The Force Awakens… with Diversity?!

By Theia. 

I don’t consider myself a Star Wars fan, especially since there are some crazy fans out there. But the trailer IS SO GOOD! It’s so good, even the people who acted in the film freaked out about it. The music is great, the shots are great, the costumes and design are great etc, but why is my feminist side SO PUMPED ABOUT THE STAR WARS EPISODE VII?

ONE MAIN CHARACTER IS A WOMAN, THE OTHER IS A BLACK MAN.

Adjusted to inflation, the Star Wars is the third highest grossing film of all time. Could the highest grossing film of this year, and possibly EVER have a woman and black male main characters?

It’s not a white man, like every other blockbuster movie (that’s not a chick flick or has Will Smith). WHAT?!

When kids buy Star Wars action figures/dolls they are going to buy one of a woman and/or a black man. When they have Star Wars themed birthday parties, their plates and napkins will have pictures of a woman and a black man holding light sabers. Girls will not dress up as a princess for Halloween, but as a Jedi. Black boys don’t have to dress up as a basketball player, but as…well a-former-storm-trooper-that-went-rogue-and-became-the-hero.

Further questions to ask:

Will it pass the Bechdel Test?

What is the Bechdel test? Named after cartoonist Allison Bechdel, the test says if a fictional movie, book, story, etc. has two female characters and they last an entire scene not talking about a man, they pass the test. Example: Departed. There’s only one female actress in the entire movie, and she f***ks the protagonist AND antagonist. Hunger Games: barely passes the test because she’s mostly talking to guys the entire time. She has a few scenes where she’s just talking to Rue or just talking to Prim, and it’s not about men.

This Bechdel test can also be applied to race. It must have two people of color talking about something other than a white person. Example: Men In Black does not pass the Bechdel test because there is only one person of color (and a bunch of aliens) in the entire movie. Rush Hour Does pass the Bechdel test because they (sometimes) talk about things other than white people.

As of now, the trailer has not passed the Bechdel test for gender or race. The female Jedi may talk to Princess Leah (!!!), but most likely talk about Luke being really good at the force and therefore not pass the test. There were no hints of another person of color in the film.

Will they be surrounded by white men?

And aliens? Probably.

Two main characters? Does that mean one white woman + one black guy = one white guy?

I’m not surprised if Hollywood producers think that. But why not share the power? Sharing is caring, and maybe white guys haven’t figured that out yet.

They have a shot of female Jedi crying. Are they going to imply women are weak?

I’m looking at it optimistically that women have the agency to cry and take advantage of it. And just because she cries doesn’t mean she can’t be the best Jedi ever.

Are they going to fall in love and is that good or bad?

So I learned from seven year old Colin that Jedis cannot get married. So does that mean we have a female main character WHO IS NOT A LOVE INTEREST?! Since when has that ever happened?! Is a woman good enough to take on a role that just focuses on good and evil and saving the galaxy? Or will it seem flat since the decision of choosing the right straight man is always a woman’s most important decision?

Or maybe they do have white girl and black man fall in love. That would mean 1) interracial love 2) despite the traditions of Jedis not getting married, SHE LIVES IN AN AGE WHERE MARRIAGE CAN BE REDIFINED TO FIT MODERN PRACTICES. Sound familiar?

Is she fit enough to play the part?

Or is she a skinny little model? She is definitely on the thin side, not a Ronda Rousy build, but Jedi’s are loosely based off of samurais, so I’ll just assume she is more quick and light on her feet and smart with a light saber.

Why is she British?

I dunno. I wish she was American so 1) I could fully identify with her 2) interracial friendship could happen with two Americans. She’s still gonna be great.

Why no women of color?

One day. It takes a long time for the patriarchy to change its ways. Plus I kind of like that they’re not killing two birds with one stone. A white woman, black man, and woman of color all bring different things to the table.

Will the black male speak and act white?

I’m not qualified to answer my own question, because I’m not black so I will forever have the white gaze. I also don’t know what speaking or acting black necessarily looks like. But it’s directed and produced by a white guy, and all the other characters he talks to are white, so I’m assuming he’s going to speak and act white.

Will it still support whiteness?

This is more of an academic conversation, but often in movies white represents good and black represents bad. This is universal and a standard, but its origins are from white westerners and has strongly influenced our idea of beauty.  For many of us, we have a subconscious feeling that black is bad, which does not help when we try and fight racism. In Star Wars, Darth Vader is nothing but black, his scenes are darker and have less white light and he is literally on “the dark side.” I assume this stark idea of white=good and black=bad will continue in this new movie. For the cinema nerds out there, it will be interesting to see how they do the lighting for a white and black person in the same shot.

Are they just doing this to get a larger female and black audience?

Maybe, but it’s about time they realize these two demographics are a FORCE (pun intended) to be reckoned with, even if it is just for the box office.

What’s with this #boycottstarwarsVII?

It’s like a pesky little kid: there more attention you give it, the more it will grow. Just ignore it, it’s not worth complaining about.

Is it going to be a good movie?

Feminist-wise, we will have to see. Blockbuster-wise, hell yes.

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