So, I’ll be perfectly candid right now. I didn’t grow up watching Star Wars. Up until Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everything I knew of the lore was what I gathered from watching my brother play through Lego Star Wars.
Since I’ve finally decided to see what all of the fuss was about and saw The Force Awakens, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Star Wars. And I’m not going to lie, a huge part of that has to do with Rey. I’ve never seen Star Wars as inaccessible to me because I’m a girl, I truly just hadn’t had a chance at seeing them. Seeing Rey in the trailers didn’t sell the entire franchise to me, but it showed promise of a well-written movie.
Before seeing her in that moment, I wouldn’t have really been interested in the lore in the new episodes, but because Episode VII literally blew my socks off, I excitedly watched the new trailer for Rogue One.
Here’s what might be surprising. I wasn’t blown away by the introduction of the new female protagonist because I knew from Episode VII that Star Wars was already capable of having strong female characters who led the crusade. Like, literally, Leia is leading the Resistance. We got this, y’all. That’s why, while not surprised, I’m exhausted by the reaction to Jyn Erso. Dudebros across the internet grabbed their torches and pitchforks and cried big, fat, macho tears over the feminist agenda Disney is trying to push on their favorite franchise.
One comment in particular I saw whined that “[they] don’t care if Star Wars is fantasy!”; women just cannot realistically fulfill the roles that men do!
Okay, so you’re willing to engage in a two-hour long discourse about why Han Solo shot first, but you won’t hear anything about a female protagonist completing the same tasks as a male one? Because you’re appalled at the idea that maybe a girl can do more than be rescued? And need I remind you who saved Leia from Jabba the Hut? That’s right. Leia. Maybe you don’t remember that because of the bikini thing, but yeah. That happened.
I’m gonna drop a truth bomb on you guys – whether you like it or not, this is the lore now.
The reason General Organa is the leader of the Resistance and not Han? Han ran away when his son defected. The reason Luke didn’t appear until the very end? He was hiding in shame because the group of kindergarten Jedi’s he was training spiraled out of control. Even Finn, who I love very dearly and is one of the reasons Star Wars looks to have such a bright future, was going to run. And before you come at me all like, “not all the men in Star Wars ran away,” let me just say, I agree with you. Poe Dameron would never do that.
So here’s the thing. There’s a reason why Star Wars is one of the most critically acclaimed film series of all time. There’s a reason why grown men burst into tears when Han and Chewie appeared in that trailer. There’s a deep, nostalgic attachment to these characters and their stories and so you want to see that continue because it’s what you’re used to and it’s what you fell in love with. However, the reality is that the world isn’t the same place it was when Star Wars first came out. The world has been progressing since then, and, to the amazement of literally millions, Star Wars moved forward also.
This is the way things are now and you have a choice – either ignore all of the new lore and keep watching the first six (or three, depending on who you are) over and over until you die, or you can sack up and follow your favorite characters into this new frontier.
There’s a reason they included Han and Chewie and Leia and Luke and Ackbar and R2-D2 and C3PO in these new movies. It’s because the writers and J.J. Abrams loved them as much as you do and wanted to see their stories continue on. If you’re going to be the type of person who decides to boycott the new movies because of a black protagonist or because a vagina-haver is piloting the Millennium Falcon, I honestly feel bad for you because right now, Star Wars’s prospects look as bright as they ever have. I came out of that theater stunned to see a franchise, that has a huge cult-nerd following of predominantly males, with such a diverse cast.
Two members of the new “Star Wars Golden Trio” were men of color (I’m talking about Finn and Poe, by the way, Kylo Ren hasn’t heard his Prince Zuko Redemption arc yet), and the other member was a woman who, for the first time, was the one the story followed the most.
The new generation of Star Wars lovers will look at Finn, Poe, and Rey as you looked at Luke, Leia, and Han, and (to a lesser degree, as I understand it) Anakin, Obi Wan, and Padme.
John Boyega, the actor who plays Finn, posts at least one photo a week of a little black boy or girl clutching onto their Finn action figure because finally there’s someone who looks like them in Star Wars who might actually live through a trilogy (sorry, Mace and Lando.)
Anyway, back to Rogue One.
As I understand it, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, is going to be at the forefront of the Rebellion as they carry out a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be built. To this, I’ve seen many fanboys spit in disgust. “A woman spearheading the Rebellion? How even could she do that what with her breasts and uterus and such”? Now I, by some token, understand your butt-hurtedness. Two Star Wars movies in a row with female protagonists, all in the same year the all-female-casted Ghost Busters is meant to come out? It’s a big change.
I know some people may be crying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that only works for things that aren’t broken.
Star Wars didn’t actively work to exclude women and people of color from the spotlight. It was just a sign of the times, and not that that makes it okay, but that’s how things were. It’s 2016. We can’t keep putting white men in starring roles of things because it’s what we’re used to. While it’s not completely without its own agenda, the casting of a black actor, a Latino actor, and a woman as the faces of the revival of this series isn’t meant to be an anti-white, anti-men move. It’s meant to be a move. Period.
They had to cast actors that were good for the role. And they did. End of story.
No one’s trying to hurt you by taking away your white, straight, male heroes. Honestly, I think if anything, we’re trying to give someone else a chance to have someone to look up to.
I know that might be scary now, but let me tell you as someone who grew up with only a few characters who looked like me and weren’t token females dressed in pink just to make sure you remembered they’re girls, you’ll be okay. I wouldn’t say you’re out of the woods yet. In fact, if I were you I’d strap in. There have been lots of rumors flying around that this trilogy might see the first ever LGBTQA+ character in Star Wars (although I have my suspicions about Lando) ever.
And real talk, even though no one’s sure really which way the romance may go (my money’s on all three of them finding a cute, little ranch on Yavin IV and living out their post-First Order days in peace) in the new Golden Trio, but no matter how you slice it, if there is a romance, it’s going to be interracial.
Rey is very, very likely to be the Jedi heroine of this trilogy and she might be the one to cause the downfall of the First Order. All by her lady self.
Mon Mothma is back, baby, and, if you recall, she helped plan the Battle of Endor, so you might have to watch her make some big girl decisions on behalf of the Rebellion. As progressive as Star Wars is proving itself to be, there’s still more to do. As of right now, there have been no women of color in a major role in Star Wars. Now, that may be because there aren’t a ton of women in major roles as is, but having three consecutive “token females” (although Rey is far from token) who were white women leaves a space empty.
Yes, I know Lupita Nyong’o was in the movie and no, I’m not suggesting that the stylistic choice to have Maz Kanata as a 3’5” CG alien was meant to erase Nyong’o’s race. I’m just saying that having a visible woman of color in this franchise will be just as important as having men of color and at the rate Star Wars is moving, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens soon too.
Did I write this article to hurt some feelings? No. Am I going to lie awake at night because I inevitably did? No. In fact, I might sleep better now, and let’s be real – the world is moving forward and Star Wars is moving with the times. You are entitled to frustration because things are changing quickly in a way you didn’t expect, but no amount of internet anger is going to change the casting lists or what J.J. Abrams has in store for us.
Instead of stagnating in your angry man stew, perhaps you should stew a bit in your thoughts, think about your priorities, and decide whether or not you truly want to leave behind one of your favorite childhood franchises because it’s not a sausage party anymore.
Continue the discussion in the comment below!