About That Dumb Star Wars Boycott

*pinches bridge of nose*

*exhales noisily*

Of course there’s a Star Wars Episode VII boycott. And there’s a hashtag to boot. Because of course there’s a hashtag. One-click buffet-style serving of shittiness, coming right up.

(Behold, the Mary Sue article about it.)

Apparently people are mad because blah blah black dude protagonist with a lightsaber, or girl protagonist, or Latino X-Wing pilot protagonist, and not enough straight white dudes. And folks are mad enough to join in on the hashtag and — nngh. Bleh. Meh. Gnarrgh. I mean, what version of Star Wars did you watch? The one where Luke Skywalker is a racist hick shitbird? The one where the Empire are the good guys because yay oppression and fascism and totalitarian chic?

Okay, first, let’s talk about the efficacy of such a hashtag, which is to say, it will have literally no effect at all. You’re throwing pebbles at mountains, bro. Boycotting Star Wars is like boycotting the sun. It will do nothing. The sun will keep on shining. Its heat will remain radiant and globally present. It will remain at the center of this space and we will continue to orbit it in an elliptical manner. Your efforts will have no meaningful result except to reveal yourself as a cruddy dingleberry dangling from fandom’s ass-hairs.

My greatest desire is to yell at you. To just rant and gesticulate and do the internet dance of anger all over you, because what special dumbness, this is.

But instead I’m going to try to talk to you, in the assumption that somewhere out there in the seething throng of crappy people exists some who are not yet all the way gone to the Dark Side.

There is good in you. No, not you. Not you either. YOU. Right there.

I’m talking to those who can be reached.

As one straight white dude to other straight white dudes, let’s talk.

You are clearly consumers of sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, which is at least a little bit suggestive that somewhere under that stormtrooper mask is a brain with an imagination.

I want you now to imagine along with me, Mister Rogers-style.

Let’s imagine that you are, as you are now, a straight white dude. Except, your world features one significant twist — the SFF pop culture you consume is almost never about you. The faces of the characters do not look like yours. The creators of this media look nothing like you, either. Your experiences are not represented. Your voice? Not there. There exist in these universes no straight white dudes. Okay, maybe one or two. Some thrown in to appease. Sidekicks and bad guys and walk-on parts. Token chips flipped to the center of the table just to make you feel like you get to play, too. Oh, all around you in the real world, you are well-represented. Your family, your friends, the city you live in, the job you work — it’s straight white dude faces up and down the block. But on screen? In books? Inside comic panels and as video game characters? Almost none. Too few. Never the main characters.

It feels isolating, and you say so.

And as a response you’re told, “Hey, take what you get.” They say, can’t you have empathy for someone who doesn’t look like you? Something something humanist, something something equalist. And of course you can have that empathy because you have to, because this is all you know, because the only faces and words and experiences on-screen are someone else’s so, really, what else are you going to do?

Then one day, things start to change. A little, not a lot, but shit, it’s a start — you start to see yourself up there on the screen. Sometimes as a main character. Sometimes behind the words on the page, sometimes behind the camera. A video game avatar here, a protagonist there. And it’s like, WOO HOO, hot hurtling hell, someone is actually thinking about you once in a while. And the moment that happens, wham. A backlash. People online start saying, ugh, this is social justice, ugh, this is diversity forced down our throats, yuck, this is just bullshit pandering quota garbage SJW — and you’re like, whoa, what? Sweet crap, everyone else has been represented on screen since the advent of film. They’ve been on the page since some jerk invented the printing press. But the moment you show up — the moment you get more than a postage stamp-sized bit of acreage in this world that has always been yours but never really been yours, people start throwing a shit-fit. They act like you’re unbalancing everything. Like you just moved into the neighborhood and took a dump in everybody’s marigolds just because you exist visibly.

You have 100 toys, and someone comes along and asks for a toy of their own, and you start screaming about DIVERSITY SJW GENOCIDE REVERSE RACISM SEXISM AAAAAAH.

That’s fucked up, right?

That’s what’s happening, except it’s not happening to you.

