People cannot handle the fact that huge investments have been made into a show that is centered around black and latinx kids and history. The Get Down is honestly a breath of fresh air from all these shows with white leads. The Get Down is visually stunning, with an immensely talented cast, and great plot. The Get Down deserves way more praise and recognition.
Marvel: we can’t make one of our film or show leads Asian. That would be…. against the original source material. That’s also why we can’t make them LGBTQ+.
Power Rangers (2017): hey what’s up. 4/5 of our leads are POC. One is autistic and one is confirmed LGBTQ+. We have the first Asian superhero in a big-budget film, the first autistic superhero in a big/budget film, and the first LGBTQ+ superhero in a big-budget film. None of this was really in the original source material, but representation matters and we specifically casted them with the intention of making a diverse film.
Lionsgate and Saban went out and found five unknown actors with either little or no acting experience (in movies) because a) they want to start a franchise with them and more importantly b) because they wanted their movie to be diverse. And the actors were all amazing. So people can no longer use the excuse of Hollywood only casting white actors because they’re well-known and good actors or because it’s hard to find good non-white actors. It isn’t that hard and Power Rangers showed us that. Hollywood just prefers casting white people in main roles and in non-white roles.
power rangers might not be getting a sequel and it’s proof y'all only like diversity as a concept. it has everything we’ve been asking for : 4/5 of the leads are poc, one of them is gay and another one is on the spectrum. the cast are absolute sweethearts, they’ve worked so hard for this and they’re aware of how important diverse movies are. so instead of complaining about movies/shows not being diverse enough, watch power rangers in theaters, support the movie on social medias and buy the dvd when it comes out.
It’s not mainstream. It’s not cookie cutter. Strong female leads. Compassionate male leads. Heroic poc leads. Multiple healthy lgbt relationships. Cultures around the world being respected and celebrated. Without a doubt, we should see these things regularly in media, but we don’t. And that’s why Sense8 was set up to fail.
It was exploring stories most shows wouldn’t dare touch. Those of us here on tumblr see the need for that. We crave that. But Amy from down the street doesn’t like change. Greg from work likes detective shows. Diane from church is telling everyone to boycott that show because it’s from the devil. And those are just the people who heard of the show… It doesn’t get promotion ads during The Walking Dead. It doesn’t come on directly after Grey’s Anatomy. It doesn’t even come on a channel so that people might accidentally switch over and be captivated by its beauty.
The burden of promotion fell on Netflix. They want to claim it was too expensive. That there weren’t enough viewers to offset the cost of production. And I’m sure that’s true, but whose fault was that?
I learned about Sense8 through friends from here, where a show like Sense8 is accepted and even celebrated. Unless I actively sought out information about the show, I didn’t see anything about it on any other social media sites. I’ve seen people talk about Stranger Things, OitNB, Making a Murder, etc. all over the place, but silence when it came to Sense8.
When I think about why, the answer is pretty clear: Netflix didn’t bother to promote their own show. I don’t have cable, which means I spend a decent amount of time on Netflix, but I never saw Sense8 on the main screen. It wasn’t in my suggestions even though it is very much in line with my “type” of show. It didn’t pop up in the new arrivals sections. Hell, after I started watching it, I would often have to dig for it in my recently watched section. Even when it was the last show I watched, it would get booted to the end of the line.
Netflix took a show with the odds stacked against it from the get go and did absolutely nothing to promote it. With this type of show, word of mouth is key. It has to be promoted enough not just to pique interest but to demand viewership. They needed to shove that show down everyone’s throats the way they do with OitNB or Stranger Things or even shows that aren’t even their own like Riverdale. But they didn’t.
This is on Netflix. They failed to help a beautiful and captivating and thought-provoking show thrive. They gave up on it when it deserved so much more. And I will be bitter about it for the rest of my life.
Esmeryl did not let the eyes that bore into her soul falter her steps in the slightest.
Let them stare.
She walked toward the coliseum as the Princess Knight, and had faced far worse and more devastating odds than jeering looks from the gazes of her oppressors. They were only sheep, and she would pay no mind to the voice of the masses.
