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Leia ambivalence
July 25, 2014 12:24 PM   Subscribe


 
Dressing up as a chained slave is kind of... advanced... adult sexuality.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:27 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


In retrospect, Princess Leia's slave costume from Return of the Jedi was a clear piece of evidence of how badly the absence of Marcia Lucas would creatively affect the Star Wars franchise following her divorce from George in 1983.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:32 PM on July 25 [42 favorites]


Yeah, it sort of was redeemed in-story, but the fixation on it out of story gets a little weird. Especially when it gets marketed to kids.

On preview, Marcia's departure was absolutely the turning point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:35 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Leia Organa is one of the greatest female characters in all of science fiction—hell, one of the greatest character of either sex in all of science fiction. Part of that was the subtleties of how Carrie Fisher portrayed her. I was a young boy in 1977-1983, and I did not think of her as a bitch or as ice queen. She was in charge. She had a job to do. And she fucking did it and was more capable than the men around her. When she is captured and enslaved by Jabba, she bides her time, puts up with the humiliation with dignity, and then, when the opportunity presents itself, she strangles one of the galaxy's biggest, baddest crime bosses to death with the very chain he used to subjugate her. What's not to love?

Seeing Carrie Fisher return to the role of Leia Organa is one of the biggest reasons I am excited about Episode VII. I know they're throwing out the Expanded Universe, but Leia has to be the head of state of The New Republic, or at least the former chancellor at the time of the new film. Anything less would be a disservice to her character.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:40 PM on July 25 [96 favorites]


What's not to love?

That first hairstyle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:46 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher : you did not just diss the Lei buns. Oh. No. ::rolls up sleeves and prepares for a fight::
posted by Faintdreams at 12:49 PM on July 25 [47 favorites]


What's not to love?
That first hairstyle.
A pox on you!
posted by mazola at 12:49 PM on July 25 [9 favorites]


Of course, this is the same universe that forced Leia to comfort a grieving Luke Skywalker over the death of an old man he'd known for two days while her entire planet and everyone she'd ever loved was vaporized.
Boom.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:55 PM on July 25 [128 favorites]


Well, to be fair, Leia always had it together ("Aren't you a little short for Storm Trooper?"), and Luke... Well, he was kind of... a sissy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:58 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]




Brandon Blatcher : you did not just diss the Lei buns.

Yeah, I did. Worst visual look my young eyes had ever seen.

That said, Leia is a pretty great character. Never liked all the attention slave Leia gets, though her strangling Jabba was pretty great. It's really strange, Leia reminded me of a lot of adult women in my family, so she didn't seem like a radically new character, just human, as mundane as that can. Great skills in a particular area, but could be annoying, as anyone can.

Not sure when I got the idea that Jabba more than likely raped Leia, probably early in middle school. That was somewhat troubling as I did the "math" aka, Leia was captured and striped, so if Star Wars is anything like our world, she was probably raped.

Then I decided Star Wars wasn't our world, so Leia wasn't raped, because people don't really do that, not in a perfect world, which Star Wars had to be, what with space ships and what not. Besides, there was physics to think of and Jabba copulating with Leia doesn't quite work (probably and no we don't need discuss this) and why he'd want to see this alien creature who didn't look anything like him naked was just odd. At least the dancers had tentacles, which I guess one big tentacle could find exciting to watch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:11 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Of course, this is the same universe that forced Leia to comfort a grieving Luke Skywalker over the death of an old man he'd known for two days while her entire planet and everyone she'd ever loved was vaporized.

Sounds like the writer does not understand the overwhelming nature of MANPAIN.
posted by sukeban at 1:14 PM on July 25 [32 favorites]


Anyone who thinks that Uncle George spent time thinking about these issues before writing that weak lemonade, doesn't know much about how the man works and what he really believes in - product marketing and licensing. Get real.
posted by dbiedny at 1:17 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Sounds like the writer does not understand the overwhelming nature of MANPAIN.

Is it worse than childbirth?
posted by mazola at 1:19 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Uhh, yeah! Way worse! It's deep and metaphorical and brooding, yo!
posted by Mister_A at 1:22 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by sukeban at 1:22 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Well, hey, Luke had just recently lost his entire family (as far as he knew) as well, and he was just a farmboy suddenly thrust into this massive battle vs Leia's royal diplomat rebel background. So she maybe had more mental firepower to deal with stuff. But on the whole I agree that her struggles are vastly under-represented.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:23 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Boom.

