The usual suspects on social media are upset by a female actor being cast as a lead in the next Star Wars movie. I’ve never been a big Star Wars fan, myself. I much prefer Star Trek, especially Voyager. In fact, I find the franchise extremely boring. Star Wars – The Force Awakens was actually the first SW I have watched, which I found somewhat entertaining. I credit this to the casting of John Boyega, whom I knew from Attack the Block (which I LOVED!), Oscar Isaac, whom I knew from Sucker Punch (but forgot he was in it), and Ex Machina (which I didn’t enjoy). And Daisy Ridley, whom I had never heard of prior to SWFA. In a nutshell, SWFA was less boring than the previous iterations of the franchise, GREAT leading actors, but kind of a lame story, in my own personal opinion. I think Boyega and Isaac had the best performances, because the story treated them better and gave them much more to work with. Whereas Ridley seems to be a very talented actor, but was basically handed a stale, rather linear and somewhat implausible character. And this is my problem with diversity in Hollywood movies.
When Hollywood studios, every now and then, attempt to give us a cast that is marginally reflective of real life demographics, the characters end up being mostly 2-dimensional. It comes down to the writing. If Hollywood is as white as the recent #OscarsSoWhite uproar reminds us, and an overwhelmingly male #SoWhite industry at that, then how is it any surprise that Ridley’s and Boyega’s characters are more or less forgettable. Except for Boyega’s storm trooper deserting, and Ridley’s Luke Skywalker battling the new Darth Vader, what else was memorable about them? When I look at the writing credits for SWFA, I see Lawrence Kasdan (white male, age 67), J. J. Abrams (white male, age 49), Michael Arndt (white male, age 45), George Lucas (white male, age 71). The characters played by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac, are neither white males, nor in their 40s, 60s and 70s. Now, all the lens flare hatery aside, I love J. J. Abrams. Putting his name on a movie or show is a sure ticket to getting me to watch it, no questions asked. George Lucas? Two words: Indiana Jones! \o/
However, as stellar as these writers are, in cases like these I often wonder, if Hollywood’s finally ready to diversify their casts, why not diversify the writing team, right along with it? It’s great if you can get (the same old) big name writers for your blockbusters and whatnot, but why not try getting writers that are much closer to the demographics of the diverse characters you’re presenting to us? If Hollywood studios are willing to have young female leads in Star Wars, why not add have young female writers write this young female character? Why not have young black writers write the young black character? And so on? I think if Hollywood wants us to believe they are serious about bringing diversity to film, they need to do it justice by bringing diverse writers to write these films.
People who are upset about a female lead in Star Wars, I don’t know, I just wonder what they’re watching these things for. Are you not bored, when it’s the same characters over and over and over again? How is that even entertaining? Look at the upcoming Avengers movie. See how excited black fans are about the inclusion of Black Panther. Every single day, my Twitter TL is buzzing with joyous anticipation. That’s how it’s supposed to be. We should all be excited by these films. But to achieve that, you have to represent us all, in these films.
One of the things I would like to see, is an end to the misogynistic James Bond franchise. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid, but re-watching the old Bonds today … my goodness … it’s beyond misogyny in some places. Many old Bond scenes are outright gender-based violence. WTF??
Let’s have a female Bond, Jane Bond. Let’s cast Sanaa Lathan! And Harry Treadaway as Mr. Moneypenny. Q? How about Archie Panjabi? Or Freema Agyeman? Who’s playing M? Kate Mulgrew! And the first Bond villian in this franchise? Lena “Cersei Lannister” Headey. Go on. Tell me you wouldn’t want to see this! 😀
Image credits: 1) Gun barrel: Goldeneye. 2) “Jane Bond”: “The Killer Elite – 3” by mjranum-stock (deviantart); License: CC BY 3.0)