On the off chance that you’ve been living under a rock on the far side of Mars with your fingers in your ears for the last year, there is a Star Wars film coming out soon.
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that you are aware that this particular film star a person of colored origin. The darker corners of the internet found this offensive enough to demand a boycott of the film. The rest of the world shrugged and got on with living in 2015.
At least that what I thought had happened.
And then the world saw what the Chinese had done to the poster for Star Wars Episode 7: Taking the Mickey. I used it as the image for this article. Go have another look.
I’ll wait. Promise!
Yeah, did you spot who was missing? Not just Finn, (British actor John Boyega) but also, other characters played by non-white characters, including Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata were missing entirely, as was Chewbacca the Wookiee.
They did however leave Darth Donald Duck though.
Disney has refused to comment and Chen Qiuping of the Beijing Film Association has claimed “Since the poster is merely a promotion method and an individual case, it would be unfair to criticize Chinese audiences for discriminating against the black actor,”
Of course not.
It’s just like how it wasn’t racist when the posters for Twelve Years A Slave sidelined Chiwetel Ejiofor (who was only the main character!) in favor of Brad Pitt (who was a minor character.)
Another example can be found in Israel, where The Hunger Games: Mocking jay Part 2 posters had to be changed because (Shock! Horror!) the posters showed Jennifer Laurence! She was replaced with a fiery Mocking jay to avoid offending ultra religious Jews.
I understand that in order to sell films to different markets you have to change what aspects you inflate in order to drive sales. But if doing so requires you to sideline actors for the color of their skin?
There’s more to life than box-office numbers.