No. Her one focus was to beat the last gladiator who stood before her. He was the opposing nation’s strongest and finest warrior - a real savage in the ring. Twice her size and weight, but she’d seen him fight before and she was not frightened.
Size didn’t determine anything. Strength alone was never enough in combat, not when your opponent was wise, swift, and had strength all her own.
The crowd howled as she came into the arena, and Jeroff the Gorger - her opponent - jeered louder than the rest and through up his arms for applause. Esmeryl did no such thing and continued forth with unhurried steps, sword at her side.
He watched her approach, laughter booming from his large mouth. He was open for every angle - a large armor-less gorilla.
I am Esmeryl, the Princess Knight… But from today onward… I shall be known by another title.
It was almost comical, the way her blade moved with ease and without warning. The way Jeroff’s expression turned baffled and a line of red appeared on his thick trunked neck. A sweeping violent hush fell over the coliseum.
The only sound that followed was the sound of Gorge’s knees hitting the dirt, then the thunk of something heavy landing at her feet before Jeroff’s headless body listed to the ground. She held up her bloody blade, expression one of stone.
I am Esmeryl, and from now on… I am the Princess Champion.
someone: wait… so your tv show has multiple POC leads, a jewish lead that’s also canonically mentally ill, as well as a bisexual lead that actually uses the word bisexual, and none of these characters are offensive one-dimensional stereotypes???? and your show is still popular and well-written and funny???
I hate how people particularly on this site scream and demand representation in action films and everything but when the movie comes out they don’t support it, in 2017 alone we have about 8 POC playing leads in superhero films and no one is trying to acknowledge it! Gal Gadot an Israeli-Jewish woman is playing Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa a biracial Hawaiian man is playing Aquaman, Ray Fisher a black man is playing Cyborg, RJ Cyler a black man played the first autistic superhero in the Power Rangers film that just came out this past Friday, Becky G a Latina woman played the first LGBTQ hero in the Power Rangers film, Ludi Lin played the first Asian superhero to ever hit the big screen, Naomi Scott played the first Indian superhero, Maisie Richardson-Sellers plays a live action Vixen, and there a plenty of others that can be added to this list ,but all those people yelling about wanting representation here are examples of a few and all of these people are leads in their respective films.. Y'all want POC leads here they are watch their films and support them! Show Hollywood that POC as leads can make money in the action and superhero genres as well! I don’t want to see another post complaining about representation until y'all have seen these movies first. Support these actors they have worked hard and deserve support!
Suicide Squad was awesome I can't wait for Wonder Woman next year
hey we're already giving you a movie about the most iconic female superhero of all time, but since you liked the Squad so much how about we start planning a couple solo movies about the female lead and the POC lead even though it's only been a few months?
it's been nearly a decade since Natasha Romanoff first arrived in the MCU and we still would really love a solo movie about her, could you please take our wishes into account?
Films by or about people of colour directed by women*
Some notes on the list:
This list is non-exhaustive.
The movies I counted as “starring” poc of colour have at least 1 poc as lead or co-lead.
I respect the fact that some people do not want to see movies about poc as told by white women and have separated these movies accordingly.
Some of the directors who are woc who have directed the movies starring woc are not the same race as their casts.
What counts as a woc in the western world is not what is necessarily counted as a woc in the countries that those women are from. I have created my international list based on my own western perspective.
