|Star Wars (1977) Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford)...and Kanye West?|
Hey J.J. Abrams stop busing black people in! Star Wars Episode 7 needs to have more minorities and the key is through integration!
While planning the March "Geek Madness" tournament I tried to add some diversity to the bracket and made a shocking realization: There are only three black people in Star Wars. That's right. In six movies there are green people, red people and blue people. But there are only three noticeable black people in Star Wars. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie). Only one noticeable Hispanic character (Bail Organa), one Native character (Jango Fett) and one Asian Jedi who said nothing. This has got to change and here's how to do it the right way.
Don't get me wrong. I love Star Wars and it's popular with all races and people around the world. Plus, the black people we do see are pretty cool. Who can argue that Mace Windu is the baddest Jedi ever? But who did he talk to? Did he talk about soul food with Yoda? Did he complain to Obi Wan about getting pulled over in Coruscant for "driving while black?" Did he fly down to Naboo to talk to Panaka about the latest R&B album?
So, what's the solution? Well, J.J. Abrams is reportedly working hard to add diversity to Star Wars Episode 7. According to Variety he wants "someone of a different ethnicity from the previous Caucasian leads." There are rumors that he's been looking to cast minority actors like Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega and David Oyewolo. That's admirable. But it's wrong.
The key isn't to use desegregation on Star Wars but integration. What's desegregation? It's a political process that tries to end the separation between two races by forcing them together. It worked well in the 1960s and made some very important changes to the school systems and military. The best example was when they bused minority children to predominantly white schools. But compare that with racial integration. Integration takes down barriers to association and builds a culture of diverse traditions. It's not just about adding black people. It's about creating a culture that embraces different races on all levels. Star Wars isn't like that.
Here's an example. Casting calls for Star Wars have been big news lately. Recently, the website opencastingcall2013.com was looking to cast two characters named Rachel and Thomas. For Rachel the description was,
"Young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial). Must be 16 or over."
Pretty cool. Compare that with Thomas' description,
"Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic. Must be 18 or over."
What's missing? A mention of race. So, here's the question: Why was it necessary to specify the race of Rachel and not Thomas? Does that assume Thomas is white? Does Rachel's ethnicity play a part in her character? What about all the other casting calls for Star Wars? Should minorities assume they can only audition for roles that are open to being "open to all ethnicities"? This is ridiculous. It should be assumed that ALL the casting calls are open to all ethnicities. There should be Black, Hispanic and Asian people everywhere. There should be so many minorities it looks like a Jay-Z concert.
This is why people got so mad about Michael B. Jordan's casting in Fantastic Four. It's awesome, but conspicuous. It feels arbitrary. Why couldn't the Thing be black? True, he'd be covered in orange rock, but does it matter? What about making Mr. Fantastic black? It would make a lot more sense than casting a brother and sister as different races. This is obviously a case of casting a black man by committee instead of making it natural. Often in these situations the film-makers sit over a list of characters and pick characters at random and make them black.
Star Wars could set a new standard for films. Instead of setting out to make some characters black and white why not just open the casting of all the characters to all ethnicities? Maybe Lupita would make a great main heroine, but maybe not. Maybe she'd be better as the main villain or the funny sidekick. Who knows, but we'll never know if they keep trying to bus black people into Star Wars. And, for crying out loud, it wouldn't hurt to have a Japanese guy in there somewhere.
What do you think is the best way to integrate Star Wars? Who's your favorite minority in the Star Wars film?
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