No, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy Does Not Need to Retire
Uneasy lies the hand that holds the lightsaber
There’s a common cry among those who hate Disney’s take on the Star Wars franchise: Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy must retire.
Never mind that she’s one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, or that she’s helped produce countless beloved films. Never mind that she was hand-selected by the Maker himself, George Lucas. No, she is clearly the root of all evil and must step down to let the nearest available white man take the job, since they will lead Star Wars back to the good ol’ days where everyone except for the token woman is a white, cishet, straight man. #MakeStarWarsGreatAgain
Lucasfilm has some problems. It would be foolish to say they’re perfect, and I personally have some issues that will be outlined in this article. But there is nothing so drastic as to merit a complete overhaul of leadership and handing the reins over to a far less experienced white guy. Just because Luke Skywalker didn’t pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky using the Force doesn’t mean the most powerful woman in Hollywood should retire. That would be a huge mistake.
Usually, when people cry for a replacement, they really just want their favorite Star Wars storyteller to take over. And don’t get me wrong, if Dave Filoni were announced as the new president of Lucasfilm, I’d have one moment of shocked glee, as he is my all-time favorite Star Wars writer (and not for Clone Wars, for Rebels; yes, you read that right). But Filoni, in all his infinite talent, isn’t necessarily a producer on the same level as Kennedy. He’d be in charge of the entire studio rather than just the animation department and that would mean his talents couldn’t be focused on delivering awesome stories but on making sure the entire place doesn’t go up in smoke. He is better off telling the stories than just producing them. Let him continue to make awesome animated series in peace, because if he doesn’t get around to that Sabine and Ahsoka show I’m going to write more angry articles and really, do you want that?
Some folks want Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige to take over. Very few want JJ Abrams to take over, but he has his fans. Are you noticing a trend here? Filoni, Feige, and Abrams are all white men. Kennedy is heading up one of the most powerful studios on Earth, and fanboys want her gone and replaced with a man. This is either subtle or extreme sexism, depending on the person who’s doing the talking.
This isn’t to say that Lucasfilm doesn’t need a few tweaks. There’s some lack of continuity between films, depending on your opinion of the sequel trilogy. Several directorial snafus have occurred, and no one can deny that Solo underperformed at the box office in comparison with the other films in the franchise. Kennedy speaks about diversity, but has yet to hire a director or writer who isn’t a white man, and all the female leads have a tendency to look a little like her. But this is not a reason to call for her dismissal. This is a reason to engage in discussion with Lucasfilm and push for change. The most powerful woman in Hollywood shouldn’t be fired because she and her studio are still figuring out their new identity. Marvel had some missteps in those early years too, and yet no one called for Feige’s removal. I wonder why.
The problem is is that we’re not giving Kathleen Kennedy the credit for helping bring a franchise back from the somewhat dead. Instead, we’re letting sexist critiques of her dominate the conversation. Don’t like her for the lack of diversity behind the scenes so far, or for approving the casting of a myriad of white brunettes, or for what happened with Lord and Miller? That’s fine! Your complaints there are valid. But if you just want her gone because suddenly Star Wars is trying to be for everyone? Then you’re part of the problem.
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