Directed by American WOC starring POC
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash) Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair) I Like It Like That (Darnell Martin) Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons) Girlfight (Karyn Kusama) Love and Basketball (Gina Prince-Blythewood) Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso) Saving Face (Alice Wu) Something New (Sanaa Hamri) Mississippi Damned (Tina Mabry) I Will Follow (Ava DuVernay) Pariah (Dee Rees) Yelling to the Sky (Victoria Mahoney) Middle of Nowhere (Ava DuVernay) Mosquita y Mari (Aurora Guerrero) Peeples (Tina Gordon Chism) Selma (Ava DuVernay) 13th (Ava DuVernay) Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins) Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan) Farah Goes Bang (Meera Menon) It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Emily Ting) Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Chloe Zhao)
Directed by WOC starring white people The Republic of Love (Deepa Mehta) D.E.B.S. (Angela Robinson) Vanity Fair (Mira Nair) Jennifer’s Body(Karyn Kusama) Last Night (Massy Tadjedin) The Invitation (Karyn Kusama) Equity (Meera Menon) Shake It (Hella Joof)
International WOC Sugar Cane Alley (Euzhan Palcy) Martinique Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair) India Double Happiness (Mina Schum) Canada Fire (Deepa Mehta) Canada/India Earth (Deepa Mehta) Canada/India Monsoon Wedding(Mira Nair) India Bollywood/Hollywood (Deepa Mehta) Canada Bend it like Beckham (Gurinder Chada) UK Water (Deepa Mehta) Canada/India Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud) France Heaven on Earth (Deepa Mehta) Canada Belle (Amma Asante) UK The Second Mother (Anna Muylaert) Brazil A Simple Life (Ann Hui) Hong Kong Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour) Saudi Arabia Dil Dhankande Do (Zoya Akhtar) India Still the Water (Naomi Kawase) Japan Sweet Bean (Naomi Kawase) Japan Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf) Iran At Five in the Afternoon (Samira Makhmabaf) Iran
Directed by white women starring POC Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke) documentary Black Panthers (Agnès Varda) documentary Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston) documentary S'en fout la mort (Claire Denis) Mi Vida Loca (Allison Anders) Whale Rider (Niki Caro) Frida (Julie Taymor) Itty Bitty Titty Committee (Jamie Babbit) Things We Lost in the Fire (Susanne Bier) 35 Rhums (Claire Denis) The Wedding Song (Karin Albou) 2 Days in New York (Julie Delpy) Girlhood (Céline Sciamma) Honeytrap (Rebecca Johnson) The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer) Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold) American Honey (Andrea Arnold) Ayanda (Sara Blecher)
*I know people will want to add onto the list and I appreciate that, but before you do please check whether a film is directed by a woman. This blog and list is in support of women directed or co-directed films. Please respect that.
Why we Oncers need to give our attention to ‘Emerald City’
A lot of people are understandably jaded by OUAT these days. Dropped storylines, questionable plots, atrocious dialogue/characterization, to name a few. For whatever reason, many of us, including myself, are still mostly loyal to Once. However, we NEED to give our attention to the new show, ‘Emerald City’ on NBC. Why? Let me tell you:
Each episode is directed by the very talented Tarsem Sign, who is Indian.
A large cast of very diverse women in general:
Creepy af imagery (do you see the skinned man in the corner?)
The brilliant Vincent D’Onofrio
This amazing Witch of the West (who may very well give Regina run for her money)
Oncers, we have an obligation as lovers of fantasy to give this show a chance. Please watch it January 6th on NBC. Please give it a chance. I have a feeling it’ll be everything Once wishes it could be–amazing sets, good writing, POC characters who actually stick around, and a beautiful reimagination. Here’s the trailer:
fandom in general regardless of the canon source material can take minor white characters with limited screentime and created thousands of fanworks for them as well as complex stories and personalities. then turn around and say they just don’t find a poc lead “compelling or interesting enough to waste any time writing for them, but it is totally not a racial bias”.
Hey, i'd be interested if you have any book rec's with ace/aro protagonists? I'm struggling to find many good ones.
So I’ll level with you here, depression’s been beating my ass for the longest time, and even though I know there’s good stuff out there, I’ve not had the energy to go delving into the nooks and crannies of the fiction world to find it, because…… y’know, it’s hard, there’s fudge all out there, I’m tired
But I’m so glad you sent this ask because it’s given me the motivation to sit my butt down and make this happen and this is IMPORTANT to me. So this ask has been an adventure for the both of us, anon friend~
Here’s what I found in my search! I’ve only read a few of them, for the above reason, but I’ve tried to collect stuff that’s been written by aro/ace authors or has received positive reviews from aro/ace people!! Here goes!!! I hope it’s not too lengthy, I got excited!!
The Bone Peopleby Keri Hulme is a mystery novel featuring an asexual protagonist, the reclusive artist Kerewin. It’s set in New Zealand and focuses a lot on Maori culture (the author herself is of Maori descent, as well as openly asexual and aromantic). Trigger warnings for physical abuse, suicide and illness.
