In the latest “Star Wars” movie “Rogue One,” rebel forces seek out a way to take down the Empire’s infamous Death Star satellite of original trilogy fame. While everyone loves a good underdog story – “Rogue One” being a prime example of one – Chris Weitz, screenwriter for the movie, recently tweeted something very concerning: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist organization.” His co-writer Gary Whitta was quick to add that the empire is “opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women” – the rebel alliance.
This is great news, right? A movie focused on a racially diverse and female group of rebels taking on the big, bad, “white supremacist” empire? Unfortunately, it is not good news at all.
In the past, George Lucas has used “Star Wars” to draw parallels between his fictional Empire and the Nazi party of World War II: his “stormtroopers” aren’t called stormtroopers for nothing. But when we also take a look at Weitz’s strongly critical anti-Donald Trump tweets (which have since been deleted from his account), we realize his clear attempt to parallel his version of the Empire in “Rogue One” to the nonexistent white supremacist ideals many of today’s leftists see in the president-elect. While some of the things Trump says and does may be racist to a certain extent, that is far short of white supremacists who believe in the inferiority of all other races.
Let us rewind. Back in Victorian England, store owners would put up “Help Wanted” signs in their windows with addendums like “No Irish need apply” or “Irish need not apply.” This anti-Irish sentiment existed in America at the time as well, and the signs became colloquially known among Irish groups as NINAs or INNAs.
If the cast of the rebellion in “Rogue One” was intentionally chosen to be non-white people and women, clearly some level of anti-white-male selectivity must have occurred during casting – all but hanging a sign reading “no white males need apply.” Are we no better than the businesses who used to put up NINA signs?
Do not get me wrong, I am all for diversity in films and showing the world and its people as they are, but this takes it too far. If the writers had been trying to send a message against Trump, so be it. The First Amendment guarantees their freedom of speech. But specifically not casting white men for roles that have nothing to do with race or gender is absurd.
Even if Trump were a white supremacist and Weitz’s hidden message had any value whatsoever, the answers to the racism and sexism that are unfortunately still inherent in today’s society are not reverse racism or reverse sexism – which, I might add, do not exist – racism against white people is just straight up racism, and sexism against men is just straight up sexism. Opposing white supremacy by hating every single white male is racist and sexist.
Sadly, “Rogue One” is not the first incident of this racist casting process, however. In October 2015, CBS announced it would be working on a reboot of the timeless detective series “Nancy Drew,” and CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller said that in casting Nancy, he’d “be open to any ethnicity.” However, in the same interview he stressed that the actress “[would] not [be] Caucasian.” Geller claims that “Nancy Drew” was written to be diverse, but this casting decision is blatantly anti-white.
If a white actress were to outdo all her competitors in the auditions for Nancy, she would not get the part simply because she is white. She would not even be allowed to audition because she is white. Re-read these last two sentences, but change the word “white” to “black” in your mind. Imagine the public outrage that would occur if that were the case. Is this not hypocrisy?
By this point, you may also recall the #OscarSoWhite phenomenon during the 2016 awards season. The media outrage and subsequent boycotts of the Oscars show a lack of maturity on the parts of those ignited by the nominee choices of the Academy that year. The Academy nominates those it thinks most deserve the Oscars, no matter the actors’ and actresses’ races. It just so happened that the nominees in the top four categories were all white in 2016. Maybe actors of other races just had an off year, a natural part of the movie cycle in which they did not get very many good parts or received less box office success than anticipated. We all know white people would not be allowed to get offended if all 20 nominees had been, say, black or Hispanic.
What “Rogue One,” “Nancy Drew,” the #OscarSoWhite movement and a host of other phenomena show us is that quote-unquote “reverse racism” is being heavily employed as a countermeasure to racism – some of which is made up, like Weitz’s view of president-elect Trump as a white supremacist. Put simply, this practice does not make sense. Fight fire with fire? When it comes to racism, that gets us nowhere.