It's been a tough year in Hollywood. Between the shrill sounds of childhoods being destroyed and the outrage at the mere idea of not casting a white male in every main role ever, not one franchise is safe from the crushing waves of online backlash. Even #StarWars, which you'd think would be anyone's Christmas spaceship guilty pleasure, has come under scrutiny by a portion of its fans for supposedly pushing an "anti-white" agenda.
Not only did #Disney dare to put a female character and a black stormtrooper at the center of its new spin on the iconic series and succeed at it — #TheForceAwakens boasts the biggest opening weekend of any movie ever — but the studio is now pushing a second chapter where a female character is indubitably the lead. How could they!
Let's Dump Star Wars Because The Movies Are Clearly Anti-White — Wait, What?
The firewood was ready, then, when #RogueOne screenwriter Chris Weitz added a spark by hinting on Twitter that the evil Empire in the story was similar to president-elect Donald Trump's new American government:
"Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization."
It didn't take long for the call for a Star Wars boycott to take over the Twittersphere. Under the hashtag #DumpStarWars, self-proclaimed alt-right activists are accusing the space saga of supporting diversity and picturing white people as evil. Mind you, women in leading roles are also threatening to the establishment, so the fact that #FelicityJones is white and playing the main character doesn't count.
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Meanwhile, Weitz deleted his initial tweet and is trying to make the best out of the backlash that came crashing in on him.
For Disney's CEO, 'Rogue One' Is Not 'In Any Way A Political Film'
Obviously, such an uproar around this winter's most anticipated blockbuster doesn't really bode well in terms of box office, so Disney CEO Bob Iger took the opportunity of the Rogue One premiere in Los Angeles to reassure those who didn't feel ready to have their worldview challenged by a lightsaber-wielding female Rebel fighter.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet, he insisted there was nothing political about the whole story:
"I think the whole story has been overblown and, quite frankly, it's silly. I have no reaction to [this] story at all. Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy. It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film. There are no political statements in it, at all."
Well, it's a movie about two different regimes and ideologies fighting to take control of the world, with a dark side and a light one — but sure. Iger went on to acknowledge the diversity of the cast, but reiterated that there was nothing political about it:
"[Rogue One] has one of the greatest and most diverse casts of any film we have ever made and we are very proud of that, and that is not a political statement, at all."
Blockbusters Like Star Wars Do Shape Our View Of The World — But That Doesn't Make Them Brainwashers
While you might find it disappointing that the studio wouldn't stand up for the great progress it's been making in breaking the typical Hollywood mold, it might just be a good thing if his remarks can convince angry fans to drop the boycott and take a trip to the theater after all. Who knows, their views might change once they find they can still breathe after two hours of exposure to a diverse cast?
More seriously, accusing Rogue One of being political seems pointless, when even movies not intended as such can end up making a strong political statement and have a great effect on viewers — precisely because their message is subtly intertwined with the narrative. Is that really such a bad thing? Hollywood hasn't suddenly become all "political;" blockbusters have always shaped and echoed our perception of the world, but it remains our choice how we interpret them.
Star Wars has taught us many great lessons over the years, and the beauty of its story shouldn't get lost in the current paranoia about who's trying to push their agenda on whom. If you're a Star Wars fan, go watch Rogue One. Maybe you'll appreciate its message and maybe you won't. But whatever you do, don't listen to Admiral Ackbar — it's not a trap.
Will you go see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when it comes out?
(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)