We Awaken by Calista Lynne ( @calista-lynne ) features two asexual protagonists, girls who love girls, paranormal shenanigans, and the most beautiful glorious amazing cover I’ve ever seen. It’s also published by Harmony Ink Press, who do positive LGBTQ+ stories and are all round awesome in general. I think this one is available for preorder now, but releasing soon.
Sydney West by Rebecca McKinsey is a mystery/thriller I’ve seen some really great reviews on, which features a canon aromantic protagonist, and also has minimal profanity and minimal graphic description, if that’s not your kinda thing.
How To Be A Normal Person by TJ Klune features an asexual stoner hipster and honestly I don’t even know what else to say about it but this book looks like a wild and very weird ride to say the least.
Every Heart a Doorwayby Seanan McGuire has an asexual protagonist and creepy stuff and secret doors and other worlds. Also has a trans character! Seems like a neat premise, I’m keen to read it.
Cold Ennalineby RJ Astruc is paranormal novella also published by Harmony Ink Press, featuring an asexual (and by the sounds of the description quite possibly aromantic) protagonist.
Banner of the Damnedby Sherwood Smith is an epic high fantasy with an asexual protagonist and a POC princess and lots of awesome worldbuilding and politics and yeah!
After I Wake by Emma Griffiths features an asexual protagonist and several queer side characters and is also published by Harmony Ink Press! Hooray! Trigger warnings for suicide and mental illness (though the story itself focuses on recovery).
Sinnersby Eka Waterfield is a dark fantasy about an asexual sidhe drug dealer, so what else does a person need, really. But yeah! It’s got thumbs-ups from several ace reviewers on goodreads! Trigger warnings for drug use and violence.
Clariel by Garth Nix features a protagonist who’s pretty much 100% absolutely aroace and amazing, and from what I can see many of the aces/aros who’ve read this book strongly identify with her and her experiences and the general consensus is that it’s awesome.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld features a demisexual WOC and a lesbian love interest and I’ve heard pretty good things about it, though I haven’t read it myself.
Quicksilverby RJ Anderson is a YA sci-fi with an asexual protagonist and lots of decent discussions on asexuality in the book, like the coming out scene, etc.
Interface: inSightby Lucy Mihajlichis another one maybe worth looking out for? It has a kickstarter going, and features a hearing-impaired aroace protagonist, nonbinary representation, and female and POC characters doing cool stuff and not dying… also has, like, cool edgy futuristic dystopia vibes~
A Word and a Bullet by Rachel Sharp has a very very very explicitly-stated aroace character. 100% aroace and cool with it. Also, quirky apocalypse stories are always fun, yeah?
And here’s some other neat stuff I found:
From Under the Mountainby Cait Spivey (panromantic asexual author, F/F high fantasy, lots of POC and women characters)
Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge (zero romance, cool premise)
The Tropic of Serpentsby Marie Brennan (ace character, not protagonist)
Radio Silenceby Alice Osman (honest and open discussions of asexuality and demisexuality, female mixed-race bisexual protagonist, male and female leads do not fall in love)
Make Much Of Meby Kayla Bashe (lots of queer rep, including asexual and nonbinary, super positive feelgood themes)
Mindtouch and Mindline by M.C.A Hogarth (non-human asexual characters, queerplatonic life-partnership, sounds hELLA CUTE)
Guardian of the Deadby Karen Healey (asexual POC leading character, not protagonist)
And I added like a billion things to my TBR lmao help me anon
honestly it fascinates me that the get down was cancelled like I haven’t gotten to watching it yet (and hopefully they don’t remove what they do have so I can still watch it) but like. I watched the first episode of stranger things and I was so bored. and there’s no reason for thirteen reasons why to have a second season? it doesn’t need one? honestly it’s wild
and it’s also concerning for shows outside of netflix. speaking as someone who watches supernatural (out of a sense of obligation more than actual enjoyment) it bothers me that the show is gonna have a 13th season, when there are no women leads, no poc leads, no lgbt leads. meanwhile, jane the virgin, a show about woc, is always at risk of being cancelled. crazy ex-girlfriend, a show with a very diverse cast, is always at risk of being cancelled. these are award-winning, critically acclaimed shows. they are arguably among the best shows on tv. but supernatural, a mediocre show about white men, is probably gonna continue for years. like. okay
Reylo and why it’s a problem beyond any shipper war….
