Trying to argue Star Wars isn’t political is like arguing it doesn’t take place in space. You can’t remove one from the other. But thanks to a recent boycott movement, Disney’s CEO Robert Iger had to comment on the supposed political statements in the soon-to-be-released Rogue One. The Hollywood Reporter asked Iger about the recent ridiculous boycott from deplorable-types dubbed #DumpStarWars. He rightly called it “silly” and that the story itself was “overblown.” Iger also added that the diversity of the film, praised by many, was not a political statement in and of itself but went a bit further. “Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy. It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film,” he told THR. “There are no political statements in it, at all.”
I would have to disagree with that part. Star Wars is inherently political and was designed as such by George Lucas. Democracy and dictatorships are prominent themes. The first film alone centers on a fear-mongering regime trying to conquer the universe and a band of rebels trying to free everyone from its grip. In the commentary track to Empire Strikes Back, Lucas says “The Nazis are basically the same costume as we used in the first film and they are designed to be very authoritarian, very empire-like.” And costume designer John Mollo spoke of the creator’s directives, “First of all, he wanted the Imperial people to look efficient, totalitarian, fascist; and the Rebels, the goodies, to look like something out of a Western or the U.S. Marines.”
We knew a Galactic Senate existed but a large portion of the prequels literally took place in the Senate building watching political choices being made. Watching the rise of the Empire, how it happened despite the intentions of some “good” people, has clear allegorical parallels to our world history. The Supreme Chancellor was elected! That is politics. Lucas himself has said very plainly, “While the psychological basis of Star Wars is mythological, the political and social bases are historical.” It’s what makes this boycott so strange. The lessons we’re meant to take from Star Wars are pretty obvious.
Post our latest U.S. election, Rogue One writers Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta tweeted sentiments comparing Star Wars to our current political landscape. Being a creator doesn’t mean being apolitical and one’s personal beliefs and experiences influence their work without a doubt. But perhaps Iger is trying to be more literal with his statements for the sake of dousing an already blazing fire. He could simply be trying to get across that Rogue One has no political statements because it doesn’t reference liberals, conservatives, or Donald Trump. Which, of course it doesn’t, but that won’t stop some from seeing similarities.
Matt Miller at Esquire puts it quite well, “[Star Wars is] a vague battle of good and evil, where the evil side is led by a violent, totalitarian overlord that was originally modeled after the Third Reich in 1930s Germany. If this image happens to resemble our current militaristic and xenophobic president-elect, then that’s a fault of his movement rather than writers who used a cliche for ‘evil’ that’s been around since the mid-20th century.”
So is Rogue One political? Yes, that’s how it’s always been intended to come across. It’s not promoting an agenda but rather common sense.