More like a fizzle. Luke didn't know about the destruction of Leia's planet, and Leia had just watched Luke lose his mentor. Like, it happened 45 seconds ago, right in front of them. I guess she could have said, "So what if you just witnessed the death of one old man. My whole planet blew up!" Would that have made her a better character?

If anything, I think that scene shows a kind, gentle side of her that we really haven't glimpsed before then. She is a real firecracker through the whole movie, always talking sass, cracking wise, blasting stormtroopers and basically flouting every rule of the damsel-in-distress trope... and then she sees this guy she's just met lose his shit over the death of his friend, and even though they're still in the middle of this big chase scene she takes a second to comfort him. Leia kicks all kinds of butt.

I would be really surprised if Jabba raped Leia. For one thing, I doubt he had a dong. For another, it just doesn't feel like a place the franchise would go. I think offscreen he probably ogled her and drooled at her and threatened her some more, and that was as far as it went. (That's plenty far enough!) I think she was silent through the whole thing because she knew that back-talk would probably get her tossed in the Rancor pit. This wasn't the Empire she was dealing with, and Jabba had no reason to keep her alive other than to enjoy humiliating her. So, she bided her time, and then she strangled his gross, sluggy ass.

I don't like calling Luke a sissy, to be honest. So, he's not Mr. Machismo. BFD. He was kind of a dorky kid, and he got pulled into this huge galactic conflict and rose to the occasion and became a space wizard. In hindsight, it's kind of amazing that Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman had such badass kids.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:36 PM on July 25 [66 favorites]


She had a job to do. And she fucking did it and was more capable than the men around her.

Yeah, who wouldn't be pissed off and demanding when faced with the kind of help she had to basically save the galaxy from evil: a backwoods yokel who murders small animals for fun, a cranky old racist who believes in magic, a straight-up murderer, a giant monster with anger issues, and a protocol droid who gets himself and his accomplice captured almost immediately upon beginning their mission. R2 is the only main character on par with Leia's capability.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on July 25 [74 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "That first hairstyle."

You mean her headphones?
posted by brundlefly at 1:38 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Well, sure, her home province, er, world is destroyed, but she has a shot at Empress, er, President: what's a feudal Princess going to do? Worry about a bunch of peasants?
posted by alasdair at 1:41 PM on July 25


Dressing up as a chained slave is kind of... advanced... adult sexuality.

I can guarantee that there will be at least one 40-something man in character as slave Leia this Sunday at Up Your Alley. The master in the relationship is never dressed as Jabba, but... that would be even more advanced. And probably sweaty.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:42 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


The toys are complicated in that boys typically don't want to play with female dolls. I had the original "action figures" back in the late 70's, and the white-clad Leia definitely belonged to my sister. Her Boushh disguise in Jedi was kind of cool, actually, because of the neat helmet, as well as the extremely long rifle. And the Endor trooper figure was also kind of cool.

The only "action figure" I really miss from those days is the original IG-88. Such a cool concept for a character.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:46 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The toys are complicated in that boys typically don't want to play with female dolls. I had the original "action figures" back in the late 70's, and the white-clad Leia definitely belonged to my sister.

Sucks to be you. My Princes Leia was taking her sleekly designed laser pistol in her simple thrown on rope, hoping into an X-Wing (or Tie Fighter) and flying off to have sex with Chewbacca.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on July 25 [16 favorites]


a straight-up murderer

The guy was being held at gunpoint by a mafia hitman. That's not murder any more than everyone else blasting all those stormtroopers.

Anyways, yeah, I never really thought of the Jabba/Leia thing as beyond him liking to keep trophies and to make an example of his enemies. She threatened him with a grenade in his house, and now he's got space royalty on a leash, and a smuggler that crossed him hanging on a wall.
posted by Hoopo at 1:54 PM on July 25 [12 favorites]


IG-88 needs a rebooted spinoff series. His character and backstory were grotesquely butchered by Kevin J. Anderson in the EU, and it's almost worth seeing Star Wars handed over to JJ Abrams just to have that whole sprawling metastasized horror washed away.

Speaking of the EU, and I'm sure this is contradicted somewhere within it, but I remember reading that Jabba's whole purpose in keeping humanoid slaves was as a display of status and power ("look at me, I'm subjugating the womenfolk of the galaxy's dominant race"), not because he had any sexual interest in them. And I'm pretty sure Hutts are supposed to be hermaphroditic, anyway.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:54 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


a straight-up murderer

Quit trolling.
posted by univac at 2:00 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


IG-88 needs a rebooted spinoff series.

A series of Martin-and-Lewis-style road movies with IG-88 and HK-47.
posted by griphus at 2:03 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


The guy was being held at gunpoint by a mafia hitman.
...
Quit trolling.

