In terms of the entertainment industry and the US Presidential election, most of the attention has focused on President-elect Donald Trump’s feuds with ‘Saturday Night Live’ and the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’, but of course other parts of the industry have become embroiled in the divide in political ideals and it looks as though the newest ‘Star Wars’ movie is just the latest.
‘Rogue One’ screenwriters Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta posted a series of tweets that compared Trump to the Empire, including this one from Weitz: “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.” Whitta then added, “Opposed by a multicultural group led by brave women.”
Both also changed their avatars to the Rebel Alliance symbol with a safety pin, a sign that was adopted by white Americans to show solidarity for minorities who began facing attacks (hate crimes) in the days following the election.
Star Wars against hate. Spread it. pic.twitter.com/Dtf5uqpxba
— Chris Weitz (@chrisweitz) November 11, 2016
Even before the election, the question of freedom of speech had been a divisive topic, such as in the case of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem before games.
Everyone has a right to their opinion, of course, and as social media shows, everyone can express that opinion… but then they have to deal with the consequences.
“Wow. The trolling is getting pretty heavy,” Weitz commented at one point, before both he and Whitta deleted their political posts and Weitz issued an apology.
According to comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian:
“When you’re trying to get a big movie out, you want to be as agnostic as possible. You want to be able to appeal to everyone irrespective of their political beliefs. If it’s a Michael Moore movie, go for it. Or Dinesh D’Souza. Then your currency is controversy. But if you’re producing something for the masses, your currency is not controversy. It’s get the movie out to the broadest possible audience.”
Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, cautions:
“It comes down to how it is perceived. If Bill O’Reilly, Drudge and Breitbart collectively decide to take this on as this year’s version of the war on Christmas, it can have an impact. Any time someone treads down a political path, there is commercial risk.”
Last year, Starbucks came under fire from conservatives after their “holiday cup” turned out to be solid red, devoid of snowflakes, pine trees or other embellishments, and was seen as an attack in this “war on Christmas” and some boycotted. And while $5 for a cup of coffee may be a bit nuts, it’s nothing compared to the millions that could be lost if those who voted Trump decide not to vote with their wallets for ‘Rogue One’.
Dergarabedian added, “We’re talking about a lot at stake. You could just say nothing. When you wrap a particular political idea around your movie, that’s not a good idea.”
Of course, Weitz and Whitta were just expressing their own beliefs. They don’t necessarily represent Disney. But perhaps it would have been best if they’d left references to their film out of the discussion.
Do political declarations such as these make you more or less likely to check out a movie? Do these comments by two creators impact your view of a finished product that was made by hundreds?
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. It opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter