Star Wars fan Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen and boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero were among the 49 people who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando earlier this month. Drew’s best friend Joshua Yehl has started a petition asking Lucasfilm to use him “as inspiration for the first-ever LGBT Star Wars character to appear in a movie.”
As part of their annual report on LGBT characters in movies, the anti-defamation group GLAAD is pushing Star Wars to introduce gay and lesbian characters into the films. Per Variety:
“As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth ‘Star Wars’ film,” the report reads. “2015’s ‘The Force Awakens’ has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories.”
The introduction of gay and lesbian characters into the canon Star Wars novels has been controversial, but really, what isn’t?
Also at Variety, Brent Lang looks at why major blockbusters like Star Wars and Marvel have been reluctant to add LGBT characters.
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams was asked about the future of gay characters in Star Wars Thursday. “Of course,” he told The Daily Beast. “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course.”
By Abrams’ logic, the sprawling Star Wars universe couldn’t possibly exist without a gay populace—even if we haven’t seen a single character identified as gay thus far. “I would love it,” he said. “To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
Of course, fans of the new Star Wars novels know that there are already canon gay and lesbian characters there (most notably, though not without ‘controversy,’ in Aftermath) but on film it’s a different story.
Abrams’ comments are far from a promise – or a confirmation – but he does say that discussions on diversity and inclusiveness are happening in Hollywood. And given what Lucasfilm’s done so far, I doubt they’re an exception.
It’s not the first time Star Wars has featured LGBT characters, but an upcoming novel will be the first to introduce one into Star Wars canon as it now stands.
Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, out in April, features Moff Mors, a lesbian and “Imperial who has made some very serious mistakes but is an incredibly capable leader and spends much of the book working hard to prevent absolute failure,” Bryan Young at Big Shiny Robot reports.
“There should be diversity in Star Wars,” Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro told Young for Full of Sith. And what more is there to say than that?
Oscar nominations came out this morning (with a little help from J.J. Abrams as a presenter) and the main story seem to be how very, very male and white they are. The most noteworthy snub? Civil rights drama Selma, which earned a Best Picture and Best Song nomination, despite nothing for director Ava DuVernay or the cast, led by Rebels’ David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. The saddest thing, maybe? Shutting out one movie is all it took to whitewash the acting nominations.
The other big snub? The LEGO Movie, which is up for Best Song (‘Everything is Awesome’) but totally shut out of Best Animated Feature. At least one of the directors has a good attitude about it.
But as usual, the only field that’s heavy in genre is Visual Effects, which sees nods for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Leland Chee helps NPR’s Code Switch track down Star Wars’ first Asian character. (Well, arguably first.) His name is Lieutenant Telsij and he appears in Return of the Jedi.
→ A report from a talk with editor Mary Jo Markey. She doesn’t talk about Episode VII, but you don’t really expect her to, do you?
→ New Tosche Station staffer Shoshana writes about diversity, race and Episode VII.
Is harassment at comic conventions really that big a problem? Yes. Yes it is. In this survey, 25% of the respondents said they have been sexually harassed in the industry. Twenty five percent.
What even the best blockbusters are still getting wrong about women. “When I asked [Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves] why there was so little for women to do in Dawn, he fell uncharacteristically silent. ‘It wasn’t a conscious decision. I don’t know,’ he finally admitted.” Why are we still making a big deal about this, re: Episode VII and other blockbusters? Because of answers like that.
Infographic: Women directors in the studio system, from 2009-2013. Twenty-two women out of 466 directors, total.