A Look At #DumpStarWars, And How All Art is Political
For a group that claims to be against any form of censorship and loves to mock others for being “triggered” easily, white supremacists sure do love to call for boycotts of things that personally offend them. After Starbucks, Kellogg’s, and Hamilton, they’ve now turned their ire on Star Wars, having finally realized roughly forty years after it’s release that the Star Wars series is one big analogy about fighting against people just like them.
The #DumpStarWars hashtag started by Trump supporting Neo-Nazis — let’s call them by what they really are, shall we, major news outlets — may be new, but the fact that the heroes of Star Wars have always fought against those who oppose everyone having equal rights and freedoms has been around for literally decades. The name “stormtroopers” is the literal translation of the German word Stoßtruppen, which were the specialist soldiers of the German army during the World Wars. Darth Vader’s helmet is directly modeled off of the helmets worn by German soldiers. The suits that the Empire and First Order wear are similar to German military garb. And Palpatine’s rise to power mirrors that of Hitler. These aren’t personal interpretations by any stretch of the imagination; Lucas himself has confirmed that these similarities were purposeful, and that the Empire represents a Nazi State.
Somehow this major piece of context flew over the heads of Neo-Nazis up until last week. What suddenly whipped them into a furor seems to be the now deleted tweets from Rogue One writers Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta. “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human organization),” Weitz tweeted, with Whitta agreeing with the tweet, “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women.” Presumably enraged by the subtext of Star Wars now being plainly stated before their very own eyes, notable Trump supporters then started tweeting out a report stating that Rogue One had been re-written to end with the characters condemning Trump within the film and that it needed to be boycotted. If that sounds completely false and nonsensical, it’s because it is.
Star Wars against hate. Spread it. pic.twitter.com/Dtf5uqpxba
— Chris Weitz (@chrisweitz) November 11, 2016
The report that that sparked the hashtag was fake, but the anger against the Star Wars series and it’s creators is very real, and has been festering for a while now. Other instances that helped to fuel their rage include The Force Awakens introducing not only a Black stormtrooper protagonist, but also a woman and a Latino man as the leads, which led to many of the same folks crying for a boycott of the film for encouraging “white genocide.” (Despite their efforts, the film made over two billion dollars and is now the third highest grossing film of all time.) Recently, Mark Hamill said Luke Skywalker’s sexuality is open to audience interpretation — a pretty innocuous statement, as he’s basically leaving it up to each individual to decide how to view Luke. Yet it sent Trump supporters into a rage. And within this year, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill have all stated, either through interviews, tweets, or ads, that they’re all opposed to Trump, his cabinet, and everything he represents.
All of this led to Disney’s CEO Bob Iger — in an attempt at wooing actual racists back to the box office — telling THR that Rogue One “is not a film that is, in any way, a political film. There are no political statements in it, at all.”
The truth is, this is about Star Wars but it’s not really about Star Wars. It’s about the fact that calling out white supremacy for what it is, to its face, has suddenly become contentious. Whereas forty years ago it went unquestioned that of course the Empire represented Nazis and that’s why we must defeat them, now members of the “alt-right” are taking insult to being likened to the bad guys in every single film, are demanding their abhorrent, hateful views be accepted as valid, and are in fact in some cases being given platforms on major networks like CNN where they openly question if certain groups of people are even people at all.
If someone is taking issue with the fact that their candidate is being maligned as being a member of the Dark Side, let’s be clear here, the issue is not with Star Wars. The issue is that we’ve let Darth Vader into our house. The issue is that a white supremacist convention happened just a short distance from the White House in the wake of Trump’s win, and that attendees were photographed throwing up the Nazi salute in celebration. The issue is that days after Trump’s election, prominent Trump supporter Carl Higbie emphasized that Trump’s cabinet is considering a Muslim registry, and that it would not be unheard of to go back to the days of WWII internment camps on American soil. Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chief, is the former CEO of Breitbart News, the Uruk-hai breeding pit of white nationalists. And Mike Pence, Trump’s Vice President, has repeatedly resisted including LGBT people under hate-crime protection laws.
I won’t mince words here: these are all terrible people, and were they real, the heroes of Star Wars would hate them. If you side with Trump and with #DumpStarWars, you can bet Han, Luke, and Leia would hate you, too.
And let’s just get this out of the way. All art is political. All of it. Fighting against bigotry, against social injustice, and against oppression is very clearly a political statement. And if you haven’t noticed, every single major mainstream geek hero and superhero stands against this exact form of tyranny. The Star Trek cast — I mean like, all of them — have come out against Trump. Marvel’s Avengers have spoken out against Trump. Captain America’s first issue of his first comic was him punching Hitler straight in the face, so you can be sure he would be against any rhetoric that values white supremacy. In 1947, Superman fought the KKK on the “Superman Radio Show.” And in Batman Detective Comics Annual #2 from 1989, Batman fought the KKK.
In summary, all of your geek heroes hate you, and all those cries of “keep politics out of my geek media” have been doomed from the start. If you think any of these properties have ever been apolitical and that your heroes would ever stand behind you and your hateful rhetoric, you never really understood Star Wars or the rest of these geek properties, at all.