It’s a Whole New (Old) Star Wars

Instead of counting down the days in December until the 25th as my kids do most years, last month our household was counting down to the 18th – the day of the new Star Wars release, of course. Without spoilers, here’s a one word summary: AWESOME.

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Now with spoilers: Really, it was epically awesome. On all kinds of levels.

Sure, “The Force Awakens” is eerily similar to the first episode: sandy planet with people living at the margins, cute beeping robot, black masked villain, a giant death star blowing up planets, intergalactic bar scene, kidnapped girl … But this time, the lead character is Rey, who is simply and unapologetically amazing. It’s literally in her that the Force awakens.

So how crazy was it, then, that toy manufacturer Hasbro left Rey out of the toy aisle? Here’s how blogger Mike Adamick describes it:

Rey was in all the posters, trailers, TV ads, you name it, as the character front and center. But browse a toy aisle and she was available occasionally on her own but completely left out of toy packs. Just imagine, for a moment, how laughable it would seem to have a package of toys from, say, Indiana Jones without mother fucking Indiana Jones. Or the original Star Wars toys without Luke Skywalker?

Silly, right? It’s almost impossible to imagine.

It just wouldn’t happen.

Ever.

And yet, you can buy toy packages with seemingly every character but Rey. Go surf around on HasBros web site. It’s the worst. It’s literally a shame of humanity to see toys divided by gender the way that company does. Click on “girls toys” and, well, you can imagine the glitter parade of sexed-up dolls and wide-eyed stuffies. But click on “boys toys”  and you get Star Wars up the ass — except Rey has become, of course, a “Jakku Scavenger” instead of actually bearing her name. Because what a god damn travesty that would be, right? To have a boy play around with a girl hero toy.

Heaven forbid.

Again, could you imagine Indiana Jones being marketed as just an “archaeologist” on the toy package? Or Luke as a farm boy? Han as just a “smuggler”?

No, he’s freaking Han Solo.

Whereas Rey is a “scavenger.”

Fortunately, an 8-year year old activist got through to those backwards thinking executives, and they agreed today to at least add a Rey game piece to the Star Wars edition of monopoly. Seriously? It took an 8-year old to tell them this?

I really appreciate the gender analysis Adamick gives to this new Star Wars. He’s got some great things to say about why boys and men need this character of Rey (he calls her “the perfect role model for little boys”). And he’s right: she’s fierce, clever, doesn’t need a guy to hold her hand in a firefight, and her story line does not depend on finding a mate to ensure her happiness. She never apologizes for or questions her strength or courage. And I would add, her wardrobe hasn’t been sexualized (ala Princess Laia who went from strong and sassy to the famous bikini-clad soft-porn icon chained to Jabba the Hutt).

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Rey she is the chosen one, the next Jedi warrior. I encourage you to read all the way to the end of Adamick’s piece. Spoiler alert: Star Wars and Rey are good for girls, too.

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3 thoughts on “It’s a Whole New (Old) Star Wars

  1. I looked on the Hasbros site and the very first and more prominent action figures in the Star Wars category were ones of Rey, and same with the Toys R Us website. There’s even a gigantic picture of her on the side.

    I thought Rey’s character was too perfect: she was too good a lightsaber combatant without ever having been trained. She knew too much about both technology and piloting. She even was portrayed in one scene to know more about the Millennium Falcon and piloting than HAN SOLO – come on, give me a break. Several instances in the movie she literally touches two wires together and the entire problem is solved – that’s just sloppy screenwriting. But that’s how movies have become nowadays: sloppy.

    I think it’d be pretty normal for people to clasp hands while running away from a shared threat – that way you don’t get separated. But for some reason the writers felt compelled to have her give enough thought to verbally command Finn to stop holding her hand while they’re running away from a life-threatening force, and not once but TWICE. Hey, don’t you think sticking together and finding an escape from the imminent peril is more important than the fact that this guy who you think is from the Resistance is holding your hand? But I guess she’s been pretty independent most of her life, and the writers probably did that for comical purposes, and not to show that she, “doesn’t need someone to come to her rescue.” We all do at some point.

    And I don’t see how if you put princess Leia in a sexy bikini, it automatically negates all of her previously perceived character strengths. She’s still the leader of the Rebel Alliance, she can still put up a fight, she’s still loyal to her people and her friends. Jabba the Hutt was bad and he did that to lots of women throughout the galaxy. I think being thrown in a rancor or sarlacc pit is worse than being put into a bikini. And by the way, she freaking strangled Jabba the Hutt to death with the very chains he enslaved her with!

    You see it’s just how you happen to perceive things.

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    1. Jeremiah, sorry you missed Friday afternoon’s discussion — we talked about many of these very issues! Apparently the toy companies have shifted course — which is great, but so frustrating that 8 year old girls had to tell them to do so.

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