Did Google Gemini Cast Star Wars ‘The Acolyte’?

by | Mar 26, 2024 | Opinion

Writing about Star Wars and race is a yucky business. No one who is a genuine fan of the galaxy far, far away takes pleasure in counting the races represented and gender parity of a Star Wars movie or show. I already regret writing this article about Star Wars’ upcoming TV series, The Acolyte, which debuts June 4, 2024, on Disney+. 

You may have heard of this show either because you’ve been hyped about a Star Wars focused on the Dark Side of the Force in a period 100 years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace, or you’re one of these fans who derive your satisfaction for Star Wars based on its supposed “diversity” in casting. 

A few headlines about The Acolyte from the last year, leading up to the debut of the show’s first trailer:

Star Wars: The Acolyte Will Bring a Record-Breaking Number of Diverse Jedi To Screens

The Acolyte’s Amandla Stenberg on Joining Star Wars’ Most Diverse Project: ‘For Black Nerds, It’s My Dream Come True’

The Cast of ‘The Acolyte’ Celebrates Its Diversity

Why The Acolyte Is Dividing Star Wars Fans (Yes, It’s Happening Again)

“This is a very diverse Star Wars TV show, and some detractors are furiously complaining that it is “woke” – an accusation they’d have made against The Acolyte no matter how good the trailer was, based only on its casting choices.”

But is it a “diverse” show in reality? Or is “diversity” functioning the same way that “representation” functions in the leftist lexicon of words with concealed meaning? 

The reason we need to have a sane conversation about this is not because there is anything wrong with The Acolyte or its debut trailer. The Star Wars galaxy is a very large place and anyone who has spent time in it beyond the original films knows well it’s a colorful place from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim to the Unknown Regions. The relative “whiteness” (to use their words) of the original Star Wars trilogy was more a fluke related to Hollywood’s standards in the 1970s and 80s than a proper snapshot of race and taxonomy in George Lucas’ galaxy. 

What’s wrong with The Acolyte, both Disney’s own hype about its “diversity”, as well as the entertainment press, is that this is basically the Google Gemini AI problem. 

Remember the Black Nazis, Indian Pope, and Asian Vikings that marred the debut of Google’s AI image generation tool? It wasn’t that Gemini went rogue and was performing diversity standards in opposition to its designer’s intent. Gemini did exactly what it was trained to do, which was enact racial diversity in such a way that can be defined as the absence of white human beings. Particularly white males. Diversity, in the DEI mindset, doesn’t mean an eclectic mix of individuals, it means fewer people with white skin overall.

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Reporting from both The Free Press and PirateWires has revealed that Google Gemini’s racial preferences, where the American Founding Fathers would be shown as black or brown, was the intention of its design and the leadership of Google knew about it. They just had no juice to reorient Gemini back to sanity in opposition to the company’s sprawling HR department and DEI enforcement staff. Innovation and public relations were playing second fiddle to aspirational “diversity” metrics. 

“First, according to people close to the project, the team responsible for Gemini was not only warned about its “overdiversification” problem before launch (the technical term for erasing white people from human history), but understood the nebulous DEI architecture — separate from causing offense — dramatically eroded the quality of even its most benign search results.”

“Aspirational AI” was covered by PirateWire’s Mike Solana in his report on Google Gemini, which is Google’s commitment to having its AI reflect an ideal future world. If women aren’t enough STEM jobs in real life, AI will depict a world in which they are. The effort is of course to nudge the real world in that direction by showing it as so. If there aren’t enough Black farmers in American agriculture then Gemini would produce only Black, Latino or Asian farmers when asked to “show me a midwestern farmer”. Perhaps this is why Gemini oddly produced one of its rare images of congregated white males when asked to generate an image of a professional basketball team. 

This is the heart of the frustration you’re seeing spill out into the ongoing culture war, now engulfing Star Wars: The Acolyte. Diversity doesn’t mean in practice what we’ve long said it meant. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has actively changed the definition and left us all scratching our heads at the results. After all, we’ve been told that “every kid deserves to see themselves on screen” or something identitarian like that, where kids think in purely racial terms like corrupted adults. By those standards, The Acolyte toy line (shown below) has a problem….can you guess what it is?

But but but……I think The Acolyte looks like a good Star Wars show. Disney already tried out gritty Star Wars for adults with Andor, to great success, and made a really exemplary series focused on the politics of life under the newly-formed Empire. The Acolyte is very much an extension of that project, offering more Star Wars for its grown up fans who like the debate the goodness of the Jedi Order during the final years of the Galactic Republic. 

But when the press tour for The Acolyte revolves so heavily around “diversity” being its strength, and somehow The Acolyte “making nerd-culture safe for Black nerds”, you’re entitled to wonder if the show will have any real merit in storytelling. 

This is a classic woke-Hollywood mistake that they keep repeating and thus harming the initial reception for their projects. Talk less, smile more. Hype the show and the story, and let the “diversity” speak for itself. The audience for being excited about the racial quotas of the Jedi Order pre-Phantom Menace is very, very small. But that’s the main theme of PR supporting The Acolyte. What if we didn’t do this?

True racial diversity and carefree casting of a wide variety of people for roles in Star Wars is not “woke”. What is “woke” is celebrating a standard for diversity that we know, thanks to Google, requires the weird pivot to white humans being few and far between in the known galaxy. 

But this was always the playbook of “anti-racism” according to Ibram X. Kendi, who said “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

And with DEI as the HR Department mechanism for enforcing Kendi’s anti-racist doctrine, you end up with Star Wars going a bit overboard with centering race in its narrative and marketing. 

The entertainment commentator and YouTuber Critical Drinker included this image in his scathing critique of The Acolyte trailer. It is somewhat puzzling.

Which led the more liberal Star Wars creator, Around The Galaxy, to respond with this reminder about casting in Star Wars 1977. Both of these commentators have a point.

The casting for this particular sequence in 1977 is strange in retrospect, both because of Geoge Lucas’ California-liberal bonafides but also because the lack of aliens doesn’t line up with our perceptions of the Rebel Alliance today. 

The truth is though, aliens cost Star Wars big money in 1977 to produce for different scenes. The famous Cantina sequence almost blew Star Wars’ tight budget. Hard to imagine today when a few clicks of a mouse can produce species diversity in any scene. 

What most consumers of media and Star Wars fans want is to stop being clubbed over the head with talk of race in their favorite franchises. 

Star Wars: The Acolyte looks like it accomplished its “diversity” goals, but those goals look similar to how Google Gemini thought of diversity, which isn’t diversity at all. 

Stephen Kent is a political writer, and Star Wars podcaster. He can be found on X @stephenkentx

NEXT: AI Gone Wild: From Pope Pics to SS Chic – The Hilarious Misadventures of Google’s Politically Correct Bot

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