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'Star Wars' director Rian Johnson calls for diversity with a resounding 'Hell yeah!'

There are a galaxy's worth of stories to tell. Maybe it's time to hear some new voices.

'Star Wars' director Rian Johnson calls for diversity with a resounding 'Hell yeah!'

People are really hyped about the new Star Wars movie, and based on early reviews, it seems like they're in for a treat.

"The Last Jedi" marks the ninth film in the Star Wars franchise, and it comes complete with all the hallmarks of its predecessors — whirring lightsabers, laser blasters, adorable robots, and wise old dudes with magical powers. By most accounts, it's a must-see.

This is me being excited about "The Last Jedi." Image from Star Wars/Disney.


However, there is one thing that's been the same across every film — the kind of thing you'd hope would be different for a film franchise in its fourth decade — and it's pretty noticeable when you look at all the directors it's had so far.

As you can see here, they all look pretty simil — oh wait, wrong photo.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Ah! Here. Sorry about that. Where was I? Ah, right, so if you take a look at the film's directors, you'll notice a clear trend. They've all been white men.

Clockwise from top left: Star Wars creator George Lucas, "The Force Awakens" director J.J. Abrams, "The Empire Strikes Back" director Irvin Kershner, "The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson, and "Rogue One" director Gareth Edwards.

Now, of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a white man. Some of my best friends are white men. My dad is a white man, even. Nearly into double digits, however, you'd think that an epic film franchise like Star Wars would want to branch out a bit to see some fresh new perspectives. For instance, imagine what an Ava DuVernay ("Selma") or Ryan Coogler ("Black Panther") Star Wars film could look like, or maybe Patti Jenkins ("Wonder Woman") or Jordan Peele ("Get Out"). How cool would that be?

One person who thinks the franchise could use a bit of diversity in the director's chair is "The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson.

When asked by Yahoo Movies U.K. whether it's time to diversify the Star Wars director's chair, Johnson responded with an enthusiastic, "Hell, yes, it’s time!"

"There are so many incredibly talented female directors, directors of color out there, and so many I would love to see play in this universe," he added. "Yes, please. I would love it to happen."

Johnson speaking at a press conference. Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney.

Unfortunately, that's not a decision Johnson gets to make. It doesn't look like there are going to be any big changes to the white, male director lineup in the near term. J.J. Abrams is set to return as director for Episode IX, Ron Howard is slated to take helm of 2018's "Solo: A Star Wars Story," and Johnson is getting his own trilogy. While things are set for a bit, the fact that the Star Wars universe keeps expanding could be cause for a new hope (Get it? Like the name of one of the movies? Get it?) when it comes to seeing some off-camera diversity.

The Star Wars franchise has done a phenomenal job when it comes to boosting on-screen diversity in recent films, and it's paid off in a big way.

Both 2015's "The Force Awakens" and 2016's "Rogue One" had female leads with a racially and gender diverse supporting cast. They both were massively successful at the box office ("The Force Awakens" made more than $2 billion, and "Rogue One" made more than $1 billion) and impressed critics as well ("The Force Awakens" nabbed a 93% Rotten Tomatoes ranking, and "Rogue One" got an 85%).

Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac starred in "The Force Awakens." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

So while the franchise definitely deserves major kudos for its casting in recent films (perhaps they learned a lesson after the disasters that were the prequels), it'd be pretty great if the next time out, they gave someone different a try behind the camera to tell brand-new stories with a fresh perspective in that galaxy a long time ago and far, far away.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less