I was at NYCC this year and last, and a friend — the artist known as Joey Hi-Fi — pointed out quite correctly that the audience at NYCC is incredibly diverse. And they are at NYCC consuming media that is incredibly not-diverse. I saw it in my own signings. The people who came up and had me sign books at 47 North or for Star Wars? Not a bunch of straight white guys. A lot of women. A lot of faces that were not my own. And some self-identified LGBT folks, too. That’s awesome. Awesome in a lot of ways. Awesome because the audience is bigger than anybody expected. Awesome because it’s expressive of a world that is not singular, not simple, that is far-reaching and full of variety and tons of people who don’t look or act at all like each other but still find common ground in cool stuff like Star Wars. And it’s also sad because, y’know, the content is not equal to the audience. The stories have not yet caught up to reality. That’s true on the page, on the screen, and behind the scenes with the creators and the executives and everything.

Listen, I get it — this problem is not my problem. Inclusion isn’t for me. I’m covered. I am already included. Luke? Me. Han Solo? Me. Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Anakin, Wedge, me, me, me. And it’s not just Star Wars. John McClane, Harry Potter, Frodo, Iron-Man. All a bunch of white guys saving the day. Hell, Santa Claus. Or damn near every painting of Jesus, who was clearly not a white guy but is often depicted as a white guy. We do our level best to paint ourselves as the heroes of our own narrative. It’s white guys all the way down. I’m golden over here. I don’t need more representation. I have had my fill to the point where my pop culture belly is a-burstin.

In fact, I’m so glutton-fed I figure it’s time for a diet.

Which is why I’ve tried very hard to vary my reading. Which is why in Aftermath the protagonists are: a Mom, a gay dude, a lady bounty hunter. It’s why the Imperial antagonist is a powerful woman of color. (I’m no culture hero here, to be clear — I did the bare minimum in including different characters. It’s not like I have Sinjir engaging in sweaty man-love with Wedge Antilles. He is gay and he is present and he is visible and that has been enough to conjure  100+ negative reviews and an unholy host of comments, hate mails, and social media ‘interactions.’ Don’t believe me? Here’s four pages of reviews — 1, 2, 3, 4 — and that’s just me searching for the term “homosexual” across the one-star reviews. It’s just the tip of that septic shitberg.)

Point is, I don’t need to see me on the page as often as I have. And while I wouldn’t want to steal someone’s voice and make it my own, at the same time, in a sci-fi novel, I think we’re okay. And writers of any salt or stripe are expected to know how to write beyond the singular experience of being who you are. And readers should be able to read just as capably. What, you can get behind a protagonist who is a dragon, or a Wookiee, or an animated monster, but you can’t get behind another human being who looks different? You gotta have some empathy. No one can make you understand different people. You have to try. You gotta draw the bridge between you and other humans. It exists. But you have to see it. You have to believe in it. You have to be the one to reach out and look for the similarities of experience, not just the differences. (But differences matter, too. And it’s important to grok why that is and not erase those differences or those experiences.)

You gotta realize the world isn’t for you.

It’s for everyone.

And that needs to start happening in media, too.

Nice thing with Star Wars is, it is happening. Look at the protagonists of The Force Awakens. Look at Lucasfilm. They’re openly committing to finding a woman director for Star Wars. Kathleen Kennedy notes: “Fifty percent of our executive team are women. Six out of eight of the people in my Story Group are women. I think it’s making a huge difference in the kind of stories we’re trying to tell.” Some of the story group are also people of color. It’s a start. Especially when it’s starting in one of the biggest SFF franchises ever. Perfect? No. Nothing is. But it’s nice to see changes happening. It’s nice to see some equity there between the audience that consumes this stuff and the people who make it. Stories matter to people. Characters matter. Creation matters. Nobody should be excluded. Inclusion is awesome.

And if you oppose that — you know, hey, fuck you. Go on and throw pebbles at mountains. Go on and boycott the sun. Let me know how that works out for you.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna be over here enjoying what’s to come. I suggest trying it. Loving stuff instead of hating it. Accepting the world as it is, not the world as you mistakenly hope it will be.

To everyone else: may the Force be with you.


*teeth vibrate with sonic joy*

*fingers become lightsabers*

*wampa roar*

130 responses to “About That Dumb Star Wars Boycott”

  1. oh and blah blah blah disclaimer that I know many of the negative reviews of AFTERMATH had nothing to do with being homophobic and there exists a panoply of reasons not to like the book blah blah blah end disclaimer

  2. As an afro-canadian, I figure most of the boycott nonsense is lolworthy trolling, and maybe I’m pessimistic in believing that try ing to reason is an effort in futility. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with throwing rocks at a mountain – just don’t throw it at the wrong mountain. Marvel is a mountain that desperately needs to diversify its MCU, I don’t think it’s wrong to throw rocks at that mountain, whilst this suggest accepting it. That said, good read.

