WARNING: THIS CARRD IS NOT SPOILER FREE!!
Welcome! I'm clonehub (same on tumblr). I'm Black, 21, and use she/they pronouns.
You're probably here because you a) like clones, and/or b) saw the hashtag #UnwhitewashTBB and wanted to learn more.
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-Articles about #UnwhitewashTBB-
Gizmodo: Why Star Wars Fans are Concerned About Whitewashing and The Bad Batch
Project Stardust: UnwhitewashTBB
If you have questions, comments, or concerns (especially regarding more evidence) don't be afraid to reach out to me!
Unwhitewashing the Bad Batch had been a concept since the story reels for The Bad Batch were released and everyone saw how whitewashed they were. However, the hashtag didn't begin being used until March 30, 2021 (by me) after the release of the official Bad Batch series trailer, where I and others noticed just how white everyone on the team was.
Whitewashing is when a creator takes a character of color and changes their features, skin, hair, or other details about them to make them appear more white and thus less like their racial or ethnic identity.
The Bad Batch has been whitewashed in two ways: through their visual and physical design, and through their voice actor.
Dee Bradley Baker is a white man from Colorado who was chosen to play a group of men of color with an ethnically-tied dialectical accent. Various Māori fans have expressed dismay and disgust at what is essentially someone mocking how they speak--a manner of speech that white New Zealander's already shame Māori for. Baker's attempt at a Māori accent is only more stark when you hear the Bad Batch next to Omega, who is played by a voice actor from New Zealand. If it still isn't clear, Baker being white and doing this accent is equivalent to him being hired to play a Black character and then poorly attempting an African American Vernacular English accent (aka "blaccent", ebonics, etc.). It's racist.
Every clone trooper is a clone of Jango Fett, who is played by a Māori man named Temuera Morrison. The Bad Batch is a group of genetically altered clone troopers who have "desirable mutations" that make them physically different from "regs" (a derogatory word for regular, unaltered clones). These clones are smarter, fight harder, are more independent, and are mostly white. This happened to every single member of The Bad Batch. Whitewashing is racist. Genetic superiority tied to skin color or ability is racist (and ableist). The Bad Batch is racist.
Since the premiere, fans have noted how it seems the collective character development of the "regs" has fallen in favor of putting The Bad Batch in a more positive, sympathetic light. The clones were once generally written as sympathetic, compassionate people with a range of personality traits, ideals, and fears, with one major connector: their love for their brothers regardless of their differences.
Instead, the season 7 arc and the series have done away with that in favor of handling The Bad Batch with "kid gloves", as one person describes. They're not proven wrong about the regs except in a "maybe regs aren't so bad" manner, which is immediately undone about the premiere. They're never proven wrong about themselves, but the regs are proven wrong about The Bad Batch. This group of mostly whitewashed characters gets a treatment that the regs don't: being coddled, never being challenged, and always being right, which many have noted as early as season 7 how this killed the appeal of The Bad Batch for them.
Rex's final arc of development ended up suffering because the final arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars acted as a pre-pilot for The Bad Batch. Rex's characterization suffered for it, and he's one of the few prominent characters of color in Star Wars in general, so this just adds salt to the wound. The white washed protagonists development as egotistical, genetically superior warriors was rewarded by Echo joining their team.
Click each name to see how they've been whitewashed.
Hunter is the leader of the Bad Batch and sports straight brown hair and light skin. He is design is similar to that of Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone (a white man).
From his Star Wars site profile:
A Republic sergeant with shaggy hair and a distinct tattoo that makes half his face resemble a skull, Hunter is the leader of Clone Force 99, also known as the Bad Batch. Compared to the other members of the elite group of clone soldiers, Hunter's appearance is quite close to the other clone troopers. But as part of a team that is the result of genetic experimentation, Hunter's combat prowess and heightened senses make him more effective on the battlefield than most.
The crew did away with typically Māori features like a broad face in favor of designing him after a white man. While his skin is leaning toward the darker side out of everyone on The Bad Batch, it still isn't where it should be.
Hunter is a specially enhanced clone. When his white squad members antagonize and pick petty fights with the regular clones, he rarely steps in to stop them. He and his men doubt Echo's loyalty for the full length of their arc together.
What fans are asking is, why not base hunter off of a Māori warrior or other famous historical/pop cultural figure? This would have been an amazing opportunity to include some aspect of the culture that the clones all share with Jango Fett, a Mandalorian (especially seeing as Boba Fett, played by Temuera Morrison, is already doing so in The Mandalorian and will likely continue to do so in The Book of Boba).
