Zachary Leeman, author of the novel Nigh and journalist who covers art and culture.He has previously written for outlets such as Breitbart, LifeZette, and BizPac Review among others. He spent six years in the US Army Reserve and currently resides in Nashville, TN. Follow him on Twitter @WritingLeeman
Producer Kathleen Kennedy is now promising that there will “absolutely” be a ‘Star Wars’ movie directed by a woman, but it’s this exact thinking that has nearly killed the franchise.
One only needs to look to the desperate virtue signaling performed by filmmakers when they are trying to sell the latest ‘Star Wars’ cash-grab to see how far this franchise has truly sunk.
The latest comes from franchise producer Kathleen Kennedy, someone many have pointed to as the reason an increasing number of fans have been turned off by the science fiction series originally overseen by its creator George Lucas.
Speaking to BBC News at the BAFTAS on Sunday night, Kennedy promised that “without question” a woman will direct a future ‘Star Wars’ film.
“We’ve got two or three fantastic women working with ‘Star Wars’ … we’re cultivating a lot of great talent,” she said.
Citing females who have directed or will direct Disney Plus ‘Star Wars’ shows, Kennedy said a woman will “absolutely” soon take up directing duties on the movie front too.
This follows J.J. Abrams teasing a gay character in the much-maligned ‘Rise of Skywalker’ (a blink and you’ll miss it moment), actor Oscar Isaac expressing disappointment his character could not have a gay relationship, the ‘hate the rich’ speeches in ‘Last Jedi,’ and oh so much more.
Kennedy’s most recent comments hit at the heart of what is wrong with the current ‘Star Wars’ franchise. So few of the films seem to begin from a place of organic storytelling, and rather angle for a toxic mix of blatant nostalgia and woke box checking.
A woman could absolutely direct a great ‘Star Wars’ movie, but only if it’s the right story and they are the right person for the job — and story is what these films are missing.
Filmmakers can pat themselves on the back all day long for propping up a female character (Rey) to the center of the franchise, but they also forgot to give said character an arc, flaws, etc. She’s a bland conduit for both the filmmakers and hashtag-loving woke warriors to preach and feel good about themselves.
And Rey is not the only bland character to be forced down our throats — here’s to you Rose Tico, somehow a standout negative in the dull and convoluted ‘Last Jedi.’
Even George Lucas has expressed disappointment with the new films’ inability to move his story forward. This franchise has been taken over by virtue signaling and the same simple mindedness that goes into that virtue signaling goes into everything else, including original characters being brought back to either die off or earn applause moments from an increasingly disappointed audience.
With the future of ‘Star Wars’ in doubt — zero films have officially been announced following ‘Rise of Skywalker’ debuting to a lukewarm response — it’s not a surprise to see Kennedy trying to win some digital pats on the back for her potential inclusiveness, but it’s this exact thinking that has doomed this franchise.
Forget what boxes your characters or filmmakers check off, telling a great story with the right people should come first.
Bryce Dallas Howard directed one of the episodes of Disney Plus’ ‘The Mandalorian’ and it was one of the best episodes of the season. Is it because she’s a woman? No, it’s because it was a cool story with interesting characters and she had the right angle on it.
Interestingly enough, Kennedy’s latest comments may actually just be an attempt to scrub away a past answer she gave when asked about a female stepping into the director’s chair for a ‘Star Wars’ movie.
“We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do ‘Star Wars,’ they’re set up for success,” she told Variety last year. “They’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.”
Sounds quite different than saying, “absolutely.”
In another interview with Refinery29, Kennedy made it clear that the social politics that grab the attention of so many on social media are central to how she approaches this franchise.
“Politics is part of everything and, especially today, it should be. There’s a genuine conversation going on inside entertainment and storytelling where inclusion is absolutely fundamental. And in ‘Star Wars,’ absolutely. That was one of the first things that when we sat down and started talking about we were casting ‘The Force Awakens,’ it was without a shadow of a doubt that we were going to have a female hero,” she said.
That’s box checking at its finest, folks. Kennedy and company decided to have a female protagonist and then kicked their feet up because Rey ended up being a Mary Sue, if there ever was one.
There is no hope for this franchise, which was once a pop culture phenomenon like no other, if its overseers continue to ignore what once inspired the imaginations of millions and keep getting their story notes from Twitter trends.
Maybe ‘Star Wars’ does need to hire a woman behind the camera, but if the last five years of this franchise have proven anything, it’s that Kathleen Kennedy is not that person.