Some people want to go into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker completely blind and that’s totally fine, but for those of us trying to suss out information regarding queer rep, we gotta talk about that tweet.
For most people, what’s in this article will not really count as a spoiler, but I’m giving you plenty of warning that we’re going to be talking about a tweet that tells us what kind of queer representation we’ll be getting in The Rise of Skywalker. So if that’s too much for you, TURN BACK NOW.
-SUPER MILD SPOILERS AHEAD-
The tweet in question comes to us from Adam B Vary, a reporter for Variety (and Buzzfeed and EW… he’s a busy guy!), who saw the premiere last night. Lots of reporters tweeted out their reactions pretty much as soon as the film ended, but Vary tweeted out one tidbit that a lot of us have been waiting on.
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) December 17, 2019
This should not at all surprise us. A couple weeks ago there seemed to be a public push by those involved with the film to warn us that Poe and Finn were not going to become canon, but JJ Abrams teased that there could be actual queer rep in the film. This made some us wonder if it could be something significant, or if we were going to get the same treatment that we got from Endgame.
Sadly, it looks like we’ve been Endgamed. And, even more sadly, I’m far less surprised than I expected to be. Maybe I’ve just been let down too many times.
A lot of people attacked Vary over this tweet, saying ‘who cares’ about queer representation and basically showing their bigoted thought process right there for the whole world to see. The hilarious part of much of these bigoted attacks is that they somehow think that even these two seconds are too much. Somehow they’ve misconstrued this as a celebration that we got something. But no, guys, we’re pissed off, too. We’re just mad for different reasons.
We’re mad because for us this is not good rep. We don’t like being pandered to with a two seconds long moment. We want more. We want quality rep. Not just a high quantity of tiny moments that add up to nothing. We don’t like this. You don’t like this. Nobody likes this.
The only response to his tweet that offers some sort of justification was one that mentioned this could once more be related to censorship from China. They can cut a two second scene out far easier than they could cut out a character that’s crucial to the plot. I’m really tired of blaming it all on China, though. I get the argument and it’s a valid one with lots of precedent. But I’m still tired of it even with the history that comes behind that accusation. I truly believe they are afraid of backlash online, too, and the vicious responses to Vary’s tweet highlight why this could have some weight in these decisions.
The bigotry we face online is alarmingly vicious, incredibly consistent, and annoyingly repetitive. We’ve all heard it before. We hear ‘don’t shove it in our faces’ or ‘you are only x% of the population, so you’re over represented’ or ‘THINK OF THE CHILDREN.’ And on and on it goes. It comes in tweets and comments and online petitions and, worst of all, the dreaded YouTube video call out. It results in review bombs and boycotts and trending hashtags. It’s a nuisance more than anything, but a nuisance that corporations usually like to avoid.
Of course, each of these arguments against representation have been debated to death, so I won’t waste my words here breaking them apart. I already wrote a huge article breaking down these arguments when it came to queer representation in Captain America, so go there if you want to argue with these overdone points. It’s nothing new. Regurgitating weak arguments that you heard from some controversial YouTuber or alt-right Twitter star is not the slam dunk that you think it is.
What has also been argued to death is the reason why queer representation – or any representation of any marginalized group – is so important. We always have someone chiming in saying ‘as a [insert identity from marginalized group] I don’t really care about representation.’ And that’s your prerogative (if you are in fact from that group, and not just lying on the Internet to give weight to you argument), but you don’t speak for the entire community. Psychologists agree that representation is important, so you’re outmatched on this one. I’m glad that some people don’t need to see themselves in media, but a lot of us do.
We’re all just really exhausted at this point, and having bits thrown at us by the MCU and Star Wars isn’t really alleviating any of our stress about it. We’re still marginalized and attacked for wanting to be treated equally. And corporations are basically telling us that two seconds of representation should be seen as equality.
This is not good enough.
I love Star Wars. I’m going to go see the film on Thursday and we plan on having a review and webcast about The Rise of Skywalker up by this weekend. The lack of queer representation was never going to be a deciding factor for me about whether I went to see this film, nor is it a deciding factor with any of the other major franchises I stan. Unlike the opposition, I won’t be starting any boycotts over this. And maybe that’s why we are pandered to like this. The corporations that produce this content can give us a crumb, say they did a good thing, remove those two seconds from overseas versions of the film, and avoid backlash online.
I’m just really tired. And I don’t know what to say about it anymore.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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