The team chose to design Hunter's features after a white man's rather than a Māori mans, and then they made him the leader. Was someone who actually looked Māori not fit for the team's definition of "leader"?
Some have argued that Hunter actually looks both the brownest and the closest to a typical Māori man, besides Wrecker. Here is what Hunter looks like without his tattoo:
Image is a screenshot of a GIF made by Pieklalat on Tumblr. Visit their page for lots of really creative GIFsets of The Bad Batch.
Whatever his eye color is, it isn't brown. Some will make the argument that this must be Hunter's true skin tone and thus "proof" that he hasn't been whitewashed. First, look at the facial features and compare them to that of Rambo's up above. Next, consider the fact that this is a GIF of Hunter in a dark area. While this is the darkest he'll be, and while Kamino is the lightest he'll be, it's most likely that his actual tone is closer to that of what we see on Kamino.
Crosshair is the sniper in the Bad Batch. He has light skin with a yellow undertone, a very narrow, long face and nose, a narrow jaw, and a small mouth. He's shaped like a sniper rifle. He looks nothing like the Māori man he's based on.
Crosshair is the first person to express displeasure with regular clones. He goes out of his way to start fights he can't finish. Optically, this looks like a white man picking on brown men specifically because he believes he is genetically superior to them. He antagonizes all of the regs he meets (with little input from Hunter but a lot of help from Wrecker) and doubts Echo's loyalty form the start til the end.
It would be fine if he was just a jerk in general, but his strong distaste for "regs" continues even when Echo is a member of the Bad Batch and shows itself in how he responds to Echo's being disabled. Within the narrative, his attitudes about regs are supported by the fact that he's better at his job than regs due to his genetic enhancements. It's fully racist.
From his Star Wars site profile:
When you have to hit a precise target from 10 klicks, Crosshair's your man. Cold, quick, and calculating, Crosshair is the kind of no-nonsense warrior who detests working with "regs," or normal clones, and isn't afraid to mouth off about it. A member of the special unit Clone Force 99, also called the Bad Batch, Crosshair is gifted with a sniper blaster.
From his Wookieepedia page:
Matt and Brent worked with Dave to flesh out the characters and their story where Crosshair was based on Clint Eastwood, like a Clone version of Cad Bane.
Wrecker is exactly what his name implies: big, destructive, aggressive, prone to physical violence at the slightest provocation. He's the only member of Bad Batch that has features remotely resembling a Māori man's. He also inexplicably had an American accent which has changed to fake-Māori since the premier of the series).
The team created a directly racist character by making a brown man a large and violent person. His low intelligence and large physical size (especially as contrasted with Tech) is a racist stereotype of literally all men of color. The first episode of the series alone has Wrecker talk more about only wanting to be violent. He has difficulty with some words and he refuses to learn the basic things that he is meant to know as a soldier. In the first episode, Wrecker complains loudly about hand signs, and it is made clear he's refused repeatedly to learn them (1). Tech says that they'd never pass a mental evaluation, directly implying that Wrecker is too stupid and would drag the entire team down. I don't have a lot to say other than that this is fully racist.
In addition to his aggression is Wrecker's infantilization. Although less common in popular media, another stereotype for men of color is for them to be infantilized. Multiple times, Brad Rau, Supervising Director for The Bad Batch, and Dee Bradley Baker have described Wrecker as a "big child", a "little boy", and a "big kid". If they'd written Wrecker to be the positive and playful member of the group, this description would not be such an issue--but as this is in conjunction with everything else about Wrecker's characterization, this only compounds the racist writing.
Of course, as of episode 7 of The Bad Batch, Wrecker is also the first to turn and fall victim to the chip's effects. The build up had been throughout the series up to this point. Fans have pointed out the general lack of creativity surrounding Wrecker's being the one to turn violent first, along with the way in which he does it; every other chip-controlled trooper pulled their gun, but Wrecker goes to physically choking and throwing everyone. His turn is much more violent than anyone else's.
From his Star Wars site profile:
The boisterous bruiser of Clone Force 99, a group of elite Republic soldiers known as the Bad Batch, Wrecker has the brute strength that makes him capable of lifting a clone gunship without any help. Wrecker’s muscle and size are matched only by his temper, which can boil over easily, and an equally pronounced sense of humor even in the most dire circumstances.
From his Wookieepedia page:
Matt and Brent worked with Dave to flesh out the characters and their story where Wrecker would be based on something akin to the Hulk from Marvel Comics. Directors Steward Lee and Bosco Ng who are big Marvel fans likes to direct Wrecker the most, like in scenes where he gets to rampage like the Hulk. Dee Bradley improvised Wrecker's voice the most and inserted gung-ho things like loud grunts and shouts.
