Two nights ago, the unthinkable happened: nerds watched Monday Night Football. Not because they were into the game. What, are you crazy? No, a few days earlier, ESPN shrewdly let slip the news that the trailer for the new Star Wars movie would air sometime during the broadcast. So, America’s geek community spent the entire first half of the game, huddled around their televisions with bated breath, awaiting a glimpse of what may be the most anticipated two and half minutes in U. S. movie history. Not being a jerk, I don’t want to make you wait that long, so check this out:
Is that not amazing? All I can say is, if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, you have no business claiming the title of “nerd”.
But, there is a fly in the ointment of all that awesomeness: it appears that a few people are upset because at least one of the lead characters in the latest film is black. What, there are racist nerds? I didn’t know that was even a thing. Sexist assholes who lose their shit when someone calls them out on their objectification of women, sure. But, racist? Didn’t even cross my mind.
Unfortunately, beloved, these unicorns exist, as the Boycott Star Wars VII hashtag painfully demonstrates. Evidently, casting two people of color in lead roles of a film that’s part of a franchise which, up to now, has featured a cast that’s predominantly been whiter than sour cream is somehow “white genocide” (I didn’t make that term up. It’s from one of these assholes’ tweets). And, it’s not just the cast that’s got these White Pride Warriors in a tizzy: director JJ Abrams is a “Jewish activist” who “is an anti-white nut”. Okay then.
I’m not really sure what their problem is. I mean, it’s not like previous Star Wars films haven’t featured minorities in prominent roles. Billy Dee Williams played the cool, urbane gambler-turned-city-administrator-turned-Rebel Alliance leader, Lando Calrissian. And, the voice of uber-villian Darth Vader was provided by James Earl Jones, also a black guy. I don’t know, maybe the problem is that the new movie has more than one person of color on-screen at a time (I guess not being able to see Jones’ face makes it easier to pretend he’s white). Or, maybe it’s because there’s an African-American and a Latino in this film. Who the hell knows? Trying to make sense of racism is like cleaning out a septic tank: it needs to be done, but after just a few minutes of it, you need a shower so badly.
As Trevor Noah mentioned on last night’s Daily Show, this isn’t the first time people have gotten their knickers in a twist over the race of a character in a popular literary/film franchise. It happened with The Hunger Games, Spiderman, and the latest Fantastic Four movie. It is interesting that this outrage only seems to happen in the science-fiction/fantasy community. But I’ve never seen it as particularly racist; more like sci-fi/fantasy fans are so very passionate about the things they love. Like Jordan Klepper said in the Daily Show clip, sci-fi nerds are always upset about something. But, this? It’s 2015, people. Why the fuck are we arguing about the race of two characters and not “the thrust speed of an X-34 landspeeder”.
Watching all this unfold yesterday, I was reminded of Shanghai McCoy (played by Strother Martin in “Rooster Cogburn) who said:
“Been around the Horn, sailed the seven seas, seen everything, done everything, that’s how I know people are rotten. I’ve seen ’em all.”
Right now, I’m thinking truer words were never spoken.