    • It’s probably half a prank, yeah, and it likely started as one but has gained some… reality as time has gone on. Thing is, it gives a very good excuse to talk about this sort of thing, even if the core audience of jerkwads won’t listen to the message, a lot of other people might have cause to hear and to think about it.

    • “Don’t underestimate the demagogues. They’re only a joke until they’re elected.”—Rick Perlstein, more-or-less

  3. Now, I usually find a ton of comments on your posts and not surprised to see any on this one. Your words are great and inspiring and I hope that people will read this and respond just as much as they respond to your other posts.

    • I didn’t fall for anything. Trolling or no, it’s a real hashtag full of people saying nasty shit. Doesn’t matter if it’s a show, or some lackwit internet stage play — the sentiment behind it is real, racism is real, all the social phobias are real, and how the audience relates to and is represented by the body of storytelling matters. We often say that we shouldn’t feed the trolls, but it’s just as often that the trolls are feeding us. They give us license to talk about difficult things, sometimes.

      • Think what you want, but you really did fall for a prank, and are only feeding the trolls. There is no nuance in claiming that there is a real sentiment of racism in the actions of anon twitter trolls, who are getting their kicks making normies mad. Your article actually invents a problem where none existed, as does your commentary in the replies, attempting to defend it.

      • But this is what 4chan does. It effectively exploits things like outrage culture for “lulz” while people go into conniptions. Most of the tweets were fake, with possibly real racists latching on, and the offended ones latching on too.

        Seeing people like you write mini essays about how angry you are about this just feeds 4chan. It’s trolling 101.

    • At this point, 4chan is the Schrödinger’s Cat of Shitty Internet Behavior.

      Is it genuine, or is it a troll “for the lulz”?

      The correct answer, of course, is that it doesn’t matter what the intent is, the result is the same.

      Somebody seriously needs to nuke the chans from orbit — I’d happily participate in a crowdfunding effort to pay a blackhat hacker to develop malware code that fries the ethernet card and wireless router of any system that visits a chan site.

    • It is a common misconception that by somehow ignoring “trolls” we will make them go away. That if you “fall for a troll” somehow you are stupid and the “troll” took advantage of you by making you angry, upset, defensive, etc. “Look, gotcha’ nose!” the Don’t Feed the Troll Chorus chimes. I prefer to take a different take on the matter.

      I believe that these so called trolls actual are people who have actual motivations. There is a case for how you behave, so you are. I will never know what there true motivations are but I do know that silence equals passive approval. And I will never approve on any level of the racism and misogyny these people choose to express, disingenuous or not. Words have power and if I let their words just stand on a page without negation, I have let them be released into the ether and live unchallenged. Too existential? Maybe. But not on my watch. Never. On. My. Watch. I will call it out every single time, irrespective of the person’s intention in throwing down such vile blathering. And when other people join me, we stamp out the trolls prejudice and bigotry and logical fallacies in our own chorus of reason. When you see a wave of support for stamping out the troll, your heart is lighter and you realize just how many good people there are who champion tolerance. Let the “trolls/not really trolls” to their forums but when they step in our lands, they will know the fight is real and they only helped us shed more light into a growing, diverse, accepting world.

      Oh, and science. http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/02/28/dont-feed-the-trolls-is-bad-science/

  4. “You gotta realize the world isn’t for you.

    It’s for everyone.”

    You realize you just summed up the entirety of human thought and philosophy on democracy, human rights, and equality, right?

    Great post.

  5. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is the game that rocked my world with how much being included matters. I’m a white guy, so you’d think this would be easy. However, for all the white people out there the white characters are frequently generic, by design. But Shay Cormac in Assassin’s Creed Rogue is Irish. His accent sounds very close to my dad’s. He’s written fairly well as an irishman as well, and despite Rogue having a very short story I found myself liking and relating to Shay more than I have any other AC protagonist. Why? Because he sounded like my family, my home.

    The thought I had after that was if a voice kicked up the notch so much for me, how much does race do it for others and they’re not getting it? I became a lot more aware of just how many protagonists are white men. How few are women, and even fewer are women of color. It’s crazy.