Ok will everyone prefer "mobbed-up drug runner with a serious debt liability and a getaway vehicle that runs on equal parts luck and hope"?
posted by griphus at 2:05 PM on July 25 [26 favorites]


Of course, this is the same universe that forced Leia to comfort a grieving Luke Skywalker over the death of an old man he'd known for two days while her entire planet and everyone she'd ever loved was vaporized.

To be fair, Leia never really shows much emotion about the destruction of her home planet and everyone on it.

It's not entirely clear to me how much time passes during Star Wars, but I'm pretty sure you could make an argument that the whole damn thing, from the moment Luke leaves home to find the missing R2-D2 to the destruction of the Death Star takes place over one really eventful afternoon. I think the whole thing, from credits to credits, could take place over a 24-36 hour period.

But however you sort out the passage of time, it really hasn't been very long at all since the destruction of her home world when Leia is rescued by Luke, Han, and Chewie. And nowhere in that whole escape from the Death Star sequence is she shown grieving over anyone or anything. There's nothing even remotely close to "I must be brave and carry on for the sake of so many who died." Rather, she's all full of piss and vinegar, tossing wisecracks at Luke and Han ("Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?" "You came in that? You're braver than I thought.") She's kissing Luke "for luck." Whatever she's doing, she isn't being devastated by the loss of her loved ones and her home.

I think the only way to parse that element of her character is to assume that that's just not who Leia is. She doesn't tear her hair and wail over the horror the galaxy can present. She channels it into productive action, and she helps those around her.
posted by Naberius at 2:06 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Ok will everyone prefer "mobbed-up drug runner with a serious debt liability and a getaway vehicle that runs on equal parts luck and hope"?

I would! "Scoundrel" is very fitting for him and it's how he's often described. Loveable scoundrel trying to do right. Sometimes.
posted by Hoopo at 2:12 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I think the whole thing, from credits to credits, could take place over a 24-36 hour period.

Like, the whole trilogy? No wonder the second Death Star wasn't fully operational when the Battle of Endor first began.

(I assume you're actually talking about the first movie, in which case I agree, although it does seem a bit weird that they'd trust Luke to fly an X-Wing if he'd only "joined" the rebellion a few hours prior.)
posted by asnider at 2:13 PM on July 25


Han Solo is a Mentos commercial brought to life.
posted by griphus at 2:14 PM on July 25 [21 favorites]


Star Wars is a reflection of the times it was made in and the people who crafted the stories. I don't think any of these issues can get resolved until the original trilogy can get remade without the presence of George Lucas.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:16 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Star Wars is a reflection of the times it was made in and the people who crafted the stories. I don't think any of these issues can get resolved until the original trilogy can get remade without the presence of George Lucas.

Cross-cast Han. Keep everything other than gender-specific pronouns the same. I would watch that.

(And I just realized that would get us half-way to a Whedon version, probably.)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:23 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I don't think any of these issues can get resolved until the original trilogy can get remade without the presence of George Lucas.

Nor do they need to be resolved. It's OK to like problematic entertainment, as long as we recognize that, yeah, it's problematic and here's why...
posted by asnider at 2:30 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


I would! "Scoundrel" is very fitting for him and it's how he's often described

That and "stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:31 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Luke didn't know about the destruction of Leia's planet

Other than the whole "disturbance in the force" thing and the whole "millions of voices suddenly silenced" part and then Han Solo explaining that Alderaan had been destroyed, obvs.
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I think the whole thing, from credits to credits, could take place over a 24-36 hour period.

I make it about five days:
  • Day 1: Battle over Tatooine, droids in escape pod, Luke sees Biggs, droids captured by jawas, sunset
  • Day 2: Droid auction, Luke sees hologram, R2-D2 runs away, sunset
  • Day 3: Luke and C-3PO search for R2, they meet Ben, find burned-out sandcrawler, Owen and Beru killed, they set out for Mos Eisley, end of day?
  • Day 4: Arrive at Mos Eisley, arrange passage, sell landspeeder, meet at docking bay and take off, arrive at Alderaan, captured by Death Star, rescue Leia, escape Death Star, fly to Yavin IV, end of day?
  • Day 5: Battle of Yavin
The ends of Days 1 and 2 are clearly marked by sunsets. Days 3 and 4 could actually be the same day, but they do have a long way to travel to Mos Eisley by land and Day 4 is already super-busy, so let's say they arrive at ME the next morning.

It may be tempting to put a day break between the Falcon leaving Tatooine and arriving at Alderaan, but watch the lightsaber training scene—it starts with Solo coming out of the cockpit saying he's outrun the "Imperial slugs" and ends with the warning that they're about to leave hyperspace. The trip appears to take less than an hour.

