The first face we see in the recently released teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that of John Boyega, who is in stormtrooper attire sans helmet. He pops up on the screen against a desert landscape, sweating and breathing heavy, looking as though he’s confused or scared, possibly after crash-landing on the planet.
While Boyega’s character in the upcoming Star Wars sequel is unknown at this time and whether he’s a force of good or evil is also a mystery, we do know that the 22-year-old British actor has a lead role in the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While criticism of the new Star Wars film is not surprising, considering the rabidness of its fan base and its high expectations, what came out of the teaser trailer release was not only millions of fan opinions, but also the online trending topic “#BlackStormtrooper” on social media and news aggregating sites, which refers to black actor Boyega in the stormtrooper uniform. Some people likened Boyega’s introduction in the trailer to Space Balls, the 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars spoof that included black stormtrooper-like soldiers “combing” a desert landscape with a hair pick — I’ll admit, Boyega’s jarring pop-up onto the scene did seem at first like it was some kind of gag, but not because he’s a black man in a stormtrooper uniform, but rather because it was more Indiana Jones than Star Wars in feel. Some fans complained because they thought that all stormtroopers should have the face of Jango Fett, while others spouted racist comments (not uncommon for the Internet, unfortunately).
Boyega, who made a name for himself in Joe Cornish’s 2011 alien invasion flick Attack the Block, should be riding high on the fact that he’s a lead star of the highly anticipated seventh Star Wars film, and it seems that he is. The actor took to his Instagram account (@jboyega) this weekend to post a message thanking the fans for their support and told those “To whom it may concern” – presumably, the haters – to “Get used to it.” See Boyega’s full message here below:
Soon after the trailer hit on Friday morning, fan art began to sprout up online, one of which was a design by artist Phil Noto of Boyega and co-star Daisy Ridley, who also made her debut in the teaser. Check out the art here below.
We’re glad to see Boyega is taking things in stride, but it’s still sad that we’re almost in 2015 and the racist bullshit is not only prevalent, but also thriving on social media sites, where anonymity provides a platform for such ignorance.