    The worst part is when it is a white guy on the cover everyone is like “why do you care it doesn’t matter” and then as soon as it is the other way around the roles switch. It’s like being a kid and it only being a game when you’re the one winning, and frankly, it’s just htat childish too.

    • And you touch on why I particularly like Liberation and Freedom Cry, one is a mulatto woman, the other a freed African slave, somewhat related to my family history, and also allowing for story telling from a side of the culture of the time not often showcased at all honestly. By the same token, Shay as an Irishman had his own issues in the culture of the time, but I’ve not played much of Rogue to get a real feel for him to date.

  6. One of your guest bloggers said, “If you’re not writing diverse characters, you’re writing monoculture fantasy.” (Wish I could find the post–thought it was Brandon Sanderson?) It’s something that’s resonated with me ever since, and just goes to show how steeped in fantasy these racist asshats are to think their galaxy far, far away should have the same representation/diversity as a Victorian novel.

  7. From another white guy right here…the world is much more open and the possibilities limitless when you look past just the white dudes. Check out and understand the lives of women & people of other races than our own. They have so many cool stories to tell & much different POVs than we do and what we see in our daily lives. Chuck is right, inclusion is so much better than exclusion. Looking forward to the trailer tonite too!

  8. Reminds me of John McCain’s concession speech in AZ, surrounded by rich old white people, who only ever saw who looked like themselves – and President Obama in Chicago, surrounded by millions of people who looked different from each other – all insanely happy!

  9. Well said, Chuck. As usual. We white guys gotta stick together in promoting diversity, right? Because we damn near own popular culture, and we shouldn’t. It should belong to everyone.

  10. Hairy Aliens: OK
    Shiny Robots:OK
    Spikey Skull Aliens: OK
    Jawas: OK
    Giant slug-people: OK
    Tentacle faced aliens: OK

    Thanks for putting my thoughts into words. Now I don’t have to. Weeee

  11. Except there’s not one thing in this article that addressed my problem with this new Star Wars franchise. And that is squarely aimed at Jar Jar Abrams and his destruction of childhood worlds. Honestly, I pretty well actively dislike most everything he’s been involved in. But my main beef is the complete and total hash he made of Star Trek. But, hey, now that’ he wrecked 40 years of backstory, why not go along and thrash Star Wars as well? Although, he apparently likes the Star Wars verse a lot better than Star Trek, which he didn’t seem to know anything about.

    But hey, why should I reward further efforts when he’s made such a total pooch screw of other worlds?

    But nice assumption of motives for blacklisting this film there. 😉

    • “But nice assumption of motives for blacklisting this film there.”

      *clears throat*

      I don’t believe Chuck was talking to you about your motives.

      Unless he was. And then, only you’d know that.

  12. I still can’t get past some of the “Aftermath” reviews. I haven’t read them all, but each one seems to be more horrifying than the last.

    Of course there are gay people in Star Wars. There have always been gay people. People seem to think that gayness was created in a strictly political sense, and from what I’m reading, politics has no place in Star Wars. Except for the prequels. They had politics. But, oh, wait, I get it…not GAY POLITICS.

    I’m gonna go smash my face into the corner of my coffee table for a little while.

  13. Thanks for this, Chuck. The lack of representation and diversity in different forms of narrative has actually been turning me off of fiction lately. Me. I LOVE fiction. Fiction is my life. It’s my love. My passion. My great escape and my great reality. But I am just getting so tired of reading and seeing characters that are not like me. Not even a little. I don’t get to explore other sides of human experience when I read. I get white people, straight people, cis people. I so desperately needed Aftermath. I don’t have the words to tell you how desperately I needed it. Thank you for giving me a story I could love again.

  14. All I can say is….they are seriously taking themselves that seriously? *laughing* I’ve always included diversity in my books. All I hope is that the new movie will be good!

  15. The most negative people also tend to be the loudest. Thankfully, intelligence is diverse and intelligent people tend to remain the quietest bunch, working hard behind the scenes, only popping out every now and then to post these kinds of statements, reminding everyone that they are still around poking at things to propel positive change. It takes time but things are moving forward. Let the negative folk kick and scream. While they are busy rolling on the floor, patching up their personal comfort zone, the good ones will be expanding the world’s.

