debut trailer of months ago was that of Black British actor John Boyega. Racist trolls everywhere will have to move to a galaxy far, far away if they want to avoid the diversity this planet has to offer.