What is White Washing and What Does It Have To Do With Star Wars?
Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, this post is for you. Whitewashing is a problem that goes beyond just fans. It’s something that must be acknowledged by everyone in order to make change.
Today, Disney’s show The Bad Batch was renewed for Season 2. This is an animated show centered on Clone Troopers. These troopers and the original character that’s been Cloned, are played by Temuera Morrison in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith as seen below:
The Bad Batch are a group of genetically modified Clone Troopers, with desirable battle skills.
The leader has keen senses, one is super strong, one is a genius, one is a sharp shooter, and one has joined the Batch after being held as a prisoner of war.
So how does this all tie into white washing? Well! Let’s first ask ourselves what white washing is.
Webster defines it this way:
Whitewashing • to alter (something) in a way that favors, features, or caters to white people
Whitewashing is used to make things more Eurocentric. In media, whitewashing is often used to ignore, speak over, or disregard characters of color.
The most famous example of whitewashing is in the 2017 movie “Ghost in the Shell”. Where Scarlet Johansson plays a Japanese character. Everyone remembers how shocked and disgusted the internet was when this was announced. Not only did this casting choice ignore Asian actors, it also made the character more eurocentric, erasing her identity, and the representation she gave.
Wiki has a full article about white washing in film which you can read here
But bringing it back to animated Star Wars. The Bad Batch are genetically modified clones. They’re often seen as “better” than regular Clone Troopers, and are called in for missions no one else can do. Imagine the A-Team. But this brings us to what the Bad Batch look like:
These are supposed to be Clones, exact copies, of the man I showed you earlier. The large one, Wrecker, is the only one who actually looks like a Man of Color. And guess what. He’s the dumb one. The light one with the glasses? He’s the smartest one.
Whitewashing doesn’t stop at skin tone. This show has a very angular style, but art style is not an excuse. This art style CAN animate round features as seen on the background character Captain Typho:
The Bad Batch faces are thinned, with high cheek bones. They have round eyes, as opposed to hooded almond eyes, they’re thin, as opposed to a solid frame and build. Here’s a quick side by side comparison:
As noted by the red lines and color pallets, these designs are clear examples of white washing. We know they CAN animate round features, but they CHOSE not to. Captain Typho, is hardly in one episode. So what conclusion does this draw?
Star Wars has a history of being white centric. Finn was the only lead Black character and he was tossed aside. Lando is a side character. The main cast is all white.
Disney and Lucas Film will not allow POC to be the center of Star Wars. Even when they have no choice, they instead whitewash to make the characters more eurocentric. They do everything in their power to ignore and disregard POC and characters of color.
So what can you do?
Say something! Tweet about it! Make a post on Tumblr or Instagram! Tag Disney, LucasArts and anyone associated.
Use tags to spread the word! You can tag it #RacismInStarWars #StopStarWarsRacism #UnWhiteWashTBB
Sign the petition! Unwhitewashtbb has a petition and an open letter to Star Wars, I encourage you all, fan of Star Wars or not, to sign! If you want to make a stand against Racism, this is a great place to start.
This issue is bigger than fandom drama. This is a problem that effects real people. Whitewashing is harmful, it makes POC feel ignored and disregarded. It makes us feel insecure in our identity. Personally, white washing always makes me feel ugly. All I can think is “If Star Wars, my childhood favorite, thinks my features are undesirable, what does that make me?” That runs around in my head like crazy. And I feel worthless. Like garbage. This is beyond who you like or don’t like in a fandom. It’s beyond one person.
This is about standing up for all people. Always.
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I love how if you want to bring Darth Maul back to life for a fanfic you don’t even need to come up with a justification because it’s already canon that he is so angry that he’s somehow effectively immortal.
Maul: (dies in Obi-Wan’s arms after saying something odd about Luke avenging “us,” and I’ve never been sure who he was including in “us” - his dead brothers? Does he see Obi-Wan as needing vengeance on his behalf too?)
Obi-Wan: (buries him in the sand tidily like a cat poo and goes home)
Three or four hours later
Maul (sits up and spits out sand): It’s no good, I tried to be dead but I’m too pissed off.
(shows up at Obi-Wan’s house) You owe me a shirt.
Obi-Wan: I thought I killed you properly this time.
Maul: And yet here we are.
(long awkward pause)
Obi-Wan: Do you mind if it’s beige?
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