It’s okay to feel conflicted about Episode VII’s casting

It’s possible to have conflicting feelings about things.

I’m excited that we finally, FINALLY, have casting news to talk about. The Big Three being in Episode VII was perhaps the worst kept secret in cinematic history, but despite that I’m still thrilled that we’re going to see Luke, Han, and Leia on the big screen again. I’m ecstatic that a few minority actors have been cast for the films. I’m excited that shooting is underway and we’re a few big steps closer to seeing Star Wars return to theaters.

Simultaneously, I’m rather disappointed that only one woman was added to the ranks at this juncture, and I’m not the only one.

It’s perfectly okay to be happy and nothing but happy about today’s news. This is big, exciting news. What’s not okay is the overly aggressive sentiment making its way through social media and the blogosphere that the only appropriate reaction now is excitement and happiness. Shouting down and belittling those who express concern or disappointment over the low number of women and people of color in this cast is not an okay thing to do.

(Responding with a patronizing “what’s important is telling a good story” is also not okay, just for the record)

That concern and disappointment is valid. Like it or not, Star Wars is a franchise that’s got a pretty mixed record when it comes to minority and female characters. It did okay in the Expanded Universe realm, but, well. You remember last week’s news. Its record (and its director’s record) from the film front leaves a lot more to be desired.  Because of this, fans are going to be rightly skeptical and disappointed when a disproportionately white, male cast is announced because Star Wars hasn’t quite earned the benefit of the doubt.

Even if Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have very prominent roles, right now it still appears that there is a big representation gap in this film and franchise. If we’re being honest, the minority representation right now is lacking. Even if another female main character is added, the representation of women is lacking. This casting announcement looks like a continuation of the lack of diversity this franchise has, unfortunately, been known for since 1977. That’s more than enough to justify the concern and disappointment that many are feeling.

Remember, you’re entitled to be happy and excited about this news. I don’t blame you! There’s a lot to be excited about and I share the overwhelming bulk of that excitement. Let me say that again, I’m very excited about this. However, you don’t get to belittle other fans that have valid concerns and feelings about this news. You don’t get to tell them how to feel. You don’t get to tell them what’s appropriate to feel. You don’t get to call their fandom into question for not responding to this news exactly how you did. You don’t get to invalidate their experiences just because they don’t match your own.

Your feelings are valid. And so are theirs.

TumblrRedditPinterestEmailWordPressShare
This entry was posted in Episode VII, Star Wars and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to It’s okay to feel conflicted about Episode VII’s casting

  1. Mitch says:

    So others feelings are valid despite them not being valid. Gotcha.

  2. Faith says:

    I agree! I was very conflicted over the casting. I was happy and sad and worried and disappointed and excited....all at the same time. I was a bit upset over there being 1 female (Save for Carrie Fisher.) but I was really excited they cast John Boyega. He seems cool and I'm excited to see his role in the upcoming movie.

  3. Pingback: Where are the rest of the women in Episode VII? Just “be patient!” | Club Jade

  4. Jam says:

    It would be interesting to compare EP VII against other science fiction fantasy movies of the last ten years or so. Is it similar or different? I don't know. And one might need to distinguish between the whole cast and just the new cast. The old cast of course leans it towards white and male.

    • Brian says:

      I suspect it's right in line with other franchises, but perhaps a touch worse. That said, it's disappointing Star Wars doesn't do better than this because this franchise is, let's be honest, a license to print money. Episode VII is going to break the billion dollar mark at the box office, so it's disappointing the creative team didn't use that sort of capitol to be more daring with casting.

      Even if you distinguish between cast generation, 1/7 of the new cast being female and 2/7 being ethnic isn't a particularly good set of ratios.

  5. I think the arguments about a lack of females being cast in THIS film may be over egging arguments about equality in the franchise in general. Perhaps they'll be better served when there's more to go on, time will tell.

    • Brian says:

      It's not just a quality issue with representation, but a quantity issue as well. Key paragraph from this article:

      "Even if Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have very prominent roles, right now it still appears that there is a big representation gap in this film and franchise. If we’re being honest, the minority representation right now is lacking. Even if another female main character is added, the representation of women is lacking. This casting announcement looks like a continuation of the lack of diversity this franchise has, unfortunately, been known for since 1977. That’s more than enough to justify the concern and disappointment that many are feeling."

      • This is perhaps a slightly troll like comment but not intended to be - has consideration been given to gay characters or gay actors? Does a Star Wars movie need to account for the entire spectrum of equality issues?

        Should JJ consider the needs of disabled persons? Should we congratulate him because he has cast an actor who happens to be black? Why have no Asians been cast?

        Is Star Wars a kids movie which is for fun and excitement or a movie for grown up kids that need their adult themes and desired reflected in said movie?

        We've had it up to 'HERE' with lectures about the economics of trade embargoes - should Ep 7 focus on other matters such climate change, genetic modification of food, cloning, challenges to democracy and oroperty rights as well?

        Oh wait...

        • Brian says:

          Has consideration been given to gay characters? Nope. Should consideration be given? You bet it should. Race, gender, and sexuality are all things that should be given much better representation in media like Star Wars.

          Should J.J. get praise for casting a black actor? Yes, and I did that in this post (but you probably glossed over it).

          Why have no Asians been cast? You got me, they should look into that because that could reach a whole new demo that would be good for the bottom line.

          As for the rest of your comment, the slippery slope fallacy is just that. A fallacy. Let me be very, VERY clear.

          Diverse representation and good stories are NOT mutually exclusive.

  6. Eddy says:

    All of this talk about diversity makes Tosche Station seem more like a Democratic Party blog than a Star Wars blog. Maybe it is. What a shame.

    • Brian says:

      This has been the tone of the blog since day one. If you don't like it, you're under no obligation to continue reading articles here if discussing the need for diversity and equality is that bothersome to you.

  7. Alli says:

    Got to whole-heartedly agree here. Respecting people's opinions is important, especially when those opinions concern things like representation. As I've gotten older I've been horrified by how few of my role models were women and how I think of women as a result. I love Star Wars and what it meant to me as a kid, but I think of how different my life could have been if I'd had more than just Leia to look up to as a female role model. (And I'm white, so I can only imagine that people of other ethnicities feel the same way as applied to their representation.)

    We can't change the past, but given how much representation and equality are issues now, it would be nice to see a sci-fi franchise—especially one as massive as Star Wars—to take a leap into the future and have casts that more accurately portray ethnic and gender diversity.

  8. Pingback: El nuevo cast de Star Wars ¿Machista? | Todos somos geeks

  9. Pingback: Four Points of Clarification | Tosche StationTosche Station

  10. Pingback: Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie Join Ep. VII Cast! |

Leave a Reply