  16. Amen Chuck well said sir inexcusable that is I mean my goodness. Stuff like this makes me mad to no end. Where all going to enjoy Star Wars The Force Awakens no matter what

  17. This post reminds me of one of my top 5 episodes of DEEP SPACE NINE, where Sisko is a sci-fi writer in the 50s, and they change the race of the captain in his story to white. And the female writers pretend to be men. Avery Brooks gave a great (and very heartfelt) performance. 20 years after the episode aired, and 60 years after it took place, and this is still an issue. But hopefully not for long!

    • That was an amazing episode, Derek. Bennie – that was his name, right? Bennie. 20 years. I can barely believe it has been 20 years. Then, as now, I’m still on Bennie’s side.

    • Not a lot has changed honestly. I’m kind of fond of Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing, and was annoyed with the hash they made of the Earthsea mini series with casting given how many of her characters were not white and their attributes were pretty specifically stated throughout the series. It’s a fairly diverse world, but all too often if it goes to screen you lose that diversity that actually enriched the flavour of the setting.

  18. From a Star Wars loving, white male HOMIEsexual… Great job on this article.
    Let’s not forget the (mostly) religious war on the LGBT people as well. 2000 years of hate on a group that, same as “minorities” we’re born that way. No body would ever choose to be killed, made fun of or treated like second class citizens.
    I have much empathy for all people growing up feeling different because there was nobody to relate to us represented in film, tv etc. Not even toys. Ken (Barbie) was missing a couple parts. Lol
    Trying not to joke that much… Tough when I am full of dirty humor.
    So, cheers for this article!
    And to all who struggle with acceptance… Hang my sisters, brothers, LGBT, and everyone in there because together we WILL end these evil people’s ways and shun them out until they learn.
    Thanks to everyone of you standing along side the horribly mistreated.
    May the force be strong with you!

  19. I love you, Chuck Wendig. Even if my Editing Boss whacked my nose for posting some of your less SFW posts on our list. You speak the truth in words of one syllable or less so that even the eejits can understand them. If they had understanders to understand with…

  20. I have to disagree (after a fashion) with you on accepting the world as it is instead of the one you hope for. The world is what we make it, and it’s BECOMING the world we hoped for. Because people kept trying to make it right.

    Not these people. But other people. Not privileged whiners trying to keep things as they are.

  21. Hey, it’s awesome for you that you apparently identify as the Platonic “straight white male.” I suppose I can see how that could be a boost to the ego. But not everyone constructs their identity with respect to the three binary traits that have been designated as forming the totality of pop culture “representation.”

    Your whole rhetorical edifice is built on the assumption that I feel as though I am adequately represented in contemporary pop culture, that my belly is “a-burstin.” I don’t feel that way, which means all the shit that follows is just that, shit. But hey, as long as there are more beautiful thirtysomething white women on the big screen we can call the progressive mission a success.

    ps aftermath was ok. I gave it 3 stars.

    • Complaining that pop culture isn’t more nuanced than three traits stinks of privilege and centerism. If you’re a straight white dude complaining about representation, you either suck at counting, or are intentionally blind.

      Like, none of those traits you listed are even binary, unless you’re being ridiculously and insultingly reductive, ie:

      white/not white
      straight/not straight
      male/not male

      as opposed to:

      white/black/Asian/Native American/etc.
      male/female/gender neutral/gender fluid/unicorn/etc.

      Get a grip.

  22. “The one where the Empire are the good guys because yay oppression and fascism and totalitarian chic?”

    The Pharisees in their phylacteries in the front row rarely recognize themselves.


  23. I may be a bit skeptical of the new film,but I’m surely not boycotting it and I’m interested to see on seeing this film,whether J.J. Abrams either gets it right or miserably fails(which everyone is strongly hoping not).

  24. This is why this old lesbian is writing a fantasy featuring a gay black male engineer. We need diversity in our sci-fi/fantasy. Thanks, Chuck, for this rant. I’ll even throw in a hug.

  25. Since everyone is all peaches and cream in agreement…I’ll be your ” huckleberry” in this gauntlet throwdown. Though (of course) I despise racism, I also feel this matter is not entirely all that issue. Also, to be frank, at times I do tend to like folks who throw a pebbles or two at the sun. So I’ll bite off that task here.

