Students Thought: Star Wars’ multicultural cast sparks controversy

Damian Gordon / contributing writer

A black man in space is less believable than an alien. It’s weird how an 8-foot hairy creature, small child or even multi-eyed organism can be the main character of Star Wars and no one would bat an eye, but let a black guy lead it and all of a sudden, that’s crazy talk.

Recently, “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” released a trailer that pointed to John Boyega’s portrayal of Finn as the movie’s Jedi. Fans were outraged as if they were just teleported straight from the silent film era – hope nobody tells them who the president is.

This is just a vocal minority screaming about nothing. Finn’s not a well-established character whose race or gender is being changed nor has he killed off a beloved character. He’s a new hero leading the franchise into the 21st century, where kids of other ethnicities can relate to someone that looks like them.

George Lucas has a black wife and a biracial daughter. If the creator of the series is accepting of race, it’s sad that a portion of his fans would protest a movie on something so pointless.

Remember when people freaked out over Quicksilver’s appearance for  Fox’s  X-Men movie last year and complained how he looked stupid from images? Then when the movie came out, he stole the show and made Marvel’s version of Quicksilver in Avengers 2 look many steps behind.

Maybe these fans should be less worried about how a character looks and more about how good the actual film will be. A cool looking character will not save a bad movie, go ask Darth Maul from “The Phantom Menace.”

These reactions should be louder when Hollywood casts white actors to play the few ethnic roles out there. Some offenders have been Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in “Argo,” Emma Stone as a Pacific Islander in “Aloha” and Jake Gyllenhaal as the “Prince of Persia.” The only thing Persian about Gyllenhaal in that film was his shoes.

Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender were the enlarged center of the “12 Years a Slave” poster in Italy.  A poster for a film about slaves has an actor who’s in it for about five minutes and the other who is not even the leading man.

“The Force Awakens” poster prominently features Finn holding a lightsaber and I have no doubt that international versions will see similar treatment. Even big characters like Han Solo, Leia and Chewbacca do not get as much cover space as Finn does.

When some movies release posters overseas with a main character of color being taken out or switched to the background, this is not because the production company is racist; it’s actually a response to how the people who buy tickets view leading actors of color.

None of this matters as that vocal minority more than likely already got their tickets. Star Wars is pop culture. All this talk about people who will protest are the same people that are going to be there day one in their Stormtrooper outfits.

The series is about guys who fight in space with glow sticks and one of them has an asthma problem. Don’t take it so seriously.

Star Wars fans are a very passionate group that have been embracing this movie if those huge presale breaking records are any indication. If one thing is certain, it is that diversity doesn’t seem to be a problem, if there are any problems in the upcoming film.

[Image from Flickr]

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