If you happen to follow Star Wars intently enough, i.e., familiar with recent Star Wars Expanded Universe books, then you may have noticed two things about the latest novel, a lead-in to The Force Awakens:
This makes for a hazardous syllogism, highlighting where—not why—gay characters don’t belong in Star Wars.
Gay characters don’t belong in the Star Wars universe as shields against criticism. And that’s it. They’re fine otherwise, and I’m not here to argue why they shouldn’t belong.
But in place as “criticism-deflectors?” No.
Aftermath is picking up its share of positives for people who like the author’s style, fresh takes on Star Wars, and appetite-whetting for the new film. There’s also a share of folks detracting for that same writing style, plotting, the novel’s artistic merit, and gay characters.
Fair enough, unless the narrative becomes “You’re a Homophobe if you Don’t Like Star Wars Aftermath.”
That’s not fair to the art of criticism, the author, his work, his reviewers, the gay community, the Star Wars community, the gay Star Wars community, or anyone. If gay characters are shielding a work from otherwise fair criticism, then you’re doing it wrong. (As for unfair feedback? Also doing it wrong.)
Here’s a hypothetical: think back to The Phantom Menace, everyone’s favorite Star Wars prequel, with its numerous criticisms. Anakin. Jar Jar Binks. Midichlorians. The amazing dialogue. Jar Jar Binks.
If a single line of dialogue had made Qui-Gon Jinn the first openly-homosexual Jedi Knight, would critical opinion of the film have changed? Should it have? Would it not be reckless to assert that “You Only Hate the Prequels Because You’re a Bigot”?
Gay characters will—and do—have their place in Star Wars canon. Just not as the deflector shields for critical turbolasers.