Trevor Noah spent six minutes of The Daily Show Tuesday night riffing on the online protests against the casting of a black stormtrooper in the upcoming Star Wars film. “Stop complaining, racists,” the host said. “You had your Star Wars movie already.” The screen displayed an image of CGI character Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace.
A small subset of white supremacists expressed their indignation about the casting of actor John Boyega, who is black, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens by using the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII. USA Today reported that some Twitter users claimed the film promoted “white genocide.”
On The Daily Show, Noah looked to the program’s “Senior Fantasy Culture Correspondent” Jordan Klepper, who explained both humorously and seriously why it was OK – in Star Wars terms – for a stormtrooper to be black. “They were clones originally, so while it might not initially make sense, after the battle of Kamino [in Star Wars: The Clone Wars], the Emperor began recruiting a variety of ethnic templates,” he said. “So it’s totally fine canonically.”
“I didn’t understand any of that,” Noah said. “But is it fine ethically?”
“What, cast a black person?” Klepper replied. “Yeah, of course. How is that even a question? Science fiction is powerful because it envisions a future for all of us. It’s an allegory for the people that we can become.”
Noah also used the show to joke about comic book fans’ reaction to cast black actor Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, “The Human Torch,” in The Fantastic Four earlier this year. “So the ‘Flame’ had blond hair and blue eyes,” he said. “But he can also set himself on fire. What’s more black than that?” The screen then showed a split image of Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor.
On Monday, The Force Awakens’ director, J.J. Abrams, posted a note on Twitter in anticipation of a racist backlash. “We cannot wait to share the trailer with you tonight,” he wrote. “I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, Jawa, Wookiee, Jedi or Sith. I just hope you like it!”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will come out on December 18th.