    First off, I support diversity in writing and often wherever else. I’m a white guy btw, straight if it makes any difference. While I’m not planning to boycott Star Wars, I’ve actually have boycotted some stuff with paper comics from time to time…currently I am boycotting Marvel comics because they killed off the original Nova Richard Rider (Yes, admittedly I’m a huge dork)

    In terms of what I think is the greater issue, a lot of it has to do with the whole picture, not just Star Wars. Disney and Marvel comics, for one, has taken to en masse replacing core marvel heroes with new versions, often from some minority group or a at times, female or differing sexual characters. While this is nothing new, it’s never been as widespread. For a lot of “Americans”, they feel like they are being buried.
    Me personally, I’ve been a huge fan of diverse stuff. I was a huge fan of Marvel’s New Warriors as a kid. I was a fan of Lando, Falcon and whatever species Jabba the Hutt was. I agree with you that this has no place within the Star Wars/Star Trek debate, yet I guess some folks just feel caught under an avalanche.

    With that matter, truthfully, what we all need is some middle ground.

    IMO what you described that happened in the past (isolating minority readers and how they perceived what they saw) is exactly what, in turn, the current trend is may be doing to most American white males (and not always this specific demo btw)…aka citing past eras of “crimes” as justification to give “us” a “taste of our own medicine”. Collectively, that’s a shit plan. Like any rat in a cage, more often than not, it makes them feel like shit for who and what they are, worse it makes them feel angry.

    As long as we are playing games pissing on each other’s legs we are preserving a culture of “otherness”…worse, by poking each other with sticks IMO, it preserves a culture of enmity.
    This is my biggest concern in the whole approach.

    While your words about NYCC ring true, NYC is a ridiculous melting pot unlike any other. IT is NOT an accurate representation of the demographics of the USA, and granted I get the goal is international these days….but I’m not so sure the over the top approach Marvel/ Disney is taking is the right approach. I mean, IMO things are downright silly in the comic books right now.

    Essentially, it’s all moot. Star Wars has to stand on its own. Whatever we think, the new movie has to be a good in the sense all stories are judged. I’m planning to take my five year old. I’m confident that it will be good…and frankly I’m looking forward to it.

    • After reading more about this issue… I’m more convinced this particular boycott is actually just is just some schmuck racists rabble rousing and spewing hate…I stand by my thoughts to try to come to some understanding about their views..but clearly what these ” racist nerds” are attempting is just something antagonistic.

    • “While your words about NYCC ring true, NYC is a ridiculous melting pot unlike any other. IT is NOT an accurate representation of the demographics of the USA, and granted I get the goal is international these days….but I’m not so sure the over the top approach Marvel/ Disney is taking is the right approach. I mean, IMO things are downright silly in the comic books right now.”

      But it’s not just NYCC.

      It was SDCC.

      And Phoenix ComicCon, too.

      American white males (it sounds like a bird species) are not being “isolated,” c’mon. What I describe is not giving a taste of our own medicine, but an actual re-balancing of text, image and story to represent the world we actually live in, not the world that the AWM thinks or hopes or has been told we live in. If you have enmity over this, I might again suggest you try an approach of empathy and try to imagine what it was like for literally everybody else for the last many decades.

      — c.

      • Here we see the American White Male in its natural habitat. Look how majestic its plumage is as it sings its song. What a sight to behold. What a…. oh no. It looks like the White Male has a visitor. Yes, his distant cousin, the Hick Shitbird has arrived. This species has evolved a very special set of traits to drive off competition. We better clear out now. They’re called Shitbirds for a reason you know!

      • They’re still the most over represented group on the face of the earth. You’ll never meet anyone with my exact background in film. I’m not complaining, there’s not very many people with that sort of specific to cater to.
        I’m interested in where J.J. will take this, admittedly I don’t think he can do worse to the series at this point than Lucas did without bringing in Steven Moffat to do the screenplay (don’t get me wrong, Steven has done some great work on Doctor Who at times with brilliant non-straight characters in particular but his writing leaves me cold all too often).

      • Chuck, My whole point is empathy…I’m trying to understand why they would think that way. I think your right, but we need it on BOTH sides. maybe not for these particular guys, but there are other more moderate issues at the periphery here that are actually more important. I mean combing the internet boards and facebook posts on the issues in Marvel/Disney and some of the resistance to what has gone on is not a difficult thing to do…and when I do that i see many folks who feel disenchanted, isolated, and unhappy when someone makes them feel bad to be who they are. Frankly, its delivered mixed sales for the company as well.

    • ‘aka citing past eras of “crimes” as justification to give “us” a “taste of our own medicine”. Collectively, that’s a shit plan. Like any rat in a cage, more often than not, it makes them feel like shit for who and what they are, worse it makes them feel angry.’

