The Racism Awakens: The New Star Wars Film and the Dark Side of the Internet

Image Credit – John Boyega and Daisy Ridley as Finn and Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Lucasfilm

Ahead of the release of a new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer last night, Twitter was swarmed by the Dark Side’s #BoycottStarWarsVII in order to prevent what they deem “white genocide”.

Little is known about the seventh film in the series. Thus far, footage and promotional materials confirm that the original team of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) will all return, though nobody knows how significant their parts will be.

But despite this lack of information some are incensed that the The Force Awakens appears to introduce John Boyega in a leading role.

Boyega, a black British actor, plays Finn – a character shrouded in mystery who has a Han Solo-esque feel, but can also be seen wielding a lightsabre in both the latest trailer and poster.

His inclusion in the first teaser trailer a year ago sparked a similar backlash, after the actor appeared to be playing a black storm trooper, something many fans complained was an affront to Star Wars lore.

If the rumours are true what could prove to be even more controversial to fans is the identity of unknown British actress Daisy Ridley’s character.

Ridley, whose character features even more prominently than Boyega’s in promotion, is heavily rumoured to be playing the daughter or niece of Luke Skywalker. This theory gained credibility after Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in an interview that the new film will “focus on the Skywalker family”.

Readers of The Right Dishonourable may recall that earlier this year, both Mad Max: Fury Road and Spy were threatened with similar boycotts over perceived hijacking of franchises.

A resurgence in female-protagonist led action movies is persistently perceived, by certain critics, as Hollywood attacking male culture.

Fortunately, #BoycottStarWarsVII was swiftly hijacked by fans supporting diversity. 

And Star Wars films have always been somewhat progressive. The original trilogy included a warrior princess, a gay robot couple and a central black character in Lando Calrissian, smuggler and administrator of Cloud City.

Even Darth Vader was voiced by a black man, James Earl Jones, and in the series’ early days some speculated that the character under the mask even was black.

The oft-maligned prequel trilogy also included Samuel L Jackson as Mace Windu, described in Star Wars canon as “the champion of the Jedi Order”.

But despite films like Star Wars, diversity is an issue that continues to provoke scandal in Hollywood. Recently, anger erupted over arguably misinterpreted comments made by Matt Damon.

Weeks before this incident, writer Anthony Horowitz made a public apology for calling Idris Elba “too street” to play James Bond.

Undoubtedly, yesterday’s Twitter trend reinforced just how much resistance there is to greater multiculturalism in cinema.

And unfortunately #BoycottStarWarsVII proves that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, racism was nowhere near as rife as it is on Earth in 2015.

Image Credit – John Boyega and Daisy Ridley as Finn and Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Lucasfilm

J. C. Servante

J. C. Servante

Freelance writer, reviewer and blogger. Politically speculative. Can be found at donkeyokay.com

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