John Boyega is one of the new keepers of the Star Wars franchise. And he has some pretty big shoes to fill. And a great responsibility on his shoulders. But does that mean he shouldn't kick back and have a little fun? Well, guess that all depends on what your definition of fun is. Boyega recently shot a video of himself having a blast at a European carnival, putting himself out there in ways some believe he shouldn't. Now, the actor has responded. And guess what? He thinks his naysayers are all wrong about what went down.
John Boyega is embroiled in a debate that has hardcore feminist fans of the Star Wars franchise in an uproar, while others are defining Boyega's actions, claiming that anyone who is against John Boyega's video is being extremely insensitive to the culture it represents. One can be the judge after they view the video for themselves, which is included in the embed below.
The video in question, which Boyega posted to his own Instagram account, shows the Star Wars actor sexually grinding against a scantily clad female dancer decked out in Caribbean attire during a celebration in London last week. Some think these images are demeaning to female fans of the franchise. Others are dismissing those claims, calling out racism and cultural insensitivity. And it all certainly opens up a world of discussion in terms of where we're at in social media at the moment. The biggest one being: If you're so against what is being shown, why do you keep embedding it on your own Social Media to show others? Whatever the situation, that in itself is just plain hyper-contradictory. Shoving stuff into everyone's face that you claim is causing you distress is just weird practice.
The event that John Boyega participated in was the annual Notting Hill Carnival. John Boyega is of consenting age at 25. The dancer, who was much older, did not reveal her age, but was not only a willing participant, initiated the dance. The carnival is Europe's largest street festival. It is a parade and celebration honoring London's Caribbean communities and traditions. And it's been happening since 1964.
John Boyega stars as Finn in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He is an AWOL Stormtrooper who finds himself on a secret mission for the Resistance to destroy a Mega Star Destroyer and help restore peace and order to the galaxy. The movie has a few months left to go, but this 11 second bump-and-grind clip arrives on the eve of Force Friday 2, when everyone will be hyper focused on the new movie. Here, Boyega has ditched his Poe Dameron jacket for a camouflage top with cut-off sleeves and shorts. A black bandanna tied around his neck. He is obviously enjoying his free time away from the set, as he sexually engages with the woman, who is dressed in a traditional bikini and headdress. The two make full contact. And perhaps it is a little R rated for the younger Star Wars crowd.
The full-contact dance has been around for generations. It is either called 'Wining' or 'Whining', and it has a rich tradition in the Caribbean culture. It originated during the 18th Century at the Jamette carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago. The video, however, arrives at a time when everyone on social media is hypersensitive to just about everything. A strong feminist force has been rallying strong lately against the Slave Leia bikini scenes in Return of the Jedi. And now they have this to contend with. They are finding it all a little unsettling. One Twitter user had this to say.
"It's not funny. Can you imagine strong females like Padme, Leia or Rey in a similar situation? I can't."
John Boyega was born in London to Nigerian parents. And his family is known for honoring traditions such as the one seen at this carnival. While fans have already started to express their disdain for the actions of Boyega, he had this to say in response to that Tweet in particular.
"Yep! Rey would back it up!!!!! Wooooooiiiiiii!"
He followed this up with two back-to-back cry-laughing emojis. So he's taking it all in stride, and refuses to court anyone who slammed his actions as inappropriate, trolling them as best he could. Some Twitter users have rallied in Boyega's favor. One woman explained, "Don't let me find John Boyega at carnival, I'll be throwing all the booty on him!" To which the actor replied, "Oooooo damn. I receive it!" Boyega then retweeted an animated gif of a woman's bouncing buttocks, keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing.
Perhaps the strongest opponent coming out against John Boyega is a 50-year old Spanish man who wishes to remain anonymous. He claims to be a Star Wars fan since the age of 11. And he's actually pretty angry with the way John Boyega has responded to the fan backlash thus far. He says this to The Hollywood Reporter.
"John is free to have fun any way he wants. But he is a public character, and in my opinion should take care of what he puts in his social networks. I think he has to preserve the legacy of the most important film saga ever. When I saw the images, I thought of the millions of children that follow John and how they would interpret those images."
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is likely to sympathize with that point of view, and the Star Wars brand has been protected with an iron first since Disney acquired it back in 2012. She has not yet given her take on the situation publicly though. Reps for Boyega and Lucasfilm have not responded to a request for comment. However you may fall on this sure to be forgotten controversy, there are fans on both sides of the fence who believe they are right. Did Boyega do the right thing here? Is it okay for Star Wars actors to have a little bit of sexy fun? Or are we all so repressed at this stage in our own galaxy that we can't separate the actions of a young twenty-something and the confused space cowboy he plays in a space movie aimed at kids? Or, wait...Is that the very point? We're all so confused.