      Seriously? This is pretty much the biggest issue with unchecked privilege- thinking that everything is about you. That the inclusion of people of color, women, gay characters, etc, is to punish *you*. If you, and other “Americans” (what?), are so quick to feel threatened and angry under the “avalanche” of inclusion, then you folks should examine those feelings. They’re wholly divorced from the realities of the situation and that line of thought is bordering on delusion. As a black queer female (currently in a hetero relationship with a white guy), I don’t expect to see people like me in the type of media I enjoy, but when I do, I’m not maniacally laughing or celebrating sticking it to straight white guys.

      Racism, sexism, and LGBT phobia are real & horrible and attempting to trivialize these constructs by putting “crimes” in quotation marks is very telling. Also, women comprise 50% of society. So even if we accept the assertion that NYC not representing the cultural make-up of the rest of America should matter, why also bring up characters who have been made female? Do demographics matter or don’t they? I’m guessing they only matter in this type of discussion when they benefit a specific group.

      This is how it’s going to play out: there will be more and more fictional (and non-fictional!) people who don’t look or love like you on television, in movies, in books. This is a feature of our society, not a bug. It’s up to folks who find this difficult to deal with to be mindful of their reactions to these changes and to examine what their reactions indicate. And if empathy is difficult to access, maybe, it will come down to deciding on which side of history they’d like to ultimately be- the right or the wrong.

    • “In terms of what I think is the greater issue, a lot of it has to do with the whole picture, not just Star Wars. Disney and Marvel comics, for one, has taken to en masse replacing core marvel heroes with new versions, often from some minority group or a at times, female or differing sexual characters. While this is nothing new, it’s never been as widespread. For a lot of “Americans”, they feel like they are being buried.”

      There’s at least two problems with this paragraph.

      1. There is an operative difference between recasting existing, extant characters with decades of backstory, and creating new characters within an existing universe that are written to include a more diverse perspective. While I think the outrage is a bit nuts in both cases, in the former case, at least you can understand how you get from point a to point b. In the latter case, it’s just stupid. Like, full out, dead stop, stupid. The whole argument of the former case boils down to “yeah? well get your OWN characters if you want them to be diverse. Don’t retcon our shit!” In the latter, that’s *exactly what’s been done”, and it’s still not good enough, apparently.

      In short, what people would have *preferred* Marvel did (at least, what they claimed) is exactly what’s happened here. And yet… the same bitching persists. Funny, right?

      2. The larger problem is in your last sentence. I realize that you, as a reasoning, thinking being already understand this, hence your scare quotes, but it’s long past time to put a death to the lie that “American” = male, white, (and since we’re at it, straight, and Christian, if we want to split hairs, though that’s not immediately relevant to Star Wars, particularly.) That’s the fundamental _problem_. That group is a _subset_ of “American”, and it’s long past time that they were represented as a subset – just like *everyone other subset has dealt with* since the advent of media.

      While I don’t deny their “feelings of being buried” exist (I agree), those feelings are based on an unrealistic and ultimately unhealthy perspective, that has been at times, actively harmful (and always passively so) to everyone else those folks happen to share a planet with. Enough, already. They can join the rest of us as being a _part of_, and not the _center of_, every last thing ever.

    • Heck in the USA males barely hold the majority if you believe the world factfile 1.05 males to females (and that completely ignores intersex and non-heteronormative individuals).

    • Yeah sadly I see us being genocidal if we ever encounter alien races, as a species we tend towards xenophobia, and I think we’ll get to IST before we evolve there.

  26. I dunno if the rest of the world is like me here but frankly I’m scratching my head… I don’t understand this issue at all. We don’t seem to notice that stuff so much here in Britain. Oh we do discrimination for sure – we have UKIP and the British National Party but… this is just incomprehensible.

    I know I am a mum so I live under a rock much of the time but I doubt the average Brit would notice this.

    Like the previous poster, I believe in moderation too and I also believe that rehashing old Marvel characters is a cop out and that what Marvel should be doing is inventing uber cool NEW characters who are as diverse as the real population.

    When it comes to positive discrimination – I used to believe it is impossible for any kind of discrimination to be positive. But then I spoke to one of my South African friends about it. He’s white, hetro and middle class. He left South Africa because as a white hetro middle class bloke, the policy of positive discrimination after the end of apartheid meant it would be hard for him to find a job at home. Did he feel angry or bitter, I asked.

