Forcing Diversity in Star Wars is Counterproductive
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Since it’s release in 1977, Star Wars has captivated our imagination and solidified its position in movie history. 45 years later, it still inspires and motivates the poor farm boy within all of us to fight back against all odds. But since George Lucas sold his creation to Walt Disney, our beloved space fantasy seems to have lost its purpose and has succumbed to the dark side of woke virtue signaling.
Star Wars and political opinion? Yuck, I know. But when my favorite movie franchise of all time becomes over saturated by Disney making a Star Wars TV show or movie every 6 months AND is chock full of forced attempts at inclusion rather than quality story telling, it makes me wonder how far we’ve really fallen to have let the percentage of cast members who are non-white matter in a fantasy full of naturally diverse aliens.
Casting/hiring for diversity isn’t a new concept. Hollywood has been on this path for the past decade in an attempt to bring more representation to the silver screen. Questing for diversity isn’t a bad thing, unless it’s done in a racist way. For example, setting quotas for studios to hire a certain percentage of black crew members on a movie set is inherently racist as it forces the hiring process to focus on something as arbitrary as skin color.
Ask anyone, I’m sure they’d agree they’d rather be hired for their credentials and proven skills rather than for the way they look. That’s a gross and demeaning notion that we all must push back on.
Moreover, diversity shouldn’t just mean gender, orientation, or skin color. If we are aiming for diversity, we must more importantly aim for diversity of thought. Allowing more than one perspective and culture a seat at the table. Yet studios like Disney routinely single out gender and race as the only metrics for who they might hire or cast. Why?
The short answer is that the online woke mob of screen warriors with the power to “cancel” strikes fear in the execs at large corporations like Disney. They feel the need to kowtow to the trending worldview on Twitter, or potentially face an enormous loss at the box office. Rather than focused on good story telling, writers are focused on hitting the predetermined beats needed to appease critics - effectively stifling creativity.
Perhaps we should recognize the good intentions behind most attempts at inclusivity. Maybe the common worker at Disney is honestly trying to write stories that are reflective of more than just straight white men. There’s no issue with that goal in story telling. But it becomes toxic when the powers that be at Disney set race requirements going into pre-production.
The Star Wars franchise is one of many examples where this toxicity has perverted good story telling. The once inspiring David and Goliath story of Luke vs Darth Vader or ragtag rebellion vs the Galactic Empire has been sullied with unoriginal woke culture, shoehorning in characters that have specific genders or sexual orientations in their biography. Not one character’s race, gender, or zodiac sign matter to the plot in episodes 1 through 6. If it’s inconsequential to the story, it truly doesn’t matter is purely pandering.
What made A New Hope special in 1977 is that George Lucas didn’t cast Carrie Fisher as the female protagonist because he was told to. He wrote a gripping story that flipped the tables on the “damsel in distress” plot device by making the Princess of Alderaan adapt boldly to difficult situations, and often out-courage her male companions: Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Juxtapose this to stories today that are required to incorporate a “Leia” because they must check the box of “strong feminist”.
Fast forward to today where one of the antagonists in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ is portrayed in an annoyingly confident way. Upon writing this, only 2 episodes of the 6 part series is out so who knows where they take her character, but there is an unexplained obsession with finding Obi-Wan that even bothers her fellow Inquisitors. Why do I bring her up? Reva, portrayed by Moses Ingram, is widely disliked by fans and has garnered a slew of hateful comments reminiscent of what previous Star Wars actors went through like Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker in Episode 1), Ahmed Best (Jar-Jar Binks), and most recently Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico). The incessant bullying of the actors is abhorrent, but the writing behind them will always be debated and criticized.
Here, Star Wars Theory breaks down what has been happening to Moses Ingram and responds, echoing my same feelings:
But with Reva, we've entered into a new form of horribleness. Because Moses Ingram is black, many are commenting on her social media claiming she's simply a "diversity hire" and that her poor portrayal is due to her being chosen for skin color rather than talent. Hollywood's track record with this has indirectly caused this to be a justified argument and breathes life into the racism that still exists. Disney has made many decisions that seem to kowtow to the woke online mob and fail to actually help solve inequality with any meaningful solutions. To me, it is quite frankly proof that fighting inequality with equity is counterproductive. Racial preference, even if done with good intentions to reverse previous malicious racial preference, is still wrong.
IF Disney did indeed aim for a strong black female character rather than focusing on good story telling and casting based on merit, its wildly offensive to Moses Ingram. Selecting someone because of their race is demeaning and relegates their identity to just that. That doesn't excuse the disgusting comments people have made against Ingram, but it shows that we have to provide representation in less hollow ways otherwise we give credence to those making harmful comments. I'll reserve my opinion on her character until the show is over, but attacking her as a person is inexcusable.
Point being? Hiring or casting should be based on merit and the story you are trying to tell. If Reva's character was predetermined to be black, it begs the question as to why it mattered. Did actors of other skin colors audition and get turned away because they weren't black? Is that not racist? It should purely be based on skill and fit for the role, especially in a fantasy space opera like Star Wars. Race in this galaxy of story telling has never mattered to the plot and I would hope for Ingram's sake she was selected based on far more than her skin color.
Diversity isn't a bad thing, and it shouldn't be restricted. My main issue with anything based in equity is that it unnaturally moves the needle and creates resentment. Desegregating schools was incredibly beneficial, but forced integration has never worked. Naturally allowing cultures and people to mix rather than synthetically diversifying a movie set in an attempt to "represent" previously underrepresented communities is virtue signaling at its finest and counterproductive to the mission of equality. That doesn't mean don't write stories about different people or different perspectives, but let the well written story do the talking and don't let the focal point be someone's appearance.
Star Wars is already facing an uphill battle amid oversaturation, and it needs to pivot quickly to smaller scale, well told stories like The Mandalorian. The worst thing it could do is fall further victim to the woke machine that forces certain percentages of crew and cast to look a certain way. Star Wars' stories have inspired people of all ages and backgrounds without pandering to specific groups just to check a box. Luke Skywalker fought the Empire and took down their system of oppression. It didn't matter that he was white or male. It mattered that it was a story that resonated with the human condition.