Is the New Star Wars Movie the Most Political and Racially Diverse Yet?
At the end of the clusterfuck that was 2016, someone from a galaxy far, far away decided to cut us some slack and grace us with a new movie from the Star Wars franchise. This one was a little different from what we were used to. Not only was it not the next episode in line, but the casting choices stand out for a number of reasons as well.
The plot of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is about a group of rebels who need to steal the blueprints for the Death Star, which means this story takes places right before Episode IV: A New Hope. There are no Jedis, and there is only one lightsaber in the whole 2 hours and 13 minutes.
However, there is a big political message (not so well-) hidden in the movie. Even though Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney says otherwise. He is adamant that a movie about a group of rebels (mostly made up out of people of color) working towards the destruction of a totalitarian (white) government isn’t political. “Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy,” he said. “It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film. There are no political statements in it, at all.” He is right of course, if you just want to watch the movie for the fun of it, go ahead. But still, methinks the lady doth protest too much…
Other than that, there is a lot of talk about the casting choices. After the success of The Force Awakens, Disney has continued to pay attention to the diversity of their cast which we can clearly see here.
A girl takes control
The leading role is played by a girl. Though the actress, Felicity Jones, is very pretty, her character isn’t anything else than ordinary. Hair in a ponytail, no make-up. She looks practical, above anything else.
A Mexican with a thick accent
The male lead is played by Diego Luna, who is Mexican. Not only is he a Latino, like Poe Dameron was in The Force Awakens, but this time he even has a strong Spanish accent. In Belgium, and pretty much the rest of Europe, accents don’t matter. There are so many languages on this continent already. But in America, casting a heavily accented Mexican in a leading role in a franchise such as Star Wars, that’s a first. Especially in these times, where Trump’s wall is ever present in political discussions.
An Arab crushing stereotypes
The next one that deserves a mention is Riz Ahmed. He’s a British actor and son of Pakistani immigrants. He’s also still “randomly searched” at airports. And that’s exactly why his presence as one of the good guys on the big screen is important. Because Ahmed, and people who look like him, people with the same “Arab look”, people with the “wrong” last name, are now maybe more than ever racially profiled everywhere they go.
Asians being rebels
Last but certainly not least is a couple of badass Asian rebels who are so in tune with each other that they bicker like an old married couple. Portrayed by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, these characters are more than the stereotypical martial arts masters.
Whoever you are, whatever you look like, you’ll find someone who resembles you! Now you can identify with trying to overthrow the government and make the galaxy a better place. Star Wars fans who weren’t white guys have been seeing Star Wars films for decades, but the franchise is beginning to see them. We must say that the results have been beautiful.