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Star Wars Casting: Is Disney Pulling a Jedi Mind Trick?

Some viral marketing genius might be in the midst of an epic promotion, playing on the prejudices of the public to hype the next Star Wars.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

May 1, 2014 - 7:52 am
Star Wars new leading lady, Daisy Ridley,

Star Wars new leading lady, Daisy Ridley,

We might be witnessing one of the most clever viral marketing schemes of all time. Could there be method behind the madness surrounding the casting of Star Wars Episode VII?

Lucasfilm, now a subsidiary of Disney, dropped their big casting announcement on Tuesday. Along with “the Big Three” of the original trilogy – Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford – the cast of new characters included several men and only one woman, the virtually unknown Daisy Ridley. By Wednesday, Movieplot was reporting on a wave of anti-patriarchal indignation rolling across social media. A sample:

Eliza Thompson at Cosmopolitan wrote:

There is absolutely no reason why there can’t be new characters added to account for the lack of women in the original trilogy and the newer trilogy.

Annalee Newitz at IO9 quite elegantly wrote:

Myths are powerful things, because we learn who we are by telling stories. When are we going to let little girls and kids of diverse races have fantasies as powerful as those given to white boys?

Here’s the rub. Wednesday also saw a second announcement from Lucasfilm indicating that a second female cast member was yet to be revealed. This proves noteworthy not just in light of the backlash over too few women in the cast, but because previous casting rumors indicated a very different direction than Daisy Ridley. The Huffington Post expounds:

Daisy Ridley appears to have nabbed the role that at one point had Lupita Nyong’o in talks with director J.J. Abrams, as she and Carrie Fisher are the only actresses announced for the movie. More recently, British newcomer Maisie Richardson-Sellers was also reportedly tied to the part, which was described as a “young black or mixed-race woman who may be a descendent of Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi.”

What if HuffPo has it wrong? What if the role Ridley secured was different than the one Nyong’o and Richardson-Sellers were considered for? With “Star Wars Day” approaching on May 4th, are we about to see confirmation of a young black woman in the next Star Wars?

YouTube Preview Image

If so, this could be one of the most brilliant viral marketing moves seen in a while. It would have been preconceived to exploit the knee-jerk reactions of progressive culture warriors. Intentionally release news of a male dominant cast. Get the headlines from the announcement. Foster buzz from social backlash. Then announce a black female cast member days later, on a Sunday no less, and dominate Monday with a fresh set of headlines. If someone’s doing this on purpose, they’re a Jedi master of earned media.

Director J.J. Abrams is well known for playing elaborate tricks on fans as part of his marketing of projects. Could he be the force binding this scheme together?

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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Top Rated Comments   
I for one am offended at the casting. Half of the cast should be women, 12% should be black, 5% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and 72% caucasian. And I don't see any Wookiees cast either, nor Ewoks or Gungans. Racist! JJ Abrams is racist!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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When will they finally quit ignoring transgendered pacific islanders and gay magyars?

And how dare they have a plot that does not include gay marriage and galaxy climate change!
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Swap some parts out on 3PO and voila' mechanofeminist twofer.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Given the combination of JJ Abrams, Disney, and the original stars who have aged far beyond believability to play the characters; and they can try any marketing ploy that they want. I deliberately missed the second two of the three "prequels", and I'm pretty sure I can muster the effort to miss the sequels. I enjoyed the original three. That will have to suffice.

Subotai Bahadur
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
There hasn't been an enjoyable Star Wars movie since 1980. Can't we stick a fork in the force and call it a day.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meh…I’m not interested in seeing any of the new cast members. There’s nothing wrong with them, I guess, just no one I actively want to see. I wish they had cast one or two fan favorites from a genre TV show.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
There were too many organics and not enough robots in the lead roles.

But I'm looking forward to seeing Yoda meet Mickey.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I for one am offended at the casting. Half of the cast should be women, 12% should be black, 5% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and 72% caucasian. And I don't see any Wookiees cast either, nor Ewoks or Gungans. Racist! JJ Abrams is racist!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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