One of the weird things about Disney’s Star Wars is how damn chaste the whole thing is. Pretty much every major character in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is hinted at being interested in a relationship with someone, only for the film to swerve at the last minute and deny them.
So, we get Poe’s dead-end flirting with Zorii Bliss, Finn repeatedly about to confess his love for Rey, Kylo and Rey finally smooching only for one of them to drop dead immediately and the apparently corporate squashing of the flirting between Finn and Poe. It’s a bit depressing that the only person we know is getting some is the gross old Emperor!
Anyway, for all these reasons, it’s probably not surprising that The Rise of Skywalker glossed over its much-trumpeted gay kiss. This came during the final celebratory moments of the movie and saw Commander D’Acy and her wife (whose identities you will only know from the film’s tie-in books) kissing in the background.
Abrams has now been accused of pandering with this moment and the director recently addressed the criticism, saying the following:
“It just felt like in this one scene of celebration, it felt like an opportunity to show [an LGBT kiss] without it being heavy-handed or making too loud of a deal. Part of the whole experience was to see a same-sex couple have a moment together that was explicitly saying in this galaxy, everyone is there and is welcome. It doesn’t matter your sexual preference, your race, your species, whether you’re organic, whether you’re synthetic – Star Wars is for everyone. And knowing that there hadn’t been a representation like that, it doesn’t take away from anyone. It just shows that Star Wars is for all of us.”
I’m not exactly a huge fan of Red Letter Media, but they coined an absolutely perfect expression for this sort of thing: “passive progressive.” Perhaps I’m just getting a bit cynical, but this kiss feels like a way for Disney to score easy ‘woke points’ without actually having to risk anything. For all their rhapsodizing about representation, they’re also quick to edit the scene out in markets that aren’t so gay-friendly.
I guess this is a step up from the argument a decade ago that there simply weren’t gay characters in Star Wars. But box-ticking exercises like this really don’t do anyone involved any good.