Inclusion, Representation, and Diversity in Star Wars. What does that even mean? And once we figure out what it means…what’s representation got to do with Star Wars anyway? Traditionally Star Wars fans are primarily straight white men, like me. Star Wars is an escape from our daily life, and we escape to a world that fits, and feels comfortable. A world where the rakish smuggler gets the princess. Anakin whines his way into Padme’s heart. Cool.
What if you’re not straight? Or white? Or not male. What does representation mean for you?
Growing up, the question everyone asked was “why is there only one black person in Star Wars?” We were aware enough of representation and diversity to notice that in the 80’s. How could you not. Kenner produced two Bespin security guard figures, one black and one white, seemingly to boost the roster a bit. That only served to underline the fact there were very few minorities in Star Wars.
Fast forward to the teaser for ‘Force Awakens’ and the shock from certain sectors that a stormtrooper might not be white under his white armour was quite embarrassing. Even though a main cast member is now black, we don’t seem to have come very far after all these years. Leia and Padme carried the flag for the ladies of Star Wars, and absolutely smashed it. Mother and daughter have earned their place in the strong women of fantasy hall of fame, without giving up femininity, or compassion, intelligence and grace. Again though like Finn, they are very much a minority.
Disney has been criticised…frankly for everything they have done, and not done in producing the sequels. A recent trailer has drawn more fire for a glimpse of a whiteboard featuring the word diversity twice. Disney also included a lesbian kiss in the closing moments of Rise Of Skywalker, which passed largely without comment in the west. It was however most unwelcome elsewhere. The LGBT people I’ve spoken to about that kiss, were either not impressed or felt it was hamfisted and reinforced negative stereotypes. Similarly Chuck Wendigs Aftermath trilogy had at least five gay characters, and again drew a lot of backlash for pushing the gay agenda, whatever that is.
Where official attempts at representation have been less than successful, the fan community however, has been thriving and created a different reality for itself. A galaxy full of positivity, love, and above all a sense of fun. My education in the world of slashfic, crossfic, and shipping happened almost by chance when I found myself in front of a display of artwork by Russian artists brought together by Rita, a passionate Star Wars fan.
Rita, the proprietor of Rita’s Russian Shop is bubbly and speaks enthusiastically about the co-op she has created. ‘I have become friends with many Russian ficwriters and artists over the last few years, from Star Wars and other fandoms. There is so little merchandise that caters to the ‘ships’, mostly it’s kids stuff that is sold in Disney stores and parks. So for us, being big fans of the Kylux ship and General Hux in particular, that was too sad!’
‘We decided to fill that hole with our own things for us and other fans to keep and enjoy! our range includes prints and cards with our favorite characters, as well as metal and wooden pin badges, stickers and acrylic standees! We even designed a t-shirt with our favorite ginger! Our love (of these characters) is very inclusive of all genders, colours and ages! We only advocate for equality!’
Artists who might not have found an audience, or who may not have even thought about going into business are introduced by Rita to the world at large. The results are amazing and the work is hungrily devoured by Rita’s customers.
Looking over the art on display, there are many intensely erotic pairings of Hux and Ren, as well as other auxiliary characters like Driver’s Matt The Radar Technician, and Gleesons, Clan Techie from 2012’s Dredd, both of whom interact in a number of pairings. Most commonly in what shipping circles refer to as Techienician – Matt and Clan Techie in love. Taking the idea further are genderswaps of various iterations such as Kylo dressed as Padme, Hux as Black Swan, and on and on. Hux or more correctly Domhnall Gleeson and his characters seem central to this world, and feature prominently in fanart, including the delightful idea that Hux has a ginger cat called Millie. I’m on board with that, and my head canon is now updated to include her just off screen.
The Artists shown here, Ekatheartist, Aldo-n-canp and Blackkingsdream.
Paper and Digital Artist Ekatheartist is from Rostov-on-Don (southern Russia), works as an illustrator and an artist. She loves Kylux and Reylo. Plus absolutely adores the twins Luke and Leia in the original Star Wars still loved by millions. “With Eka’s help we’ve published a book!”
Aldo-n-canp is from Novosibirsk (Siberia), most of her art is digital but some are paper drawings. Amazing, interesting and funny, she can do it all! Lover of the dark side! Kylux and Techienician are her favorites.
Amazing Russian Artist Blackkingsdream lives in the city of Samara.
She loves Star Wars but is an absolute Kylux fan! She also paints animals, people and any requests!
Very kind, fun and accommodating!
Please support these fantastic artists. You can shop via their links above.