The only other place I can see where some time may have passed is between the arrival on Yavin IV and the Battle of Yavin, but remember that the Falcon has been tracked by the Death Star, so the Imperials know where the Rebel Base is and are proceeding to destroy it ASAP. If the Death Star were much slower in hyperspace than the Falcon so that it would have take more than a few hours to get there, I would have expected Tarkin to call in a fleet of faster ships to do the job.

So my guess is five days, but it could really be as few as three (with Day 3 being very eventful).
posted by The Tensor at 2:37 PM on July 25 [9 favorites]


Cross-cast Han

Nah. Luke, maybe. Pretty sure Han has to be Robert Downey Jr in the reboot.
posted by Hoopo at 2:37 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


And it's not as if Leia didn't know Obi-Wan, either. She could sympathize easily, and she was probably emphasizing over shared grief for the old man.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:43 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


obvs.

Yeah, I forgot about that. Thanks, Comic Book Guy.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:46 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I assumed the movie was in real time, all action occurring in just under 120 minutes.
posted by mazola at 2:48 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


From what I recall of Star Wars novels, I don't think Jabba could have anatomically uh...managed it.

Okay, beyond that, I love Princess Leia, but I worry about Carrie Fisher being ripped apart for being in the sequels while also being "old and fat."
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:49 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Leia in that hooded white robe looking defiantly at the camera with blaster in hand is Leia. It boggles my mind that anyone would ever choose any other image to encapsulate the character.
posted by 256 at 2:51 PM on July 25 [13 favorites]


Hey, extended universe peeps: Does Leia eventually become a Jedi? And if so, is it stupid or awesome?

or both?
posted by 256 at 2:58 PM on July 25


What's not to love?

That first hairstyle.


@(-_-)@ - The force not be with you.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:07 PM on July 25 [16 favorites]


Leia Organa is one of the greatest female characters in all of science fiction—hell, one of the greatest character of either sex in all of science fiction.

She's based, of course, on Princess Yuki Akizuki from The Hidden Fortress.

Nerds are shy. Leia and Yuki are not. They're not shrinking violets. They reject and subvert the restrictions placed upon them and do not suffer the consequences.

Nerds and Japanese salaryman see themselves similarly trapped and restricted by a society that doesn't appreciate them. They'll never be masculine enough to be see as the traditional hero. So they identify with the non-traditional heroes.

Nerds don't just love Leia and Yuki. They are just not sex objects, per se.

Nerds want TO BE Leia and Yuki ... and Trinity ... and Ripley ... and Molly Millions ... and Major Motoko Kusanagi ... and ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:14 PM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Literally everybody who becomes a Jedi in the EU does so under stupid conditions.

It's been awhile since I inflicted EU on myself, but I'm fairly positive these were the only awesome things:

1. Thrawn
2. Rogue Squadron
3. About 70% of Tales From The Mos Eisley Cantina/Tales From Jabba's Palace

I can remember a few books where Leia acted horribly out of character, and a few where she came across as a sort of Space Hillary Clinton. I think one writer decided to make her a perfunctory Jedi in one book and it was more or less treated like an afterthought after that. If she did anything notably cool as a Jedi, it must have happened in the New Jedi Order series or after, and there are not enough galactic credits in this sector to persuade me to delve into that literary sarlacc pit.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:16 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


MANPAIN

Does anyone want to join my new EDM collective?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:18 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Is Boba Fett ever addressed using a gendered pronoun?
I'm not sure if I recall that happening.

How about if, from now on we all decide that Boba Fett is female.
Also all the storm troopers. (maybe chewbacca too)

It's still got some way to go, but it's a start.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:46 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


When I was little, I wanted to be Princess Leia more than anything. She was someone I could look up to and hope to emulate when I grew up. While I am am doubtful that the new movies can ever be good enough, there's part of me that hopes to see Leia as a strong older woman who will continue to inspire me.
posted by MsVader at 3:52 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I like that Blue Milk Special basically portrayed Leia as Carrie Fisher; drinking, constantly smoking, and a lot more cynical. It makes up for the stupid metal bikini.
posted by happyroach at 3:55 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Of course, this is the same universe that forced Leia to comfort a grieving Luke Skywalker over the death of an old man he'd known for two days while her entire planet and everyone she'd ever loved was vaporized.

Boom.


General Willard
You're safe. When we heard about Alderaan, we feared the worst.

Princess Leia
We have no time for sorrows, Commander. You must use the information in this R-2 unit to help plan the attack- it's our only hope.

