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Thursday, December 31, 2015

All We Need Now is a WOC Sci-Fi Protagonist And We'll Be Getting Somewhere

I can almost here the sound of Internet racists everywhere sharpening their pitchforks.

But, first things first: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is a great movie. Actually, scratch that; it's a great sci-fi event to be experienced. It's that rare mix of 70s nostalgic (Hi, Han Solo! Hi, Chewbacca! Hi, General Leia!) and progressive, modern culture that actually works in a non-ironic, endlessly entertaining way. And most importantly, it's a mainstream film that acknowledges that people of color (including Asians and Latinos, and even women who don't strictly run on AA batteries or via an electrical plug) actually make it to the future. And let the church say Amen to that.

Can I also just say how elated I am that we are all finally talking about His Majesty John Boyega? He plays a black male First Order Stormtrooper, wielding a lightsaber, and he's one of the film's two lead characters (the other--surprise!--a woman). Let's all bask in that glory for a moment, shall we? Now all of you need to go back and watch Attack the Block, so you can catch up with the rest of us longtime fans.

But with all this talk about diversity and forward-thinking, particularly regarding major genre films like this, I have to wonder when women of color will get their chance to dual against the likes of powerful warriors in a galaxy far, far away? Am I asking too much, too soon? I mean, if we're going to talk about diversity, well dammit let's talk about it.

There have been many think pieces suggesting that the success of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has helped bring the black nerd to the mainstream, but I am curious to see where it will go from here. Are we going to finally see more quirky blockbuster genre films (or even small, arthouse films) with people of color as lead characters? Idiosyncratic romantic leads that actually get the guy (or gal)? Nerds that aren't the butt of the jokes and command the whole movie?

I'll wait in eternal hope.


Karen said...

Great post! This sounds like music to my hears: "quirky blockbuster genre films." I hope it happens!

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