[Op-Ed] Star Wars Stormtrooper “Blackwash Rage” Strikes Back

Examining "blackwash rage"—unbridled anger over casting actors of color in non-traditional roles

British actor John Boyega

British actor John Boyega is one of the lead actors in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars, half the movie is aliens and robots, and a black guy is what set people off?” —Patton Oswalt

Yes, Patton, it sure did. The edgy comedian went on an epic rant about the controversy over the casting of John Boyega, a black British actor as a Stormtrooper in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie.

[Related: Twitter User Creates Hashtag Campaign Calling for Boycott of Latest Star Wars Film]

It almost seems preposterous to use the word “controversy” with the words “casting” and “Star Wars.” Star Wars movies have characters ranging from Admirals with calamari heads to green-skinned ladies (remember Oola, Jabba the Hut’s slave girl? She was played by black actress Femi Taylor–guess there is not as much controversy so long as black skin is painted an inhuman color and when acting as a slave).

The latest Star Wars movie actually has three black actors: Boyega, academy-award winner Lupito Nyong’o as Maz Kanata–a mysterious pirate, and Crystal Clarke as Rachel. Yet, it’s the casting of Boyega as a Stormtrooper that has bunched up the Internet’s panties. Some of the Twitter tears of outrage:

#BoycottStarWarsVII because it will be ghetto garbage.

Star Wars is “White Culture” just as much as Jazz is “Black Culture.”

So why is there a black storm trooper in the new Star Wars movie? They’re supposed [sic] be all white. I’m tired of this political correctness [expletive].

I remember the original Star Wars. It was unlike anything I had ever seen and I was mesmerized. The Stormtroopers were so fierce and so cool (although the World War I history from which they are based is horrifying). You never saw a Stormtrooper’s face. Perhaps many assumed under the helmet was a white male face. Admittedly, I, as a little black girl watching the first Star Wars movie, would have thought that a Stormtrooper unmasked would reveal a white man.

I was conditioned, as was so many others, that white males’ faces were faces of authority.

Interestingly, Star Wars sequels have had black actors in prominent roles: Samuel L. Jackson, as a Jedi master in Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Yet, those characters did not cause as much backlash? Why?

The current political climate and the perception of power–that’s why.

Those who have been at the upper echelon of society for generations are currently feeling threatened in a way that has not happened since the turbulent 60s. With minorities rapidly becoming the majority; with calls for diversity and inclusion; same-sex marriage; demands over the protection of women’s rights; etc. … Middle America has been significantly disrupted and awoken from its sleepiest suburb to its most cloistered, homogenous rural acre.

Add in a shaky economy over the last decade that gives spoils to the already wealthy and punishes those with more meager means; top it off with a President of color, and that is the recipe for an extraordinarily angry segment of the populace who consider themselves a soon-to-be extinguished breed.

The level of outrage over a black Stormtrooper is directly proportional to the news: Black Lives Matter, minority college kids protesting, demands for diversity in the workplace, equal pay for women, etc., are all jarring to the majority.

The reason why Donald Trump is heralded as the symbol of the majority is the same reason why there is controversy over a black Stormtrooper. It’s the sentiment of: They are usurping our power. If they succeed, what happens to us?

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  • Jon

    What a bitch. Exscuse me, angry proud black woman.

    • Dr. Waffle

      What an asshole. Excuse me, angry white loser.

  • LAL

    Oh please–the reason people are upset that a black person is a storm trooper is because they think storm troopers are clones as in the prequels. Once the movie clarifies that storm troopers are not clones, people get over it, just like you should.

  • Edward McNamara

    Samara Lynn, don’t feed the trolls, or is your greed for clicks worth giving them legitimacy?

  • Orion Red

    Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek? Do we not have ant Indian actors that maybe could have played the Indian tyrant? That one surprised me because they have so many ‘proper’ races being shown in that franchise.

    I think a lot of the problem is that most whites don’t know enough black people. So the can’t identify with the characters. Seriously, I met my first black person when I was like 15 years old. My parents never ‘mixed’ with them. I knew folks from TV, but that’s not as impactful as meeting people face to face.

    Nowadays, most whites go out of their way to AVOID interacting with blacks. It’s very weird to me. Worse, they act like they are ambassadors doing the poor black person a favor when they DO manage to interact.

    The only interaction they see on TV are the stereotypes on tv, or the blm folks on the news who are PISSED OFF.

