Star Wars Has a Fandom Problem

 

That they had some expertise to attract from. In 2018, Star Wars: The Final Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran deleted her social media after receiving racist and abusive messages; she would later describe the decision by saying, “It was principally me being like, ‘Oh, this isn’t good for my psychological well being. I’m clearly going to go away this.’”

Three years earlier, John Boyega was defending himself from comparable assaults, telling an interviewer, “I’m within the film, what are you going to do about it? You both take pleasure in it otherwise you don’t. I’m not saying to get used to the long run however what’s already taking place. Folks of coloration and girls are more and more being proven onscreen. For issues to be whitewashed simply doesn’t make sense.”

But regardless that the assaults are all too acquainted, the reactions to them have advanced considerably. Lucasfilm’s blunt response to abuse towards Ingram was absent in each Tran and Boyega’s instances. Equally, whereas two extremely seen Star Wars figures—Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, and Final Jedi director Rian Johnson—spoke out when Tran left social media, each did so obliquely, not explicitly calling out the racism she had confronted. (Hamill took to Twitter to post “#GetALifeNerds,” whereas Johnson responded by decrying “a number of unhealthy individuals [who] solid a giant shadow on the wall,” noting that the “VAST majority” had been nice and, I suppose, not racist.)

However there’s additionally one thing instructive in Lucasfilm’s extra simple response to the assaults, one that’s, maybe, slightly blind to the franchise’s shortcomings.

The sequence is, to this present day, predominantly white, with the unique trilogy—which continues to be held up because the prime instance of what the property will be—that includes precisely one non-white actor in an onscreen talking position. (That the primary film has just one Black actor, who offers the voice for the film’s villain, is a complete factor in and of itself.) Moreover, it is a fandom that has made a movement of cosplaying as the faceless soldiers of a fascist regime. The concept Star Wars is, implicitly, a protected haven of range and instance of the identical is, on the very least, flawed.

So, what will be carried out? If Disney and Lucasfilm need to rid Star Wars fandom of its poisonous parts, the businesses will certainly must double down on their efforts: denouncing bigotry extra vocally and inspiring others to do the identical, ideally irrespective of fictional realities. Inserting a better give attention to onscreen range, in more and more seen and vital roles, will even be key. They’d additionally do nicely to remind followers that the Empire/First Order are the unhealthy guys, not aspirational figures.

However these are simply the primary steps. Star Wars has struggled with the failings in its fandom for a very long time. This week’s tweets and movies are, to make sure, indicators that Lucasfilm is making an attempt to handle the racism its actors obtain extra immediately. However among the change will in the end want to return from the followers themselves. Then, possibly, Obi-Wan can know peace.

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