10 Updates

New 'Star Wars' Cast Is Mostly White Guys

Apr 29 2014, 3:08pm CDT | by

Well, we know have an official primary cast for the next Star Wars film. As of this morning, when J.J. Abrams and company leaked out a cast list and a photo of said actors sitting around a table for...

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12 weeks ago

New 'Star Wars' Cast Is Mostly White Guys

Apr 29 2014, 3:08pm CDT | by

Well, we know have an official primary cast for the next Star Wars film. As of this morning, when J.J. Abrams and company leaked out a cast list and a photo of said actors sitting around a table for the first read-through of the apparently completed script, we now have a pretty good idea of who will be in Walt Disney Studio’s Star Wars Episode VII, which is due for release on December 18th, 2015. As you look around that room at cast members, both new and returning, you will notice something perhaps expected but nonetheless unfortunate. The new cast of Star Wars Episode VII is very white and very male.

Of the thirteen names officially announced for the new Star Wars film, there is one African-American actor (John Boyega) and one male actor from Guatemala (Oscar Issacs) who technically doesn’t fit the lily-white standard. Looking at the thirteen names announced for the new Star Wars film, you’ll notice just two females. One of course is Carrie Fisher, the only major female in the original Star Wars trilogy, joining Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker. The other is an unknown named Daisy Ridley. She is not Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who was rumored to be in contention for a major role. It is not even Lupita Nyong’o, who was allegedly in the running for a major role and who just won an Oscar for Twelve Years A Slave. She is a white female, and just as importantly she is the only new female in the cast.

After teasing us for months over the notion that the new Star Wars film would go against the grain in terms of casting, we still ended up with a bunch of white males with a couple token women and a couple actors of color. It’s a difficult thing to talk about, this pattern of predominantly white male casting in blockbusters. In a cast with only “X” number of roles, saying that one person representing a certain skin color or gender technically means saying someone else should have been tossed out. Without saying that the new actors who did get picked (among them Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Adam Driver) are undeserving or unworthy of the high profile work, it is still worth noting that what again got a cast filled with white males even as Star Wars presented a unique opportunity to buck that trend.

The Star Wars franchise is so much its own biggest selling point that you could cast a dozen paper bags with smiley faces on them and the film would flirt with $1 billion worldwide. Abrams and company had a chance to buck the standard blockbuster casting, the mentality that sees Jake Gyleenhaal cast as the lead in Prince Of Persia and sees Emma Stone get rewarded for her breakout success in Easy A by playing a superhero’s girlfriend, but it would appear that they went with the status quo. Walt Disney and Lucasfilm could have used the safety of the Star Wars franchise to offer major roles for women of all colors and men of often underrepresented colors (it’s ironic that a series so influenced by Japanese samurai mythology has basically no Japanese or Asian actors). But they didn’t, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Women make up 50% of the population and around 50% of the ticket-buying public. Yet in nearly every franchise of note, the cast is made up of a bunch of guys with one main female (who is “strong-willed and feisty”) and perhaps one sidekick female. White male breakout stars get their own vehicles. White female stars get to be the girlfriend or suffering wife. Women of color more-or-less get the scraps. We live in a film industry that saw The Hunger Games  and gave Liam Hemsworth his own starring vehicle. We live in a film industry that saw the success of Titanic and responded by amping up the romantic quotients of their male-centric genre films. We live in an industry that was baffled by the success of Twilight without noticing that the romantic horror series was the rare franchise with several major female characters.

We now live in an industry where two Star Wars trilogies with a single major female character apiece is now succeeded by a Star Wars trilogy starting out with (at best) two major female characters. Now to be fair, we don’t know who is playing who (well, I’m presuming Harrison Ford is playing Han Solo and I’m guessing Max Von Sydow is not playing Luke’s plucky young son). We may well see a first film where John Boyega and Oscar Issacs are the co-leads among the newbies, or a situation where Daisy Ridley is the primary heroic figure. But the more likely scenario is one where the white males are the main heroes, the actors of color are the sidekicks, and the lone female is the girlfriend to one of the main heroes. If I end up wrong on that score, you’ll hear it here first and I will happily scream to the heavens that I was wrong.

While acknowledging that Abrams and company have the right to cast whomever they please, the new Star Wars franchise had a chance to fill its cast with people representing a true worldwide audience, free from the theoretical fear that a diverse cast would somehow harm the worldwide box office. This casting arguably won’t impact the artistic quality of the new Star Wars films. Oscar Isaacs is terrific in pretty much everything, Adam Driver will make an interesting villain, and one can only wonder who or what Andy Serkis is playing. Boyega is a big win, as he got the kind of “well-liked indie leads to major blockbuster breakout” role that usually only goes to the likes of Michael Fassbender. But Abrams and company had a chance to do with Star Wars what Gene Roddenberry did for Star Trek fifty years ago, filling his main cast with actors from a variety of nationalities to showcase the melting pot that is our planet.

Star Wars was arguably the best chance we had at countering conventional wisdom and adding more diversity to our blockbuster franchises. In terms of how blockbusters are cast and in terms of who gets what kind of mainstream opportunities, J.J. Abrams, Walt Disney, and Lucasfilm had the chance to unlearn what we have learned. But they didn’t, and, that darn-well matters.

Okay, your turn to sound off!  What do you think of the new Star Wars cast?  Who were you rooting for that got a part, who were you pining for that got left out? Who would you like to see join future installments?

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Collingwood Magpies Training Session
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was brok ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dew ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the sout ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

6 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in compensa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

6 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

6 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of R ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

6 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Schem ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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