I was indoctrinated into the Star Wars fandom from an early age. I was born in 1980, and my brother is eight years older than me. So being like any other little brother, I wanted to be like him in every way possible. Even though our father was a strong presence in the house, my older brother served as a closer, more relatable model for who I should be as a black boy. My father worked seven days a week most weeks, and still is a stoic man (he was NOT drafted, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam because he felt he owed it to his country if that gives you any idea as to his nature) so my brother was human, of flesh, not G.I. Joe, and was in the room next door. So whatever he liked, I liked. I should say my brother did not like Star Wars, he ate, slept, devoured and LIVED Star Wars. He had every single action figure, poster, doll, cassette tape, story book, bed sheets, pillow cases, house shoes, watch, ALL the accessories ok? So when I was very young, I was taken to the movies with him to see Empire Strikes Back in the theatres and the Ewok movie. Looking back, I am sure my parents did this on purpose to make sure he was on the up and up and to get us out of the house. The proverbial “Sure you can go, as long as you take your brother.” I actually still have my original Ewok plush doll. So let me just state the obvious, I am vetted. A true fan of the world George Lucas created.
With all of my true blue fan credentials out of the way, let me say I saw The Last Jedi yesterday afternoon, and I am conflicted. I don’t say this in an academic, clinical way. I say this as a true fan of the franchise. It saddens me and simultaneously relives me to say that this will most likely be my last Star Wars film that I rush to the theatre to see. Let me outline why The Last Jedi, is in all practical terms, my last Star Wars movie.
The race problem in the galaxy is strong with this one. In the Star Wars world White Supremacy is rampant and people of color are reduced to cowards in the personage of John Boyega once again running from a fight to jump into an escape pod and abandon everyone (predictably for a Rey, a white woman…), or they are maintenance workers or fighter pilots that fall into the noble savage trope and die heroically. Authority is racialized in space, as it is here on Earth. To put it simply, diversity in Star Wars is masked in white supremacy by putting women in charge…but white women. The authorities in charge of the resistance:
The major protagonists in the story arc:
The story is about characters who are white, and led by characters who are white. The narrative is propelled by white characters who are making decisions that have life and death ramifications for the non-white characters. The people of color in the film have no agency really (Tran is a mechanic at the bottom of the Resistance and Boyega has several bosses from Phasma to The First Order then to his bosses in the Resistance) and live at the behest of white characters who control their destiny.
People of Color (John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran)are tertiary characters (the Force being one, white people being two and POC…) who go on side missions that are completely useless and a distraction from the main story. Of course Tran has faced the same racism online that John Boyega faced when pictures of him in the last film popped up from production.
I also was not excited by the fact we were basically gay baited into thinking
Oscar Issacs and John Boyega might be a romantic item (they were “Shipped” all over the internet and even hinted at the romance on Ellen). The thought of the galaxy finally being non heterosexist I guess was just TOO fantastical to imagine, especially with it still being white supremacist.
So with Han Solo murdered, Carrie Fisher dead, and Luke now evaporated into the Force, white supremacy and heterosexual norms everywhere, I can say that I have not left the Force, but the Force is definitely no longer with me.