The Lack of Diversity in Star Wars Characters at Disney Parks

Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm
UPDATE: The day after I posted this blog entry, Disneyland announced that Rey would start meeting there in May. I'm sure they planned this well before my blog entry, but it was coincidental timing. Needless to say, I am excited about their announcement.

Before I start this blog entry, if you read this and, by the end, want to comment by calling me SJW (which I don't understand why this is an insult since it sounds cool to be a Social Justice Warrior) or ask me why we need diversity or tell me that they're tired of diversity being shoved down their throats, please stop reading now. I will not entertain that kind of debate. So, you have been warned.

Anyway, I've been wanting to write about this for awhile. One of my major irritations visiting Star Wars Launch Bay at Disneyland is that, aside from Kylo Ren (a white man, mind you, albeit behind a mask) is the only NEW character from the current trilogy that meets guests. I say new because Chewbacca does meet there as well, the sole representative of the "light side." Then, despite Disney's saying that the parks would now represent the movies forward, we can inexplicably meet Darth Vader and Boba Fett, both of whom are dead in the current timeline.

Don't get me wrong. I love these characters, but what I want to know is...where is Rey? Where is Finn? Where is Poe? And, now after The Last Jedi, where is Rose?

Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm

I find it absolutely odd that Rey, the character who is arguably the main character in the new trilogy and the yin to Kylo Ren's yang, would be absent from the parks. It can't be because of the lack of want to meet her. I don't know how many times I've seen little girls in the park dressed as Rey. One could argue that she does exist in the parks as she does appear in a show at both Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris. But, she does not meet guests. I see the light in the faces of little children when they are able to meet and touch and interact with a characters. Its much different than watching them from afar.

Actually, there were a few days at Walt Disney World where she did meet guests with Chewbacca and that proved to be really popular. From what I heard, lines were crazy. So, it really can't be for lack of popularity.

Photo:360 Degrees of Disney

Part of me wonders if Disney feels the Disney Princess brand is for girls and the Marvel and Star Wars brands are for boys. But, I can show you a million girls and women who will tell you otherwise. Go to a Comic-Con and you will see many women cosplaying as the characters. But, again, you don't really have to look farther than the parks themselves to see the impact Rey has had.

Photo: Vanity Fair

Just for arguments sake, let's say that this is the reason and Disney only wants to have male characters meet guests at the park. Then, where are Finn and Poe? We are on the eve of Marvel Studios releasing Black Panther and the early response to this film, especially among African American youth, is tremendous. People want to see people who look like themselves. How awesome would it be for a young black child or Latino child to see themselves at the parks in Finn and Poe? Not all the responsibility for representation should rest on the shoulders of Tiana and Elena of Avalor in the parks.

Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm

And speaking of representation, as I am an Asian American, Rose is the first major character of Asian descent to appear in the Skywalker Saga. I don't think we should ignore the significance of this. I know that it would have been meaningful to me as a child seeing Rose.

Having grown up with Star Wars, I find it wonderful that the Star Wars universe is finding the diversity it should be representing. Now, if only they would show this in the parks. I don't think its too much to ask. I don't think its too much to expect either.




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