Thursday, June 16, 2022

I Knew Representation Was Important When I Was A Kid

As you've probably already guessed by now if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, I'm a huge Star Wars fan. Have been ever since I was a kid. Even as an eight-year-old, however, I noticed that there was nobody in the original movie (Episode IV) that looked like me, specifically someone of Asian descent.
I didn't let this fact bother me or deter my fandom, however; I simply came up with the idea - apparently this process is now called "headcanon" - that all the characters in the film were technically aliens and therefore not of any one particular race or ethnicity, at least far as we know them on Earth (embarrassing admission alert: if I remember correctly, I believe I even wrote some short fanfic that said that Luke, Han, Leia et al were all descended from an original race called "Force-ians," or something like that.) Anyway, with that justification in mind, I was able to continue enjoying the subsequent entries in the franchise even though there were still no Asian actors (in George Lucas' defense, I've heard - whether this is true or not, I have no idea - that he originally wanted to cast Toshiro Mifune as Obi-Wan or Darth Vader, but was turned down).

Since then, diversity and representation in Star Wars and other works of pop culture in general has increased, which I obviously view as a positive development (there are many, many articles on the Internet that explore this topic in more detail; I'm just relating a bit of my own personal experiences here). Again, if you've been following this blog or any of my other activities, you know I'm a big proponent and supporter of diversity, inclusion, and representation. My Joel Suzuki series of novels has an Asian-American on the autism spectrum as its lead protagonist and includes a number of other characters from various minority communities. Some of my other projects (Glorified and Try Again Tomorrow being examples) also feature leads of Asian descent. I think it's important for kids to see reflections of themselves in the media that they consume, and so it's my hope that I'm doing my part so that nobody has to come up with a label as embarrassing as "Force-ian."*

* Although maybe Luke and Leia, being the children of Anakin who some theories say was directly conceived by midichlorians, could actually be considered "Force-ian"? Don't get me started

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