W-100: STAR WARS

StarWars3White One Hundred: 100 Great Films Starring Only White People, #3 — Star Wars—Yes, the much beloved The Empire Strikes Back had Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian—as did the maligned Return of the Jedi. And all the prequels—which we must admit are bad films—had characters of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. But the very first Star Wars movie didn’t have a single character of color. Glynn Turman had been considered for the part of Han Solo, and George Lucas reportedly wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Obi Wan Kenobi, but both of those parts went to white actors. And so did every part in the movie. All those rebels running around, hopping into the x-wing fighters? None of them were black, or Asian, or anything other than a bunch of white guys. Now, I know what many of you will say… “But James Earl Jones starred as Darth Vader!!!” No. James Earl Jones provided the voice of Darth Vader, but that is not the same thing as having an actor of color starring in a role that provides visible representation to minorities. What we are talking about here is omission as a form of oppression, and when the ethnicity or race of an actor is rendered invisible, then that becomes a form of omission. So, sorry, but no cigar—we can’t count James Earl Jones, which means Star Wars: A New Hope is an all-white movie.

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