Why Diversity in Star Wars Makes Good Story Sense


Casting news about the new Star Wars® film has created lots of controversy because of a lack of diversity among the cast. Many folks have been eloquent in expressing their disappointment and brilliant in their use of statistics to show why the cast should be more diverse.

I agree with them, but for a different reason entirely. Story.

The continuation of the Star Wars® saga demands diversity. Without it, the previous stories are just wasted.

Here’s my thinking: We start with the ethnically and gender diverse Old Republic. It is overthrown and replaced with a racist, speciesist, misogynistic Empire. That Empire, then, is overthrown by an ethnically and gender diverse rebellion (two leaders of which are strong women), and the New Republic is put in its place. The return to a balanced society, which was only disrupted for a generation, is not only inevitable, it is the only logical outcome of the first six films. To suggest otherwise is to devalue the events and character sacrifices made in the original saga.

Sure, I know this is all make believe. I know this is all big business. It was my hope that folks who wanted to follow in the grand tradition of Star Wars wouldn’t divorce themselves from everything that Star Wars created. Fans of every gender and background have felt included because we can all sympathize with the fight against oppression. To fail to reflect the fruits of victory over oppression in the new films and casting just means that someone decided to let the Sith win.

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7 Responses to “Why Diversity in Star Wars Makes Good Story Sense”

  1. Heh, you’re absolutely right.

    Now I wonder if another explanation for the lack of women among the more visible ranks of the Rebel Alliance in the films (for example, the pilots) could be also explained as, aside of being off-camera, a minority of women in the Imperial flight academies where some of these pilots were trained. Would have to go and check the EU profiles of the pilots from the films to see how many came from these, though.

  2. Does everything need to be explained. Does the Empire now need to be racist like the Nazis. Can’t they just be selfish & evil.

  3. First off, racism didn’t begin or end with the Nazis. Second, the Empire always has been racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. Recall, Chewie was a slave until Han rescued him.

    I’m not pointing out anything that wasn’t there since the very first movie or the backstories of characters from that movie. It’s not an explanation, just an observation.

  4. My issue is that everything I’ve read about the new movies says they aren’t pulling from the Expanded Universe. If that is truly the case then everything we know about how the New Republic was built is likely going to change.
    For instance they announced the time frame for the start of Episode 7 would be approximately 34 ABY. By that time in the EU the New Republic brokered peace with the Empire, was invaded by the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong, collapsed and rebuilt itself as the Galactic Alliance.
    The scarier thing I don’t look forward to is that in the war with the Yuuzhan Vong Chewbacca was killed. Yet looking at the cast list Peter Mayhew is set to reprise the role of Chewbacca. Unless they use flashbacks that means Chewbacca is alive in 34 ABY and not dead as he is supposed to be in the EU. That by itself throws almost every novel written in the universe set after 25 ABY into question. Lucas is leaving the fans behind again.

  5. From the start all of the writers knew that what we’d done could be dismantled. The Prequel movies ran rough-shod over the timeline we’d all be working from—but we expect that working in someone else’s universe.

    Once it was announced that Disney/Lucasfilm had decided to form a committee to determine what of the EU would be canon and what would not, I expected and predicted the current outcome. That is this: they can mine the EU for ideas, but are not bound by the EU. Oddly enough, that’s in keeping with what the LFL policy about the EU always was: the films were canon for the universe, the EU material was canon for the EU.

    To your point, though, while the authors knew that was the reality, most readers didn’t. I understand your frustration. I fervently hope that the new movies will rekindle the old feelings for the universe that you have in your heart.

  6. I agree on your point of diversity. Part of why I love the x-wing series was how rogue squadron consisted of men, women, and aliens of different species it showed how the rebellion and soon to be new republic was very different from the empire and it gave the team a believable depth that the movies weren’t able to convey due to their budget and resources. (I’m sure it was costly to have alien costumes made to work in the cockpits) I for one am also sad with the silly decision to write off the EU but hopefully great authors who created what we all loved will be allowed to continue the new EU and help make some of the old cannon apart of the new cannon with their new stories! *cough* New rogue squadron stories *cough*

  7. Aside from being poor story, it’s also goes against the whole point of Star Wars. Star Wars is as much about the cool aliens and strong characters of all races & genders as it is about the good sci-fi gadgets and the cool magic.