Harlem roared with approval when Lando Calrissian made his first appearance in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: A New Hope left the public with the impression that while aliens and robots may be mundane inhabitants in George Lucas's fantastical world, people of color were somehow not present.
Empire was a corrective. The Force is real; black and brown folks exist and are real in the Star Wars Universe too.
Several hours ago, the trailer for Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens debuted in select theaters and for a global audience online. The first character to be introduced was John Boyega, a black Brit who plays a stormtrooper (and rumored Force user as well as one of the two main characters) in the new Trilogy.
A black man? As one of the leads in a Star Wars movie? Wow. How things have changed in Hollywood over three decades.
Of course, the uber white fanboys will complain that "Social Justice Warriors" and "political correctness" have "stolen" their childhoods.
[There are also the obligatory tasteless and not funny comments on sites such as Ain't it Cool News about a black stormtrooper and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson by the thug cop Darren Wilson.]
Geek and nerd culture--even as it applies to a global popular culture phenomenon such as the Star Wars Universe--is assumed by too many white folks to be their owned playground, an exclusive space for their imagination where the "race problem" is solved by eliminating non-whites from the visual and narrative frame.
Racial erasure remains one of the most enduring and strident problems in fantasy and speculative literature: this is true from the "golden age" of the 1950s to the post racial present.
I enjoyed the new Star Wars trailer--of course, 88 second snippets of a two hour film can be very deceptive (example: The Phantom Menace's trailer was intriguing; the movie was an epic failure).
As I discussed with Bill the Lizard on The Chauncey DeVega Show, if Abrams' Star Wars movies can give me a sense of wonder, speed, and some iconic visuals, I am good to go. The trailer for Episode 7: The Force Awakens features Ralph McQuarrie style X-Wings skimming the water, the Millennium Falcon, and a Sith Inquisitor/Dark Lord. I am more than satisfied.
[Moreover, these rumors about the plot and story arc of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are appearing to be more accurate than not.]
What are your feelings and thoughts about the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer?