Tumblr Fans React to JJ Abrams Remark about Women and Star Wars

First, read this from Tumblr:  Brilliant Commentary responding to Abrams comments that women didn’t like the original Star Wars but they will like the new one.

Here’s my original comment:

Yes – exactly. This is the second time I’ve seen a male director pull this type of frankly sexist bs *while trying to sound politically correct and ‘accomodating’ in the same breath* – and while my natural optimism wants to put it down to ignorance not arrogance – I’m beginning to see sexim in Hollywood is far from dead and often worse than in the 1970s. In *Star Wars* for example, though it’s Luke who introduces himself with “I’m Luke Skywalker I’m here to rescue you.” It’s Leia who does the rescuing once they get the door open. This is WHY Luke’s line always gets a laugh.

And you’re right – it was ***women*** who wrote the fanfic, and the novels, organized the clubs and the conventions – and now, yet again women’s role in cultural history is being ignored and swept under the rug and the director claims it didn’t happen? No. Just no! I saw Star Wars in 1977 – I was 8. Perfect age for a fantasy SF film like that. And I DO have a problem with an ignorant sexist diector claiming I couldn’t possibly have been there because “girls don’t like Star Wars” and it’s arrogant of him to say “we must change Star Wars so girls like it” – but not adding like realistic characters or say having a woman direct it.

Now if you’re a long time reader of this blog – you’ve probably noticed I’m a bit of a Tomboy (as my mother, bless her heart, used to say). I like geeky things – geeky boy things: Star Trek and Star Wars, Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings, SF, Fantasy, Computers, Comics (especially Batman), and Technology. Moreover, a lot of traditional “girl” things bore me: makeup and perfume, high heel shoes, fashion, and Disney. Well, except Once Upon a Time – because OUAT is awesome. But still. I feel completely comfortable with “boyish” interests, even as an adult woman. The only time I get annoyed – well it’s there’s two times, actually.

One is when someone – male or female (but, let’s be honest – they are usually male, because right now there is a growing cadre of “girl geeks” out there, especially on-line. Have you met Tumblr?) tells me I can’t be interested in something because it’s “for boys” or “it’s too complicated for mere girls” that, frankly, gets me as mad as Bruce Banner on a bad day. I get angry. I see red. And I often make an utter fool of myself until I can calm down and point out that yes, it’s perfectly OK for me, a mere woman, to like Batman (or in this case Star Wars) especially as, at this point, I’ve seen various versions of, definitely in the case of Batman, Batman from three or four decades now.

And second, is when someone challenges me on a subject I know exceedingly well simply because I’m female and “therefore I can’t possibly know anything”. This can be overt or implied – it still, well, gets me very angry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a guy insult my knowledge of computers, or Social Media, or personal technology, because as a “girl” I couldn’t possibly know anything about it. Same goes for my knowledge of film and the film industry. Or comics – the ones I know anyway (comics are a huge field of popular culture knowledge.)

This vid is just so perfect!

In terms of Star Wars itself – not only growing up with the movies, seeing them in the theater, waiting just waiting for the occasional theater revival and re-showing (I’m old enough to remember life before VCRs, much less before DVDs and DVRs). I was eight when I saw Star Wars or SW A New Hope as we now call it (I saw it under it’s original two-word title). I had to wait for SW: The Empire Strikes Back and SW: Return of the Jedi. After Jedi, I read dozens of the tie-in novels. I remember the hype around the new trilogy (Episodes 1 – 3) and being so disappointed. I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, but I am looking forward too it (finally got tickets – I’m seeing it on Boxing Day). But Abrams is the second director I’ve seen who justifies adding women to his movie, not by saying, “Well, the universe includes women, and obviously the Star Wars universe includes women, so of course, this movie includes women,” but by patronizingly saying that “well mothers and daughters won’t see it without a girl”. Um, first, so women can only be “mothers and daughters”? I guess women can’t be scientists, CEOs, writers, or anything else? Really?

Honestly – not a big fan of The Hunger Games, but I saw Mockingjay: Part II with my mother, and my Twitter comment was “Good film for mothers and daughters to see together”. Because it was – very much a bonding film. I won’t get into the issues with the plot, and the apparently non-canon ending here, but yeah – Go see it with your Mom.

Now, getting back to Abrams. First, one thing about Star Wars – the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) was that Leia was a very strong character. Han was a great protagonist, much like Rick in Casablanca (a film I saw years later). The rest of the cast was terrific. I loved Mark Hamill in Star Wars New Hope as a kid – as an adult I prefer him in SW: Return of the Jedi, but I’ve seen him in other roles too, and he’s a terrific actor. And his Joker is fantastic. I think as a young girl, Leia was the character I identified with, Luke was the guy I wanted to be, and Han was the guy I wanted to date.

But the other important aspect of Abrams comment is that he completely ignores the women who created Star Wars fandom, just as they had created Star Trek fandom and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fandom. Oh, and by the 1980s, at least in the US, there were plenty of women in Doctor Who fandom too. Abrams is sweeping a whole group of intelligent, talented women under the rug as if they never existed. Just like history often ignores the contributions of women. That just can’t stand, and Abrams needs to be taken to task for it.

Will I ignore the film because of one interview? Of course not. Will I follow the story? Maybe.

But I’m still looking forward to seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens.

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