To the 501st Florida Garrison Leadership,
First, I recognize the challenge of working in conjunction with Walt Disney World on this parade. I do understand that space is limited. I do have full faith that, as an organization, you’ll be able to do what is best for Disney, your members, and the resort guests during Star Wars Weekends. I have this faith because I and many others have seen you succeed at this very event numerous times. The presence of the 501st and Rebel Legion are perhaps the most popular features of the motorcade for both casual park-goers and longtime Star Wars fans.
It is because I’ve seen this garrison do such great things that I am concerned with recent news of character prohibitions that have apparently been made on your own accord and without orders from either Lucasfilm or Disney. We have heard from your own members that characters are not being allowed due to what you have called “recognizability.” More troubling is that we have heard that this policy is being applied in what appears to be inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary fashion. Members have been told that relatively obscure characters like Starkiller are in, but other (and potentially higher profile) characters like Mara Jade are out.
While I understand this policy’s macro goals of promoting costume quality and maximizing parade space, I am worried that it carries with it some unintended and extremely unfortunate consequences. Additionally I understand that this policy has been in place for some time, but it appears that it has never been as strictly applied as it is this year. Perhaps worst is that it restricts a shallow pool of options for female members of your garrison. There are not nearly as many female characters in the Star Wars universe as there are male characters. The subjectivity of a recognizability policy appears to have already cut out options for this already underserved and underrepresented portion of the Star Wars fanbase.
While I may be out of line to suggest this, I feel it’s important to do so. There’s power in representation, but that representation has been difficult to find within the more mainstream confines of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. By barring Mara Jades, Jaina Solos, the Admiral Daalas, and other diverse but less-than-easily-recognizable characters because they’re not as easy to name as Darth Revan or Darth Maul, you take away the opportunity to reach out to the underrepresented.
If these less recognizable characters are allowed in the motorcade and just one young person of an underrepresented demographic (be they a minority, a girl, or what have you) sees someone like them in that parade and develops the first seedling of interest in Star Wars as a result, isn’t that worth it?
I implore you to reconsider how strict this policy is becoming. This motorcade happens numerous times throughout the (now extended by an additional weekend) event. There’s room for everyone, because we’ve seen such a wonderful array and variety of characters before. Allow this to be representative of all fans and to reach out to a larger swath of potential fans.
Going through with this policy may prove to be needlessly divisive. Worse, it may drive away some of the most loyal and devoted members of the 501st and the Star wars fandom as a whole. It carries with it an air of the dangerous and hurtful True Fan mentality and an unintended but present message that says “The character that resonates with you doesn’t matter.”
It’s a big Galaxy, and there’s room for all of us.
May the Force be with you,Brian Larsen Editor, Tosche-Station.net Co-Host, Tosche Station Radio