(1) This also is a continuity issue. Fans have noted that in the Season 7 arc, he uses them just fine. Not only this, he would not be able to do his job as an elite soldier without hand signs.
Tech is the technology and computers expert of the Bad Batch. He is designed to look like a fully white man. White skin, white features, straight, brown hair, and an unfortunate hairline make up the cognitive genius of The Bad Batch.
Tech is unsurprisingly also the least likely to fight. He's very docile and calm, and DBB describes him as "breezy". Contrast this with Wrecker, who's the complete opposite in every way. This goes even further when Wrecker's chip takes control and he attacks Tech; Tech does not fight back and is the only one besides Omega not to make an effort to stop him. In fact, Tech and Wrecker's interactions in the first episode compound the racism in both their writing: Tech mocks or belittles what Wrecker says, and directly states that the team would not pass a mental test because of Wrecker.
Even his voice has been removed from the typical Māori accent that all clones are meant to sport (and that the rest of the Bad Batch has). Dee Bradley Baker himself said "Tech is a little more British in his sound". Why does the genius need to sound British?
DBB says about Tech: "He's almost like someone who's on the spectrum (1), almost (time stamp 16:05) Some autistic fans of The Bad Batch have noted that Tech is a cliche of geniuses in general and a stereotype of autistic people in particular. First, many autistic people in media are geniuses or savants with little awareness/replication of the emotions of those around them. They're often portrayed in varying degrees as socially awkward with a tendency to infodump. This is not to say that Tech's infodumping is in any way wrong or detrimental to his character, and it's not wrong that he's been coded as autistic.
However, what some fans have noticed is that Tech is yet another iteration of the average autistic person being a socially awkward white genius. This is not representative of the lived experiences of many autistic people--for instance, many autistic people stim, but many more allistic (non-autistic) writers of autistic-coded characters leave that out. The fact that he is a white autistic-coded genius character adds more problematic layers to his character. There are exceedingly few brown autistic characters in media, and certainly none who can take the role of co-protagonist the way Tech does. Why is it that Tech couldn't be both brown and autistic? Why make him a two-fold stereotype? What does it mean when authors default to a European appearance to protray smarts while simultaneously playing into stereotypes about certain kinds of intelligence?
From his Star Wars site profile:
He may not look like a typical clone, but Tech is a valuable soldier in the Republic army. The result of genetic manipulation like the rest of his special unit, Clone Force 99 (or the Bad Batch), Tech's aptitude for science and technology are unmatched by man or machine.
From his Wookieepedia page:
His appearance differed from that of normal clones of Jango Fett in that he appeared younger, leaner, and fairer than his genetic template.
Tech was also very non-confrontational. When his squadmates would argue with each other, he would frequently walk away and not participate. Much like Hunter and unlike his other two teammates, Tech was mostly civil and respectful to his fellow clones.
The page also inexplicably describes Tech's skin color as tan.
(1) Please note that "on the spectrum" is an outdated and offensive term that is often used to avoid specifically saying someone is autistic.
Probably the most ridiculous whitewashing out of all of them is Echo. Compare how he looks now to what he used to look like:
After being frozen for over a year, he's lost his melanin. Lots of fans (too many of them) think that a year without sunlight and locked in a freezer will burn away every last drop of melanin someone has. This isn't true. This is not how melanin works. Those of us who do have melanin know that even years indoors won't lighten our skin to such a drastic shade like this. Echo's actually lighter here than he appeared in the season 7 arc. No amount of nutritional deficiency and lack of sunlight will drain someone's melanin like this.
This is a result of a group of designers who do not know how melanin works, who assumed that people of colors' skin changes the same way white people's does, and who then rendered something literally impossible.
Many dissenters of #UnwhitewashTBB cite "narrative/visual storytelling" as a justification for the gross amount of whitewashing that has happened with The Bad Batch. This argument is weak because Echo's being pale serves no real purpose to the plot or characterization of himself or anyone else in the series. Echo's missing limbs do--he uses his probe to hack into computers, for instance. Some have said that Echo is pale for the same reasons that Darth Vader is pale: damage done to the body, an assumed lack of blood, and his being "more machine than man" and somehow less/inhuman because of it. Besides this being grossly ableist, Vader and Echo have only their prosthetics in common. In every other way, they're completely different. Why should Vader and Echo have a narrative connection via visual storytelling like this? Is that the type of story that should be told about Echo: that he is less than or inhuman because of his disabilities? Will you really use ableism as a justification for racism? And why assume the creators intended to do something that makes no sense when the much more plausible answer is right there: they do not know how melanin works and defaulted to how white skin behaves under extreme conditions.
