So this happened.
A guy called Ben Child, who is apparently a writer for ‘The Guardian’, wrote a nice little piece about how George Lucas is apparently a grumpy old sexist/racist fool, and Star Wars is becoming infinitely more diverse without him.
Now lets call a spade a spade, shall we? This ‘article’ is a character assassination attempt. Child attempts to paint the Star Wars/Indiana Jones creator as an out of touch old fool, interested in only creating stereotypical ‘plot device’ female characters.
This insinuation is laughable at it’s worst. Whether you love or loath Lucas, the facts are undeniable: Princess Leia, played by the late, great Carrie Fisher, has been for four decades the face of both geek and feminist culture. During ‘Star Wars’ (later re-titled ‘A New Hope’), Leia was introduced as a typical “princess-type” character, essentially a plot device for the male characters. And then something happened: brave-but-naive Luke let Leia out of her prison cell. Leia (and since he wrote and directed the bloody thing, GEORGE LUCAS) turned the stereotype on its head: she took charge and led her outmatched team out of danger.
But this of course gets little-to-no mention in Child’s attempted take-down of the man directly responsible for jump-starting the imagination of many millions of children, including quite a few who now monopolize the film industry. Mostly because it doesn’t fit the narrative: George Lucas bad, Disney good!
Here is the mother-of-all-turds that Child claims in his article:
“In many ways, Lucas’s attitude towards women in space seems to have regressed during the prequels: Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala may not have suffered the discourtesies faced by Fisher as her daughter in the saga, but at least Leia got to fire a blaster or two (not to mention strangling Jabba) in the original trilogy. Despite their similarities in rank, Padmé rarely got involved in the action, but (as Fisher also observed) she did get to change her costume and hairstyle an awful lot.” -Ben Child
At this point, you have to wonder if Child has actually seen a Star Wars film. Leia perhaps played with blasters just as much, if not more, than most other characters in the original trilogy. And guess what? Save for 2005’s ‘Revenge of the Sith’, so did Padme. And I think we’ll forgive Lucas for keeping Padme out of the action in Sith, considering there was that whole “Luke and Leia need to be born” thingy.
Now, if you recall, Padme participated in multiple action sequences in both of the first two Star Wars’ prequels. Hell, in the “gladiator arena” sequence in “Attack of the Clones”, Lucas once-again subverts the “hero rescues the damsel in distress” stereotype.
“She seems to be on top of things”.
But once again, this doesn’t quite fit the “George Lucas is the devil!” narrative that some older fans, like Child, would like to instill in our youth’s minds. The claims of some members of the internet-era who still haven’t forgiven Lucas for making the films, WITH HIS OWN MONEY, that he wanted to make.
“People get real tight about like ‘He raped our childhood!’ You know, calm down dude… you wanna know what it feels like to have a dick in your ass, i’ll show you! – Kevin Smith.
The funniest part of all this is the assertion that modern, Disney Star Wars is righting the atrocities that Lucas made to feminism in cinema. Child directly compares Lucas’ films with Disney Star Wars films, without giving much thought to how, to a certain degree, the abilility to push women and people-of-color into the forefront of film is based on the groundwork that Lucas himself laid for us.
Has all that much changed though, really? Sure, the main character in ‘The Force Awakens’ is a female heroine. But the other two parts? One, Leia, was created by George Lucas. The other, Phasma? Both fans who loved and loathed the first ‘new’ Star Wars film widely regard Gwendoline Christie’s character as a joke: a token character meant to sell toys. And what about Rogue One? Well, the films once again focuses on a female lead, and guess what? The only other significant female character is Mon Mothma, once again, say it with me? CREATED BY GEORGE LUCAS.
Oh, and did you guys pick up the part when Child insinuated that Lucas is a racist? (By the way, did you notice how Child didn’t even mention one of the greatest complex characters of colour in blockbuster cinema, Lando Calrissian? Good.) Lucas, who himself is in an interracial marriage?
In the end, perhaps the worst thing about this article is the way that Child strings his points together with a shoe-string. Child insinuates that Lucas’ obvious dislike for the new films must directly from his failures, sexism and racism. Such claims go against what we know.
We live in a day-and-age where, more so than ever, we need to make up our own minds, rather than base our opinions of others on the small-minded views of biased individuals. Whilst it is easiest to attribute this comment to modern-day politics, I would argue that it also applies to cinema.
Kids, go watch all the Star Wars films. Every single one. Make up your own mind. Don’t listen to bitter old men who can’t, or won’t, let go of their own failures and heartaches. Don’t let them force their opinions of you. Make up your own damn mind.
Original article: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2017/feb/20/a-modern-space-opera-has-star-wars-escaped-the-george-lucas-worldview