Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth and final film of the Skywalker family saga – so they say. And with this final installment of the franchise, fans were promised a conclusion to all nine films by writer and director JJ Abrams.
However, film critics and fans who may have been harsh because of the frayed storylines, undeveloped characters – and, let’s be honest, the re-establishment of a certain antagonist, indeed make for some valid criticism.
Not that those critiques aren’t warranted, but those of us who are worried about equal representation have much deeper concerns.
In the first of the new franchise, The Force Awakens, the establishment of the new characters had us eagerly anticipating a fleeting romance between the two main protagonists, Rey and Finn, played by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
“You got a boyfriend”, asks Finn in The Force Awakens.” Rey quickly responds with “That is none of your business”.
And again, in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, we were teased with an interracial romance again with Finn and Rose. At least we got a brief kiss.
Not only were we deprived of any and all potential interracial romances in The Rise of Skywalker that was clearly teased, but we also didn’t see any romances truly develope – which seemed like a conscious choice throughout the final trilogy.
Much like the original Star Wars saga, romance was always played a part in the series. Even in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Anakin and Padme’s romance had a tragic Shakespearian quality to it. But somehow, someway, Abrams dropped the ball – not only on the interracial romantic element but he abandoned the tradition of having a romance at the heart of the story like the preceding series.
Sure, the film added a lackluster lesbian kiss between two insignificant characters – but it certainly wasn’t good enough to make a lasting impression. Not to mention that the kiss was only for a brief moment near the conclusion of the story.
It’s no longer enough to just have diversity.
The idea of a cosmopolitan of characters gallivanting throughout the galaxy with one another for a significant amount of time without one interracial romantic scene or the development of at least one gay character is just unrealistic, even for a science fiction epic.
In the not too distant past, it might have been a bold step to simply have a diverse cast, and then call it good. That’s no longer acceptable. Audiences have caught on to that antiquated perspective. We need our diverse cast to interact with one another in all its possible scenarios.
The Rise of Skywalker certainly, and could’ve been so much more. Not only was it a missed the opportunity of cementing its own legacy by pushing the boundaries of equality but the Star Wars finale will also be remembered as a film that was the victim of its own success while acquiescing to an audience that, in reality, needs more.
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