Beyond this, as of this carrd update (6/13/2021, after the release of episode seven) Echo has basically been ignored by both The Bad Batch and the plot. Fans have begun to think that his presence is for nostalgia and nothing else, because his treatement in the series has been subpar to a worrying degree.
Fans are concerned about the ableism surrounding Echo.
The Bad Batch is introduced to us by insulting regs and establishing their superiority complex. They harass his brothers and doubt his loyalty to his family for the entire arc, and then we see Echo again, and it's revealed that he's disabled: multiple amputations and various devices needed to keep him alive. Even when he's saving their lives, they don't trust him. At the end, Rex says that if Echo no longer "fits in" with clones like him, he can go with The Bad Batch.
There are multiple issues with this, the largest being that Echo is disabled, not a criminal, and not a freak. There is absolutely no reason as to why the 501st that he's fought beside for most of the war beforehand would suddenly reject him now that he's missing some limbs and hair. There wasn't ever any point in TCW where clones were shown to collectively be ableist. Why wouldn't have Echo been able to fit in? Why wouldn't he have been accepted? Would Jesse or Kix have mistreated him for being tortured and abused by the separatists? Would Anakin have?
Combine this with the continued narrative coddling of the Bad Batch. They have genetic superiority-fueled egos, never saw Echo as their equal, but have him join their team anyways, proving once again that this team of white washed superiors are better than the brown "regs" they despise because they "accept" Echo and his disabilities. The message that the team is sending just with that decision at the end of that arc is dually racist and ableist one.
The issues do not end there. Echo is new to the team, so it's understandable that he doesn't have a wall-set bed on Kamino, but he also doesn't have a seat on the Marauder. Despite being a double amputee, he's made to stand in many of the scenes we see him in, while the rest of The Bad Batch reclines in some way. One example is in episode seven, when everyone is asleep waiting for Wrecker to wake up and Echo is the only one standing.
His lack of an arm is another example--he's still made to climb and carry things literally one handed, while the probe attachment only occasionally serves a purpose. Why not give Echo a hand that opens up with a probe inside it? Disabled fans have noted that it's like the team refuses to acknowledge Echo's status as a disabled character, instead either choosing to put him in extremely uncomfortable situations that an able bodied person would be fine with, or ignoring him entirely.
In episode seven, we also see that Echo has a patch on his head before anyone else has even had the surgery to remove the chip. And when Wrecker wakes up, Rex says they only need to do three more, excluding Echo. Was Echo's chip removed off screen, and if so, why skip it? This may be a continuity issue, but such an oversight calls into question how much the writers see Echo as more than just the butt of jokes and the metal ragdoll, subject to constant uncomfortable situations and dehumanization. Within the Bad Batch, the implications are still dire: they may have pulled out Echo's chip as a tester before doing the "real" work of taking out Wrecker's.
Echo is referred to as "more machine than man" by Tech in the premiere, and then Crosshair makes a comment about how Echo has been "turned into that", regarding his series of prosthetics and technology keeping him functioning. The worst offense is when he gets sold, and it's played off for laughs that the mostly-metal disabled man is now being treated as actually metal and inhuman. The Clone Wars already had issues with acknowledging the clones' status as slaves (Slick is villainized, the Kadavo arc makes no mention of how Rex feels being sold into slavery), and it's disappointing to see that these issues have continued into The Bad Batch. Fans are hoping that Echo doesn't keep being put into dehumanizing or otherwise dangerous situations for a disabled person, like when he got thrown and stunned in episode seven.
Omega is a genetically enhanced clone of Jango Fett. She has an ability similar to Hunter's in that she can sense the presence of other people before they're visible. Omega has incredibly light skin and blonde hair, although the team didn't go the standard route and give her blue eyes (like they have done with some clones).
Surprisingly enough, she actually has a proper New Zealand/Māori accent, which I consider an improvement over what the rest of The Bad Batch has. At the same time, this does not erase the fact that she has been designed to look like a white girl, and that she isn't even the first clone child to be given lightened skin and hair (Boba in the Rako Hardeen arc comes to mind).
In addition to this, we can contrast Omega with Wrecker the same way we do Tech. It's common in Western media to make an "epitome of innocence" character--that is, a character who is meant to be understood as angelic, kind, naive, pure, or any other word one can come up with when the inevitable Tough Man/Soft Kid trope is used. More often than not, this child will be white and blonde. This isn't to say that Omega can't be innocent--she's roughly ten years old by fan estimations. Nobody is expecting her to be a hardened warrior.
But this begs the question about why "innocence" here must be embodied by features and appearances that are really only achievable by white people. Very rarely do kids of color ever fulfill this role. Why not have a Māori child take on the role of the innocent contrast to the main protagonists?
