#BoycottStarWarsVII and its Implications

According to one Twitter user, we should all “#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #WhiteGenocide.”

While the world was getting ramped up for the release of the official trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by Lucas Films the evening of Monday, October 19, the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII was gaining popularity and spotlight on Twitter.

Many were boycotting the film because the two main protagonists, played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, were not white or not male, respectively. Some deemed the latest Star Wars film to be promoting white genocide, or the breeding out of the “white race” from the gene pool, or in this case, from the big screen. Some even criticized the director, J.J Abrams, for being Jewish and “anti-white.”

Some took it further, like one Twitter user, who claimed that the film is “a social justice propaganda piece that alienates it’s [sic] core audience of young white males.”

To make matters worse, the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII was the highest trending hashtag on Twitter Monday evening.

From these discriminatory Tweets, it seems like the United States isn’t as open to accepting diversity as it claims itself to be. The idea that anyone, regardless of gender, religious-affiliation, or race is treated equally and is given equal opportunity, is only wishful thinking. After the dream of coming to the New World for the freedom to practice religion transformed into the dream to be treated as equal, and after the Civil War, and the emancipation of slaves, and the acceptance of Jim Crow laws, and the repeal of those, and the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and the creation of Affirmative Action — and after so many other events in history that were intended to level the playing field — it seems that these have all been in vain. The America we live in now seems just as racist and sexist as it was in the mid 1800s.

But here’s the good news: it only seems so. According to Fizziology, a social media social listening and analytic firm, only 6% of those who used the #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag on Twitter on Monday were attacking the film and its director for promoting “white genocide.” 94% of users who used that hashtag were lashing out against the 6% and were defending the actors, the film, the director, and the idea of diversity. Faith in humanity restored.

Some news outlets such as Esquire and The Guardian, and websites like Reddit, had articles claiming that the 6% who were making racist and sexist comments were only doing so to “troll” the internet. But let us be aware that these users may be using the media and society’s perception of those tweets as “trolls” to get away with sincere anti-multiculturalism, racism, and sexism.

The media is downplaying this whole trend as being started by “trolls,” but the fact that these comments were posted to begin with raises a simple yet important question: Is the United States actually ready and willing to make an active effort to become more diverse?

We would all like to say, “Yes, absolutely.” But upon closer examination, the answer might be a reluctant and resigned, “No.” The issue of race and equality in America still exists to this day, as seen with #BoycottStarWarsVII and many similar trends. There are still those who are strongly opposed to the United States embracing its mixed, meshed, and multicultural population.

If we have achieved racial equality, why is it still so uncomfortable to talk about? It’s easy to reprimand people for being racist and for being sexist, as seen with the influx of people defending Star Wars VII for aspiring to be more inclusive and to champion the #CelebrateStarWarsVII hashtag, but it’s hard to actively try, in our everyday lives, to eradicate racism by being more inclusive. We have become more aware of racial and gender discrimination, but the things we don’t notice are causing the transition to equality to slow, as seen with the downplaying by the press of all of the comments as “trolls,” not legitimate acts of racism.

So, call them out! This is a big deal. And let’s do more than just call them out. Let’s talk about the color of our skin, and our heritage, where we come from, and our struggles, no matter our skin color. Just as the active effort of J.J. Abrams and some parts of the film industry on hiring a more diverse cast will help achieve equal representation on the big screens, the open discussion of race and gender (among other things) will help the United States slowly achieve race and gender equality.

[Image courtesy of Joseph Serrano, Redlands Bulldog photographer. Special thanks to A Shop Called Quest]



  • Hedy Yu

    Hedy is a sophomore Johnston Student who explores and indulges in stories of food, business, culture, race, and people.