Leia Organa has literally been a guerrilla fighter her entire life. She's Space Che Guevera. She's lost people before. Lots of people. Luke has not. She considers him one of the people in her command. She does what she has to do: She gives him a minute to pull himself together and gets him back to work killing bad guys. She's not being weak. She's being a leader.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:09 PM on July 25 [91 favorites]


Lucas was never one for deep characters, or allowing trauma to actually affect people. But since he was very much basing his work off the pulps that's not surprising. Characters suffering horrible events and then just jumping up and never have trauma is one of his things. Han Solo is tortured in Cloud City, and has no flashbacks or PTSD. Leia watches her home planet and her entire people killed after suffering perhaps days of the worst torture the Empire can bring to bear and she not only doesn't have lingering mental issues she greets the person she expects is there to lead her to her execution with a snarky comment. Luke sees his (two day) mentor slaughtered a few days after he sees his aunt and uncle (his parents in all but name) killed horribly by Storm Troopers? He's fine.

Lucas just isn't a very good writer. And the absence of Marcia is not a good thing in either Jedi or the Prequels.

I have modestly high hopes that Abrams will do significantly better, though on the women in the show front he's pretty much sucking already.

@Just this guy, y'know, regrettably episodes 1-3 pretty much have to be counted as canon and those firmly establish that Boba Fett is a biologically male human who watched a Jedi knight decapitate his father and his father's head rolled to his feet (that's going to fuck a kid up).
posted by sotonohito at 4:16 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


In the movies Leia was a weird mixture of super-sexualized and totally desexualized. It's not just the sexy slave scene, but also the fifteen hours she is filmed walking around braless in that thin white robe, say. And then Lucas would switch her back to being sort of an older sister kind of role, bossy but not sexy bossy.

If I was choosing which of her personae to turn into action figures aimed at young children, I'd have picked any of a dozen options where she's in charge, shooting her gun, or basically doing something interesting other than lounging in a metal bikini. That's a weird choice for Lego.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:19 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


> "I'm pretty sure Hutts are supposed to be hermaphroditic, anyway."

You are entirely correct!
posted by kyrademon at 4:28 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Cracked After Hours: Star Wars is Terrifying for Women

That was good, but they missed a few female characters: Bea Arthur, Chewie's wife, ...

um...well, maybe there's more, but it's hard to remember after 35 years.
posted by polecat at 4:32 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


"I'm pretty sure Hutts are supposed to be hermaphroditic, anyway."

That point of biology wasn't established until after ROTJ, was it? The source material that Lucas was working from (30s/40s space serials) involves implicit rape threats and putting women in sexy costumes for the (villainous) male gaze. Letting Leia throttle the bad guy who humiliates her seems like it's intended to minimize the damage to her badassitude. She can be taken down a peg or two, but not too many.

Star Wars came out when I was at the magic age, so I still want to be Princess Leia when I grow up. But I want to be Leia in the Death Star or on Hoth or even Cloud City, not slave Leia, both in life and in cosplay if I ever cosplay.
posted by immlass at 4:39 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


When Leia is imprisoned on the Death Star in the first/fourth(?) movie, it's more than a little kinky. She's stuck in a cell with a bunch of guys wearing black and wielding large needles. Sheesh.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:11 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Leia was so amazing. I'll bet when they got out of the garbage compactor she didn't even smell bad.
posted by jfuller at 5:29 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


MANPAIN

In my neck of the woods, this refers the seemingly ubiquitous tendency in men to try and tell other men whether or not they should be in pain. Sometimes it's called manpaining.

Dude, you don't need to go to the hospital, your finger is still partly attached.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:51 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Lucas was never one for deep characters, or allowing trauma to actually affect people.

Which is why I'm in the "anybody but Lucas" camp. The best work in the franchise wasn't written or directed by him.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:25 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Leia Organa is one of the greatest female characters in all of science fiction—hell, one of the greatest character of either sex in all of science fiction.

I'm going to be pedantic here, sorry, and point out that Star Wars is not science fiction. Fantasy, space western, whatever else you want to call it I'm fine with, but there is no science in Star Wars, and in fact one of the things it is most known for is that the one time it uses a scientific term, it gets it wrong (Kessel Run in twelve parsecs, sheesh).

In the movies Leia was a weird mixture of super-sexualized and totally desexualized. It's not just the sexy slave scene, but also the fifteen hours she is filmed walking around braless in that thin white robe, say.

