Until recently, few people would notice or care if a famous actor denied the canonicity of queer subtext in a Hollywood blockbuster. But Finn/Poe is different from long-running slash pairings like Kirk/Spock or Holmes/Watson. The Force Awakens‘ diverse cast made it feel almost plausible that Disney might introduce a queer action hero, and neither character has the baggage of Sherlock Holmes or Captain America—two other characters who are frequently interpreted as queer.
Most importantly, mainstream media outlets took the idea of Gay Poe Dameron seriously. Instead of remaining within the confines of Tumblr and fanfiction sites, Finn/Poe became a widely accepted interpretation of the film. Eventually, one of the actors was bound to speak up about it.
Sad news: John Boyega confirmed to me the Finn/Poe romance is not canon and it only exists "in Oscar's head" :(
— Chris Mandle (@chris_mandle) January 6, 2016
Chris Mandle is the features editor at Shortlist, and his interview with John Boyega will be published on Jan. 21. We can already imagine some kneejerk reactions to this news, so before we go any further, here are three things to consider.
- Finn/Poe may not be canon (which: duh), but John Boyega does seem to confirm that Oscar Isaac played Poe as being attracted to Finn. So, that scene where Poe tells Finn he looks good in his jacket, and then bites his lip? You totally read it the right way.
- Just because Boyega says Finn/Poe isn’t canon doesn’t mean he’s homophobic, or that he disapproves of people’s love for the pairing. So don’t worry, your fave is not problematic!
- Despite the influx of media attention to Finn/Poe, Disney was never going to put a queer interracial romance at the center of its most lucrative franchise. Unfortunately, Hollywood just isn’t there yet. Still, we can’t rule out the possibility that Rian Johnson may listen to pressure from audiences and write Poe as canonically gay in Episode VIII.
If Disney does allow Poe Dameron to come out in the next Star Wars movie, it would be huge step for queer representation in Hollywood. But it’s worth remembering that this was always an unlikely prospect. Like many queer headcanons and slash pairings in the past, Gay Poe Dameron may have to remain in the realm of fanfiction.
On a more positive note, Oscar Isaac managed, perhaps unintentionally, to kick off a fruitful public discussion about the dearth of queer characters in mainstream cinema. If nothing else, the popularity of Gay Poe Dameron proves that audiences are far less conservative than many studios seem to believe.
Photo via Star Wars