Disney CEO Says Rogue One Is "Not Political," Which Is Ridiculous

Monday, 12 December 2016 - 2:59PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: Rogue One
Monday, 12 December 2016 - 2:59PM
Disney CEO Says Rogue One Is "Not Political," Which Is Ridiculous
Sci-fi has always afforded writers opportunities to make political statements, usually by portraying futuristic worlds with more progressive politics than the present, or dystopian worlds with extremist totalitarian governments (or a combination of both). Star Wars is far from the exception to this rule, which made it all the more surprising that Disney CEO Bob Iger claimed Rogue One is somehow "not political."

Iger's statements were in response to a controversy that began last month, when Rogue One writer Chris Weitz tweeted anti-Trump sentiment, along with the since-deleted statement, "Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization." As a result, Trump supporters on Twitter expressed their outrage through the #DumpStarWars hashtag, which also called for a boycott of the film.



At the premiere of the film, Iger tried to defuse the situation by claiming that the film is "not in any way political":

Opening quote
"I think the whole story has been overblown and, quite frankly, it's silly. I have no reaction to [this] story at all," Iger said (via THR). "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."
Closing quote

While I understand that Iger wouldn't want to hurt his bottom line by alienating some of Star Wars' fans, this statement is, quite frankly, bullshit. First of all, every piece of art is political, because it's either explicitly commenting on the state of politics, or it's reinforcing the status quo. There is no movie, not even a summer blockbuster, that is "in no way political."

But even if you don't accept that premise, Star Wars is very explicitly political. The entire franchise is an allegory about Nazi fascism, and not a very subtle one. Case in point: Stormtroopers got their name from Nazi soldiers in World War II. The Empire's political and security officers have costumes that are almost identical to SS uniforms, down to the silver death's head insignia on their caps. Kessel, Hoth, and Tatooine are all allusions to World War II events or people. George Lucas himself has compared Darth Vader to Adolf Hitler, and J.J. Abrams said the First Order was inspired by a faction of the Nazi regime. Denying that Star Wars is inherently political is like denying that Voldemort is a stand-in for Hitler. It's blatant to the point of being self-evident.

Iger went on to say that he was proud of Rogue One's diverse cast, which is much more legitimate:

Opening quote
"[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," said Iger.
Closing quote

Again, it is definitely a political statement to cast diverse actors, but this one is closer to the truth. At the very least, it shouldn't be a political statement for the cast of a blockbuster movie to more accurately reflect the demographics of this country, but judging from the reactions of white supremacists, it still is. There likely won't be any explicit condemnation of Trump in Rogue One, and the rumors that the reshoots somehow made the movie more political don't seem to be true. But considering that Star Wars has always been an allegory about a fascist strongman leader, it's been criticizing Trump all along.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: Rogue One