Andor showrunner Tony Gilroy recently talked about fan reaction to the series and compared Star Wars fans to various Muslim sects and peoples.
During an appearance on Behind The Lens with Pete Hammond, Hammond asked Gilroy, “The Star Wars universe, those fans out there, the internet, anytime you get into something like this, you’re fighting against that even before you’ve written a word, you know. And the pressure on you, as a writer, I’m just curious, do you care, does it bother you, or does it energize to you to do right by them as well or what they expect, or take them in a direction they didn’t expect?”
Gilroy responded, “It was shocking on ‘Rogue [One],’ because I didn’t really have any exposure when Rogue [One] happened and everything that happened. I was really blown back by what was going on and this thing that I hadn’t paid attention to. So I knew about it when I came back, I knew what to expect.”
Specifically talking about Star Wars fans, he noted their passion and proceeded to compare them to Muslims, “You have to realize about that community that their passion is — they love this thing so much. The hardcore, deepest. You have within that community. You have Shiites, and Sunnis, and Kurds, and you have all kinds of people who have different — but their love of the show, and their love of what it means to them is something that you really have to pay attention to.”
According to Dr. C. George Boeree at Shippensburg University the difference between Sunnis and Shiites goes back to the 7th century. He explains that “Sunni refers to the sunnas, or oral traditions and interpretations of the Koran — a body of work similar to the Jewish Talmud. Sunnis believe that the position of Caliph should be a position to which one is elected by the religious leaders of the Islamic community, and not dependent on direct lineage from Mohammed.”
As for Shiites, he details, “Shiite comes from the word shia, which means “the party (of Ali).” They are mostly found in Iran and Iraq, and among the Palestinians. They consider certain direct descendants of Ali – the Imams – infallible and the true inheritors of Mohammed. Ali was the first Imam, his son Hassan the second, his second son Hussein the third.
“Ali’s sons were killed in the conflict with Caliph Muawiya. However, their succession ended with the 12th Imam, who went into hiding in 940. Most Shiites believe that the 12th Imam will reemerge someday as the Mahdi or Messiah, and reassert his leadership of the Islamic world. In the meantime, ayatollahs are elected to serve as caretakers of the faith,” he elaborates.
As for the Kurds, they are an ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan that runs through Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Harvard Divinity School notes “the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, with Alevi Shi’a Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Yezidi communities. Religious divergences as well as varying political viewpoints account for a wide variety of Kurdish perspectives vis-à-vis the state, though political discourse is dominated by the Kurdish nationalist PKK.”
It’s unclear what exactly Gilroy was trying to convey with his comparison. Nevertheless, he continued by noting his intention with Andor is to take the material seriously, “So my attitude has been, and the attitude of the show is, as much as we, as far out there as we get, and as much as we bend the tone and the idea of what to do, we can never ever be cynical about it. We have to take it more seriously than anybody’s ever taken it. We’re never winking. We’re never kidding it.”
“And so we have this mix of people who know nothing about Star Wars on our show, and then we have a bunch of people on the show that are huge nerds, and it’s the marriage of knowledge and history mixed with a real ambition to take it some place else with a, hopefully, respect for… I want the respect of that audience,” Gilroy shared.
Gilroy then claimed that there’s no way of creating a Star Wars movie or TV series that won’t be controversial, “Now, I do read what they — there’s no way of doing it and not being controversial. There’s no way. It’s impossible.”
However, he then noted that he believes Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy gets too much criticism for the direction Star Wars has taken under her leadership, “And like, [Kathleen Kennedy]’s job is like… You don’t wanna be Kathy ever up on the internet. It’s just — what she goes through and what they — and it’s been on for years, you know.”
“Yeah, you gotta have pretty thick skin to do that. But, I pay attention. I don’t think we made any real adjustments because of it, but it’s been interesting to watch,” he concluded.
What do you make of Gilroy’s comments?