Few of us who are geeks on the internet (perhaps I repeat myself) are unaware that some people are offended at “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – over racial and gender issues. It’s not hard to find people complaining that:
- There is a Stormtrooper who is black.
- There is a heroine who is female.
I’d go into why people seem to be disturbed by these completely unremarkable things, but it’s a bit hard to describe it beyond “bigotry and weird conspiracy theories” that seem to be a cover for assorted personal insecurities. Actually that is my explanation and what you do see on the internet.
We may shrug off these reactions as simple racism or sexism. We may laugh at the strange reactions or convoluted conspiracy theories conjured up about the cast and film. We may be offended (and understandably so). But there’s another issue about those offended at the race and gender of the leads I’d like to address.
Whatever the reason or the convoluted explanations people seem to take offense at a lead that is black and a lead that is female. For whatever reasons they doubt they could or should be that color or that gender. This indicates not just bigotry but a fundamental aspect of their bigotry that tells us far more about the biases of those so offended at John Boyega and Daisy Ridley being in the movie.
The setting of “Star Wars” is, simply, in the past in another galaxy. It is not our world, let alone our galaxy, nor our time. THe inhabitants of this setting, though we may call the human, simply are not us. They are, at best, “essentially human.”
But in the end these humans are aliens.
If someone subscribes to the idea that people of a certain skin color or certain gender have specific traits, there is no reason to assume they apply to “humans” in the universe of “Star Wars.” The people we think of as human are, as noted, aliens. Whatever bias you have towards humans of a given race and gender, why should they apply to these humanlike aliens?
The racism and sexism flung at the new film, all other factors aside, reflect a lack of thought, a lack of depth, and a lack of imagination. There is little attempt to imagine a different setting or universe by those so biased against the cast.
Looking at this we realize that those acting in bigoted manners (beyond those just causing trouble) are treating their ideas of “blackness,” of “whiteness,” of “female” as universal traits. These concepts are immutable and inviolable to them. They are, essentially, religious beliefs.
(And this doesn’t even address the ridiculousness of said beliefs period.)
At this point we can see that these biases are even more limiting than they may originally seem. The bigots cannot imagine differently, or dream of a different world – or its equally likely they don’t wish to. Hey assume a tale of space wizards and psychic powers is constrained by their mundane ideas of skin color and genitals.
This likely explains the conspiracy theories and the like around “The Force Awakens” – if one sees race and gender traits as universal constants, then the only explanation one is left with for leads who are different races and genders than expected s some kind of conspiracy. To imagine race and gender are as universal as the speed of light or gravity, then the only explanation a fevered mind can make is that those that deny these things are doing so actively and maliciously.
This is easy to understand as people who are highly biased are invested in said bias. It defines identity. If you must believe that a lead has to be your race (however you define it), your gender (however you define it), then any deviation is an existential threat. Much as these biases infest politics, they’ll infest anything.
It reveals how limited, how sad these bigots are. They’ve taken simple bias and made it the Word of God, and can’t enjoy a film because of it.