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Disney’s Bob Iger Panders to White Supremacist Boycott, Saying Rogue One “Is Not a Film That Is, in Any Way, a Political Film”




In exactly what universe is a film about a small band of rebels fighting against an oppressive Empire not “in any way a political film?” Apparently, one that exists long ago in a galaxy far, far away?

As Rogue One: A Star Wars Story approaches, there is apparently a group of alleged Star Wars fans (I say “alleged” because they seem to thoroughly misunderstand everything the franchise is about) trying to urge people to #DumpStarWars, because they’re apparently surprised that the franchise is about fighting an oppressive power that takes people’s rights away. Last month, Rogue One writer Chris Weitz posted a tweet saying, “Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization.”

After a bunch of sexist and racist trolls decided to come out of the woodwork on social media to complain that Rogue One is anti-Trump, is “feminist propaganda,” and that its multiculturalism is anti-American, he deleted his tweets and apologized. Or…was made to apologize. Because despite it being one of the biggest franchises in the EVER, Disney is apparently scared shitless of Star Wars losing money. So scared that they might ask a writer on one of its films to “tone it down” a bit with his thinky politics for the sake of the brand.

Enter Disney CEO Bob Iger, whose response to the #DumpStarWars thing is, to say the least, less than desirable.

At the recent Rogue One premiere in Hollywood, Iger told The Hollywood Reporter , “I think the whole story has been overblown and, quite frankly, it’s silly. I have no reaction to [this] story at all. Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy. It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film. There are no political statements in it, at all. [Rogue One] has one of the greatest and most diverse casts of any film we have ever made and we are very proud of that, and that is not a political statement, at all.”

I get that Iger is trying to say that having things like a racially diverse film and female protagonists shouldn’t be a political statement, but I refuse to believe that he is so naive that he doesn’t understand that — by virtue of the political climate in which we currently live, and by virtue of the fact that racism and sexism never stopped in this country — they are political.

Rey and Finn look dumbfounded together.

The entire Star Wars saga is one big political allegory about oppressed rebels fighting against an oppressive Empire. That in itself is political. Consciously choosing to ensure a certain level of diversity when most Hollywood studios and filmmakers do the exact opposite is also political. And that’s okay! Why should Weitz feel the need to apologize? You can disagree with the politics if you want, but to insist that a film not be political (in the case of the fans), because one doesn’t want to have to think at all when going to see a movie is lazy, and to insist that a film isn’t political to appease racists and sexists and ensure that you get their money, too, is cowardly.

(P.S. I am so tired of everyone at Disney and Lucasfilm treating Star Wars as if it’s this fragile thing that could break at any moment, and using that fragility as an excuse to let injustices slide.)

This is all the more disappointing in light of the fact that Iger was recently named to President-Elect Trump’s President’s Strategic and Policy Forum which, according to The L.A. Times, is a “nonpartisan, 16-person forum” that “will frequently meet with Trump to directly offer its knowledge and perspective to the President.” Iger is a registered Democrat who was a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Then again, this is also a man who gave Bernie Sanders crap when Sanders pointed out that many Disney employees don’t make a living wage. Ignoring that, Iger focused on the fact that Disney has created a bunch of jobs and put a lot of money into the economy. Um, that’s great, but just because you create jobs doesn’t mean they pay well, or that your employees are treated well. (And I know tons of Disney employees at all levels. I could tell you stories.)

Trump said of the Forum, “My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America.” Never mind that he himself has businesses all over the world, with many of his products having been manufactured overseas (so much for “Make America Great Again”). Never mind, too, that he seems very concerned about asking corporate heads what they need, but is less proactive about asking workers themselves what they need. Trump is totally concerned with the Little People.

Meanwhile, Iger said of his appointment to the Forum, “The forum provides a nonpartisan approach to key economic policy issues, reflecting an array of individual perspectives from a cross-section of industries. I welcome the chance to be part of the important discussions about the most effective ways to grow jobs and expand economic opportunity in America.”

Does calling it “non-partisan” make it feel less icky to be part of? Does Iger also “welcome the chance” to work with a man who is himself a clear sexist and racist and has hired literal white supremacists, sexists, and homophobes to the key positions behind making decisions for this country? Is ensuring Disney’s corporate health worth that? I don’t think it is. But then again, it’s not my conscience.

(images via Disney/Lucasfilm)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.