First, I want to say something: absolutely no in-universe explanation excuses real life racism.
We're not complaining about character motivations and actions, or on the mechanics of Star Wars science and genetics (and even then we can blame those on the creators). What we are talking about is wholly a real-world human decision to take a group of men who should be brown, make them white, at the same time make them genetically more desirable than their brown counterparts, and then have them be bullied for both of these traits by "regular" brown men.
Every single aspect of the Bad Batch's physical appearance is a choice.
Every decision you see regarding the Bad Batch is a deliberate one that could have easily been avoided. The "genetic mutations" could have gone in literally any other direction, but the team decided to make genetic enhancements comorbid with eurocentric features.
This is formally known as the Thermian Argument. Folding Ideas on YouTube has a short and informative video further explaining the flaw in this argument.
The most popular fan theory explaining the whitewashing is the Jango Juice Theory, aka that Jango's DNA was being stretched, and so genetic alterations like bleached skin and Eurocentric facial structures are a natural result of that.
A) This is not how DNA works. According to @three-fold-symmetry on Tumblr:
"If you wanted to clone a person or animal, you wouldn’t even be messing around with free DNA in the first place. To make a human being you need a full set of 23 chromosome pairs, that’s 46 very specific DNA molecules, each of which has a function that makes it impossible to replace without drastically altering the resulting organism.
So you see, there shouldn’t be Jango juice in the first place because working with a soup of freely mixed DNA strands would be a mess.
All the Kaminoan's would have had to do is keep a culture of Jango’s cells alive. Cells are conveniently self replicating and contain the full genome neatly packed into their nucleus. They also have a plethora of DNA repair mechanisms to prevent the accumulation of enough mutations to cause spontaneous changes of ethnicity. :)"
This theory implies that white is the default in any set of DNA. The clones' "concentrated" Jango DNA gives them the brown skin and Polynesian features, but when it gets "stretched" (in this case, diluted or reduced in some way) everything else about them is "reduced" as well: their faces and noses from broad to narrow, the depth of their skin from dark to light, and their hair color from black to brown (or white in Crosshair's case). Within this theory is the assumption that the defining features of a person of color are all just add ons or extensions to white people.
B) The timeline doesn't line up. Bad Batch were all clearly born long before the mention of the Kaminoans running out of Jango juice.
To reiterate another popular fan explanation, many justify Echo's disastrously pale skin by saying he's malnourished. I will say again that that is simply not how people of color work, that is how white people work.
Many insist that their differences are "visual storytelling"--that TBB are "supposed to look different". They're not meant to look Māori because then it wouldn't be clear they're all technically defective. I even had someone say that it's foreshadowing for the Empire's evils (I will not waste your time explaining why this is wrong).
Their difference is a form of visual storytelling that doesn't make sense in- or out-of-universe. TBB could have all been still brown skinned with different Māori facial features. They could all have been darker with different Māori facial features. Not a single in-universe explanation for TBB's appearance makes any sense when you think for two seconds about how DNA actually works, and when you seriously consider the myriad directions the team could have gone in regarding their appearances that would have been more of a help for visual storytelling rather than people who are literally shaped like their jobs and nothing else.
Some say that Crosshair and Echo could have vitiligo or albinism, but neither of these explains Eurocentric features, which do not result from genetic skin conditions. More on that here.
@transmikecrew on tumblr created an infographic that explains how to differentiate clones without whitewashing them.
As people come up with more excuses, I will add them here. But in the meantime, here are some links to edits and posts made by others about the Bad Batch:
Thread of side-by-side images by @FireSprayProto
Thread explaining why TBB is racist by @Clonehub7567
Tumblr post going into detail about their designs by @lilhawkeye3
Thread comparing the Phase I clone troopers to TBB in standard armor by @Firejet_mecha
This is a photogallery of comparisons between the regular clones (Phase I and Phase II models) and the Bad Batch to showcase skin tone and facial structure white washing.
Some of you may be wondering how you're supposed to draw the Bad Batch now that you've learned how racist their design is. Some others of you may have an idea of what to do, but no real guidelines as to drawing Maori people like the clones, whose designs don't really match what Temuera Morrison looks like.
This page is for art resources regarding how to unwhitewash the clones in your fanart. As more resources become available, more will be added here.
Whitewashing Clones and Fetts by @catboydindjarin on Tumblr
Unwhitewashed edit of Echo by @thatfunkyopposum
Unwhitewashed edit of Hunter by @thatfunkyopposum
Tumblr fanart/rewrite of the Bad Batch that I personally really like by @nibeul