Capitalizing on the current Black Lives Matter-inspired upheaval, Star Wars actor John Boyega is crying racism and blaming it on the sci-fi fantasy franchise.
Boyega, the 28 year-old South London-born actor of Nigerian descent, slammed the series’ treatment of his character, Fin, as an example of marginalization. You know, he as a black Star Wars character wasn’t given as large or dynamic a role as Daisy Ridley’s “Rey” or American actor Adam Driver’s “Kylo Ren.” Boyega asserted that because of his skin color, his character was “pushed to the side.”
Boyega found himself at the center of a Black Lives Matter protest in London, England on June 3, during which the actor screamed into the microphone about the trauma he faced as a black actor and the stigma that people of different skin color face. He screamed, he cried, and he denounced everyone who didn’t support Black Lives Matter in his fiery speech. “Bun on dem,” was the British slang he used for non-Marxist, ordinary people. We’re going to assume that translates to “screw them!” or “To hell with them.” Well, we sure feel that in America. Our cities burn because of that kind of spirited rhetoric.
In an interview with GQ, the Star Wars star capitalized on his new social justice icon status saying Star Wars itself, the multi-billion dollar film franchise that made Boyega a household name, marginalized him because he was black. GQ mournfully acknowledged the actor’s struggles, writing that Boyega often “wondered if there was actually room for someone who looked like him to exist on his own terms in an industry generally built to white standards and white norms.” Oh the heartbreak.
He began by admonishing Disney's marketing strategy: “what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side.” OK. Perhaps Boyega feels cheated, in his opinion. But really, Finn spent plenty of time onscreen throughout the whole series, even given major plot points in 2017’s The Last Jedi that fans deemed unnecessary.
Perhaps it was because he wasn’t the film’s main hero or that he didn’t get the girl. But what? Is he going to now take that away from the Disney trilogy’s central female character? How would we weigh this on the scale of “intersectionality?”
But yeah. Fin claimed that Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver received special treatment as straight white characters as opposed to the treatment he and Asian American actress Kelly Marie Tran faced. “Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all.” Again, both Tran and Boyega had such a large slice in Episode 8 that fans complained, enough to the point that both actors’ romantic story arc was cut out of Episode 9.
Boyega added, “What [Disney] want[s] you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience...’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest.”
Clearly, he’s unhappy. The actor asserted, “I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” though his claim was a reference to toxic fans who bullied him over his skin color. Granted that’s terrible, but that ain’t exactly the franchise’s problem.