John Boyega: 'Star Wars' and Disney's Racism
In the new Star Wars sequel trilogy, there are a series of highs and lows that have shaped the latest extension of George Lucas' ongoing universe. Though Star Wars may exist in a galaxy far, far away, it seems that racial discrimination and macroaggression is not an alien concept.
John Boyega made his first appearance as the first black Stormtrooper, Finn, in The Force Awakens (2015). Boyega, who could be seen as a "token" person of color for Disney's trilogy, said in an interview with GQ Magazine that Disney used his race to market their films and nothing more. The London-born star said that "'all the nuance' was given to Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver's characters, while the likes of him and Kelly Marie Tran saw their characters diminished," referring to Tran's role as the character Rose Tico in The Last Jedi (2017).
“Like, you guys knew what to do with [Ridley], you knew what to do with [Driver]. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to [Tran] when it came to [myself], you know f--k all,” Boyega said.
There was and still is plenty of opposition from Internet trolls and racism rampant Star Wars fans, who vocalize their strong feelings for non-white characters in their fictional, alien universe. Boyega is known for not tolerating any hate speech or disrespect, and now cut free from his Disney restraints, he can now become even more transparent about his treatment.
He seemed as if he was speaking directly to Disney while reflecting on the Sequel trilogy, where his character received no development and a flat plotline by writers. "What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up," he added.
It is also known that Boyega was edited out of promotional posters and materials for international audiences, which was most noticeable in the Chinese poster for The Force Awakens. This was a huge controversial spark, which served as an ember to ignite the discussion around Disney's racial attitudes while approaching Star Wars.
"I feel like, especially as celebrities, we have to talk through this filter of professionalism and emotional intelligence,” Boyega had explained to GQ about his speech during a Black Lives Matter rally. “Sometimes you just need to be mad. You need to lay down what it is that’s on your mind.”