Men are from Mars, women are from…Jakku?

Hello brainless hookers,

Welcome to the new blog. In place of a mission statement I’m just going to do this:

I’ll tell you what is going into my wish list for 2016: Mainstream media not being dead sexist about things. PS – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS

Like a lot of human beings I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my friends. We got the tickets well in advance and were debating dressing up. Who doesn’t want to drag it up as Princess Leia? I know I do. Mercifully I left the drag to Her Royal Highness, Carrie Fisher, herself; did you see the woman on Graham Norton? She’s a hero.

Our response to the film was positive – I thought it was entertaining, the right level of nostalgic and funny. After drooling over Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren (dah-ling leave that mask ON) I considered Rey and concluded she was a fresh addition to the Star Wars universe. Daisy Ridley, the actress who portrays Rey joins a slowly expanding circle. In the entire film franchise there are a grand total of 9 female characters. By my reckoning they are as follows:

  1. Princess Leiaprincess-leia.jpg
  2. Reyrey_bddd0f27.jpeg
  3. Shmi Skywalkertumblr_inline_nud2qoaGJ21roawdn_1280.jpg
  4. Oolaoola-main-image_5c15a693.jpeg
  5. Padme Amidalad6d24955bb9edbe8939012b396302a00.jpg
  6. Mon MothmaMonmothma.jpg

7. Maz Kenata

Maz_Kanata_VD

8. Captain Phasmagwendoline-christie-on-how-captain-phasma-defies-gender-stereotypes-625156.jpg

9. Aunt Beru

Beru_headshot2.jpg

Any attempt by the writers of The Force Awakens to include more female characters is to be applauded. However it’s still a low number; which gets even lower when you discount Maz, Mon Mothma and Oola (barely in it).

Let’s also discount Aunt Beru, AKA. Aunt BBQ (get it?) and also Captain Phasma. I recently read J.J Abrams saying Phasma is his favourite character. Look – I love Gwendoline Christie as much as the next man but favourite? Really? Phasma has about three lines in the entire film. Maybe she will do more in Episodes VIII-IX but for now – she’s off the list.

So we’re left with Shmi, Padme, Leia, and Rey.

Shmi (SPOILERS) dies in Episode II and is only really there as a plot device to a) give birth to Anakin in a plot line which has tendrils of the Immaculate Conception fraying around the edges and b) to explain Anakin Skywalker’s gradual descent to the Dark Side of the Force when she is murdered by Sand People causing Anakin to go apeshit and homicidal. She has virtually nothing happening apart from her son and a weird flirtation with Qui Gon Jin.

Padme is the prequel trilogy’s only real female character with anything about her. That’s not an opinion by the way – it’s fact. Once Shmi croaks Padme is, quite literally, the only female character in the film.

She is Leader of her people on Naboo and, suspect racial tension with the Gungun’s aside, she is savvy, cunning and is, at the end of the day, doing her job as leader. Episode II sees her upgraded to Senator. But she’s hardly Hilldog; attempts on her life are met with a placid acceptance of the Jedi’s guardianship of her. She spends most of her time flirting with Anakin, brushing him off and then sleeping with him. By Episode III she has devolved into another plot device to show how Anakin tips over the edge and becomes Darth Vader. Oh, also gives birth to twins who become key players in the Original Trilogy.

Onto Princess Leia, later General Leia Organa. My love for Carrie Fisher aside – Leia is my favourite Star Wars character. She’s bold, vulnerable (Alderaan!), forthright and from what I can gather, the head of a movement looking to take down the Galactic Empire.

Given that the only other woman kicking ass in sci-fi around this time is Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Alien – Leia is up there. Although Han and Luke get to fly the Falcon and wield the lightsabers Leia is directing and organising. Okay – she gets rescued a few times but she rescues Luke and Han too; she’s on an even footing with them in terms of importance.

Which brings us to Rey who I cannot wait to see the development of in Episodes VIII and IX. Many have drawn parallels between Rey and Luke Skywalker and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re related.

Rey is resourceful, adventurous and not afraid to muck in with the actual fighting. How brilliant.

Some of the best scenes were between Rey and Kylo Ren; both young and, somewhat, lost characters trying to figure each other out whilst at the same time not be outwitted by the other. I wanted to see more of the light sabre showdown between them.

However – I was recently watching an episode of Graham Norton where Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Carrie Fisher appeared together. Graham got out a lightsaber for them to play with and handed it straight to John Boyega who proceeded to swoosh it all over the place.

Ridley has definitely been trained to swoosh one about to so why didn’t she get a turn? It was a small thing but it really pissed me off. I also saw pictures of action figures being sold to promote the film/line Disney’s coffers with more cash. Not one of the figures was Rey. Facepalm.

It’s encouraging to see J.J Abrams make comments about how ridiculous it is that Rey (only like, you know, the LEAD character) isn’t included in the recently marketed Star Wars: The Force Awakens Monopoly game.

Let’s just hope they listen to him.