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Benicio del Toro as DJ. Photograph originally for Vanity Fair. 
Benicio del Toro as DJ. Photograph originally for Vanity Fair. 

Latinos in Space: 'The Last Jedi' brings Two to The Big Screen

"This is not going to go the way you think." 

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Whoosh, zwomp, schwing, zoom.

How exactly does one write the sound that a lightsaber makes as it swiftly slices through a planetary foe?

Watching the latest, most detailed (and, somehow the most confusing) trailer of the eighth installment of the Star Wars Saga- The Last Jedi -has gotten 24 million of us thrilled and at the precipice of our office chairs, ready for more cosmic battles, training sessions ending in existential crises, and truths about protagonists shrouded by mystery to be revealed. Also, maybe why porgs have come to replace BB-8 as the “cute, small, roundish thing that expresses spunk by making babyish sounds” that Disney will be marketing to the youngins in their flagship stores.

Fans may not be revealed the twists and turns the new episode’s story arc until mid-December, but they can at least discover who is joining- or who remained alive -in the epic universal tale of Good versus Evil, Light versus Dark set in a galaxy far, far away.

Poe Dameron, played by the Golden Globe nominated Guatemalan-Cuban actor Oscar Isaac, maintains an important presence as a pilot in The Resistance, as is evident by his voice-over a rapid-fire montage of explosions and fighter planes colliding:

We are the spark that’ll light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down.

Notorious defector of the New Republic’s starfleet, Dameron moves up the ranks and becomes one of General Leia Organa’s confidantes. His relationship with Leia, played posthumously by the late Carrie Fisher (and I suspect a dash of CGI and movie magic), may indicate that his role will become imperative as the alluded tension between Kylo Ren and Leia climaxes, likely ending in matricide. Could the most trusted operative of the late rebellious Princess become the new General of The Resistance?

The next Latino in the principal cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a newcomer with decades of experience- and the awards on his shelf to prove it. Benicio del Toro, Puerto Rican actor with dual citizenship in The United States and Spain, will be introducing a “shrouded, devious” figure to the LucasFilm realm, who goes by the name of “DJ”.

Not much is known about del Toro’s character, as he is not referred to or panned to at any time throughout the trailer, but entertainment sources online have spilled that DJ will be “shifty”, and will have prominence in the mission that Finn (John Boyega) embarks on to the “wealthy, gambling resort city of Canto Bight” along with another newcomer, Rose (Kelly Marie Train).  

However, I should note that this headline is a tad misleading. Yes, del Toro and Isaac are Latinos, but they are not necessarily Latinos in Space, given that the humans in Star Wars have all been non-ethnic. Angelica Jade Bastién, wrote two years ago in The Atlantic that while “color-blind casting” is an incentive that technically diversifies film and television with the inclusion of POC talent, it can also hinder the main objective of diversifying media- representation -by erasing ethnicity or being preferential to hiring more ethnically or racially “ambiguous” stars.

If this solar system fails to produce enough roles for Latinos that are written and scripted as ethnically Hispanic/Latin (while steering clear from derogatory and lame stereotypes), then what choice is left?

Here’s the harsh reality: for del Toro and Isaac, perhaps it is better to put Latinidad on the back burner in order to be paid- and adored by millions of fans -in, say, a fictional galaxy far, far away, than to have nothing at all.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15th. 

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