Lilian Min
October 12, 2015 6:36 am

For those of you who haven’t seen the amazing Attack the Block, John Boyega is a leading man through and through. He has an incredibly charismatic camera presence, so it’s not a surprise to those who watched the film that he was included in the ridiculously talented cast for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But for some people, Boyega’s casting was seen as a deviation from whatever “canonical” ideas they have about the Star Wars universe. Well, he’s got something to say to those errant “fans.”

In an interview with VMAN, the man who’s playing the mysterious character Finn fires back at people who claim that the Stormtroopers, whose uniform Boyega dons for presumably important story reasons, have to be white. (If you don’t remember the prequels [don’t blame you], this has to do with their clone origin from Jango Fett.) Though the majority of fans have been totally supportive and positive about both Boyega’s and his co-leading colleague Daisy Ridley’s casting, there was some unfortunately commonplace trolling coming from people who couldn’t understand what two non-white men were doing leading one of sci-fi’s most iconic franchises. Boyega’s response:

Word, especially since the world of sci-fi/fantasy in particular has had issues with diversity for a long time. As Allegra Geller at Black Girl Nerds writes, “. . . ten, twenty, hell even over forty years ago the film industry had the same problem it still has today. A lack of diversity in films set in the future and in movies altogether . . . There are some exceptions like The Matrix and to some extent The Host based on the Stephanie Meyer book but the truth is that the scarcity of POC in futuristic films is in direct correlation to the overabundance of whiteness.” She also points out the faux controversy that came around Amandla Stenberg’s casting as Rue in The Hunger Games, another instance in which the mere presence of a POC in sci-fi/fantasy franchise created racist backlash.

Boyega, for his part, seems totally unfazed about the haters. And while Star Wars is certainly a shiny star on his resume, he notes, “All the films I’ve done have had a secret commentary on stereotypical mentalities. It’s about getting people to drop a prejudiced state of mind and realize, ‘Oh sh*t we’re just watching normal people.'”

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about: Star Wars and other films that exist outside historical reality should still serve as a reflection for our own diverse world. Because if anything, it’s more inaccurate at every level to not do so. We applaud Boyega for speaking out about his role; now, wanna drop us a line about your character’s backstory or nah?

The new ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ teaser just dropped. Commence freakout!

Gwendoline Christie shares the powerful similarity between her characters in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘GoT’

Image via Lucasfilm.

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