Wednesday, December 14, 2016

‘Rogue One’ Makes White Guys the Enemy of the Future By Kyle Smith

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn)

Ph: Jonathan Olley

©Lucasfilm LFL 2016.
Wait a minute, after thirty-nine years, it turns out that Star Wars is about race?
Sort of. You may not notice at first (I didn’t, until the second half of the movie), but inRogue One there isn’t a single non-Hispanic white male among the large cast of heroes. The rebel band seeking to steal the plans for the Death Star from the Empire is led by a white woman (Felicity Jones), a Latino man (Diego Luna) and three ethnic Asians (Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang), with advice from a black man (Forest Whitaker) and a droid (voice of Alan Tudyk). Among the rebels, non-Hispanic white dudes (for convenience, I’ll just call them white from now on) are relegated to the background, while the Empire is represented by brigades of sinister white men, led by Ben Mendelsohn and (the digital reincarnation of) Peter Cushing as Imperial officers. It’s as if the cast was meant to echo a Hillary Clinton speech in which she described her coalition as everybody but white males.
The casting was not accidental. The Empire is (now) a “white supremacist (human) organization,” Rogue One co-writer Chris Weitz Tweeted the Friday after Clinton was defeated in the election. Another writer for the film, Gary Whitta, replied with his own Tweet, “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women”—then deleted it.
That little spasm of Trump-induced liberal anger led to what might well be the weirdest and most pathetic boycott in the history of boycotts: Malik Obama, the Kenyan gadfly, Donald Trump supporter and half-brother to our president, Tweeted out, “Boycott Star Wars people! #DumpStarWars.” Star Wars will do fine without you, Malik.
True, pale-male bean-counting, along with white identity politics in general, are as boring and silly as any other kind of identity politics. Who cares if the rebels are a gorgeous mosaic? White guys have plenty of other heroes at the multiplex this year, and every year.
Still, the movie is obviously trolling to make a lame political point, dragging in a fashionable left-wing trope where it once again does not belong. Not only is it tiresome to imply that being white and male is something vaguely shameful, the white-supremacist angle makes no sense in the context of the other chapters in the Star Wars story.
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