Last Friday CNN.com’s Lewis Beale posted a piece about what a cool thing it is that Rogue One‘s ragtag heroes are composed of varied ethnic flavors. Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Pakistani guys in addition to the three whiteys (Felicity Jones, Ben Mendehlson, Mads Mikelsen), he meant.
“Fifty years after Star Trek launched a multiracial and multicultural crew into outer space, the Star Wars franchise has finally joined the diversity universe,” Beale enthused, especially as “such refreshing diversity comes across as a rebuke to President-elect Donald Trump‘s campaign.”
You know what? I’ve said over and over that Trump’s election is easily the worst thing to hit this country since 9/11, but I don’t care all that much about diversity casting. Well, I do but I’m not Orwellian about it. What I care about is how magnetic or charismatic this or that actor may be in a given role. Our urban-liberal culture is all about diversity these days, of course, and you’d have to be fairly Trumpian to cast an ensemble film with an all (or mostly) Anglo-Saxon attitude.
It’s 100% cool that Rogue One is composed of a multicultural cast, but I don’t really give a flying fuck which ethnicities or molds or skin tints are represented in this or any other film. I don’t mark off a checklist as I watch films — Asian guy, check…British chick, check…older black dude, check…Middle Eastern guy, check. Just make the movie work as a whole, is all.
I honestly wouldn’t care if a franchise film was to costar six time-machine clones that resemble Troy Donahue, Michael Rapaport, Elliot Gould, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Tab Hunter, James Franciscus and Robert Conrad. Actually, that would be pretty weird. Scratch that.
I just know there’s something about p.c. casting that goes against my grain. We all know those two Asian guys in Rogue One — Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen — are bones thrown to the Asian market. They’re good guys but c’mon…we all know what’s going on here.
Honestly? The British-Pakistani Riz Ahmed didn’t cut the mustard in my realm because he does the wide-eyed “whoa, holy shit…this is really so overwhelming!” thing too much, and because his accented, hyper-fast line delivery is partly indecipherable.
The performances by Mikkelsen and Mendehlson were fine in Rogue One, but they’re white so they don’t count…right? Forrest Whitaker did his usual whispered-mumblecore thing and Diego Luna was naturally cool and steady without issue. So when we’re talking Rogue One diversity we’re really talking about Yen, Wen and Ahmed. And I could’ve done without Ahmed.
Postscript: Beale just wrote me to say he feels “gobsmacked” by my response. My reply back to him: “Are you kidding me? You sound like a p.c. goose-stepper in your article, and I’m a gobsmacker because I care more about charisma and pizazz from whatever flavor or ethnicity?”