Representation in Star Wars falls short

Lark Commanday

SARAH BUCHMANN, Columnist

I can remember a time when I did not know who John Boyega or Oscar Isaac were.

Maybe I lived under a rock, but it wasn’t until the newest generation of Star Wars movies were released that all of a sudden, I couldn’t enter a movie theatre without seeing their faces at least once.

Both Boyega and Isaac have since continued to spread their names by coming out against their mega-boss, Disney, as the corporation has recently relied heavily on diversity-baiting.

Isaac plays pilot Poe Dameron in the new Star Wars films, side by side with Boyega who plays a Stormtrooper named Finn.

The two immediately become fast friends, and many fans have envisioned the two as a romantic couple (or “shipping” as fans call it).

Both Isaac and Boyega have endorsed the “ship” in their own ways; Boyega tweeted and posted videos about his approval.

Isaac is much more direct. In an interview with IGN, an entertainment company which frequents Star Wars conversations, Isaac said, “I think there could’ve been a very interesting, forward-thinking – not even forward-thinking, just, like, current- thinking – love story there, some- thing that hadn’t quite been explored yet; particularly the dynamic between these two men in war that could’ve fallen in love with each other.”

“I would try to push it a bit in that direction, but the Disney overlords were not ready to do that,” said Isaac.

Disney still has not responded to Isaac’s comment, but they could very well respond by killing Poe off and refusing to hire Isaac again.

This is not the only queer controversy in the Star Wars saga, though.

The most recent installment, The Rise of Skywalker, featured an on- screen kiss between two women– something that Disney did their best to advertise to the public before the movie came out.

But the moment itself was just that, a moment, maybe half a second in the background of the scene.

Viewers had to know it was coming in order to look out for it, otherwise the kiss was completely washed over.

“It was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film,” said Director J.J. Abrams in an interview with Variety.

Of course, many people in the LGBT community did not think much of the “brave” action.

Twitter user @OkazuYuri tweeted, “A throwaway moment in the back- ground with nameless extras is not particularly brave or groundbreaking. Save the breathlessness for when they give us someone with a name in the story.”

The kiss was also cut from film showings in Singapore, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates for being too “inappropriate” for young viewers.

If Disney is so adamant about advertising gay moments to its audience, why put Isaac on the potential chopping block?

Why change the way the movies are screened across the world? Capitalism and corporate greed.

Still this is not the first time Disney has skipped over the queer community claiming representation.

In the remake of Beauty and the Beast, LeFou was supposedly the token gay character, but all the movie ever showed was a steamy look between him and another male character in drag.

Up until the release of the movie, Disney was talking non-stop about its “first-ever canonically queer character”.

This eye contact was disappointing, to say the least.

And in Marvel’s Endgame, the gay moment was just one man referring to his partner with masculine pronouns.

The scene was with a throwaway character, never seen, heard, or even referenced later on in the movie.

There have been other calls for queer characters from fans in Disney-owned movies, like the movement #GiveElsaAGirlfriend, or the fan-theory of Valkyrie and Captain Marvel from the Avengers franchise being together.

But Disney still won’t include more than just a snippet of queer representation in its films for the sole reason of being afraid of losing their homophobic audiences.

For the most part, Disney has been doing an okay job of incorporating “regular” diversity.

There have been more female empowering movies, characters of color, and a focus on non-romantic love.

But if Disney is going to market to a certain community, the least they could do would be to actually include that community in its franchises.

Don’t offer a gay kiss on screen if the moment is going to be insignificant and off in the background.

#GiveElsaAGirlfriend is still a movement I stand behind, but it’s clear to me that it’ll take more than a trendy hashtag for Disney to even have two girls holding hands, much less come out as gay.