Star Wars: It’s not just for boys anymore! (Of course, it was never just for boys.)
J.J. Abrams stopped by Good Morning America Tuesday to talk about the franchise and his goals for the sequels. When asked “Who are you most excited to hear from after the they see it?” Abrams responded:
“Well, Star Wars was always about, you know—it was always a boys’ thing and a movie that dads take their sons to. And though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping that this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to, as well. So I’m looking forward to kids seeing this movie and seeing themselves in it.”
This is a very weird thing to say.
It’s great that Abrams is deliberately thinking about reaching girls as much as boys. While we haven’t seen The Force Awakens in full, it does look promising in the inclusion department. And hey, maybe Rey will get to do more than wear pretty dresses, get pregnant, and die of childbirth malaise! (Though let it be noted that Carrie Fisher, a goddess who helped make the original trilogy, still felt obligated to lose weight for the project, despite the fact that without Fisher they might as well have cancelled the whole damn reboot.)
But Star Wars was never a boys’ thing. Generations of women will attest that they loved the original trilogy. Part of the reason for the hue and cry over the initial casting announcement was that there are many, many female fans who don’t want to get boxed out of a beloved story that has one of the best female protagonists of all time, Princess Leia.
But it’s also worth noting that meanwhile, George Lucas is running around saying things like this, to CBS News (via an Entertainment Weekly preview of the interview):
“The issue was, ultimately, they looked at the stories and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’” he told CBS. “So, I said, all I want to do is tell a story of what happened – it started here and went there. It’s all about generations, and issues of fathers and sons and grandfathers. It’s a family soap opera.”
He was talking about stepping away from the franchise rather than trying to muscle into the kitchen for another go-round, but that “fathers and sons and grandfathers” bit sheds a little light on Leia’s characterization in Return of the Jedi and poor Natalie Portman’s old college try in the prequels. (When they’re coming from men, daddy issues are the stuff of myth and sagas. When they’re coming from women, daddy issues are recommendation for therapy and a punchline.)
Star Wars has always been for everybody. But that’s in no small part because whenever anybody tries to make Star Wars be a boys-only phenomenon—which probably happens through laziness and myopia more often than deliberate attempts at exclusion—women refuse to let them. Women like the female fans who just won’t shut the hell up about those Princess Leia dolls, and women like Carrie Fisher, who created an immortal character on impatience and eye-rolling when they wouldn’t even let her wear a bra.
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Image via AP