December 18th, 2015 – 8:30 p.m.
The time had come for me to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My ticket had been purchased over a month in advance, but my excitement had built for over a year. Not only was the Star Wars universe coming back, but it had modernized itself. The first coming was monumental and the second coming, while having its many flaws, a part of the experience. But now, in 2015, Star Wars made a major update. When the announcement was made that Daisy Ridley and John Boyega would be the leads, I was ecstatic. A few trolls would not ruin this moment for me. And not only was the film representing, but the cast included some of my favorite actors: Adam Driver, Gwendolyn Christie, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o (to name a few). And to bring it all together Leia, Han Solo and Luke were all making a comeback.
Basically, I was damn excited.
So, it’s showtime. Lights down, applause, woots and then awe-filled silence. Not too long into the movie, John Boyega’s character, Finn, makes his initial appearance. After getting to know Finn as a character I turn to my friend and say, “He’s so black.” She agrees and we were very happy. Finn, linguistically, was black and this fact brought forward how diverse Star Wars: The Force Awakens really was. Typically, with characters like Finn, they are either the norm in their situation i.e. everyone acts and talks similarly to them or their difference is explicitly acknowledged. While inherently there is no problem with either situation, it was nice to have this third type, where he is who he is and that’s it. And this can be generalized to the entire film. Linguistic differences between characters are not a thing, they’re just so. Diversity isn’t just about the visual aspect, but in the audible as well. In a unified universe, it only makes sense that there is linguistic diversity. Languages, dialects and accents would vary, not just from planet to planet, but regionally as well. Because, frankly, everyone sounding the same would just be… odd (and basically impossible).
That isn’t to say the J. J. Abrams and crew nailed it. There were mainly Western-sounding characters, but it was way better than anything done previously (remember Watto? He’s the bug guy on Tatooine who enslaves Anakin and his mom Shmi in The Phantom Menace. His characterization was a touch racist). The Force Awakens took a step in the right direction. There is a history of denying people rights or erasing culture through language barriers (examples include Martin Luther King Junior Elementary School Children et al. v. Ann Arbor School District or the Kurdish/Turkish conflict).
All in all, the movie was amazing and it earns massive points for being the diversity canon I wasn’t even expecting. I’m definitely going to see it again to relive all the feels.