October 20, 2015

"White genocide" in The Force Awakens?

Now white people are trying to ruin “Star Wars”: Racist reaction to new trailer is part Gamergate, part Donald Trump

The anti-"Star Wars" lunacy seems laughable, but it's related to the toxic male entitlement corroding our politics

By Chauncey DeVega
White racists are none too pleased with JJ Abrams’ new “Star Wars” film trilogy. In protest of last evening’s release of the much-anticipated final trailer for this December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” disgruntled members of the White Right began a Twitter hashtag “BoycottStarWarsVII.” It was a pathetic effort at getting attention; the hashtag was subsequently made popular by those who saw fit to mock it.

It is likely that the white supremacists who are upset by the supposed “anti-white propaganda” and themes of “white genocide” in the new Star Wars films will only have their ire further stoked by Monday night’s trailer that opens with an image of a young woman scavenging a crashed Star Destroyer, a voice over by an alien played by African actress Lupita Nyong’o, then proceeds to focus in on a “black” Stormtrooper turned Resistance leader and hero, and then eventually features a “Latino” X-Wing fighter pilot who valiantly fights against The New Order’s (the next iteration of the evil Empire from the earlier films) improved Tie Fighters.

Of course when viewed on the surface, this faux upset by the White Right about “diversity” and lack of “white” “male” “straight” characters in the new “Star Wars” film is laughable.

The previous “Star Wars” films, with one exception, featured an exclusively white cast. The new movie also has an all-white male cast except for John Boyega as the character “Finn,” Daisy Ridley as the presumed main character Rey; and Oscar Isaac, a Latino, as Poe Dameron. With the exception of Carrie Fisher, the remaining human characters as revealed so far are either depicting, or played by white male actors.

The writers, directors, and most of the senior creative staff for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are also white men. This is a reflection of Hollywood’s broader demographics where by some estimates are at least 85 percent of the producers, directors, show runners, executives, writers, and other leading creative positions are held by white men.

But when viewed in a broader context, the White Right’s childish and petty protests about “Star Wars” are a reminder of how cultural politics reflect deeper social anxieties, worries, and concerns about power in a given society.
When conservatives cry about something, some people say we should ignore them like the whiny babies they are. But one writer disagrees:

Please feed the Star Wars trolls: White supremacists need to be noticed to keep their ideas on the fringe

Yes, trolls want attention. But when you ignore hate, whether on Fox News or Twitter, it does not go away

By Amanda Marcotte
Does ignoring racism make it go away? That’s the underlying premise of Genevieve Koski’s new piece at Vox tut-tutting liberals for giving the #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag on Twitter attention. The hashtag appears to have been started by two white supremacists who are latching onto whatever news item is trending that day—in this case, the new Star Wars trailer—and using it to push their ludicrous notion that white people are being subject to a “genocide” because the movie has people of color as stars in it. The hashtag immediately become overwhelmed by outraged liberals enjoying their moral superiority over these douchebags and Koski is disgusted by the whole thing, arguing that by giving it this attention, liberals “amplify a niche message and create controversy out of whole cloth.”

She argues that since attention is what the trolls want, the No. 1 priority of liberals should be depriving them of that attention. “Twitter trends are just another source of sustenance for trolls and hate groups,” she argues. “All #BoycottStarWarsVII has truly accomplished is giving them a nice, hearty meal.”

It’s a tempting argument. Many of us feel powerless and angry in the face of hate, and so telling people that we can, almost by magic, make it go away by simply pretending it doesn’t exist is an enticing idea. In this case, the argument is juiced by the fact that the people who started this are a couple of clowns who are afraid to show their own faces in public and who do clearly get off on the attention.

Still, what Koski’s argument fails to take into account is how fringe reactionary ideas like this, if they aren’t checked by liberals, have a tendency to start leaking into mainstream conservative circles. Indeed, a lot of what places like Fox News exist to do is clean up fringe ideas, repackage them in more palatable forms, and feed them to an audience that is most definitely not on the fringe. The only way liberals can interrupt that process is by aggressively tying these kinds of ideas to the fringe racist circles where they began, or otherwise they run a very strong risk of being subjected to this mainstreaming process.
Comment:  For more on Star Wars, see Why Are Most Aliens White? and Lucas's Prejudices in Star Wars.

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