Read My Blog, You Must

Figure 1: The Clone Wars series

This blog post is highlighting both my research areas of WOMEN IN FILM and my MAJOR PROJECT. For this blog post, I will be looking into and reflecting on the genre of Science-Fiction along with Women with that genre, specifically in the Star Wars universe (1977-Present). There have been many great female role models within the Sci-Fi genre and through this blog post I will be reflecting on Leia and Padme. This blog post will end with a case study of women in the Star Wars universe (1977-Present).

Science Fiction, or commonly known as Sci-Fi, is a genre that provides me with escapism in the most unique way. Travelling through space and time, meeting new species and using current day issues and challenging them in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Star Wars (1977-Present) is possibly my all-time favourite franchise and continues to be a part of my everyday life. For me, Star Wars (1977-Present) is more than just a franchise. Since the day I watch A New Hope (1977), I have been enthralled with the saga. Star Wars merchandise, Star Wars LEGO, Star Wars video games, Star Wars memes. Not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about Star Wars (1977-Present).

Figure 2: The Most Misquoted Line of All Time

Personally, Sci-Fi is one of my favourite genres as I have been brought up watching it with my dad. The original trilogy of Star Wars (A New Hope, 1977, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980, Return of the Jedi, 1983) was one of the first groups of films I remember watching around the age of five. My dad told me that watching me see the Darth Vader Father revelation in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is still to this day one of the funniest things he had seen. I was in utter awe and disbelief that this character who was the bad guy was in fact the good guy’s (Luke Skywalker) father. “No, I am your Father!” Even if it is possibly the most misquoted line of all time… He is glad I watched the original trilogy first. He wanted to see my reaction. So many people now know that Vader is Luke’s father – it’s just common knowledge. But for five-year-old me – I saw it on the screen. We feel Luke’s pain, disbelief, and agony as he learns that Vader is his father. He killed Obi-Wan and his father – or so Luke thought.

Figure 3: Ahsoka Tano (Animated and Live Action)

Case Study: Star Wars (1977-Present) and the Representation of Women

Throughout all three trilogy’s, the numerous series (animation and live-action) and other films, the Star Wars saga (1977-Present) has given its female audience some amazing female role models. Although few in number, these female role models – and icons (for me, Princess Leia) – have graced the screen over the past forty-odd years and shown what they’re made of. The three female role models I’m looking at are Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, and Ahsoka Tano.

Figure 4: Princess Leia Quote

“Well, somebody has to save our skins!” (Princess Leia – A New Hope (1977))

Princess Leia, portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher, is possibly one of my personal favourite female role models in film and television history. Leia commands the scene and she grabs my attention. She is confident in herself and doesn’t let anyone think otherwise. When the rescue mission in A New Hope (1977) by Luke, Han, and Chewie goes wrong, she takes control of the situation (as seen in Figure 4 above). This isn’t the only time when Leia goes from being a Damsel-in-Distress to the heroine and hero of the scene. In Return of the Jedi (1983), Leia is captured whilst attempting to rescue her love interest, Han Solo, from Jabba the Hutt. This resulted in the infamous ‘Gold Bikini Scene’ and ends with Leia ‘“Strangl[ing] Jabba the Hutt with the literal chains of the patriarchy”’ (The Guardian, 2015). Frustrating for women, she is objectified in this scene, possibly for the male audience, which is an anomaly in Leia’s character arc and development. It has been widely known that Carrie Fisher herself was upset with this decision. Leia was one of three named speaking roles in the entirety of the original trilogy (1977-1983), which were Leia (in all three of the trilogy films), Aunt Beru (A New Hope (1977)), and Mon Mothma (Return of the Jedi (1983)).

Figure 5: Padme Amidala Quote

“I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war” (Queen Amidala – The Phantom Menace (1999))

Queen in The Phantom Menace (1999) and Senator in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) Padme Amidala is portrayed by Natalie Portman. The Quote featured in Figure 5 is one of my favourite lines of a female character in the Saga.

