Star Wars director JJ Abrams teases LGBT representation in The Rise of Skywalker and it’s queerbaiting 101

Star Wars queerbaiting

Star Wars director JJ Abrams has used a press junket for a spot of queerbaiting, teasing that there will be LGBT+ representation in his upcoming film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

A queer romance between characters Finn and Poe has long been hoped for by fans.

“That relationship to me is a far deeper one than a romantic one,” Abrams told Variety.

“It is a deep bond that these two have, not just because of the trial by fire in which they met, but also because of their willingness to be as intimate as they are, as afraid as they, as unsure as they are, and still be bold, and still be daring and brave.”

Abrams added that he’s always tried to find a cast that “looked more the way the world looks than not”.

“And in the case of the LGBTQ community, it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film,” Abrams said.

When pressed on whether this means Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would have a queer character, Abrams said: “I will say I’m giving away nothing about what happens in the movie. But I did just say what I just said.”

Abrams is not the first person involved in the upcoming film to tease a queer storyline.

Fans hopeful of a gay romance between Finn and Poe (played by John Boyega and Oscar Isaac) have waited years for any on-screen acknowledgement of their clear chemistry.

Both actors have acknowledged the chemistry and the potential for a romantic storyline.

In a November 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Isaac said: “I think that there is a deep, deep connection between the two of them. There’s a deep, deep connection between me and John.”

He added: “These guys love each other.”

And in 2017, Boyega said: “I think that Oscar is always looking at me with love in his eyes, and I guess that the fans saw it. And then they realised that either he needs to chill or come out.”

Of the need for LGBT+ diversity, he added cryptically: “There definitely is that responsibility, but more the responsibility to hire those from those experiences to share their creative light, that’s the pivotal thing.

“If you hire the same sort of people you’re just getting the same sort of film. It’s not wrong, but then there’s a lack of variety.”

Queerbaiting is a term that refers to attempts to attract an LGBT+ audience by hinting at same-sex relationships or romances between characters that never actually happen.

By adding homoerotic subtext or erotic tension between two characters, usually leads, LGBT+ audiences can be enticed to tune in, without the show alienating other viewers who may turn away from an explicitly LGBT+ romantic storyline.