Star Wars Resistance to End After Two Seasons (and We’re Real Mad About It)

By Kate Sedor announced the return of The Emmy-Nominated series Star Wars Resistance on October 6th, 2019 to the Disney Channel today. Sadly, we also learned that this will be the final season as well.

The news about Star Wars Resistance is heartbreaking for many of us who care about diversity and inclusion in the wider franchise. The show, anchored by a main cast featuring mostly actors and characters of color, was a thrilling breath of fresh air in a galaxy still heavily populated by white, straight, cis, able-bodied men. Neurodivergent fans have also noted that Neeku displays traits similar to folks on the autism spectrum (although this is one area where the show has notably fallen short in terms of respectful portrayals).

These characters, most importantly, were allowed to be complex, morally ambiguous, conflicted and in conflict. Tam Ryvora is one notable example; her defection from the Colossus to the First Order was not a sudden flip from “Good” to “Evil,” but the reasonable choice presented to a person feeling betrayed by her found family and unsure of what is true. Torra Doza, a fan favorite, is perhaps the first female Latinx character in Star Wars, and even this happy-go-lucky ace pilot has to contend with her family’s dark Imperial past. The show’s treatment of these fascinating women is, mercifully, a far cry from, say, Val’s nonsensical fridging in Solo, or even the complete nerfing of Padme Amidala’s character in Revenge of the Sith.

Even behind the scenes of Resistance, it’s obvious that representation was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Showrunner Justin Ridge has said one of the show’s goals is to emphasize “character diversity,” a thought that has also been echoed by executive producer Athena Portillo. It’s one of the reasons why Resistance‘s actors love the show: Bobby Moynihan, who plays Orka, a character who has been coded as queer, highlighted the show’s diversity during the official Star Wars Celebration Chicago panel, and Christopher Sean, who has been a vocal advocate for Asian-American representation throughout his career, has repeatedly mentioned inclusion as being one of the show’s strengths.

Resistance might not be a perfect show, but in terms of diversity, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of almost everything else Lucasfilm has released recently or has in the works.

So, what does its ending mean for fans from underrepresented groups? It’s hard to say.

Sure, Del Rey has lately been doing a marvelous job on the representation front, and we’re beyond excited to see Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian. But the question is, what next? Movie series helmed by Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones‘ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, respectively? It’s hard to say we’re thrilled about any of these developments, all of which received significantly more fanfare than Resistance, a show that was relegated to a late-night time slot on a kids’ channel; received not nearly as much marketing as Star Wars Rebels or the upcoming final season of The Clone Wars (a show, it should be noted, that is beloved of white Star Wars bros); and had a Celebration panel time that almost seemed like an afterthought. The unequal treatment the show received from Lucasfilm higher-ups is blatant and disappointing.

Star Wars Resistance remains a beacon of what the galaxy far, far away could look like–and what it could look like is all of us. We hope to see its characters pop up in other prominent places in the franchise. More than that, we hope it’s just the beginning of a larger push for diversity at Lucasfilm…but we’ll be honest: We’re not holding our breath.

REVIEW: Vader Immortal, Episode 1 – Vader May Be Immortal, But Is He Accessible?

By Chris Sedor

A few months ago, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB introduced the world to Vader Immortal, their trilogy of virtual reality Star Wars experiences starring the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. With episodes II and III coming soon, VR as a new storytelling medium seems firmly entrenched in the galaxy far, far away. And why not? Who doesn’t love swinging a lightsaber and using the Force from their living room?

Those who can’t, probably.

For all of Vader Immortal’s achievements — and it certainly is an impressive experience — the simple fact is that very few Star Wars fans will ever have the chance to experience it, due to the prohibitive cost of buying the game and the physical demands of playing it.After all, Vader Immortal takes way more than the $10 download to actually play the game. It requires an Oculus Quest, a brand new, standalone VR headset that retails for $400. While that may be a standard entry fee for a new gaming console these days, buying a brand new piece of technology that there’s no guarantee of playing for more than an hour is a far cry from investing in the next Playstation, which by its very nature comes with games and technology to make the purchase worth it. $410 for a one-hour experience with Episode I (you can spend extra time in the Lightsaber Dojo, but the plot itself is relatively short) is a price that only a select few can pay, limiting accessibility to the  awe of fighting alongside Lord Vader only to those in top income brackets.

Even more limiting is the technology itself. I, personally, had a blast playing through the story, parrying attacks with my saber and pulling levers to jump to lightspeed. I’ve spent multiple hours working my way through the Dojo, keeping on my toes as enemies surround me on all sides. The problem is: I’m an able-bodied man with the physical ability to stand for an hour at a time. If you aren’t, your experience will be quite different.

While I’m sure there are many out there who could work through the physical limitations, it seems nearly impossible for someone with limited mobility — or no mobility at all — to perform the walking, turning, and slashing required to play this game (though he wrote this piece before Vader Immortal came out, A.J. Ryan at walks through the myriad concerns that VR presents for people with disabilities). And even for those who are physically able to stand and walk, a lack of fine motor controls in the arms or hands could lead to dangerous collisions with walls or furniture (I’ve absolutely hit a wall or two in the heat of the moment). Vertigo, for those who suffer from it, would be an issue as well — looking out over the Mustafar lava fields and “balancing” your way across a maintenance pipe are realistic to the point of being dizzying for those who are unprepared.

All of these limitations add up to create an experience that only the financially and physically privileged can actually play: the upper crust of Star Wars fandom, as it were. Even the game’s demo at Star Wars Celebration Chicago could only be played by a select few who were able to run to the ticket line early enough in the morning to reserve a time (and those were the fans who could afford to be there at all).

Vader Immortal is, by any measure, a crowning technological achievement and a giant leap forward for the potential of Star Wars stories. It is a truly unique experience that puts you in the middle of the action, and makes even a cynic like me feel like we’re truly living it. And that’s a good thing; as a Star Wars fan, I want Lucasfilm to push the envelope. I want them to do things I didn’t know were possible and, to borrow from another fandom, to take Star Wars and the media of storytelling where they’ve never gone before.

But as we move into this exciting future, and creators get so caught up determining whether they can do something, it’s fair to ask who gets left behind. Star Wars is universal — it has been since 1977 when kids and adults around the world watched in awe as Luke blew up the Death Star. If the franchise loses those shared experiences that bind fans together as closely as does the Force itself, it runs the risk of not being a global phenomenon anymore. If Star Wars leaves lower-income or disabled fans behind, then the Emperor has already won.

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