During this time of year, many people get rather upset with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because of their Oscar nominations. Without fail every year, someone is mad about one choice or another that the Academy chose to honor. This year the outrage came when Ava DuVerney’s ‘Selma’ was snubbed in just about every major category. When the nominations were announced, one of the most outspoken individuals about the snub was comedian and all around nerd Patton Oswalt. Although, it seems like he had more to say beyond the character limit on Twitter and he addressed the situation further in a recent interview. While discussing the great race debate in Hollywood at the moment, he also managed to touch on the “controversy” of John Boyega appearing in a Stormtrooper uniform in the first trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
For some reason, there’s a school of people in the world today who have a problem with seeing a black Stormtrooper in a galaxy far, far away. I can’t for the life of me begin to understand why that’s an issue when I was too busy thinking about how the character ended up in the uniform in the first place. Could Finn be pulling a Luke Skywalker and disguising himself as a member of the Empire or is he really one of the faceless, bucket-headed minions? Despite that, there are people concerned with the color of the actor’s skin. Luckily, the majority of people that I’ve seen comment on these things have been just as dumbfounded as I am. Among them is definitely Oswalt as he goes on the following rant while speaking to Vulture about some people’s reaction to the ‘Attack the Block’ star’s role in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming ‘Star Wars’ film:
“Oh, that’s depressing, Jesus Christ. ‘Star Wars,’ half the movie is aliens and robots, and a black guy is what set people off? I love how they’re reacting as if this is a classic novel that’s being cast — ‘I can’t believe they booked James Earl Jones to play Holden Caulfield.’ But this is a script that no one has read, so what the fuck are they talking about? If everyone in the original ‘Star Wars’ had been black, it still would have been a goddamn blockbuster because the movie would have still been awesome. If ‘Star Wars’ had been Richard Pryor and Cicely Tyson, people still would have gone, ‘This movie’s fucking great!’”
Prior to that statement, he says something even more important that many people have failed to acknowledge for years:
“I want next year to be better, but not in a reflexive way. I just want everything to get a completely fair shake. Even beyond white or black, there’s Asian people, gay people, women. I mean, women are just so underrepresented in directing, in editing, in screenwriting.”
My sentiments exactly, Mr. Oswalt. I often find myself saying over and over on this site how representation matters in the entertainment industry and it’s refreshing to see someone else say it for a change as well. But going back to the ‘Star Wars’ issue, he hits the nail on the head with that too because as he points out, no one in the general public has read the script. Remember the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Yeah, same thing. Hopefully more people realize this before tearing up the next ‘Episode VII’ teaser because it doesn’t feature another white protagonist front and center.
What do you think about Patton Oswalt’s comments on the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ situation? Are you also hoping that Hollywood (and especially the Academy) becomes more diverse in who they honor during award season? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.