Opinion

The Public Trial Of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Step aside, victims of the Court of Public Appearance, there’s fresh meat on the menu. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy discovered firsthand how the Star Wars pundits, talking heads on YouTube, and clickbait-loving fans don’t have time for things like research or context. Once a comment has surfaced that messes with the “natural order” it becomes a feeding frenzy. Welcome to reality, Sharmeen, and buckle up. Clearing the air on this is going to get bumpy.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Is The Latest Director To Take Control Of A “Star Wars” Set. She Is Not One To Shy Away From Controversy.

This is par for the course for a Star Wars fanbase that has been deeply divided since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012. Some groups refuse to give up the fight and attacks on the franchise range from uncivil to vitriolic. This has wounded Star Wars as a franchise and casualties ranged from Daisy Ridley to Kelly Marie Tran. I’m afraid that the property will never get its magic back as the fans continue to turn on another new arrival.

Under all of this ugliness and unnecessary volatility, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy waits for her turn to helm the latest chapter in the revered franchise. Are her comments worth the outrage seen across the web?

The Comment Doesn’t Apply To Star Wars And Is Irrelevant

The comment in question, in which Chinoy says that she enjoys “making men uncomfortable” is eight years old.

It has nothing to do with Lucasfilm or Star Wars. The comment was made during an interview where Chinoy was talking about her award-winning documentaries that bravely covered honor killings and other abhorrent acts against women in her home country of Pakistan. The men she is referring to are those who literally beat and kill women because the women themselves were assaulted by other men.

I have ZERO problems with making THEM uncomfortable.

Mrs. Chinoy comes from a place where brutal acts against women are commonplace. Forced Marriage has been a standard among some cultures as recently as 2021. Despite being outlawed in 2016, honor killings are still carried out with impunity. Her feminism isn’t an ideology, it is a tool for survival and to expose the acts of depravity committed against women in the Middle East. Had she remained submissive, she would have never made films. Meaning that these actions would benefit from being unexposed.

Chirnoy, With Ava Durnay And Meryl Streep At The Women In The World Summit Where The Now Infamous Comment Was Made.

As a husband as a father of a daughter, I am not ashamed to say that if I sat in a theater and watched a documentary on honor killings and other punishments that women face in the Middle East, I would feel uncomfortable. If my little girl had been born seven thousand miles away, she would be a subject to such brutality. This disturbs me greatly.

With Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s quote put into context, we can now move on from it. If you show me a man who isn’t uncomfortable with that subject matter, I will show you a psychopath.

She Is The First Female Director Of A Star Wars Movie. She’s Not The First Woman To Shape The Story

Mrs. Chinoy is correct in implying that she is the first female to direct a Star Wars film. The honor should have gone to Patty Jenkins, but Rogue Squadron doesn’t look like it will be escaping Development Hell any time soon.

However, she is not accurate in saying that a female has not shaped the story.

  • Gloria Katz and her husband are responsible for over thirty percent of the dialogue for Episode IV
  • Leigh Brackett, who sadly passed away before seeing The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters penned the screenplay for the film. George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan relied on her work heavily to get the film made.
  • Bryce Dallas Howard has been directing key episodes of The Mandalorian, The Book Of Boba Fett, Tales Of The Jedi and the upcoming Skeleton Crew. 
  • Deborah Chow directed key episodes of The Mandalorian and all six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Steph Green has directed episodes of The Book Of Boba Fett and Ahsoka
  • Kathleen Kennedy has been in charge of Lucasfilm since Disney purchased the studio. She was handpicked by George Lucas himself.
  • The female influence on Star Wars also goes back to Marcia Lucas. Her masterful editing saved Episode IV. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing this article today.
  • Leslye Headland, a member of the LGBT community, is the director of the upcoming The Acolyte series.

Leigh Brackett Wrote The Original Script For “The Empire Strikes Back”. Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas Wouldn’t Have Gotten The Movie Done Without Her. Sadly, She Succumbed To Cancer Before She Could See Her Work Make It To Screen.

While Mrs. Chinoy is the first female director of this cultural phenomenon in movie form, she should realize that is an accomplishment in itself, and show some reverence to the women who made it possible for her to achieve this momentous feat. She isn’t exactly the first, but she’s among sisters who are breaking through with her.

