Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem

Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem | Soho House

There are 20 million sentient species in the franchise’s galaxy – so why are the trolls dominating?

Saturday 11 June 2022   By Hannah Flint

Back in 1978, Carl Sagan, astronomer, scientist and astrophysicist, made an appearance on The Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson, and delivered a pretty blunt yet obvious criticism about Star Wars

‘They’re all white,’ he said. ‘The skin of all humans in Star Wars is, oddly enough, like [mine].’ To be fair, he could have been talking about most sci-fi franchises back then and today but it’s true: Lando Calrissian excepting, humans of colour did not factor into that galaxy far, far away. A galaxy where, in fact, white humans continue to dominate – which shows a rather big lack of imagination, George Lucas. (Although, as the original franchise was a *cough* homage to Frank Herbert’s Dune, it’s perhaps not too surprising.) 
So why do I bring this up? Because a certain minority of Star Wars’ fans would prefer the more recent franchise films and series reflected in the original trilogy and are doing their best to make newcomer Moses Ingram feel unwelcome. The actor, who plays Reva (Third Sister), in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series has received a deluge of misogynist and racist messages on social media ever since the first episode aired.  

Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem | Soho House

‘There’s nothing anybody can do about this. There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate,’ Ingram said in a series of Instagram stories. ‘I question what my purpose is even being here in front of you, saying that this is happening… The thing that bothers me is this feeling inside of myself – which no one has told me – but this feeling that I have to shut up and take it, that I have to grin and bear it. And I’m not built like that. So, I wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself. And to the rest of y’all, y’all weird.’ 
Her experience reflects that of both John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran while appearing in the Legacy trilogy and it was disappointing to see Tran’s role reduced in Rise of Skywalker after the peak of her abuse, despite a winning turn as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi. (Officially due to post-production difficulties in incorporating the scenes she was to have shared with Leia, following the death of Carrie Fisher. But unofficially…?) She eventually quit social media because of the racist abuse that was likely stemming from people not liking the diverse direction of the sci-fi franchise.
Disney did little to offer public support for the actors back then but it seems this time they have made a more conscious effort to stand behind Ingram, both privately and publicly. ‘We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold. If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist,’ the official Star Wars account tweeted. ‘There are more than 20m sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy,’ it continued, ‘don’t choose to be a racist.’

Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem | Soho House
Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem | Soho House

Obi-Wan himself, Ewan McGregor, also condemned these trolls as not real fans of the franchise and of course he’s right. If you love Star Wars, it’s the diversity of species and people that makes it such an absorbing world to return to. But when you’re a person of colour – especially a woman of colour – there are still few opportunities to see yourself reflected in this world. I’m half-Tunisian, where A New Hope was originally shot, and the name Tatooine, where the Kenobi series is set, takes its name from the Tunisian city Tataouine. But I’ve yet to see a Tunisian, let alone an Arab actor, make a significant appearance.   
So as much as I appreciate Disney calling out racism, a couple of tweets will do little to quash the racists abusing its stars in the name of white fandom. What they can do is put their casting where their mouth is and make good on that boast about its 20 million sentient species. Hire more people from different racial backgrounds, especially women, and don’t just throw a few roles in and cast the secondary and tertiary roles with white actors. Give us an alien lead, goddamnit. Where’s the Ackbar series, already? That’ll really show the racists how little Star Wars subscribe to their way of thinking and truly make a galaxy far, far away a place for everyone.  
We can only hope.  

Opinion: Star Wars is far, far away from solving its white fandom problem | Soho House

Home Swede Home 


Just when I was getting over the cultural revelation from Reddit that Swedes don’t feed their children’s friends when they come over for dinner, I learned something even more shocking about their hospitality. 
‘Forget about Swedes not feeding their play date kids – what about adults having to bring their own sheets and towels when invited to spend the night?’ Xtine Milrod tweeted. ‘Lived there for 18 years, can confirm.’
Look, I have to sit down and take a breather halfway through changing my own sheets, so you better believe I’m not going through that rigmarole for just a night or two if you invite me over to stay. I’d rather bring a packed lunch than have to deal with that palaver.  

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