The 2-second lesbian kiss in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
When is a kiss not a kiss? When it’s a lesbian kiss that lasts 2 seconds long in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
This was the assessment of reviews on the much-vaunted kiss between two women of the Resistance in the new Star Wars movie by director JJ Abrams.
Fleeting moments in Star Wars
In 2016, Abrams had said he believes LGBTQ representation should be part of the Star Wars films in the future.
He told The Daily Beast in an interview that “it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
Moreover, Abrams told Variety during the press tour for this movie: “It was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film.”
So how did it turn out for this movie? As the Resistance defeats the Final Order, the movie shows the victors looking for friends and loved ones who survived the battle.
In a flash, the camera shows two women Resistance fighters who are not part of the plotlines or backstories kiss before it pans away. This is supposedly a first in the Star Wars history.
The lesbian kiss & token representation
Lauren Coates, writing for Screen Rant, said the supposedly big moment for LGBTQ representation in Star Wars feels like token representation.
Coates pointed out “the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of the kiss made the moment feel less like a triumphant landmark and more like cheap tokenism.”
“It’s a fleeting moment amid a rush of chaos and celebration that could easily be missed by any moviegoer who turns to reach for a handful of popcorn,” Coates added.
“More importantly, it’s a moment that can be easily edited out of the movie for countries where depictions of homosexuality are not permitted,” she added.
(To be fair, China reportedly left the lesbian kiss uncut. However, Singapore took it out in their showings.)
Coates concluded that: “Abrams made the decision to follow through on his promise of including a gay Star Wars character not by using major characters with preexisting chemistry, but instead by using throwaway background characters.”
The lesbian kiss & gay pandering
Meanwhile, K. Austin Collins wrote in Vanity Fair that Abrams talked a good game about representation but it was really lip service that was more about gay pandering rather than progress.
Collins wrote that “there’s a warped undertone to this entire conversation– one in which two seconds of two women kissing is, somehow, significant.”
He noted the long history and progress of queer representation in the visual arts, especially worldwide. Furthermore, he expressed doubts that Disney– the owner of the Star Wars franchise– would allow it.
“This is the representation you get when Disney rules the world. This is what you get: two women, two seconds. Truly, I’m overwhelmed. But not in the way Disney hopes, or thinks, I should be,” Collins said.
The lesbian kiss: Wrong side of history
What’s more, Shannon O’Connor wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that the idea of the said kiss in a big franchise like Star Wars pushes the idea that small amounts of representation are sufficient.
Though O’Connor admitted that the moment is technically history-making, she asked: “Is it on the right side of history?”
“Disney has a long history of queerbaiting that has ramped up significantly in recent years,” O’Connor pointed out, citing the supposedly first-ever LGBTQ character, LeFou, in Disney’s live-action Beauty and The Beast in 2017.
Again, there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss it moment of Josh Gad’s LeFou dancing with another man in the movie.
Disney, O’Connor said, is concerned about “appealing to the broadest possible audience” as compared to “holding up a mirror to society and depicting all orientations.”
However, like Hallmark Channel, Disney’s brand of being family-friendly “doesn’t show all types of families” and doesn’t do justice to that branding, she said.