Lack Of Experience Is A Double Edged Sword

While Mrs. Chinoy definitely seems willing to speak her mind, her inexperience remains questionable. She has won an Oscar for best short documentary, yet her only notable stateside credit is an episode of Ms. Marvel. 

Jumping from documentary filmmaking to television is hard. Jumping from documentary to big budget filmmaking, is daunting. The figures haven’t been released yet, so let’s apply the same budget The Marvels got to the project that Mrs. Chinoy is attached to.

She gets $275 million to make her movie. As a documentarian, she has free reign over her project, including travel, staffing and food.

In Hollywood, working on a project like Star Wars, you don’t call your own shots. You have to deal with production notes, accountants, studio interference, script changes, stroking the egos of the actors, actresses and the writers. You have meetings with Filoni, Kennedy, possibly even Bob Iger himself, all wanting updates and potentially throwing their input in on the film.

While her pedigree and talent qualify her to helm a project, does it qualify her to handle a project worth a quarter of a billion dollars? That did not end well when they gave the keys to the kingdom to Nia DaCosta.

  • Michael Moore stepped out of his comfort zone and directed Canadian Bacon. The movie had a budget of $11,000,000 in 1995 and only earned $178,104.
  • Mel Stuart had one documentary and two romantic comedies under his belt when he was given the director’s chair for Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. The film was met with poor box office results and mixed reviews from critics. It is worth noting that time healed that initial wound as the film gained an enthusiastic cult following and has since been preserved by the National Film Registry.
  • William Shatner failed to get things moving when he took control of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier with some people claiming that the film almost killed the franchise.

With that being said, there are success stories that can give fans hope for Mrs. Chinoy’s upcoming project.

Tim Burton On Set With Michael Keaton And Jack Nicholson. The Three Men Would Go On To Make Batman A Financial Juggernaut.

Tim Burton, Jordan Peele, Quentin Tarantino and Ryan Coogler all rose from relative obscurity to become part of the cultural zeitgeist.

While the potential for failure is there and Disney is certainly taking a gamble with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, there is also potential for a huge payoff if she can put together a great story.

The Political Rhetoric Does Raise A Red Flag

Mrs. Chinoy has raised a couple of eyebrows on executives and fans with other statements that she has made in regards to politics. She has said: “At the heart of everything, I am a storyteller and an activist. My body of work over the last twenty years has been guided by my activism and every single piece of work I’ve created has a piece of activism in it. It could be very overt or covert, but it’s there.”

At face value, the quote is alarming to me. If she wants to send a political message, that is her right. But my mantra is to never let the message overtake the story. Hollywood itself is leaning more and more into similar political messages with recent projects like Robyn Hood, The Marvels, Rings of Power, Velma, Batwoman, and the Charlie’s Angels remake. I will also point out that such a quote is not unique to modern Hollywood.

She May Be Openly Political, But Mrs. Chinoy’s Statements Are Not Unique To Modern Hollywood.

Politics has always been prevalent in Hollywood. I don’t like the politics of George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. If I was in a room with Sean Penn, I probably wouldn’t have much to say to him. The same goes for Mrs. Chinoy. What does give me hope for Mrs. Chinoy is the following quote from her:

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. If you put quality work out there, it will be appreciated.”

If that is the type of attitude that she is walking into this project with, then it would be unfair of me or any other Star Wars fan to deny her the chance to prove herself.

Final Takeaway

Social media eliminated our ability to use critical thought. When we see a blurb or a headline on twitter of facebook, we become narrow minded reactionaries. We latch onto clickbait worse than a blue crab clinging to a chicken neck.

I am not here to cheer lead for Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. I am not here to vilify her. As fans, the division needs to stop and we need to give her a chance to prove herself. Honestly, it seems that this recent buzz says FAR MORE about us then it does about her.

So, to every Star Wars fan reading this article and getting ready aim their vitriol at me for writing this; Look deep down in your heart and ask yourself this question…

Can she really be that much worse than Rian Johnson?

Reserve your judgement and see what Mrs. Chinoy has in store for us.

What do you think, GNN Fans? Sound off in the comments below and let your voices be heard!

Thank You for reading! When I am not writing I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my four year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles.  For more hot takes, follow me here and on our brand new YouTube channel.  You can also check out more of my content on my author’s page.

Stay Geeky Everybody

 

 

 

 

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