Wait, what? You don't mean in the first movie, right? Because if she wasn't wearing a bra under that white robe, I certainly never noticed. I never considered her character the least bit sexy when they first met her. She was tough, and a lot more savvy than Luke, making her a better match for Han even when we didn't know she was Luke's sister.

The only time Leia came across as attractive in a sexual way at all before the slave outfit was when she was on the cloud planet, and you get (or I got) the distinct impression that she accurately reads Lando's character, figures the best way to play him, and is diplomatically playing up the "I am an attractive young woman" angle because they need safe harbor from the Empire and Lando sees himself as such a charmer. I don't think Leia is weirdly sexualized or desexualized. I think she is allowed to let herself enjoy Lando's attention and Hans' jealousy, because she's human, and been surrounded by flunkies and baddies for so long, fighting this war, that having someone who is not either falling all over himself because, hey, a real live Princess! or looking to her for guidance, but instead actually attracted to her as an equal probably makes for a nice change. And that doesn't, for me, weaken the strength of her character at all.

As for the slave outfit, obviously that is not Leia's choice, but Jabba's. What's cool about that is that she is such a badass that even when Jabba is (literally) yanking her chain, she mostly comes across not like a victim but more like someone mentally rolling her eyes along with the audience at the whole ridiculous charade, like, 'can you believe what this foolish Hutt is into?'

Leia's smart, strong, resourceful and pragmatic. She speaks up, and she gets respect. She commands men and women and she also get right in the bad guys' faces herself. She's Luke's twin sister, supposedly the same age as he is, but we never see her whining or going through that sulky, life-isn't-fair, "why didn't you tell me?!" phase, despite losing her entire planet and finding out she had a brother she never knew existed. I don't think her universe is sexist, by the way, and forces, or even expects her to console Luke because she's the woman and he's the man. She is just stronger than Luke is, across the board.

Luke, supposedly the Jedi to end all Jedis, came away from that entire trilogy the worst, in my opinion. First he was whiny and naive. Then he makes stupid decisions. Then he finally gets trained and returns, but even when he is so obviously trying to come across like this supremely confident Man With A Plan, he just sounds awkwardly earnest, overconfident and full of himself.

His 'plan' requires everything to go right, or very nearly so, too--look how close Luke comes to being eaten by the monster in the cave below Jabba's palace, how both Hans and Lando nearly fall into the mouth of that Big Gulp in the desert despite the genius of Luke's, "Hey, R2, throw me my light saber while I jump around on this plank" move, and how C3PO (who does seem to get the worst of these things and so has excellent reason to gripe all the time the way he does) gets his eye chewed right out of the socket by the Pet Rat Muppet.

Leia not only has the monumentally difficult task of choking this huge creature easily several times her size, which she does, but also ends up having to man the gun on the ship, while Luke, who has the advantage of wielding a frickin' sword made out of lasers, pretty much just kills a bunch of guards we don't even care about. Han Solo even accidentally takes out Boba Fett for him, and Han is very nearly blind at the time.
posted by misha at 6:48 PM on July 25 [41 favorites]


Misha, I am so going to quote you, the next time some Jedi fanboy on one of the game groups starts ranting about how Jedi should be so much more powerful than non-Jedi.
posted by happyroach at 7:04 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


IG-88 needs a rebooted spinoff series.

I had this idea for a series like "Dog the Bounty Hunter" except "Bossk the Bounty Hunter." Just a lot of people calling him "scum" and Bossk making hissing noises at them.

My friends wanted to do it for some contest but it turns out there's only like one guy in the world with a full Bossk costume and they couldn't get their hands on it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:46 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Because if she wasn't wearing a bra under that white robe, I certainly never noticed

George Lucas apparently did:

Carrie Fisher's been going around the country doing a one-woman show based on her memoir Wishful Drinking, and now HBO is putting it on the air. ... She told us one story that only happened behind the scenes, when George Lucas himself came to visit.

"He's seen the show a couple times, and he actually came over and explained, because [I told the story] of him saying that there was no underwear in space," Fisher said at the Television Critics Association fall press tour. "He explained that in space you get weightless, and so your flesh expands. What? But your bra doesn't, so you get strangled by your bra. That's why I couldn't wear a bra in the first Star Wars. George actually came backstage when I did the show in San Francisco and told me that."

posted by Dip Flash at 7:49 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Because if she wasn't wearing a bra under that white robe, I certainly never noticed.

Because you weren't supposed to notice, it was a science fiction bra. Which you're quick to dismiss in the first sentence of your post. Science!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:03 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


The only time Leia came across as attractive in a sexual way at all before the slave outfit was when she was on the cloud planet...

