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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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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