    “No,” he seemed perplexed at my question. “Why would I be bitter?”

    He explained that many South Africans believed the problem with racism was that with all the top jobs held by white hetro males it continued to be normal for people to expect white people to run everything. The only way to put an end to racism was to change that expectation and the only way to do that was, for a few years, to make sure that the ethnic and sexual split of folks in top jobs was exactly the same as it was in society. Once that was done, the colour, gender and sexual orientation of those in top or good jobs wouldn’t be an issue. The policy caused a lot of problems – mainly because it was hard to find an ethnic mix who were well educated enough to do the top jobs for a while and by no means is everything rosy in South Africa (although the problems seem to be about differences in wealth more than anything) – but I can see the validity of that argument. Maybe that’s what Disney are trying to do reflect the population as is today rather than when it started.

    But what I am really struggling to understand is how this stuff is even an issue in the US any more. You got rid of Apartheid in the late 60/70s was it? Why does anyone give a shit about skin colour, gender or sexual orientation 30 or 40 years out?

    I know I’m being naive at best and probably stupid but please can someone explain…



    • You’re not being stupid or naive. It’s a valid question that I wish I could answer. I think you could ask 100 people and get 50% to give you an answer, while the other half would shrug and say, “I haven’t the slightest clue why it’s still an issue here.”

      But it is. I hate to say it that way, like it’s just something to marvel over and ignore, but I’m at the same loss as you and I’ve been here since the day I was conceived.

  27. Another white guy here. I was never a big fan of ‘Star Wars’, even the original trilogy, but if the success of the new movies pisses off both idiots and the far right, then sign me up for a dozen IMAX tickets.

  28. This. Right here.

    “What, you can get behind a protagonist who is a dragon, or a Wookiee, or an animated monster, but you can’t get behind another human being who looks different? You gotta have some empathy. No one can make you understand different people. You have to try.”

    Thanks Chuck.

  29. The best thing to come out if this “boycott” is this post. So I’m strangely appreciative of that.

    I find it amazing and thrilling that you can describe how it feels to be not a white male and watch/read pop culture, despite being one your whole life.

    It really makes me optimistic that you’re the majority and that this is a real mental shift going on in the USA. I like it. I like it a lot.

  30. Ok, bit of backstory.
    I did not grow up with Star Wars. I watched the original trilogy when I started dating my now-husband.
    I liked it. I was a bit confused by all the goings-on (still am), but it was fun.

    I still haven’t seen episode 3.


    Now that Aftermath is out, now that I’ve seen the episode 7 trailers (the new one was SWEET!), now that my nephew is going rabid over Rebels, I’ve committed to watching everything that is canon in chronological order (because I get so lost).

    Part of the reason is because I’ve been a huge fan of the Wendig-haus for some time and I’m stoked to read Aftermath, but first, I must grok Star Wars on an intuitive level. At least that’s what I tell myself.

    Point is, this shitstorm surrounding all things Star Wars right now makes my brain itch in a way I can’t scratch. It just makes no sense. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl *shrugs*
    I love the idea of a black guy and a bad-ass chick teaming up with the old crew and saving the galaxy.

    And then I log onto Facebook this morning and people I call friends are saying things like:

    “The Trawn Trilogy, Dark Empire, The Corellian Trilogy, The X-Wing Saga. Things I’d rather see than the force awaken. I might just go in a daytime showing with a bottle of whiskey and drink every time my EU is violated.”

    In true snarky fashion, I corrected his spelling and grammar. But it still baffles me.
    Maybe I need to go read the Thrawn books. Maybe then I’ll hate you, too, Chuck. Whaddaya think?

      • I have a great love for the classic EU before Lucas left me feeling burnt with episode 1 and some of the stuff that came out after that like NJO left me dead inside, not your fault Chuck at all. I still have a lot of love for Zahn’s Thrawn books, Stackpole, Anderson’s work… heck a lot of the books I enjoyed more than I enjoyed the original series and that was my bread and butter as a kid.

        • And you know what? You SHOULD be allowed to love those things, unabashed enthusiasm and all, without anyone shitting in your cornflakes. I’m sure the EU books are great. I plan on reading them eventually. But that doesn’t mean that some of the other stuff (including the new movies) can’t be fun, either. In fact, I’d love to share in the love people have for the ‘old’ books. Without the bitterness, though.

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