Oct 6, 2014
Star Wars Episode VII will be a total sausage fest
For the uninitiated, J.J. Abrams, director of the latest Star Trek films, Super 8, and co-creator of Lost has been given the opportunity to write, direct, and produce the next Star Wars sequel (currently subtitled The Ancient Fear), which will be (mostly) George Lucas-free. Personally, I had lost track of Abrams’s Star Wars plans until the recent cast picture was released.
Some may remember that the original Star Wars was nearly devoid of women. Like, in a big way. Apparently, it took place in a universe where most of the female population had died of Space Cancer and men reproduced asexually.
Most people who care—and I happen to care—chalk this up to Lucas and his overall failure to comprehend women as characters, instead of as womenfolk. As strange and majestic creatures wholly different to normal men like himself. So now that the franchise has been purchased by Disney and handed over to someone a bit more… coherent, many had high hopes that Abrams would correct this bizarre gender imbalance.
That hope is unfortunately a bit naïve.
Let’s talk about Star Trek for a moment. This is coming from someone who actually enjoyed the reboot quite a bit. The man can make an entertaining movie, nerd rage be damned. I respect that he has a clear vision of what he wants and isn’t afraid to screw with canon to make a good movie.
But one of the unfortunate consequences of Abrams’s reboot is that it preserves the gender makeup of a series that first aired in 1966, when female characters on action shows were still pretty rare. This means the version of Star Trek that came out in 2009 had significantly less positive female characters than The Next Generation, even though the latter came out twenty years prior.
What’s worse, Abrams and his writers don’t seem to know how to use the few female characters they do have. Abrams took Uhura, a groundbreaking character, and turned her into a hollow love interest for Spock. And in the sequel, Carol Marcus does little of note besides parade around in her underwear.
So, it wasn’t really a surprise when the cast photo of the new Star Wars film was released, and there was only one new female face in the group. Fans have theorized that the new character (played by Daisy Ridley) might be Han Solo and Princess Leia’s daughter, which is not a huge stretch, considering Han and Leia had kids in the Expanded Universe.
Speaking of the Expanded Universe, have you seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars?
It’s a show geared towards kids, but you wouldn’t know that with all the dying and lightsaber impaling going on. After being forced to watch it, I was surprised at how good it actually was. So good, in fact, I was retroactively more pissed at George Lucas for screwing up the prequels so badly. The series follows the same general story arc of Anakin going over to the dark side, with the major difference being it’s done quite well. This show had me caring about stormtroopers… Stormtroopers!
And it just so happens to feature some of the most developed female characters in the entire Star Wars universe. In one particular episode, two female Jedi were fighting a female Sith. With lightsabers! They were talking and having complex feelings about moral greyness! My cup runneth over!
It’s unlikely we’ll get any scenes like that in Star Wars Episode VII: Whatever They End Up Calling It—at least, not with only one woman in the main cast. Is there any chance the new film will add more female characters before it wraps? The only way I see that happening is if Disney puts pressure on Abrams to include more females—it would certainly sell more merchandise (if that happens, I’m hoping for appearances from some of the popular Clone Wars characters like Ahsoka Tano and Ventress). But I fear that left to his own devices, Abrams’s Star Wars will end up looking a lot like Abrams’s Star Trek. Which is to say: very entertaining, but very safe regarding gender roles. If the movie is a disappointing sausage fest, don’t despair. We’ll always have The Clone Wars.