Emily Vander, Skywalker, Kyle Buchanan discussed on The Takeaway
Wjr this weekend. The third and final installment of the latest Star Wars Saga hit theaters. The rise of Skywalker ties together. The previous eight films news in just under two and a half hours and in that time it also managed to sleaze in something that those other films left out that there are LGBTQ TQ plus people in a galaxy far far away and in the case of the LGBTQ community. You know it was. It was important to me that people go to see the smooth. Feel that they're being represented in the film. Director J.J. Abrams during an interview with variety earlier. This month in the lead up to the film's release. He hinted there would the real LGBTQ representations in the rise of Skywalker but when the film premiered last week it was finally revealed that two minor her female characters kiss during split-second seen many are saying it's yet another example of a major Hollywood franchise teasing LGBTQ Hugh Representation and then not following through in a meaningful way joining me now is Kyle Buchanan pop culture reporter at the New York Times Kyle. Hi Hi thanks for being on the show having also with me is emily vander were critic at large for Vox Emily Hi welcome. It's so great to be here now. I don't I WANNA spoil too much for our listeners. Who Haven't seen the movie? So let's leave plot aside as much as we can but both of you have seen the movie kyle. Maybe you can start by telling us about the same sex kissing in the New Star Wars movie and why it's gotten such a big reaction. Sure I'd be happy to tell you. Because I think people who've actually wash the movie if they blinked might have missed it so let me fill them in as well. There is an extremely brief moment in the third act. Where a character? We're who has had at that point. Maybe two lines certainly wasn't named kisses her female partner in a victory celebration of sorts parts goes by extremely fast. And you know it's that had been a thing that people had seen in nineteen seventy seven say when the first star wars film came out. It would've been pretty pretty significant but I think the irony here is that especially this last film. The rights of skywalker is doing so much. Try to satisfy fan demands. But it's it's not really doing it in a visionary bold way that would satisfy anybody's asks and requests and so even though there have been fans who've asked for the characters actors played by John Boyega and Oscar Isaac to have some sort of romantic relationship in Star Wars. This is sort of the SOP to that. And I don't think it's going to satisfy all that many people. Now we just heard the director J.J. Abrams a few minutes ago. That was him speaking during the press tour for the film and he mentioned Lgbtq Representation. He went out of his way to say it. In fact there are some critics who have called what he said now. A classic example of Queer Baiting. Emily maybe you can explain Ryan what that is so queer. Baiting is the idea that there is some sort of movie or TV. Show especially council happened with books or other forms of fictional media Where two characters who are presented as platonic friends within the text of the show then fans often become you know interested in the idea idea of them having a romantic relationship? An example of this from these new star wars movies would be thin and po who are not really presented as romantic partners nurse in that first movie. The Force Awakens but the Internet took that and ran with it and these future movies have sort of played to that interesting ways a far more egregious example was the TV show. Sherlock which recently aired with benedict cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and that show the fans started sort of shipping which means hoping to see two people. The end up together Sherlock and Watson on that show and Then yeah it did not did not transpire and it turned into like the creators of bathing. The those expectations without actually doing anything about it and you'll be really kind of a nasty way to deal with your phantom now to go back to star wars for a second and what Abrahams said during the press tour. Why the fake out? I guess it's easy to assume that dipping an ambiguous toe into LGBTQ representations is meant to appease certain audience who you want to see that representation without going so far as to anger more conservative audiences. How how much is it about that dynamic? It's definitely about out that dynamic like there is sort of this air of they're trying to sort of make the right people mad by which I mean the really extremist people who don't WanNa see any LGBTQ not queue representation and like you know if there's a two second kiss most of America's GonNa be like okay whatever but like they're also not trying to push the envelope in terms of that representation in ways that might force people to sort of rethink their preconceptions or their prejudices or anything like that. It's just like the least risky way eh to deal with this material but also in a way that gets them these headlines in you know publications that are like Oh bold new ground for the Star Wars Franchise when you see the movie and and it's literally nothing like that so it makes them get to seem progressive without actually having to be progressive. And that's kind of the way that they play their publicity game. I WANNA ask each of you. What meaningful representation would look like glad the LGBTQ media advocacy organization uses this metric that they made up? It's sort of similar to the back. Del Test they call it the Vito Russo test after glads co founder and to pass Vito Russo test. A film has to have a character that is identifiable. LGBTQ that character was not solely defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and that character must be tied to the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. So emily why don't you start. Do those criteria sound right to you when we ask what is meaningful representation. Would you add anything to it. I certainly don't disagree with any of those criteria. I'm happy to have that sort of as a starting starting point but I think that you know there's room for stories about LGBTQ plus lives like that are actually about our lived experiences and it's not like they don't exist. There's plenty of great queer art made every year. It's just that it's not happening. In major studio franchise films I think if we're looking for a major studio franchise film to tell stories that you know fit that sort of glad description. It's not impossible but it's also like you know it's it's it's hard hard to talk about our identities and a nuanced way when aliens are invading the planet. Or something like that. So I I do think there is. There's room for improvement But a lot all the stuff that we're looking for is often happening like indie film and Television and you know stuff. That's supported by Patriarch by independent artists. I think emily is right. And I and I think that queer viewers just sort of gotten used to expecting looking for that representation elsewhere which is why it would be a significant new thing to see it in the form of the Superhero or science fiction spectacular and. I don't think it has to be you know as emily also said these films. Don't offense for very long to consider the you know the minutia of the characters in their lives but just the presence accounts for something. I mean. Events Endgame culminates with his finale. This orgiastic finale of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of characters. And you know wouldn't be so hard for just one or maybe a couple of those people to be on the spectrum somewhere That's how life is and if these movies are drawing from life and then making something super powered it just seems like a notable omission for the only only times for them to acknowledge that people exist is when they shuttle in a character for one sane. Kyle Buchanan is a pop culture reporter and award season in columnist at the New York Times and Emily Vander were is a critic at large for. Vox thank you both for joining us. And that's our show for today but we do WANNA keep hearing from our LGBTQ listeners. On this one. Do you feel represented in any Hollywood franchises. And how could the industry improve on clear representation. Send us a tweet at the takeaway or write to us on our facebook page and if you missed anything anything from today's show or you just want to listen back again check out our podcast. Thank you so much for listening. I'm WNYC's should meet the best. Sue Feeling very lucky to be in today A.. And tomorrow for Tanzania Vega this is the takeaway..