• Hollywood insider Matthew Beloni insists Kathleen Kennedy’s “woke” reputation is a nonsense.
  • Looking at Lucasfilm under Kennedy, he seems to have a point.
  • It appears that “wokeness” is in the eye of the beholder.

Hollywood industry insider Matthew Beloni has insisted Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, often a subject of criticism in the Star Wars fandom, is no “woke warrior.” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has come in for heavy criticism in some corners of the Star Wars fandom, considered responsible for supposedly “woke” Disney projects. Even South Park mocked Kathleen Kennedy, in a special called “Joining the Panderverse.”

Now, Hollywood industry insider Matthew Beloni has directly addressed these claims, which he insists aren’t accurate. As he explains on his The Town podcast:

“But Kathleen Kennedy is not… That whole ‘South Park’ thing was… It was funny, but it wasn’t accurate.
Within Disney, she’s not known as the ‘woke warrior.’
She kind of has to be convinced, from everything I’ve been told, she kind of has to be convinced to do this stuff.”

It must be noted that Beloni is no fan of Kennedy, but in his view this whole argument is a nonsense. As he notes, there has never been a female director of a Star Wars movie – including in the Disney era. “I don’t think she’s gone overboard on the diversity stuff,” Beloni insists.


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Has Star Wars Become “Woke?”

In truth, it’s difficult to evaluate whether Star Wars is truly “woke” under Kennedy. It doesn’t help that the term is infamously difficult to pin down, and often seems to be a way of complaining against surface-level changes that some viewers object to – most notably a focus on female protagonists, people of color, and LGBTQI+ representation. For all that’s the case, though, the diversity that has been seen of late is surprisingly limited. Daisy Ridley may star in the sequels, but almost all other major Star Wars sequel trilogy characters are male, and so were the two directors.

The same pattern can be seen on the various Disney+ TV shows. The Mandalorian is centered around a male character (who is set to star in the upcoming Star Wars movieThe Mandalorian & Grogu), Obi-Wan Kenobi brought back male actors Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, while Andor stars Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Nods to LGBTQI+ plots have often been a matter of audience perception rather than reality, with the popular Sabine Wren / Shin Hati ship from Ahsoka seeming to be a surprise to showrunner Dave Filoni.

Lucasfilm is, fundamentally, a business – and Kennedy is a businesswoman.

The reality is probably a little more prosaic than many critical parts of the fanbase believe; that Kennedy is willing to embrace “woke” messaging when it fits the story and she believes it will help an individual movie or TV show. But this is carefully balanced against business interests; it’s no coincidence transgender clone troopers have only been mentioned in tie-in novels, not movies or TV shows, while Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s lesbian kiss was in the background and easy to cut for certain territories. Lucasfilm is, fundamentally, a business – and Kennedy is a businesswoman.

The Acolyte Will Put The “Woke Warrior” Claim To The Test

What will Leslye Headland’s Disney+ TV show be like?

The next Star Wars Disney+ TV show, The Acolyte, will be an interesting test-case. The Acolyte showrunner Leslyle Headland is intensely controversial, but the quotes that have generated an online furor have often been ripped out of context, making it seem as though she’s largely under attack simply because she is a queer woman running a Star Wars TV show. In one case, portions of the Star Wars fanbase reacted against Headland claiming the show was LGBTQI+-friendly – when she simultaneously said she was inspired by the relationship between siblings Anna and Elsa in Frozen.

Given this is the case, it wouldn’t be surprising if Star Wars‘ “wokeness” really does lie in the eye of the beholder. The Acolyte will probably prove things one way or another, because Headland does seem to be the most willing to embrace the kind of identity politics often described as “woke,” but there’s currently no evidence those will be found in The Acolyte. Viewers will be able to make up their own minds – or watch the online fireworks – when the show debuts on June 5.

Source: The Town

Star Wars the Acolyte Poster Showing a Sith Standing Atop a Cliff Looking at the Sunrise

The Acolyte

The Acolyte is a television series set in the Star Wars universe at the end of the High Republic Era, where both the Jedi and the Galactic Empire were at the height of their influence. This sci-fi thriller sees a former Padawan reunite with her former Jedi Master as they investigate several crimes – all leading to darkness erupting from beneath the surface and preparing to bring about the end of the High Republic.

Dafne Keen , Lee Jung-jae , Amandla Stenberg , Jodie Turner-Smith , Joonas Suotamo , Carrie-Anne Moss , Margarita Levieva , Charlie Barnett , Dean-Charles Chapman

Streaming Service(s)

Leslye Headland , Charmaine De Grate , Kor Adana

Leslye Headland , Alex Garcia Lopez

Leslye Headland

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