Is That Racist? – Chinese ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Poster

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Yesterday a picture surfaced containing a side by side comparison of the UK Star Wars the Force Awakens Poster and the Chinese version. There are some very noticeable differences, the one that the majority of people notice being that Finn, played by John Boyega, takes up much less space on the Chinese poster in comparison to the UK Poster. With this notice comes the assumed hot button issue of racism.

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I am very vocal about racism in the industry, read my piece The Minority Quota  I wrote when they killed BJ Britt on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s also the seeming one for one kill and replace a minority rule on The Walking Dead, Emma Stone playing a mixed Asian character in Aloha, and the worst offender Dragon Ball Evolution. I have a good understanding of racism, and have dealt with it my entire life. I am 6’ 4” and Asian, and have been told at an audition in search for an Asian male that they wanted “Asian, Asian.” I also constantly deal with having to justify my being American with a prefix because ignorant people refuse to accept that I am American. I would say I have a deep grasp on the subject that isn’t based out of ignorance and hate.

Which brings me to conclude after much deliberation, the Chinese Star Wars poster is NOT RACIST. Here’s why I say that, and you can agree or disagree, racism is a pretty American thing; other countries don’t innately follow black people around a store, in fact in China they are more likely to think a black person is a celebrity and treat them with extreme kindness (know from experience). The reason Finn/Boyega is downplayed on the poster is the same reason BB8 is bigger: it is what appeals to the Chinese movie going audience. John Boyega is not an extremely well known actor, personally I only know him from Attack the Block which is not a movie that is even widely known in America. China is a huge movie going audience that raves over technology. They are the reason for the success of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. They are also the reason so many movies are converted into 3D; you can tell by how prominent 3D and IMAX3D are on the Chinese poster in comparison to the UK one.

The Chinese audience is a huge market that is often specially catered to; Iron Man 3 has a whole subplot not featured in the American version about a Chinese doctor who removes the arc reactor from his chest. Also if you noticed the influx of movies that have scenes take that place in China and other Asian countries, these movies do so to be considered a Chinese/local film rather than an American import. This is a big deal since China limits the number of imported films they wide release. The point is: a lot of concessions and considerations are made when it comes to the Chinese audience.

 

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When looking at the poster comparison, most are looking under the American influenced view of racism. I do not hold this against anyone, and I know how personal the issue is for many as well as how big of an issue it currently is in the industry, but there are always other factors at play especially considering it is another country. I highly doubt there was some designer and marketer who said “make the black guy smaller; Chinese people don’t like black people.” They are putting the focus on what appeals to the audience.

A counter point to my stance is that Lupita Nyong’o’s character was also removed, but I raise those who disagree with me: Chewbacca. Chewbacca is highly regarded and associated with the Star Wars franchise, yet he is not featured on the Chinese poster along with Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata. Take another look, Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron is also not featured. However, the Chinese poster has one more Starship, 3 more X-Wings, 9 more Tie Fighers, and hundreds of more Storm Troopers. Yet no one is saying anything about that.

The key to understanding the situation is knowing that 3 characters were not removed from the UK poster to make the Chinese poster, or a bunch of other ships and vehicles were added to it, it is that there are 3 characters featured on UK poster that are not featured on the Chinese one. The wording dictates the understanding. These posters were created around the same time to promote the movie to their respective audiences. One poster was not created then altered in an ignorant racist act of marketing.

The Chinese Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster is NOT RACIST. It is an advertisement designed congruently with the UK one, from the same stock pool of images provided, aimed to appeal to the Chinese movie going audience. It is important to understand that both posters feature different aspects of the film, rather than one poster missing (and reducing) elements of the other.

Agree with me or dont? Leave a comment or get at me directly @FenixDy

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