I love Star Wars like any geek worth his salt should, so you can imagine that any additions to Lucas’s pre-prequel universe are going to be heavily critiqued by me. After my initial excitement over having seen the latest entry into the Star Wars franchise, I indeed had some criticisms, and they fell in line with what a lot of people thought as well.
Namely, what the hell was the deal with all this shoehorned-in girl power?
JJ Abrams, the producer behind the new Star Wars films, has heard this criticism from the fans, and after some consideration decided that the problem wasn’t with the film, it was with the audience. Abrams stated that the only reason people are criticizing the film at all is because people are just threatened by females.
“We’re not asking to take away the male point of view or male artistry or male contribution,” he said in an interview with IndieWire. “We’re simply saying, ‘What is fair?’ I can see why people might get freaked out by it, but the people who are getting freaked out are the people who are accustomed to that privilege, and this is not oppression, this is about fairness.”
“Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars. If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars,” he continued.
“You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did [Star Wars: A New Hope] and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that,” said Abrams.
Abrams has fallen into one of Hollywood’s more common political agenda bubbles and assumed that just because a character falls into an identity category then the character should automatically be loved, awkwardness of the placement, or purpose of the character be damned.
While Leia Organa is a woman, she wasn’t beloved strictly because she is a woman. Her plight, attitude, and legitimate position within the plot made her a beloved character. Also, everything she did made sense, be it kissing her (unbeknownst to her) long-lost brother to make Han jealous, or taking off on a hoverbike to stop a stormtrooper from reporting the rebel’s position. People loved Leia because she was a great character with a solid purpose, not because she had XX chromosomes.
Meanwhile, some of the Last Jedi’s women felt forced and unnecessary, Admiral Holdo being chief among them. Holdo, complete with trendy purple hair, takes over for Leia after she’s hospitalized. Why did she take over instead of fan favorite “IT’S A TRAP!” Admiral Ackbar? Because Ackbar was lazily killed off so that Holdo could be injected into the plot.
Holdo then proceeds to make moves that make no sense, like hiding her battle plans from her crew in order to make it seem like she’s some tactical wizard no one can comprehend, and what’s more, smarter and wiser than her mutinous number one (male) pilot who believes her unfit for the position. Only at the very end, when Leia reveals Holdo’s true intentions, is everyone suddenly made aware of Holdo’s master plan.
This is utterly ridiculous and contributes nothing of substance to the plot. My one thought throughout the movie was that the pilot, Poe Dameron, was incredibly correct to mutiny in the face of a commander whose battle strategy was, as far as everyone knew, to get them all killed. If I was Leia, instead of walking into the room and stunning Dameron, I would have busted Holdo down to toilet scrubbing duty for terrorizing her crew, and withholding vital information relative to the crew’s survival.
But she’s made out to look heroic for doing something so stupid and weird. Holdo does end up sacrificing herself by going into warp speed straight at the enemy ship, which somewhat redeems her. An admittedly cool shot, but that moment should have belonged to Ackbar. Not because he’s a male, but because that would have been an amazing send off for a much loved (and meme’d) character.
I think “How It Should Have Ended” captured Ackbar being robbed so well in their HISHE video that it actually hurt my heart.
Fans highly criticize The Last Jedi, not because of the absurd reason that they’re threatened by women, but because they felt cheated out of characters they loved and felt the new ones were forced down their throats.
A character’s status as loved has little to do with what they’re sporting in their birthday suit, and more to do with their actual position and actions in the plot. Abrams, an otherwise capable filmmaker, would do well to remember this with the upcoming film and ditch the social justice nonsense that has proven to kill what could be great films.