Arts and Culture

‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ and Gender Diversity

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By Will Clemons

As 2016 came to a close, we were graced with another movie in the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: Rogue One was a detour from the main storyline, detailing the journey of Jyn Erso, the daughter of the head engineer of the Death Star, and her quest to find a way to destroy it. Jyn, the British actor Felicity Jones, known for her part as Felicia in The Amazing Spider Man 2 and the mother of the main character in ‘A Monster Calls’ plays Jyn.

Jones’ performance has generally been well-received, with many finding that she takes the role of Jyn quite well, and really helps build the characters around her. Recently though, a few vocal fans of the series have lamented over a single part of her performance, and how it bogs down the rest of the movie: her gender.

For the uninformed, the previously released Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, also had a female lead; Daisy Ridley played the character Rey. Many fans rejoiced in the series finally embracing a female main character, and helping strengthen diversity in Hollywood. Ridley was not the only one to break ground though in the movie, because John Boyega, who plays Finn in the movie, is one of the first main characters in the series to be of African origin. Boyega’s parents are from Nigeria.

Overall, The Force Awakens had a cast unlike any other Star Wars movie before, and for that it was praised. Then, when the movie Star Wars: Rogue One was announced, along with its characters and actors, a few fans felt  dissatisfied. For example, New York Post columnist John Podoretz posted the following statement on his Twitter account: “Imagine a future in which a ‘Star Wars’ movie has a male protagonist. Go ahead, imagine it. You’re not going to get one.” Podoretz almost instantly received quite a lot of backlash from his fans, until he posted an apology claiming that the previous tweet was meant as a joke.

Podoretz was not the only one to voice his complaints, as Twitter user @OurWorldIsNuts tweeted at CNN in response to the Rogue One trailer saying, “So all Star Wars movies now have a female lead? Disney trying 2 pad bottom line? Because sure, most rebellions have females in charge.”

A minority speaks against the “PC-ification” (political correctness) of American society. However, many people, including Diego Luna (Cassian Andor in Rogue One), have highlighted the recent Star Wars movie’s diversity. During an interview at the movie’s premier with Disney Luna commented, “It’s a beautiful film about unity and celebration.” Luna also goes on to describe how he is “just glad this film is talking about the world we’re living in,” and how it interprets our society, “ where racial and cultural diversity is found everywhere.”

As digital news organization TheWrap pointed out, The Force Awakens Oscar Isaac, along with Luna, have both been nominated for Oscars for their roles in their respective movies. This calls to the future of Latino characters in Star Wars, where Luna said, “The cinema has to start to reflect the world we live in. Today the market is not a country. The market is the world… Audiences want to be represented.”

Rogue One’s critics and fans alike both have shared their feelings about the movie, causing a split divide between the fanbase of Star Wars. As more and more information about Star Wars: Episode VIII is leaked, many ask how Lucasfilms has reacted to the feedback given, and if they stick to their guns about diversity in the movies. Diego Luna commented on this issue, saying, “There was a need for a ‘Star Wars’ film that talked about racial diversity, that rethinks the role of women, that is modern, that has more to do with the world we live in.”

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