    • TheKnowerseeker

      Didn’t you attend American public school, where, in most towns, you would have encountered black kids from the start? (I learned my first curse word from a black kid in kindergarten.) Or were you born with a silver spoon in your mouth? Most white Americans don’t have the “luxury” of avoiding blacks, which teaches us through experience that most black Americans *are* of the “PISSED OFF TV stereotype / BLM folks” variety. “I met my first black person around 15 years old.” Man were you sheltered, and you’re still sheltered and don’t realize it.

  • Joe Joejoe

    Finn may be the hero protagonist, but he’s still the token black guy. When it’s forced, everything goes sour no matter how you try to present it.

    I personally think he just didn’t quite fit the role. He practically looks like a grown 35 year old man. Him walking around with Rey crushing on her just looked wrong. His acting was ok-ish but not great. His acting sort of made his character appear to suffer from multiple personalities. His acting is just very much reactive, but never actually sets the stage.

    Considering all of this, it’s clear his role was created just to have a black hero in star wars….which is just cheap and gimmicky.

    Black people should be insulted, not because there’s not enough blacks in star wars, but for trying to force blacks into star wars which ultimately taints their roles.

    If white people tried to white wash popular classic black movies….you better believe blacks wouldn’t hesitate to hate on it.

    • Samara Lynn

      “Black people should be insulted, not because there’s not enough blacks in star wars, but for trying to force blacks into star wars which ultimately taints their roles.”

      Quite the contrary. Personally, I’m thrilled.

      • TheKnowerseeker

        You’re not even black, but “multiracial” — and more importantly — you’re a biased liberal with an agenda. So your opinion doesn’t refute his proposition.

    • Dr. Waffle

      Or maybe, just maybe, J.J. Abrams thought John Boyega fit the role. Of course, in Crazy Land the presence of minorities and women is always a consequence of “political correctness,” and not because a female or minority actor is simply more talented than their white, male colleagues.

      Also, apparently you’ve never actually watched any other “Star Wars” films. The original trilogy had Lando, and the prequels had Mace Windu. It’s not as though black actors haven’t been featured in these movies before.

      • TheKnowerseeker

        You mean, the Crazy Land you live in, where all conservative-leaning arguments are filtered into straw men versions of their originals for you to smugly knock down, living blissfully in your ignorance and hatred of all things non-liberal.

        Lando and Mace Windu fit well in their stories, and their actors did good jobs portraying them. Joe is saying that Finn and his actor do/did not.

        • Dr. Waffle

          Lol So J.J. Abrams cast John Boyega because he was black?

    • LAL

      Haha, yeah right–they cast a “token black guy” as the lead character in what is expected to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Are you kidding? You really think their primary motive in casting was to get a black guy? Considering how the prequels were widely condemned for the bad acting of the lead characters, I’m sure they were very careful in who was cast this time and picked the best guy.

      I personally thought he was great. He was my favorite new character in the show.

      • TheKnowerseeker

        And they based the premises of the movie Avatar on liberal arguments (corporations and colonialism are evil, and “earthly” tribalism is good) regardless of it also being one of the highest grossing movies of all time. (I happen to agree personally that unbridled capitalism and colonialism are evil, but that’s beside the point.) So why would they not base the casting for this movie entirely on a liberal agenda?

  • Claude

    The only people promulgating this garbage are those who are not just looking for a click to their story but a person who most would consider ignorant. You can now count yourself among those.

  • Riquiss

    Storm troopers based off of World War 2, not WWI. Yes, history matters.

    • Samara Lynn

      Yes, history does matter: “One of the major developments of the First World War was the stormtrooper. ” http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_stormtrooper.html

    • Samara Lynn

      Are you saying there weren’t German stormtroopers in WWI? Or,are you saying Lucas based them off the ones from WWII? If the former, you are incorrect. If the latter, that’s possible.

  • georgecook

    The original Storm troopers were no white. They were clones from Jango Fett who was an islander so people who are complaining have no idea what they are talking about.

  • Jake

    Obviously you missed the point of Cloud Atlas, and are ignoring the fact that a black woman played a white character in that film, because it was all about race and gender bending. Also, “Antiheroes like Johnny Storm.” Fucking what?

  • TheKnowerseeker

    So does the final cut of the movie still have that British black actor speaking and behaving like an uneducated American black from da hood, like in the trailer? I don’t know, because I won’t pay to be subjected to Cultural Marxism.