No One Is Impressed By The First Same-Sex Kiss In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Disney continues to give queer audiences the bare minimum…
The Star Wars franchise has been around for over 40 years and is more popular than ever with the latest instalment Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker expected to make over $400 million worldwide in its opening weekend. Whether critics agree or not, a film set in the Star Wars universe is pretty much guaranteed to make money, but one thing it has always been missing is LGBTQ+ representation.
2015’s Episode VII – The Force Awakens hinted at the potential for a gay love story between Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and John Boyega’s Finn, which many fans were all for. Even Boyega and Isaac thought the relationship between the two characters should go further than friendship. “Personally, I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would’ve been taken further in the other films, but I don’t have control,” Isaac said. “It seem like a natural progression, but sadly enough it’s a time when people are too afraid, I think, of… I don’t know what.”
Breaking FinnPoe shipper’s hearts at a recent press junket for The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J Abrams ruled out the possibility of a love connection between Finn and Poe saying their relationship is “far deeper than a romantic one.” But he did make sure to hint that there might be some other sort of queer representation to look forward to in the third instalment of the Skywalker trilogy—which would be a first for the franchise as a whole. “In the case of the LGBTQ community,” Abrams said, “it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film.”
The film was released this past weekend and the highly anticipated moment of queer representation is quite the let-down. The Hollywood Reporter describes the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment:
“In a celebration sequence in the film, two female members of the Resistance share an exuberant kiss during the joyful moment. They are minor characters and not heavily featured in the film.”
Talk about bare minimum. Just like the MCU has been doing, Star Wars is choosing to timidly dip a toe into the pool of queer representation instead of just going for it and diving right in. The baby steps make it clear that studios are afraid to feature openly gay main characters—but why? Do they think audiences will immediately stop watching the films and millions of dollars will be lost? They must not think very highly of their audiences, then.
In reality, audiences have been proving time and time again that they want to see storylines from a range of difference perspectives with characters who are well-rounded, real and diverse. But the most popular franchises continue to think either briefly acknowledging a minor character’s sexuality (the gay support group attendee in Avengers: Endgame) or having an actor tell the press they believe their character is gay even though it was never addressed in the actual film (Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnorak) is enough.
These lacklustre literal seconds of queer representation on screen end up feeling more like an afterthought and a half-hearted attempt to satisfy audiences by doing as little as possible. Still, directors will never miss an opportunity to talk up how important it is to them to include queer representation in their films. Unfortunately, just as easily as these so-called “historical” queer moments can be shoehorned into a final edit, they can also be cut. If this carefully placed “representation” can be edited out without any effect on the movie as a whole, can that really be called progress?