It’s been announced that Game of Thrones showrunners Dave Benioff and D. B. Weiss have been given the chance to make a set of Star Wars movies and not everybody is happy about it.
The two writers will be penning a series that is separate from “both the episodic Skywalker saga and Rian Johnson’s recently-announced trilogy,” and people have been sharing their qualms online.
One of the most prominent is the fact that Lucasfilm has once again hired white men to make its movies. Variety’s Maureen Ryan points out that 96% of writers and directors working on the franchise, in its over forty year history, have been white male. Only in 1980 did a woman, Leigh Brackett, get a writing credit on The Empire Strikes Back.
“Has the Star Wars franchise made strides in the kinds of characters it showcases in its tentpole films? Absolutely,” Ryan writes. “Is the whole enchilada run by a woman? Yes, I’m aware of that.
“But I’m not sure what’s stopping Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy from hiring any of the talented, hungry and skilled men and women of colour and white women who have Star Wars stories to tell.”
Certainly the Star Wars franchise isn’t going to majorly benefit from having Benioff and Weiss take control over a few films. The sci-fi series is a beast of its own so its unclear what they would bring that hasn’t already been done by countless other white male directors. And they’re own background hardly fits with a more progressive and inclusive approach.
As showrunners on Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss have a terrible track record when it comes to supporting diversity behind the scenes. There have been 67 episodes of the HBO fantasy series and only one female director, Michelle MacLaren, has ever worked on the show.
I don't dislike Benioff and Weiss nearly as much as most seem to, but I 100% agree that the middle aged white male lock on all Star Wars writing and directing REALLY needs to stop. Now.
— Brian (@Pithy_Remark) February 6, 2018
Just saw the news that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going to create "new series of Star Wars films."
Noting that again we are having white dudes creating Star Wars.
The only way to make Hollywood more inclusive is to hire people other than white males. It's pretty simple.
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) February 6, 2018
They were criticised for the gross depiction of rape in the series and after backlash over the season five rape of Sansa Stark, the producers changed the way they approached sexual violence in later seasons.
— Mercy Harbinger (@mercyharbinger) February 6, 2018
And they were called out for the quality of writing for the most recent seasons of Game Of Thrones, because they did not have George R.R. Martin’s books to adapt like they did the earlier seasons. Many people on Reddit have made this point, with one user arguing that the writing team are given too much credit.
“The greatness from the first seasons comes from a good adaptation of the source material,” the person wrote. “The more liberty they have with the plot, the worse it gets, culminating in a bad seventh season criticised by many people. I definitely don’t want that for Star Wars.”
There’s also the issue of the recent backlash Benioff and Weiss received with their original post-GoT plan to make another HBO series called Confederate, which would have imagined an America where slavery had never been abolished. Unsurprisingly, there was a huge backlash against the concept, especially from two white male writers, and that series doesn’t look likely to make the light of day.
— Kevin Crozier (@kevcrozier) February 6, 2018
So to then be handed the reins to one of the most beloved franchises in the world hardly inspires hope that their new stories will champion diversity in front of or behind the camera.
But the bigger question that needs to be asked is do we really need this Star Wars series? For many fans, the Skywalkers are the be all and end all of the cinematic space opera, so to have several more films that have nothing to do with the family may not truly feel like Star Wars.
And when will it end? Disney may be planning to release a movie every year until the end of time but surely we’re going to start suffering from Star Wars fatigue soon. Hopefully before that kicks in we’ll have had a female of person of colour at the helm one of the movies.