part of many shipper wars over the years. Absolutely crazy and disgusting ones
that left me wondering why I had ever joined the fandom in the first place. I
have seen people call each other retarded and freaks over a ship and bully
people, stalk their social media accounts… I have seen people insult actors and
writers on social media over shipping - even sending them death threats (!!!!),
I have seen people insult the significant others of actors because their ship
wasn’t happening in real life as well… You name it, I’ve probably seen it. Some
of these things also take place in the Star Wars fandom and I find them just as
appalling and disgusting as I do in any other fandom. However I have become
used to this insanity to a certain point and so there is a level of
shipping-craziness I can ignore. Is this good? Probably not, but that’s simply
what happens when you are confronted with bullshit for years and years, you
become immune to it to a degree.
What I have
seen in the Star Wars fandom recently though has crossed my line…and sometimes
it has not just crossed it, it jumped past the line and blew itself into the
freaking stratosphere of unacceptable behaviour.
started out as somewhat of a crack ship, something that exists in almost any
fandom. The villain + the hero… people writing fanfics about it, enjoying the
idea. No problem so far because what you imagine in fics and have as a head canon
can be problematic and unrealistic. As long as you are aware of it and don’t
take it too seriously, everything’s cool.
started to blow out of proportion when people suddenly became convinced that it
will be canon. And that it’s the only acceptable, interesting canon, and that
the entire Star Wars crew is playing some giant goose chase game with the
fandom and only the Reylos get it. Shipping Reylo became some sort of detective
game that only the truly smart people can figure out. Hidden clues, fairytale
motives… Half of it seemed like we had suddenly entered a real life conspiracy
All of this
is weird and insulting the intelligence of non-shippers but it can still be
overlooked with an eyeroll. The real problems began when people started to
justify why Reylo is better than any other ship and entirely unproblematic. They
did not stop at plot points and hidden clues…no! In the course of defending
their ship as a realistic option for the future of Star Wars, huge issues arose
that made Reylo even MORE problematic instead of making it more acceptable.
Issue 1: The
treatment of Finn
Some of the
biggest treats of any ship are obviously other ships that involve one of the
characters. In case of Reylo the biggest treat is Finnrey, ie. the ship between
Rey and the character she spent the majority of time with during TFA. This ship
somehow had to be discredited. Looking at the dynamic between Finn and Rey in
the movie, making this ship not just unrealistic but downright horrible should
be quite a challenge. Yet it was shockingly easy for the Reylo fandom. Not by
using any valid plot points, but by stepping over lines that should never be
crossed, not only in fandoms but in society in general: racism, homophobia and
for many reasons, an absolutely groundbreaking and incredibly important
character in the Star Wars franchise. Played by John Boyega, a man of colour,
he is one of the few POC lead characters in any major franchises, cinema and TV
alike. But not only that, the character himself is representing an incredibly
important arc: A person brainwashed by an ideology for most of his life
questioning this ideology and breaking free from it, breaking out of a facist
organisation, refusing to follow their blind ideals and joining the fight
against them. Finn becomes a hero in TFA for many reasons. He saves Rey, the
other lead of the movie, several times and it is obvious she adores him. So the
version of Finn we are presented with in TFA is that of a hero who becomes best
friends with the heroine.