8-11 year old me vigorously disagrees with you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


His 'plan' requires everything to go right, or very nearly so, too.

Do we know that all of that stuff was part of his plan, though? I was under the impression that Luke's actual plan went wrong, and he wasn't expecting to get thrown in the Rancor pit or end up walking the plank over the Sarlacc. I'm not sure what his actual plan was, but maybe it involved getting everybody in place in Jabba's palace so he'd have backup if his efforts to negotiate with Jabba went south (as indeed they did.)

Man, Luke catches so much shit. There is this weird thing in nerdom, where people hate on the main character of a franchise and insist the sidekicks should have been the stars. Luke, Buffy, Harry Potter, Jack Shepherd... people love to hate on those characters. (Weirdly, Star Trek seems mostly immune. Nobody ever says, "The Next Generation would've been so much better if they got rid of Picard and Tasha Yar was the star!" Or if they do say that, they are so obviously crazy that nobody pays attention to them.)

I think Luke's vulnerability and gawkiness make modern nerds uncomfortable too. He's an unpopular kid, stuck out in the boonies, hanging out in his garage while he dreams of bigger things. He has plenty of potential, but he is not cool. He is basically supposed to be 16-year-old you, and nobody likes that kid. Come to think of it, he starts off kind of like Dorothy or a Disney princess, all pent up and ready to see the world. In that (f-ing classic) scene where he goes out and watches the twin suns setting, it's basically his "I wish" moment, but without a big actual musical number. (Although John Williams' score kind of gets the job done, there.) He yearns, but he doubts his own courage and abilities. By starting Luke there, with Luke awkwardly teetering on the cusp of growing up, it makes his eventual journey that much more impressive.

(Jesus. 8:45 PM on a Friday night, and I've just written a lengthy, online defense of Luke Skywalker. I think I'm going to go out back to watch the twin suns set, and dream of bigger things.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:56 PM on July 25 [27 favorites]


Man, Luke catches so much shit. ... I've just written a lengthy, online defense of Luke Skywalker

It's somewhat refreshing to watch my oldest daughter delight in Star Wars for the first time, with some of the naivete that I remember from my childhood. Luke is by far her favorite, and she refers to him Lukie Skywalker. She likes him so much that we might have to name our new dog Luke, and she says she is going to call him Lukie Dogwalker.

Whatever it is that we decide about Luke as we grow older and wiser, there's a special place in the heart of a child that will always see him as a hero.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:03 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Is your daughter aware that "Dogwalker" was the production team's name for the AT-ATs?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:43 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I'm certain she does not. I didn't know that, either.

It perhaps explains the pictures that come up in a "dog walker star wars" search...
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:13 PM on July 25


Can we at least agree that someone should make a Che-style shirt with Leia on it SO I CAN BUY IT?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:35 PM on July 25 [15 favorites]


I have no particular issues with Luke, but I think it would be really cool to see the original trilogy done from Leia's perspective.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:36 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Luke is by far her favorite, and she refers to him Lukie Skywalker. She likes him so much that we might have to name our new dog Luke, and she says she is going to call him Lukie Dogwalker.

This is my 600th comment(!) and I'm using it to say: that's awful cute.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:28 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I love this thread so much.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:16 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Can we at least agree that someone should make a Che-style shirt with Leia on it SO I CAN BUY IT?

Get in touch with this artist, see if a shirt was ever made.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:26 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I actually linger three character of Luke- parliament because he's pretty much a decent guy. He's not a jerk, or on a roaring rampage of revenge, or any of that.

The other thing that's nice about Star Wars I'd that while he's the hero, he's not portrayed as above and beyond the other characters. You can actually conceive that the film could have been about Leia or Han. In fact, those two are the ones who save the galaxy in the third film. It's that sense that non-Jedi can be important heroes that the period lack.
posted by happyroach at 4:22 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Where in the series or the extended universe does it say that Han is a spice trader, Griphus? I thought he just sold contraband everything else, not drugs.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:43 AM on July 26


Where in the series or the extended universe does it say that Han is a spice trader, Griphus?

He who controls the Spice controls the universe, right?

Actually, looking at Dune quotes, you can see how both stories borrow from similar cultural sources:

The spice exists on only one planet in the entire Universe. A desolate, dry planet with vast deserts. Hidden away within the rocks of these deserts are a people known as the Fremen, who have long held a prophecy, that a man would come, a messiah, who would lead them to true freedom. The planet is Arrakis. Also known as Dune.

