#BoycottStarWarsVII or #CelebrateStarWarsVII?
Walt Disney Studios released the trailer for their upcoming movie Star Wars VII last Monday, October 19. Almost as an immediate reaction,the movie received backlash through the hashtag “#BoycottStarWarsVII” which started trending on twitter.
The hashtag was created by the online community 4chan after users were shocked to see that a person of color and a woman were among the main protagonists. After the trailer was released, the movement gained momentum and became a trending topic online. The actor John Boyega will portray Finn, a redeemed First Order storm trooper and actress Daisy Ridley will portray Rey, a scavenger. The online comments have attacked both of them for serving as the main roles in the movie.
When the hashtag first started up there was a lot of hate being spread. It was being dominated by people saying the movie was “anti-white propaganda” which promoted “white genocide”and that the director, J.J. Abrams was a Jewish activist. The hashtag timeline was then filled with predominantly white users complaining about how they were not being represented in the film. Ironically, there are still white actors in the film including Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher that these users fail to acknowledge. I think what these users really mean is, why are white male actors not the main protagonists like they always are?
By having a female lead character, Star Wars is changing the performativity associated with women. Judith Butler argues that when performing a gender, its power is being performed as well. Instead of having the female character of Rey serve as merely a love interest, she is portrayed as a strong independent woman who takes care of herself. Thus demonstrating the power that a woman can withhold and not making them out to be powerless. The same can be said for having an African-American play the lead role of Finn. The power of being an African-American is being exposed rather than criminalizing them as America often does.
The film does a great job of incorporating all types of American people. There is not a single image as to how Americans look but rather there is a myriad of them. Americans come from all over the world and therefore when you walk down the street there is a good chance that you will encounter someone with a skin color that is not white. Aside from the fact that Americans come from different backgrounds, the movie is not only going to be seen by Americans but it will be shown all over the world. Having different people of color in the movie allows for more people to be able to identify with it and it gives a more realistic view of the people. Having people of color in the movie is not a movement against whites, its a movement towards a more accepting view of the world.
If you search the hashtag on twitter now you will mainly see users voicing their opposition towards the hashtag. Instead of allowing for the hashtag to continue to spread racism, users begun to use it to point out the irony of being mad at having a person of color play a storm trooper(who could be any skin color in reality) but not at the fact that white people play people of color in films all the time. In another attempt to silence #BoycottStarWarsVII, the hashtag #CelebrateStarWarsVII was created by “Selma” director Ava DuVernay. The hashtag is mainly composed of fans praising the movie for its wide range of actors and of fans praising one another for supporting the cast.
It is important to remember that the world has people of many different skin colors and that regardless of it or their sex, the force may be bestowed upon any of them.