‘Star Wars’ Franchise Faces Backlash Over Lack Of Inclusivity As ‘Game Of Thrones’ Creators Sign On For Series

A recent report revealed that 96 percent of the 'Star Wars' franchise's writers and directors have been white men.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss received award for 'Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series' at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

A recent report revealed that 96 percent of the 'Star Wars' franchise's writers and directors have been white men.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would soon be making the jump into hyperspace as they have officially been given the green light to write and produce a brand new series of Star Wars movies shortly after their Emmy award-winning HBO drama series draws to a close next year.

In a statement on Tuesday, Disney and Lucasfilm revealed that this new slate of Star Wars movies would be a separate entity from the core Skywalker saga, which is set to conclude in 2019 with Episode IX, and the recently announced trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

In a joint statement, Benioff and Weiss said they were “honored by the opportunity” as they revealed that taking on a Star Wars project had been a lifelong dream for both of them.

“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since.”

Star Wars Original Saga Millennium Falcon.
  Lucasfilm

“We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete,” they humbly concluded.

At this early stage, no release dates have been given for the new series of movies as they join a large roster of projects at Lucasfilm, including the upcoming Ron Howard-directed spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story, due to be released in May, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, which is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2019.

However, this most recent team-up appears to have caused a disturbance in the force, as some people have voiced a negative reaction to the news that two more white males have been enlisted as the main creative leads on the upcoming movie series, arguing that it displays a lack of diversity in the Star Wars franchise.

In reviewing the patterns in the Star Wars tapestry, Variety’s Maureen Ryan discovered that “the franchise’s leading creative voices have been white men 96 percent of the time.” She calculated that, over the space of 41 years, 24 people have been hired as writers or directors on the 17 released or planned theatrical movies in the Star Wars universe, with 23 of those people being white men.

As part of her analysis, Ryan found that the sole exception to this trend had been Leigh Brackett, a white woman who received a screenplay credit on the 1980’s sci-fi flick The Empire Strikes Back, but claimed that otherwise, “no men of color, women of color or white women have held these positions.”

“Forgive me for being blunt, but General Organa taught me to face problems head on, not politely avoid them,” Ryan wrote in her column, which addresses the lack of inclusivity behind the scenes.

Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa in Star Wars.
  Disney / Lucasfilm

“Has the Star Wars franchise made strides in the kinds of characters it showcases in its tentpole films? Absolutely. Is the whole enchilada run by a woman? Yes, I’m aware of that. But I’m not sure what’s stopping Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy from hiring any of the talented, hungry and skilled men and women of color and white women who have Star Wars stories to tell.”

While many have supported the report, others have disputed Ryan’s use of an “awfully small data set” that only focuses on those who have been recruited in writing (specifically, anyone who has received a screenplay or story credit) and directing roles on Star Wars feature films, but excludes those who have worked on related television series or specials.

It is safe to say, with the Star Wars universe expanding at a rate we have never seen before, we can expect to see a shift in these statistics over the coming years. So, watch this space.