The Jesus symbolism is a lot less heavy-handed in Star Wars, but you definitely get elements of it beginning with the desert planet childhood.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:17 AM on July 26


Leia is the Keeper of the Mission. At the beginning of the movie she's the only character who even knows there is a mission. So of course she's more prepared than any of the others to deal with the shit that comes raining down.

Luke is the Mary Sue character. Any of us could get a knock on the door and it's someone telling us that we're really royalty or the sole heir of a billionaire or the last person with a special talent. See The Last Starfighter, and presumably if it ever gets released Jupiter Ascending. And of course such a character isn't going to be prepared for all the shit that's about to come raining down.

As to Leia being raped by Jabba, I don't really see that. I think his treatment of Leia as establishing his total ownership of her body and placing her in a collection of ornamented belongings. While I wouldn't expect an alien like Jabba to have sexual feelings for a human, I would expect it to understand power and perhaps to understand that humans have a particular thing about nudity, so that imposing nudity on a human is a little cruelty that does no real harm while showing the human who's in control.
posted by localroger at 6:18 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


The Jesus symbolism is a lot less heavy-handed in Star Wars, but you definitely get elements of it beginning with the desert planet childhood.

I never got the impression that Jesus "grew up in the desert." Sure the desert wasn't too far, but Palestine itself wasn't a desert and Jesus grew up in a city which was presumably supported by agriculture. Indeed, it's implied that he had to travel to get to the desert so the Devil could tempt him for 40 days. So the idea that young Jesus would step out of his front door and, like Luke Skywalker see nothing but sand out to the horizon, doesn't seem right.
posted by localroger at 6:54 AM on July 26


Also, as far as we can tell the historical Jesus didn't have sexual feelings for his sister.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:59 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


The only "action figure" I really miss from those days is the original IG-88

For you.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:04 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I'm going to be pedantic here, sorry, and point out that Star Wars is not science fiction.

Is too.

It is space opera of the purest short and about as scientific as E. E. "Doc" Smith so suck it up.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:27 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


I don't think Leia is weirdly sexualized or desexualized. I think she is allowed to let herself enjoy Lando's attention and Hans' jealousy, because she's human, and been surrounded by flunkies and baddies for so long, fighting this war, that having someone who is not either falling all over himself because, hey, a real live Princess! or looking to her for guidance, but instead actually attracted to her as an equal probably makes for a nice change.

I realize this is merely a typo, but upon first reading it got me scouring my memory for the referenced Nordic character, temporarily baffling my non-caffeinated Saturday morning brain.

Thanks for inadvertently weirding my weekend. Uff da.
posted by davelog at 8:10 AM on July 26


It's really weird to realize that the Lensman books were much more recent when Star Wars was made than Star Wars is now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:11 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


(Hmm... Okay, maybe not that much more recent, counting from their original magazine publication dates starting in the late 1930s.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:17 AM on July 26


"Not actually science fiction" is the biggest sub-genre of science fiction by far.
posted by dng at 10:21 AM on July 26 [18 favorites]


The primary emotions Leia displays when held captive by Jabba are boredom and disgust, not fear. You totally get the sense that she is biding her time. She's certainly not traumatized.
posted by Biblio at 10:49 AM on July 26


2. Rogue Squadron

Pretty much the only good thing about EU.

Weirdly, Star Trek seems mostly immune. Nobody ever says, "The Next Generation would've been so much better if they got rid of Picard and Tasha Yar was the star!"

I'm sure that, somewhere, there are fan boys/girls saying that it would have been better if Riker had been the Captain, because Kirk.
posted by asnider at 11:03 AM on July 26


I realize this is merely a typo, but upon first reading it got me scouring my memory for the referenced Nordic character, temporarily baffling my non-caffeinated Saturday morning brain.

Hans, hmm...wasn't he that jackass from the Hapes Consortium?
posted by The Tensor at 11:48 AM on July 26




Leia is getting her own monthly on-going comic book from Marvel next year.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:27 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Last week work was interrupted while we discussed an intriguing alteration of STTNG that effectively made Troi the main character of the series. I can't go into the details, but it would have been awesome. Seriously, you would watch it. I would watch it and I don't even like STTNG.

P.S. In time all civilized folk will know the only true sequel of Star Wars is 30 Rock.
posted by wobh at 8:32 PM on July 26




I think the whole thing, from credits to credits, could take place over a 24-36 hour period.

Degobah Day Afternoon?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:28 AM on July 31


Can we at least agree that someone should make a Che-style shirt with Leia on it...?

Only if it also says ALDERAN WAS AN INSIDE JOB and also possibly TEACH THE CONTROVERSY.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:45 AM on July 31


No text, but here, I made this shirt for us.
posted by mimi at 1:44 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


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