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One Major Issue With ‘The Bad Batch’ Is Causing Some Fans To Boycott the Show

Is it really that hard to make them brown?

Star Wars: The Bad Batch group shot of the titular "bad batch" clones.

Star Wars has always had issues with race. Despite borrowing extensively from the genres of Samurai films and from the history of the Vietnam War, Lando Calrissian and James Earl Jones’ voice were practically the only POC in the Original Trilogy. This changed slightly when George Lucas cast Temuera Morrison, a Māori man, as Jango Fett, the father/clone progenitor of Boba Fett and the Republic’s Clone Army.

However, over two decades later, the franchise is still falling into the same issues over race.

The Bad Batch

Members of Clone Troop 99, aka The Bad Batch
(Lucasfilm/Disney+)

When the Bad Batch was introduced as a scrappy squad of misfit troopers, fans were initially excited about getting a finished version of the scrapped Clone Wars arcs and a spin-off show too!

But that excitement faltered when the designs of some characters seemed to make many of them lighter-skinned and/or with more European features. The leader, Hunter, was basically Clone Rambo. Omega, the only female Clone, has blonde hair and fairer skin. Echo and Crosshair are so pale, you’d risk losing them in a Hoth snowstorm.

Long story short: clones of a character played by a Māori man had been white-washed.

But fans weren’t going to let this pass unnoticed. Many posted online, pointing out the discrepancies from the Clones’ previous appearances. From there, fans came together and shared their experiences and concerns over the show, eventually creating the hashtag: #UnwhitewashTBB (or Unwhitewash The Bad Batch).

Since then the movement has spawned a Twitter page, an Instagram account, and a Change.org petition all with the shared goal of bringing awareness to this issue and getting Lucasfilm to change it.

For anyone genuinely curious, I highly suggest taking a look at the Unwhitewash the Bad Batch card, where they break down the issue and rebut many arguments these fans have seen in favor of the whitewashing, which include some truly hilarious ones like “freezer burn.”

Why whitewashing in The Bad Batch is important

There are many reasons this is important the first of which being it erases some of the most significant POC representation in the Star Wars galaxy. Temuera Morrison has been very vocal not only about his love for his roles but also about the effect his background has on choices with his characters. Seeing that background be stripped from his clones is heartbreaking, made still more prominent by the fact that Māori people are a minority that is not often represented positively in Western media. To have characters of Maori origin be explicitly whitewashed is further salt in the wound.

Besides that, The Bad Batch may not lean quite as young as other Star Wars animated shows, but it still has plenty of younger fans who are all absorbing the lessons and messages of the show. Kids need to see non-white and non-white-washed characters in leading, heroic roles, and having a POC character be made to look more white is not helping anyone.

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that the premise of the show and these characters was about how they were supposedly “superior” to the other clones, for having desirable mutations that made them more capable than the average clone. That from the start had some eugenicist undertones that could have been confronted and explored but instead has been ignored and even been reinforced by this whitewashing.

History repeats

Ahsoka Tano holding lightsabers in Star Wars.
(Lucasfilm/Disney)

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Lucasfilm animation has been accused of white-washing. Star Wars: Rebels was previously accused of white-washing Steela Gurrera’s portrait, and of altering Ahsoka Tano’s design so her face was more narrow compared to her Clone Wars look.

The main characters aren’t the only characters in The Bad Batch who were whitewashed either; Padawan Kanan Jarrus and his Jedi Master Depa Billaba were notably lighter-skinned than they were in their comics appearance, though that was thankfully fixed by Lucasfilm due to fan outcry.

There have also been accusations of antisemitism in the character of Sid, a money-hungry Trandoshan Cantina owner with a New York accent and a Jewish voice-actress. This one seems especially baffling considering The Clone Wars went out of its way to undo the harmful Jewish stereotyping of the prequels, specifically with the alien race of the Toydarians.

All of this has led to fans deciding enough is enough, some deciding to boycott the show until (if) the characters are color-corrected.

Moving forward

Thankfully, it does seem like Lucasfilm leadership is taking note of fans’ complaints.

Tech has a line in the Season 2 premiere talking about how all clones have brown eyes by default, so at least that serves to help establish the change in the Clones’ eye-color as being part of their mutations (though than in-and-of-itself carries some implications about eye colors and abilities).

Bad Batch Supervising Director Brad Rau said in a recent interview that “We listened to all the concerns of the fans. Interestingly, in Season 1, before season one came out, we’re always doing this, we went back to look at the skin tones, and we made some corrections to make sure that we’re being true to the legacy of the clones in Clone Wars. Absolutely, 100%.”

However, that doesn’t get to the heart of the problem: the Clone Wars clones’ designs were flawed from the start.

Artist @VantoBones has been doing an art series about how Lucasfilm could fix the designs of each The Bad Batch Clone but has also been open about how the design of the average clone is also in need of an update.

https://twitter.com/vantobones/status/1610763828148506643

I say this as a die-hard Clone Wars fan: if something was broken from the start, it’s better to change it than to ignore it. While fans may be comfortable with the current Clone designs, that doesn’t mean they didn’t also have their issues. But it’s not too late to do better by Rex, Cody, Echo, Hunter, and all the other Clones we’ve come to know and love.

(featured image: Disney+/Lucasfilm)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.