many members of the Reylo fandom considered it necessary to reinterpret this
version of Finn to the point he became unrecognizable to justify why he is
wrong for Rey. The fact that he broke out from the First Order suddenly became
an act of cowardness because he was not strong enough to kill for them. His
fear when he ran away from the facist organisation that turned him into nothing
more but a number was interpreted as weakness. Him pretending to be a member of
the Resistance was not seen as the act of someone ashamed of where he came from
or someone who thought no one would trust him if they knew the truth – it was
seen as a character flaw. His lie to personally get to save Rey from the First
Order was interpreted as a sign of him being a pathologic liar instead of
someone who would do everything for his friend. Even his motives were questioned…wondering
if he REALLY left the First Order or might just be a double agent, trying to
infiltrate the Resistance, even though there is absolutely no evidence for it
in TFA! The fact that a man of colour is villainized, ridiculed, made out as
weak and essentially a loser, who did everything just because of fear and
because he is a liar, when all of his character’s storyline does originally
make him look like a hero, is wrong on so many levels that I don’t even know
where to start - and all of this seemingly to justify why he is not a suitable
love interest for Rey! The fact that people did this with ease can’t help but
make you wonder if they could do so because of their internalized racism. In
this scenario a black man is made unworthy of a white heroine, even though his
character was meant to be a hero just like she is. Turning a black man into a
pathetic loser, even though his storyline contradicts it completely, falls
right into racist behaviour patterns… especially if you do so to justify why a
white character, who was constructed as a villain, is a better choice for the heroine
than the black character who was constructed as a hero.
however just one kind of mistreatment Finn receives. Other scenarios involve
Finn being gay to get him out of the way as a love interest for Rey. This way
of thinking does not interpret Finn as gay for the sake of equality and
representation but mainly to make him unsuitable as a love interest for the heroine.
To use the sexuality of a character only to make room for a ship is obviously a
totally wrong way of approaching homosexuality in fiction. Connected to this is
people’s reception of some of Finn’s characteristics: for whatever reason many see
Finn as unmanly, because he shows fear and seeks for support in dangerous,
scary moments. This apparent unmanliness of his made some come to the
conclusion that he is gay. So a man who does not fit into stereotypical ideas of
how a man should be like… of course has to be gay, implying that a gay man is
unmanly due to his sexuality? URGHS! If this is not the conclusion drawn by
people, another popular one is that the “unmanly” Finn is not strong enough for
Rey. Yet many of the people who express these ideas have no problem with Finn
potentially being with a WOC who will be introduced in the Last Jedi. So he is
too weak for Rey but not for an Asian woman they know nothing about? Does this
scream racism? It obviously does…
tactic is….ignoring Finn. Removing him from all discourse, from all fan art and
fan fics, erase him in pictures and switch him for Kylo Ren. Not only does this
make no sense looking at the actual movie, but it removes the movie’s black
lead from his rightful position. You can’t tell me it doesn’t leave a sour
taste in people’s mouths if TFA’s black hero is switched for the white villain?
In the end it’s the erasure of a black person, no matter how you look at it.
And that is just WRONG.
summarize: If your tactics to convince people of your ship involve sidelining
and demonizing a POC character or discrediting a man because he doesn’t fit
into stereotypical masculine characteristics… you got a problem.
The racist attacks towards other fans and John Boyega
to pretend this is a tiny issue and does not reflect the fandom but… Something
like this can never be a tiny issue! I am not saying that no vile, wrong
actions took place outside of the Reylo fandom (check out the very beginning of
this post…I acknowledge the usual shipper war insanity, which did take place
from all sides, not denying this for a second) – however there is a difference
between people insulting each other for a ship, and people sending anonymous
messages full of racist slurs to people of colour in this fandom because they
are against Reylo or adore Finn. That is, to put it mildly, an absolute
catastrophe and the fact alone that this sort of behaviour was inspired by a
ship is shocking. If you then remember that one character of this ship is in
fact a facist… It has “abort mission” written all over itself. Yet people did
not even manage to keep their trash inside of the fandom… it made its way into
the comments section of the actors’ social media accounts. One much cited
incident took place on Daisy Ridley’s instagram page, where people threw around
racist insults towards John Boyega. If anyone has followed her, they will know
she took down her instagram. I can only assume that this incident did not do
anything positive for her view of social media. Since apparently this is still
not enough, some racists feel the need to spread lies about John Boyega,
turning him into a sexual predator even… I don’t think I have to explain that this
is absolutely, utterly unacceptable!! From slight, internalized racism to open,
inexcusable racism - we have now seen it all. This has to stop! And it will not
stop by the Reylo fandom insisting it’s not all of them. Of course it isn’t.
But that doesn’t make it any less of a giant problem! I could as well now draw
the conclusion that Reylo fans are okay with shipping Rey with a facist because
they are okay with facism…. and racism. It would be unfair to many of them,
sure… but let’s be serious…can anybody be blamed if they come to this
conclusion at this point? And is it such a crazy idea to assume that this ships
draws in racists and facists??
