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Not the Droids You’re Looking For: Software Scans Star Wars for ‘Diversity’

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Political correctness meets technology in a new computer program that scans “Star Wars” films for diversity.

As reported by Variety, University of Southern California engineer Shri Narayanan and his students “have been developing software that can analyze scripts, identify speaking parts and cross-reference actor names with a race database to breakdown dialogue by gender and race.”

“One of our motivations is to see more (diverse) representations, especially those that are facing children,” Narayanan, USC’s  Niki & C. L. Max Nikias Chair in Engineering, said. With media, “you create what this sort of norm is, implicitly or subconsciously: that women look like this or that mostly, these movies should have this type of race, but the world is not that way.”

The line-counters have applied the technology to Star Wars. Variety:

In 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” the amount of female-driven dialogue more than tripled from 6.3% in “A New Hope” to nearly 28%. Moreover, the dialogue in the “Force Awakens” passed the Bechdel test, which asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women speaking to each other about something other than a man, a test “Force Awakens” passed. “A New Hope” did not. “The Force Awakens” also expanded racial diversity. Non-white speaking dialogue accounted for roughly 40% of all lines.

 

Ironically, the moral point of the first Star Wars film, 'A New Hope,' is that technology won’t save us. Hero Luke Skywalker has to rely on friends, family, faith, and a mentor to oppose the technical might of the Empire. In the end, Luke blows up the Death Star using his instincts and spiritual power, not computers.

'The Last Jedi,' the latest Star Wars film, opens Dec. 15. It stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, and Kelly Marie Tran.

 

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