The Star Wars Episode VII cast diversity is once again following a disturbing trend. Most of the cast announced for the upcoming sequel are Caucasian men. It happened that way with the original trilogy, and to a similar extent, in the prequels.
It’s enough to make you wonder if the writers of the new film are aware that the films hardly have more than two women or African Americans in the galaxy far far away. Even Seth MacFarlane pointed that fact out in his Family Guy parodies. In all of the original trilogy, the only prominent women we saw were Princess Leia and the woman at the briefing before the first Death Star attack. The rest seemed to have become dancers for Jabba. Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones were the only two African Americans obviously cast as well, and the rest of the cast were all “white men.”
Looking at the picture released over the weekend, it seems suspicious that Billy Dee Williams is not there, but in his place is John Boyega. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is back, and accompanied only by Daisy Ridley on the acting side. In the prequel trilogy, there were a few more women in minor roles (Anakin’s mother and Padme), but it still looked like Samuel L. Jackson was the only African American cast member aside from the man who voiced JarJar Binks (Ahmed Best). This trend in Star Wars Episode VII cast diversity has brought more than enough angry backlash, especially on Twitter.
Mark Hamill, the man who brought Luke Skywalker to life in the late 70s, seemingly disagrees with this revelation. According to a tweet last night, he thought the cast showed quite a bit of diversity. This may have lost him a lot of fans among the other demographics, unless he was going for irony. Perhaps he was commenting on how varied everyone’s background in acting looked.
UK table read- I was knocked out by the diverse & extraordinarily talented new cast members. WOW they’re good! The saga is in superb hands.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 1, 2014
A separate comment from Annalee Lewitz of io9 expressed quite the opposite view:
“I’m stunned that Kasdan and Abrams’ imaginations appear to have failed where the many authors of the [Star Wars expanded universe] didn’t. Why not invent new female characters? It’s not as if having a gender-balanced EU drove fans away.”
While the expanded universe blew away expectations with its diversity, as opposed to the Star Wars Episode VII cast, it appears that none of it is official canon now. In fact, Star Wars is taking a page out of the book of the Fantastic Four reboot and casting John Boyega as the son of Han Solo and Leia, with Daisy Ridley as his sister. We can only hope for the sake of science alone that this was the result of either a recessive gene in the Solo or Skywalker family or they simply chose to adopt. If one of those explanations is revealed, there is no foreseeable problem.
While these roles may very well lead to groundbreaking performances, we can’t help wonder why more African Americans and women weren’t cast in major roles. Star Wars Episode VII cast, the internet finds your lack of diversity disturbing.
[Image Via Bing]