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New 'Star Wars' may have a gay character — if this franchise continues to go woke, it will continue to go broke

Zachary Leeman
Zachary Leeman

is the author of the novel Nigh and journalist who covers art and culture. He has previously written for outlets such as Breitbart, LifeZette, and BizPac Review among others. Follow him on Twitter @WritingLeeman

is the author of the novel Nigh and journalist who covers art and culture. He has previously written for outlets such as Breitbart, LifeZette, and BizPac Review among others. Follow him on Twitter @WritingLeeman

New 'Star Wars' may have a gay character — if this franchise continues to go woke, it will continue to go broke
J.J. Abrams is hinting that a new gay character could be introduced in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, but his giddy, woke comments show exactly one of the glaring flaws with the current franchise.

In a recent interview, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ director J.J. Abrams made it clear that the fantasy franchise is committed to going woke.

Abrams, who also directed ‘The Force Awakens’, explained to Variety that he wants to make sure the ‘Star Wars’ films “[look] more the way the world looks than not.” He added that he wants the LGBTQ community to “feel that they're being represented in the [new] film.”

If that sounds like the new ‘Star Wars’ film may be introducing an LGBTQ character, then you're probably right, but in typical Abrams fashion, he played coy when pressed for a direct answer.

“I will say I'm giving away nothing about what happens in the movie — but I did just say what I just said,” he teased.

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He's not the only one who wants to see ‘Star Wars’ get a little more gay in the future. Actor Oscar Isaac bragged to the magazine that he is desperate to see his Poe and John Boyega's Finn characters get together.

“I remember it was an audition and the two of us just, like, did that first scene back to back — butt to butt— just doing the scene together, practicing in this room,” Isaac said. "Immediately all kind of artifice, everything just collapsed. There was an intimacy that was just there... Personally I kinda had hoped and wished that maybe that would have been taken further in the other films, but I don't have control over that.”

At this point, ‘Star Wars’ is no stranger to pushing “representation.” Every press tour for each film seems more about boasting each individual film's “woke” aspects than the stories themselves.

‘The Force Awakens’ introduced a female lead character, albeit one so poorly constructed she was accused by many of being a “Mary Sue,” as she had zero arc or hardships. It was like Steven Seagal had taken over the franchise.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ the biggest flop of the franchise thus far, introduced a “pansexual” Lando Calrissian. 

‘The Last Jedi’, which fans are still trying to decipher since so many major plot points were pushed with little to no explanation, also introduced a female character in Kelly Marie Tran. The actress was vocal about the vile messages she got from some who called themselves fans, but ignoring that vocal minority, many just found her character to be another annoying cardboard cutout plopped into the film to check off a box.

There's nothing inherently wrong with female leads, pansexual characters, or the introduction of a gay character into the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. The trouble is that the focus in this franchise is so off. Abrams' latest comments prove the thought process going into the writing. What's more important to him than introducing an organically interesting, vital character to the story is introducing a gay character that helps “represent” the world as he sees it.

That is the exact problem with much of the franchise's “representation” at the moment. Many of these characters, Rey being the shining example, feel as though everything connects back to some identifying marker related to their gender or sexuality. The character starts on the page as simply “female,” “gay,” “pansexual,” etc. Those are not defining characteristics. Those are aspects to who an individual is, but to say they are the core of someone's being is rather offensive, albeit in a somewhat good-natured way.

Abrams and company are committing to the same problem. Now they say they are introducing a gay character for the sake of having a gay character. Why not pay more respect to representation by introducing characters that naturally fit the story and if they happen to organically be gay, female, male, whatever, that just becomes part of the story?

If they keep going down the route they are going down, ‘Star Wars’ will continue to be an unrelatable franchise, desperately clinging on to bits of nostalgia to survive. The franchise once introduced characters we could relate to and who took up permanent residence in our minds, from Luke Skywalker to Han Solo to Darth Vader. These are three-dimensional characters with flaws, personal moral codes and deep histories.

Characters introduced now miss out on those aspects that would make them relatable and three-dimensional as one of their first functions is to check off a box. These new films don't breathe like the old ones — even the prequels — because everything is so flat. You are watching cardboard characters fight on a screen, rather than having those characters help absorb you into new worlds.

If ‘Star Wars’ continues to put going woke before telling compelling stories then it will continue to go broke. ‘Rise of Skywalker’ is already reportedly underperforming in advance ticket sales and that's on the heels of ‘Solo’ being an embarrassing flop and ‘The Last Jedi’ souring fans. It's hard to have hope at this point that things will change, especially considering Abrams' new giddy comments, but ‘Star Wars’ is a franchise that was built on hope so maybe, just maybe, Disney will get its head out of the sand and make this franchise great again soon.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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