Star Wars: New Themes Awaken?

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Tori Bland, Editor

A short time ago in theaters not so far away…  Star Wars: The Force Awakens blew up the box office.

Episode VII took home $88.3 million domestically, and made a massive $1 billion in just 12 days.

Is that honestly surprising, though? The Star Wars franchise has been huge since Episode I that debuted in 1977. It’s something that parents pass down to their children. It’s sentimentally reminiscent to older generations. Now, a new generation is being introduced to this global franchise.

The movie alone did enough to stand out. With an action packed plot and new admirable characters, how could it not be? Not to mention a new droid, BB-8. However, there are a few other aspects that made Episode VII special.

The main characters are not who you would typically see on the big screen, nowadays. Rey is a female protagonist. She is the first female protagonist in the Star Wars universe. Only 12 percent of protagonists in movies are women. She doesn’t have to be sexualized to be acknowledged, either. Finn is black male. According to the Anneberg School for Communication and Journalism, only about 10% of speaking characters are black, not including protagonists. Poe Dameron is a Latino male. Only 4.2% of speaking characters are Latino, also not including protagonists. BB-8 is a Droid and makes up only one of two acknowledged Droid characters in Hollywood. (How sad.) If you add up the total of female, black, latino protagonists roles, it would be less than 25%.

The casting is very racially diverse, which is something that is needed modern films. Especially since 76.3% of speaking roles are played by white actors and actresses. Casting people of color is not too common for a Star Wars film. Neither is having the main characters be women.

Of course, Star Wars has had female characters. However, Leia was sometimes portrayed as ‘catty’ and Padme was sometimes ‘too emotional.’ They were both characterized as stereotypical women. 2015 Star Wars broke those stereotypes with Rey. She is tough, brainy, and dazzling. She epitomizes everything a modern woman is. She knows how to handle herself. Rey makes it apparent that she does not need anyone’s help, especially as a pilot. Spoiler Alert: She also knows how to handle a lightsaber.

The Force Awakens not only entertained millions, but also opened doors for women, people of color, and Droids, around the world.