Star Wars Does Not Have A Director Problem

Star Wars Does Not Have A Director Problem

A report came out saying Star Wars has been all white men working on the series - but diversity can't be enforced.
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Recently, a report came out that Star Wars writers and directors have been 96% white men. Leigh Brackett, who wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back before her death in 1978, is the only woman who has worked in those capacities on the films. And many have started pushing for Lucasfilm to hire on a woman or non-white director for one of the several Star Wars films coming out between now and whenever people get tired of them. But pushing for it is more of a hindrance than a help for production work. Simply put, the job should go to whoever has the most talent and best vision for the film, regardless of who. So with that in mind, let's look into the behind-the-scenes jobs and see whether it's an actual issue with the movies, or just complaining about nothing.

So far, not counting the made-for-TV-but-released-in-theaters-overseas Ewok Adventure movies from the 1980s, there has been ten Star Wars movies, with an eleventh on the way. Of these ten, four were directed by George Lucas, who also wrote those same four, and co-wrote/worked on the story of an additional two, three if you include his involvement with The Clone Wars cartoon as part of the writing on the pilot movie. J.J. Abrams is director and co-writer of The Force Awakens, as well as the yet to be released Episode IX, while Rian Johnson is in charge of an entire trilogy due to his work on The Last Jedi. Including Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lawrence Kasdan has written four installments in the series. It seems like it's not a matter of “hey let's hire the same guy,” but rather it is bringing people back to help guide the story so it all fits perfectly together. As much as I enjoyed The Last Jedi, it does seem more of it's own story than the middle step between The Force Awakens and IX, and I think that comes down to Kasdan and Abrams not being involved in the planning stages beyond the first scene of Luke Skywalker. Despite the male teams, it should be noted that since 2012, Kathleen Kennedy, who produced many of Steven Spielberg's movies, has been in charge of Lucasfilm and is the final say on the individual Star Wars movies. So regardless of whether or not the director is male, a woman is still the one signing the paycheck.

And this is Star Wars – strong female characters define it just as much as the Force or the Millennium Falcon. Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, Rey, Jyn Erso, Ahsoka Tano, Rose Tico, Sabine Wren, and Hera Snydulla are all major players in the series, some in cartoons, others in live action films. A New Hope, despite some now feeling only women can write strong women, was written by George Lucas and features a princess who pretty much saves herself after the heroes open her cell door. Jyn Erso saves the Rebellion and the galaxy at that by stealing the Death Star plans and transmitting them back to Tantive IV. Rey brought Luke Skywalker back to the Force, as well as getting the Resistance to escape the First Order approach on Crait. Basically, the production teams seem to have no effect on the characters, especially not female ones. For over forty years, girls have looked up to Princess Leia – and yeah the metal bikini is kind of demeaning, but it's supposed to be, Jabba the Hutt isn't the kind of gangster to let his slaves dress like royalty. There's even a series of dolls and short animation based around these iconic female characters, Forces of Destiny.

Would I like to see Jordan Peele or Patty Jenkins write/direct a Star Wars movie? Of course I would, they're all talented directors in their own right, race or gender means nothing. While race really isn't a big hurdle to jump over in Hollywood anymore, we do need to consider that there aren't too many female directors in the business right now. Sure, we have Greta Gerwig and Kathryn Bigelow, but they both seem to do more character dramas than sci-fi action with a little drama. We need to show young girls who want to work in filmmaking that they can direct whatever movie they want, and not try and pull them towards just writing or acting. We also cannot be saying that they should hire a woman or a non-white director who hasn't already made a name for themselves somehow, because Star Wars isn't really a first-time-directing thing. If you want to see a woman direct one, then help young female filmmakers get their names out in the city of stars.

Wonder Woman was not a hit because it was directed and written by a woman, nor was Creed because it had a black director. Rather, the stories are great, the actors give it their all, and the directors and writers are talented in their field. Lucasfilm looks for talent, and so far, Kathleen Kennedy has found some amazing talent to take the reins on the Star Wars series. Ron Howard was brought in after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired, and he was chosen because of his Lucasfilm connections. Forcing a production company to hire someone because of their race/gender without looking at their ability to make a good movie will only cause lesser quality films to be made – I wouldn't want them to hire some young white guy just because they could, I'd want them to get someone who can make a great final product. Maybe one of the Rian Johnson trilogy or the D.B. Weiss/David Benioff movies will have a black director a female writer. So long as they're the best choice, then by all means. Star Wars isn't going anywhere for a long time, we'll see different directors as time goes on, for now, let's just focus on getting Solo and IX out.

Cover Image Credit: Lucasfilm

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