The reinterpretation of Kylo Ren as a misunderstood anti-hero
preferred way to make the villain Kylo Ren worthy of Rey is to try and explain
why he is the way he is. This goes beyond a serious psychological analysis of
why he turned into a facist murderer. It is used to turn him into a guy who is
not responsible for his actions and actually kinda nice. “Poor Ben Solo was
targeted by Snoke in the womb, in the WOOOOMB!! He couldn’t do anything about
it. His childhood was traumatizing (why exactly we do not know), he had nobody
and so of course he fell into Snoke’s hands, the poor boy! He is so lonely and
misunderstood!” I can’t even count how often I have read these kinds of things.
Yet in TFA itself we have examples of people who were brought up by the First
Order (Finn) and abandoned by their parents on desert planets (Rey), but
neither of them follows Kylo Ren’s path at this point. Neither of them is
drowning in self pity and going around killing and torturing people. So
resistance is possible, even IF you are related to facists and even IF some
dark force is targeting you. Portraying Kylo Ren as the victim of this
storyline is doing injustice to all the people who suffered from his actions.
He is not a brainless puppet. He made a decision. Maybe he will realise himself
that it was the wrong one… but never in Star Wars has it seemed like those who
join the Dark Side did so because they were brainwashed and had no other
choice. Mostly they did it for selfish reasons and from everything we can see
at this point, so did Kylo Ren. Does his background story make it
understandable why he became evil? It seems so. It is meant to. But it is not
meant to excuse his behaviour or make him a victim. Anakin, even before he
became Darth Vader, always had the potential to be evil because of his
character traits. It is the same for Kylo Ren and also Luke. Luke chose to
become a Jedi and Kylo Ren chose the Dark Side. So no, he is not innocent, he
isn’t a victim, he isn’t an anti-hero… He is a murderer, plain and simple. So
turning him into some emo Disney-Prince is nothing but disturbing. It alters
the story and changes what he truly is. Many do this to make him worthy of Rey
and so that they can keep the illusion alive that he can be completely redeemed
and fall into her arms. This is however not logical and should not happen under
any circumstances if the Star Wars writers take their own writing and the
legacy of the saga seriously. A facist and murderer is no misunderstood puppy.
He is evil. If people romanticise him, they have issues. But then there’s also
a serial killer fandom, right? And tbh I see clear similarities between that
and some of the Kylo Ren fandom…
Diagnosing Kyle Ren with all sorts of mental illnesses does not make him a better
person either. Nowhere among the symptoms of depression, PTSD etc. will you
find “turns person into a facist killer”. The idea alone that blaming his acts
on what could be a mental illness is insulting every single person who struggles
with mental illnesses! It makes it seem like they are all potential murderers!
This is HORRIBLE!
The acceptance and downright glorification of a facist regime
If only all
members of the Reylo fandom tried to make it a possibility by redeeming Kylo
Ren. This is of course also problematic to the moon and back, yet it is still preferable
to the other option, which is to say that he has the right to do what he does.
I have seen people say that the Republic is evil and someone had to do
something against it, so what if they take drastic measures? (like killing
everyone??) I have seen fanfics were people wrote about Nazi experiments like
it’s some kind of kink. I have seen people call Kylo Ren and Hux “extra”, as if
they were some fun drama queens and not members of a facist regime. I have seen
people who hope Rey becomes evil, so that she and Kylo Ren become some evil
super couple. What is this meant to say about the people who do and say these
things? Some of them seem to see all of this as some joke, pointing out again
and again that it is not real. Sure, supporting this in real life is a huge
step further than squeeing over murderers in fiction… however if you see your
views as unproblematic and hope they will find support in canon… God, I don’t
even want to think about this… it’s just NUTS.
Issue 5: The
interpretation of abusive behaviour as sexy and romantic
To make the
scenes Kylo Ren and Rey share in TFA romantic, they require a certain interpretation.
