Ava DuVernay is being thrust into the spotlight thanks to her directorial duties on A Wrinkle in Time. Since she’s made a big budget flick under the Disney banner, her name has been bandied about as a potential director for Star Wars.
Well, DuVernay herself shot that possibility down in a response to a fan on Twitter.
Star Wars is not for me. But, very happy you dug WRINKLE IN TIME. xo https://t.co/CcrhVbY5hT
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 7, 2018
Many fans were bummed to hear this, but you know what? This is actually pretty great. Here’s why.
Talent Deserves Freedom
Ava DuVernay is undeniably talented. She’s more than proven that with Selma, 13th, and now A Wrinkle in Time. It’s understandable that fans would want her to exercise that talent in the Star Wars universe. But, when we are lucky enough to have exceptional artists working in film, we need to step back and allow them to do what they want to do.
The best creativity comes from having artistic freedom. DuVernay has earned our collective trust when it comes to her abilities and feeling the need to shove her into a franchise betrays that trust. If we really support her, we should also support her desire to make whatever artistic endeavor she feels most compelled to make. That’s the only way we’re going to continue to get truly inspiring work from her.
The Dangers of Tokenism
There is also a narrative built up that Ava DuVernay should make a Star Wars film because the franchise needs more diverse directors. That’s absolutely true but we need to be careful when we start making demands of artists simply because of their racial and/or gender designation.
If there are diverse filmmakers out there that have a solid concept for a Star Wars film and a creative urge to tell that story, we should do our best to promote them and see what they can bring to the series. But, we shouldn’t be nominating talented filmmakers and making them feel obligated to create certain pieces of art because they tick a certain box in terms of diversity.
If DuVernay wanted to do a Star Wars movie because she had a Star Wars story to tell, I’d be championing her as loudly as possible. But, saying she should make one because of her skin color and gender is missing the very point of diversity and equality.
Star Wars Scrutiny
It’s also possible that DuVernay is staying away from Star Wars because she just doesn’t need the hassle. Star Wars is the most recognizable brand in the history of entertainment. That notoriety brings with it a cadre of followers that pick apart every detail to the bones. And if they decide to, they can become incredibly harsh.
Just ask Rian Johnson. After The Last Jedi (which I loved), the writer/director of that film was plagued with online harassment and fan criticisms that bordered on ridiculous. Johnson has been incredible with his handling of certain entitled fans, but it’s likely that DuVernay just doesn’t want to invite that kind of appraisal towards her work.
Of course, there are plenty of fans who disliked The Last Jedi and didn’t go about their complaints in an insulting or intrusive manner. But, we have to acknowledge that those sects of fandoms exist. If DuVernay doesn’t have an interest in opening herself up to that world, who could blame her?
More Original Stories
Probably the most exciting thing about Ava DuVernay not being interested in Star Wars is that this means she might make something entirely new in the cinematic landscape. Fans are often lamenting the lack of new stories on the big screen. So, shouldn’t we see DuVernay’s disinterest in Star Wars as the opportunity for her to craft something new?
DuVernay is a powerful and important voice in the world of film, and the idea that she can branch out and make whatever she wants is exhilarating. If she committed to a Star Wars film, that means a lengthy production cycle that could affect her chances of making something else. And we need strong and opinionated filmmakers making what they feel is important now more than ever.
Whatever project DuVernay tackles next, we’re here for it.