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May 6, 2014

Star Wars: 1977 to 2014 - What's Changed In The Gender Stakes?

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The original Star Wars series has been a family staple for as long as I can remember. Even when the first three episodes were released, my family made a point to watch all of them on the big screen (yes, even Episode I), and my dad and I sat amongst a crowd of fans for Episode III who decided to autonomously give the introduction a peal of applause.

Even though Princess Leia was not my favourite character from the series, it was refreshing - considering that my sister and I lived on a film diet of Disney animations - to see a princess who was not only beautiful but also powerful and courageous and intelligent and cheeky, and who mostly contributed in a major way to the development of the storyline with the end-goal not being to find a husband and marry him.

It must have been a major gamble to have a princess like this in the film, aside from the risk that the entire film must have been - watching A New Hope on Star Wars Day made me wonder what the actors were thinking as they dressed up as C-3PO, Chewbacca, and various other oddball characters. Back in the '70s, it was relatively unlikely to find a strong female lead who wasn't focused on finding that dream hunk of a husband (in my opinion). Though Harrison Ford launched his career playing a potential mate for Princess Leia, the point for me was that being with him wasn't her end-goal - sure, she ended up with him, but only because her priority of saving the Galaxy from the Empire was fulfilled.

However, that was almost 40 years ago, and I had harboured hopes that, after announcements that the saga would be continuing and the fact that female-led films led the box office profits last year, the film would feature some exciting new lead female characters, especially after . Alas, I have been disappointed. And a mock-up made for fun rubs this fact in - it features only one little lady. Certainly, there were two major actresses announced for the upcoming film, but one is from the original series, so I count that as not counting. I presume that the film will aim to pass the Bechdel Test so the film can be shown in Sweden.

You would think that after so much time they would consider adding more than one female role (and another supposedly in limbo), but it seems that major producers still believe that science-fiction is for boys, and princesses are for girls. And we only need one princess, right?

Am I out of line?

{Image source: Wikimedia Commons\sweetviscape}

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