Take the torture scene. People say things like “He was sitting by her side,
waiting until she wakes up herself because he didn’t want to wake her” So we
have a villain that ties up a heroine to get information out of her. He sits
down and watches his prisoner for a certain time, waiting until the prisoner
wakes up. The idea that he admires her looks in this scene is something I have
often seen as an argument why this scene is romantic. However people seem to
ignore that this is not, let’s say, a friend who is staying in the same place
with someone and watches them sleep. This is a villain who knocked out a woman,
tied her up and now waits for her to wake up to get information out of her. Is
this really a romantic situation or a creepy one? Another argument as to why
this scene is romantic is that he apparently holds her captive in his private
rooms. I have no idea if there is any evidence for this, but is it really
romantic that a villain keeps a woman imprisoned in his private rooms to read
her mind? Or is it an abusive action by a kidnapper who clearly has disturbing
ideas? I mean imagine you get knocked out and kidnapped by someone and then
wake up in a dark room, with the person who kidnapped you watching you in
silence? Would you find this creepy or cute?
Even if we
take a look at the kidnapping scene itself people can’t seem to get over the
fact that Kylo Ren carries an unconscious Rey. Could this be a romantic moment
in another context? It surely could be. IF he had not been the one to knock her
out in the first place, and IF he was not carrying her into his spaceship to get
information out of her (by torturing her with his powers)! We are not watching
a man carrying his unconscious love to safety. We are watching a villain carry
the unconscious heroine into the enemy’s headquarters. This is a scary
situation, NOT a romantic one!
we have to end this with their final fight. Arguments I’ve heard mainly talk
about how he did not kill her because he has a soft spot for her. Not only does
this ignore the fact that he was quite severely injured during this scene but
also the obvious reason why he is so interested in her. He wants her power. He
wants to train her, wants her to join HIS side of the force because she is
crazily powerful. Is her unique power enough of a reason not to kill her at
this point? Of course it is! People who are strong with the force are rare and
special. You do not just chop their heads off if they don’t directly do what
you want. So no, this is again not a romantic scene. It is a scene between the
villain of the movie and the heroine where he is trying to bring her to his
side. Something else I keep hearing is that they apparently exchanged romantic
looks when she escapes and he lies in the snow. He was just defeated by a scavenger
from a desert planet! He, the mighty Kylo Ren! He knows that there probably won’t
be a way around her on his way to power! And she knows that the head of the
First Order wants to get his hand on her because of her power, because of
something she never wanted to be part of. This is a “Holy Shit, this is our
future” – moment. This is the start of an epic fight. Not two lovers staring
longingly at each other!
All scenes between Rey and Kylo Ren get reinterpreted as romantic, even if they
are creepy, abusive and potentially lethal. Dare I claim that they would not be
seen as such if they would not take place between a young woman and a young
man? The fact though that these two people could theoretically put together
their sexual organs should not make these scenes romantic or nice or hot. That
people interpret them this way is more than problematic and makes it look like
they find abuse, kidnapping and trashing each other with light sabers cute,
when it would honest to God not be in any other context.
The sidelining of Rey in favour of Kylo Ren’s character development
arguments for Reylo seem to centre around Kylo Ren and the redemption this
relationship could bring to him. No words about why it is a great idea for Rey
or why it should further her character development to fall for the villain.
Kylo Ren often suddenly takes the position of the hero, it becomes his
storyline and she, the actual heroine, becomes an asset that is being used to
make him a better person. She is supposed to save the lonely, misunderstood man
from his misery. Why she should do this mostly seems obscure. Most of these
scenarios are combined with Issue 3. Kylo Ren’s crimes are downplayed, so that
Rey can fall in love with him and “save” him. So again… canon Kylo Ren’s
actions have to be reinterpreted and canon Rey’s storyline shoved aside in favour
These six issues are my main reasons to stay
away from the Reylo fandom. I have mostly experienced it as a toxic space for
reasons that go beyond the usual shipper war problems. Even though I have read
some of the theories and tried to stay open-minded… it was simply not possible
looking at all the problematic and sometimes downright disgusting things that
were happening all around. I only hope for the sake of Star Wars that Reylo
stays nothing but a fanon ship and that this will somewhat calm down the
situation. Canon Reylo could give power to people who clearly should not have any.