Last week, a teaser trailer for the upcoming 2015 J.J. Abrams–directed Star Wars reboot was released, to the delight of fans everywhere. However, the trailer features black British actor John Boyega portraying a stormtrooper, a fact that has already caused much controversy among internet commenters.
And with good reason. This trailer is just another example of Star Wars’ long, regressive history of creating a sanitized world into which only some people are invited. When are characters in Star Wars going to reflect certain segments of the franchise’s core audience? In other words, when are the overweight, eczema-ridden, petty introverts who are complaining about a black stormtrooper going to see a representation of themselves up there on the big screen in a Star Wars movie?
Isn’t it time that this particular audience was treated to at least a few obese, unhygienic stormtroopers, gasping for breath as they try to keep up with their cohorts, their white plastic uniforms stained with Doritos residue and Mountain Dew? Or how about even a single stormtrooper who never leaves his mom’s basement because he’s too busy chronically masturbating and going on Reddit to make shitty comments about what ethnicities fictional characters should or shouldn’t be?
Or maybe even a stormtrooper who lives in a reality where Star Wars remained exactly as he wanted it to be forever, because he’s too emotionally infantile to deal with any sort of change, even on the totally inconsequential scale of a science-fiction movie?
Sadly, based on the evidence, it looks like an impressionable 45-year-old man in a stained MST3K T-shirt will yet again come out of a Star Wars film not having seen himself represented in any way. And truly, this trailer is the biggest slap in the face yet. I mean, a young, fit, good-looking black kid out in the sun? In the middle of the day? Could J.J. Abrams get any further away from the reality of who some of Star Wars’ pasty, bigoted fans actually are?
The bottom line is this: It’s 2014. George Lucas and other filmmakers responsible for Star Wars projects have had nearly 40 years to include a character that represents these people. Sure, there’s Jabba the Hutt, but he’s a disgusting, slave-trading, vomitous, slobbering gangster that looks like a giant penis someone hit with a hammer — far too palatable and likable for the average fat-ass, racist fanboy to identify with.
No, they need someone they can really relate to — a character that no writer or director in his right mind would ever base a fictional character on in a billion years because he’s so boring and static and revolting and self-involved that a paying audience member wouldn’t sit through even 10 minutes of a movie that that character was in. Obviously, the slobby, overweight X-wing pilot Jek Porkins from the original Star Wars movie was a good start, but please — he was clearly just a token. We learned nothing about how prejudiced and annoying Porkins was before he was killed by Imperial TIE fighters.
You have a year, Mr. Abrams. The least you can do is write a character into your movie who complains non-stop but contributes nothing, has absolutely no empathy or perspective, and cannot deal with any event that falls outside his narrow worldview.
Make it so.