Over Thanksgiving weekend, JJ Abrams decided to give us something to really be thankful for:a brief 88 second trailer for Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. Proving that our love of Star Wars as a culture is still alive and kicking, the internet devoured the trailer like a hungry Wampa with a freshly killed Tauntaun. After gorging themselves on Star Warsy goodness, nerds everywhere collectively took to their keyboards and blew up the information superhighway with their thoughts and theories about the trailer (speaking of which there’s a great trailer breakdown right here at the Noobist).Everyone’s biggest concern seems to be the weird new lightsaber : it looks like some sort of laser claymore. Other than that the general consensus seems to be positive…except for maybe the black Stormtrooper.
It appears that for some people, seeing X-Wings majestically skimming over the water and the return of the Millennium Falcon after thirty some odd years wasn’t enough to overcome the shock they felt over a few seconds of actor John Boyega in Stormtrooper armor that opens the trailer. Of course, many are claiming that there never was any outrage;that the whole thing was cooked up by some pesky SJW’s no doubt bored with Gamergate and looking to manufacture some good old controversy,call it Troopergate if you will. However one need only to look in the usual wretched hives of scum and villainy, IMDB forums, YouTube comments, Twitter, etc. , to see that a smattering of the internet did in fact lose their bantha poodoo over a black Stormtrooper. But what is it about having a black Stormtrooper in Star Wars that’s so offensive?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Troopergate. One is the “All the troopers were cloned from Jango Fett so they should all look like him” argument. This argument would seem to be less a matter of race and one of continuity. I however, have two problems with this particular line of thinking. My first problem with this argument is that it’s simply false. There is a wealth of expanded universe content that explains that the Stormtroopers were made up of both clones from templates other than Jango and non-clone recruits. But let’s put that aside as Disney has deemed much of the Star Wars expanded universe to be non-cannon and instead focus on what is cannon, namely the movies and the new cartoon Rebels. It’s quite clear that the Stormtroopers in the original trilogy aren’t clones as they have different voices and stand at different heights. Add to this that the new Rebels series has specifically shown non-clone Stormtroopers being trained and you begin to see that this is a ridiculous argument. If you are still having trouble I have included this Venn diagram.
The other problem that I have with the clone argument is that people are pushing a plot point from the Star Wars prequels. You can’t go around saying that the prequels were the worst movies ever made but then cling to them as the Gospel according to Lucas when it suits you. It just doesn’t work that way.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that you can be a big enough Star Wars fan to cry foul at what you perceive to be a heinous crime committed against Star Wars continuity but not know the actual continuity well enough to know that you’re argument is invalid.
The other school of thought is that J.J. Abrams felt some sort of affirmative action style pressure to appeal to a broader audience by diversifying what has been traditionally a predominantly white universe;or in other words, to show that there are more than two black people in the Star Wars galaxy.Some people apparently take umbrage with diversity for diversities sake.
And that’s too bad because even though there is a lot of racial tension in the country at large right now, it doesn’t have to extend to the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Those two genres have a history of being more tolerant and inclusive than any other genres in entertainment.Did the first televised interracial kiss happen on a crime procedural? A soap opera? A sitcom?
Nope. The first time a white man kissed a black woman on camera was on Star Trek. In fact the Enterprise was a veritable model U.N. with a crew more culturally diverse than many on television in 2014.
I’d be foolish to say that certain shows,comics or movies don’t sometimes arbitrarily add people of color just for the sake of appealing to a wider audience. DC for instance has been pushing the character of Cyborg hard the past couple of years. He’s gone from a second stringer to major player and honestly it sometimes feels that the only reason is so that there’s at least one African American in the Justice League. But so what? Honestly, Cyborg is a pretty solid character and it’s not like his inclusion diminishes any of the stories that he’s been put into.
There is such a backlash these days against forced political correctness that at the first announcement of something like the new Fantastic Four reboot having a black Johnny Storm, people go ballistic way before the movie even comes out. Make no mistake, the new Fantastic Four will suck, it will be down right horrible, but it won’t have anything to do with the color of the Human Torch’s skin.
It’s the same thing with The Force Awakens. We don’t know anything about the movie yet. For all we know John Boyega is wearing that Stormtrooper armor as a disguise, ala Han and Luke in A New Hope. And even if he isn’t, there’s going to be enough moments of sheer nerdgasm in this new movie that no one is going to give two poodoos about what color the Stormtroopers are.
So let’s not give a second thought to the subject of whether or not there should be black Stormtroopers because like it or not there is one. And in his own words “Get over it.”
Now can we start discussing that weird beach ball droid?
Gif via http://www.buzzfeed.com
Featured image via http://ktla.com