WARNING: One Massive Spoiler Ahead
It’s no secret that Hollywood is having trouble with prominently showcasing talents from different ethnicity. For years now, they have been called out multiple times by minority groups for not giving opportunities to these groups or for not acknowledging their works. And it looks like someone is finally listening.
Star Wars, one of the biggest film franchises in Hollywood, decided to make a film with its main characters mainly comprised of minorities. Minorities, in this case are the groups that are very much thriving in North America but for some reason still fall victims to misrepresentation or are hardly even represented-to some extent even excluded from the narrative most often (I’m talking about you, Asians).
It was a breath of fresh air.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had Diego Luna ( Mexican), Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen (Chinese), Riz Ahmed (British/Pakistani), Mads Mikkelsen (Danish) and Forest Whitaker (notable Black American actor), all of whom are lead by the heroine, Felicity Jones an English actress. In short, this film had enough doses of diversity to go around with and it certainly did not go unnoticed on my radar.
My first glimpse of the actors in their roles were in the trailers. It had taken me a back in the beginning until I realised why it had affected me. It was a sure blockbuster win, seeing as it is connected to Star Wars, yet it did not feature strong Caucasian male leads.
It was already a breath of fresh air.
A breath of fresh air that continued to blow towards my direction even after the movie had ended in the cinemas. Yes, it was that good and it was extremely exciting-read the reviews. If only the characters had not all died, leaving no room at all to be seen again (unless they were to make their way to young Han Solo’s adventures on film).
You can’t really say the ending was unexpected given the circumstances of the film and the events after it. However for someone like me who likes movies and other things related and also just a casual moviegoer the end of a terrific diverse cast was a sad thing to witness.
Just when you think you will be seeing an interesting diverse cast advance to their own sets of films, Hollywood decides to put them in a story that will inevitably kill them.”
Rogue One, in my humble opinion, is one visually masterful entertaining story that became a platform for these brilliant actors to showcase not only their skillful acting but also subtly highlight their ethnicity through their obvious unconventional protagonist looks and their accents. In fact it is one of the best films that has written in depth and interesting roles for a diverse cast.
Their roles were well thought out, giving each their own prominent scenes displaying their heroic acts unlike the common roles normally given to nonwhite actors, which is that they only serve as sidekicks that don’t do much kicking. The film itself, at least for me, almost became a symbol of diversity which the film has conveniently labeled Rogue One characters as a ‘band of misfits.’
However the ending of the film symbolically represents how long it might take to convince Hollywood that investing on an ethnically diverse cast is absolutely worth it. Given the fact that global cinema audiences are increasingly growing its presence and thus heavily influencing Hollywood’s movies and their underlying themes. However the ending simply signifies that Hollywood is not yet ready to commit any further to give more well written in depth roles to actors who are part of the minority.
By the end of the movie, I had only one thought in my head. Just when you think you will be seeing an interesting diverse cast advance to their own sets of films, Hollywood decides to put them in a story that will inevitably kill them. It was either Hollywood was deeply satisfied to provide true diversity for once and then wash their hands off right after only to say, ‘we’ve done our part,’ or Hollywood still hasn’t realised to the full extent how much global audiences are yearning to see faces they can relate with (because news flash, we’re not all white).
Let’s hope that Hollywood would rethink their position and make more movies that give their diverse characters rooms to breathe and opportunities to grow because Rogue One seemed more like an experimental movie to test how audiences would react to their casting choices. And now they’re back to putting in at least one nonwhite actor once again as seen in the latest photo of the new cast for the Han Solo films.
Indeed it was delightful to see two hours of a colorful and wondrous diverse cast. I never thought of myself to care so much about the composition of the actors in a movie. Growing up outside of North America and outside of my very own country, it only seemed normal to see people of different walks of life walking along with me. But having watched Hollywood films for as long as I can remember, seeing Rogue One sparked a revolution-aptly enough-inside of me as I come to a realization of what all the other Hollywood films have been missing.
In the end, however, this is just a film and like the two main protagonists (embracing one another as they meet their explosive end) at the end of Rogue One I find that I am now bracing myself to what is more to come in the world of films. Oscars 2017 got us all hyped on the possibility of more diversity. #
*This is a new category added named ‘Talking Movies.’ Content under this category will serve as a conversation and/or commentary on any topics related to films, whether it’s the movie themselves or the actors and even any controversies associated with the films. This has been added according to lapapelmina writer’s own interests on film arts, especially on how they can be used to compare or shed light on current events; her views are only her own and are affected by her own background and knowledge of the world around her. What she chooses to see in these films reflect only what her current thoughts are as of the moment. Articles under ‘Talking Movies’ will be posted on Mondays but not every Monday.