Thursday, July 10, 2008

Don't Pick On Star Wars

As I said in an earlier post, I am huge fan of sci-fi...I think I might have to really begin to redress my unwavering approval of it though.  A few days ago I sat down to watch the Return of The Jedi, with my newly attuned feminist eye.  I have come to the decision that as much as I love George Lucas, his vision of the future is not one that includes the role of women as active participants. What about Princess Leigh?? Well what about her, she is only one character in a virtual sea of men saving the world from destruction.  As I think back to the final big battle scene in the original Star Wars, all of the fighter pilots attempting to destroy the death star are male.  Obviously flying a ship, or plane is not a skill that only men can, or could perfect, and yet it is only men that are up to this Herculean task.  

Throughout all 6 movies in the series, men are the villains, heroes, the protagonists, the characters that really matter.  We are meant to view the male experience as the universal experience.  Some of you may be thinking..this is just entertainment, an imaginary world, why does it matter so much.  It matters because even as we dream about what may come, we still cannot conceptualize a world or worlds wherein women participate equally.  Movies like Star Wars are not divorced from reality even though they fall within the realm of science fiction, simply because everything we consume is a product of our social discourse.

When women are invisible, or are portrayed as needing men to save them, it only encourages our marginalization.  To be truly visionary about the future we need to start conceiving of a future wherein both sexes are adequately represented.  I understand that science fiction has largely been an arena for men, but I suggest that including more female roles would not only validate equality between the sexes it would open a whole new audience of viewers.  Science fiction will get no more free passes from me.  I want to see myself not only represented, but actively saving the world from the evil doers.  My dreams of the future involve a time when differences between the sexes are perceived as antiquated and ridiculous.  It is time to boldly go where no person has gone before.


bluelinchpin said...

Actually! :D

I was watching a documentary on the original Star Wars, or at least some sort of information thing, and they talked about how originally Lucas had planned to have the sister be the hero, but switched to male. So he's not that bad.

Renee said...

He didn't follow through with his plans though did he? He had a chance when he made the last three star war movies to present a more woman positive agenda but he chose to ignore that opportunity to once again make males the central focus.

Danny said...

He had a chance when he made the last three star war movies to present a more woman positive agenda but he chose to ignore that opportunity to once again make males the central focus.

Unfortunately due to the fact that he was bound by the events of episodes 4-6 he only had so much leeway. 1-3 were supposed to address how and why Anakin turned dark meaning that 1-3 had to focus on him mostly. And while it doesn't balance the scales by any means the two prominent women of those six movies (Queen Amidala and her daughter Leia) were not afraid to get their hands dirty and handle business.

Now if he were to make movies 7-9 and did the same thing, that would not be right and there would no reason for it.

I am reminded of Episode 2 when Amidala, Anakin, and Obi Wan were captured on Gnosis(sp?). By the time the two badass jedi Anakin and Obi Wan had finished talking Amidala had almost completely freed herself.

Renee said...

@Danny..he could not get away from the whole Darth Vader thing I agree but he certainly could have had more female Jedi...or more visible females in the background even. It is the invisibility of women that I have a problem with.

Danny said...

You are right that the movies could have used more women and that is part of the reason why I'd love to see some movies based on the novels that take place after the movies. Mara Jade, Kenel Ka, The Nightsisters of many interesting women.

sam said...

To be completely fair, the Star Wars movies take place "a long time ago", not JUST "in a galaxy far away." Sure it's fanboy wanking to use that to explain sexism... but Lucas wasn't trying to create an egalitarian world was he? The movies depict slavery, war, bounty hunting, repressed races and economic classes, etc. I think Star TREK is much more egregious on this particular count since it took them 30 years to have a female captain of their perfect utopian Starfleet and even then no one liked her. And Star Trek actually claims to be set in the future, not the past.

troubleinchina said...

Here via Shakes.

If you rewatch Episode III, count the number of times women actually speak.

Also, I think this comic pretty much sums everything up.

lujlp said...

Another way to look at it was the guys were doing the fighting and dying while the women were doing the planning.

Who was the leader of the rebellion? Mon Mothma - a woman.

Who figured a way out of the security section? Leia - a woman

Who was entrusted with the care and delivery of the death star plans? A woman

Who killed Jabba? A woman

In fact should you read any of the novels it was a woman who designed the death star, re built the republic and was the executive of the republic

as far as star trek goes if you follow one ship around your only going to see the one crew.

But in TNG the enterprise was captianed by a woman in a few episodes - and repremaned troi for not wearing the proper uniform. Not to mention all the geat apperances by female admirlas and female captins of other ships.

And the reason nobody liked Mulgrew(the womn who played Janeway) is because she was quoted as saying she had never watched star trek and saw no need to familirase herself with the connons and history of the trek universe. It wanst that she was a woman, its that she gave the impression that she was above the material

Why the absense of visible woman in the empire? Well lets see the emporer was a racist sexist meglominaical sociopath