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.
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.