Padme is a ‘hands down feminist icon’ (Brown, 2018, p.339). She is strong willed and persistent in her fight to do what is best for her people – the people of Naboo. Much like Leia from the Original Series, she is the main female character in these three films (The Prequel Series) – having two female characters that the female audience can see as role models in SIX films is a disappointment for me personally. It is also a massive disappointment that Padme Amidala was the ONLY female character to have a speaking role in the entirety of Revenge of the Sith (2005). The only thing I personally don’t like about her character is the writing of the character in the third film. Cole Bowman looks to the unfortunate way that Padme’s character arc was destroyed in the third film in the Prequel series. Bowman describes her role as ‘just a vessel of motherhood’ (Bowman, 2015, p.168), being the mother of Luke and Leia – the protagonists in the Original Series. It is damaging from the character that ‘her importance in [Revenge of the Sith] can be seen as being reduced to the births’ (Bowman, 2015, p.165).

Figure 6: Rey Identity Theft

Just on a side note. The reason for not including Rey in this list:

Personally, I cannot put Rey from the Sequel Series (2015-2019) in this list. After writing an in depth essay in my second year of my Bachelor’s degree on Fan Culture: ‘‘Somebody has to save our skins’: Star Wars and the impact of the female representation on female fans’, the character of Rey has completely gone down in my expectations and isn’t a role model I would want my future children, especially daughters, to look up to. A reasoning for this is due to the fact her character is completely unrealistic. When watching any film, whatever the genre, I need to believe in what I am seeing on the screen – the world, the people, the story – it is realistic in the sense that that is real in the universe it is created in. In the case of Rey, she is a ‘Mary Sue’. Christopher Lindsey explains the definition of a ‘Mary Sue’: ‘“fictional character who is so competent or perfect that this appears absurd.” (This character type is not limited to females. The male equivalent is called a Larry Stu.) A Mary Sue can do things that should be beyond her natural abilities’.

I felt Rey was made as an attempt to attract female audiences, but not in the right way. The female fan base that is already ever present don’t want a character who doesn’t have any stand out flaws and learns how to become a jedi in a matter of days and weeks – going back to my point about Rey being a stereotypical Mary Sue. The female audience want strong female characters – but ones we can relate to – ones that make mistakes and ones who have flaws and show them. Leia and Padme aren’t perfect know it all’s – they’re stubborn, they’re emotional, they’re gutsy and smart – they’re HUMAN – and that’s what we as an audience want to relate to.

Also – Force Healing… NO!

Bibliography:

BOWMAN, C. (2015). ‘Pregnant Padme and Slave Leia: Star Wars’ Female Role Models’ In: Eberl, J. T., Decker, K. S., Irwin, W. (Eds.) Ultimate Star Wars and Philsophy: You must unlearn what you have learned. The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. New Jersey: Wiley.

BROWN, J.A. (2018) ‘WheresRey: Feminism, Protest, and merchandising sexism in Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Feminism Media Studies. 18 (3) p. 335-348

LINSAY, C. (2021). Why Rey is a Mary Sue: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Available from: https://christopherjohnlindsay.com/2021/07/04/the-force-awakens/ [Accessed: 25th October 2021]

THE GUARDIAN (2015). The ‘Slave Leia’ controversy is about more than objectification. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/05/slave-leia-controversy-star-wars-objectification [Accessed: 3 February 2020]

Filmography:

Star Wars: Episode I – A Phantom Menace. (1999). Film. Directed by George Lucas. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. (2002). Film. Directed by George Lucas. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. (2005). Film. Directed by George Lucas. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. (1977). Film. Directed by George Lucas. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. (2019). Film. Directed by J.J Abrams. [Cinema]. US: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. (1980). Film. Directed by Irvin Kershner. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. (1983). Film. Directed by Richard Marquand. [DVD]. US: 20th Century Fox.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. (2015). Film. Directed by J.J Abrams. [DVD]. US: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. (2017). Film. Directed by Rian Johnson. [DVD]. US: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Illustrations:

Figure 1 – The Clone Wars from Google Images

https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/c/ca/ReportFromFalleen-DOAD.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120612164141

Figure 2 – The most misquoted line ever from Google Images

Figure 3 – Ahsoka (animated and live action) from Google Images

Figure 4 – Princess Leia Quote from Google Images

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.redbubble.com%2Fi%2Fipad-case%2FSomebody-has-to-save-our-skins-by-MissElphie%2F29555901.MNKGF&psig=AOvVaw147Fu51Bh_Tw8i2O33Glhx&ust=1635449424587000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCMDT_5Cq6_MCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

Figure 5 – Padme Amidala Quote from Google Images

Figure 6 – Identity Theft is not a Joke, Rey! From Google Images

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: