In an interview on Good Morning, America, JJ Abrams, director of the newest Star Wars installment, said, “Star Wars was always a boys thing and a movie that dads took their sons to.” He went on to spew, “and though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers take their daughters to as well.”
Mr. Abrams, if you really think that it “was always a boys thing,” you’re a total fucking maroon. You’ve never talked to a female Star Wars fan, or any woman, really. And that’s pathetic. Because if you had, you’d realize that Star Wars wasn’t a “boys thing” or a “girls thing” — it was everybody’s thing.
If you knew me, you’d have probably already read my essay, “Dogma, Darth Vader and My Sexual Awakening,” which describes how much I loved Darth Vader growing up. But I wasn’t just a Darth Vader fan. I was a fan of all things Star Wars from the first movie onward. (I admit my enthusiasm waned with the barfy prequels.) My little sister Danielle, too, loved the films. However, she was five years younger, and no film captures a toddler’s imagination the same way it does a precocious pre-tween. Still, we both begged our parents to see the first movie. My father resisted. “For Christ’s sake!” he’d say. “Lines are around the block!” We’d just moved to Simi Valley, which was not in Los Angeles proper. Still, the film was as insanely popular there as anywhere else. Danielle and I begged him to take us until he relented.
The whole family went and stood in those long lines because it was an everybody film. And everyone in my family loved it. That’s why it’s a classic, JJ. I hate to break it to you, but if everybody didn’t love Star Wars, it wouldn’t have been the phenomenon that it was. So please stop congratulating your Y chromosome for something it couldn’t have done on its own.
Me? I was obsessed. My parents bought Danielle and I light sabers for the following Christmas, as well as the board game. (I still have that light saber. The handle broke years later, so I replaced it with a yellow flashlight.) One of my good friends in sixth grade, Julie Byram, gave me the original Star Wars poster because I was slightly more obsessed than she was. (I’m pissed because my ex-husband absconded with it. IT’S MINE, DAMMIT.) Every girl and boy I knew loved that movie. I loved the film more, in fact, than any of my male friends. And I had plenty, as I was the only girl in my junior high school who played Dungeons & Dragons.
When I was in high school, I joined the Official Star Wars Fan Club with the help of Mom. (Mom, not Dad.) I thought I’d absolutely die of suspense waiting for the second film as I read rumors about the plot and saw photos of my heroes in the snows of Hoth. I had Star Wars dreams. I bought — but couldn’t bear to use — Star Wars notebooks, which sat in a drawer untouched with my beloved comic books. I drew pictures of Darth Vader and other characters. I wrote Star Wars stories in my head. I counted down the days until The Empire Strikes Back opened. I even recorded the cheesy radio series off of NPR, The New Hope. Talk about a geek!
And as I watched the film with my family, I blissed out. The sequel was possibly the best movie I’d ever seen. When you’re sixteen, that’s not a great feat, I admit. But it remained the best movie I’d ever seen until maybe… I don’t know. Amadeus? Blade Runner? Apocalypse Now? Silence of the Lambs? Last time I checked, those were “everybody” movies, too. (Well, maybe for grownups.)
The revelation that Darth Vader (Dark Father) was Luke’s dad remains to this day one of the greatest movie revelations of all time. If you’ve ever read my story, “The King of Shadows,” you’d see how deeply I identified with the themes in Star Wars — specifically The Empire Strikes Back. I’m sure I’m not the only child who did, either, male or female.
I spent weekends at my friend Linda’s house. Whenever her parents stepped out, Linda and I listened to their copy of the Star Wars soundtrack. Thankfully she stayed my friend even though I asked her to replay the Imperial Death Star Theme about a thousand times.
In all the films, Princess Leia was a powerful role model. She saves Luke, Han and Chewie when they’re supposed to be rescuing her. She leads the Rebel Alliance. She saves Han again. She…fucking…ROCKS. I could not have asked for a stronger female role model. Yes, I loved my “bad boy” Darth Vader. But Leia was The Ass-Kicking Princess and Senator of Alderaan. And I loved her, too. Why? Because I saw myself in her.
Look, JJ. I don’t know what possessed you to yammer on like such an ignorant twit to Good Morning, America. One might well ask what planet are you from. Because even on Hoth they know Star Wars was beloved by both boys and girls, and that dads never, ever had a monopoly on the franchise as a bonding experience with their sons. At best, you were probably trying to make the movie sound like it has wide appeal. Instead, your comments came off ridiculous and condescending. “Oh, see? This used to be for men. But now we’re doing something for the ladies, too.”
Seriously, dude? Go fuck yourself. I have a plastic lightsaber you can use. Glad I hung onto it.
I saw Star Wars with my family on its opening night at a drive-in theater in Oakland. I was ten. No one knew a thing about it at the time and all I had for reference was a commercial that made me think it was a horror film and a vague memory of seeing the cover of the novelization in a bookstore months before. I couldn’t have gone in colder if I’d watched the film five minutes after moving to Earth from the planet Hoth.
I was instantly hooked. Seriously, all it took was the theme song. That segue from the studio intro still gives me chills. As soon as I got back to Vermont, I immediately started babbling about this great film I’d seen and for a good six weeks before it finally arrived in town, all I got were blank looks. Then, yup, lines around the block for over a year.
I started a novel sequel (with colored pencil drawings) based on Han Solo’s character. Got over a hundred pages and some very weird turns in before I petered out. I got my grandfather to make me two lightsabers (one to bash around with my cousin, one that lit up) out of plexiglass rods, since there wasn’t a lot of merchandise out yet. I still have them somewhere. Yep, obsessed. Yep, watched all of the first three in the theaters.
I really hated the prequels, though. While I’m not wowed by Disney and Abrams getting hold of it, I can’t say they’ll do any worse than Lucas was doing to the franchise. I mean, not even putting out the reformatted original versions in DVD/Blu-ray and then trying to make them disappear? Come on.
That still doesn’t mean I’m entertaining high hopes regarding Abrams. This is a guy who stated outright that he didn’t “get” the Star Trek franchise and then proceeded to prove it by ignoring all the sensawunda and wonderful ideas of exploring a wide-open galactic frontier for a boring alternate universe and tired rehashes of old storylines. Plus, that stupid gratuitous bra-and-panties shot from the second film and reducing an iconic member of the original crew like Uhura to a side love interest for Spock. And the random Orion cadet who was getting it on with Kirk. And then randomly died offscreen. Ugh.
I fully expect this new trilogy to be stale in a similar way. None of the new characters I’m seeing in the promos wow me, though I have hopes the film will change my mind about some of them. But I figure, hey, this was part of Lucas’ original plan going back to after the first one hit big and at least we’ll get the original cast for a while.
But still…Abrams…yuck. I am completely unsurprised that he’s a card-carrying dudebro.
The first Star Trek movie he made was so egregiously sexist, I almost threw up in the theatre. Every single female role was either wife, girlfriend, mother (including a pregnant woman in a freakin’ wheelchair) or nondescript. You covered all the problems with the second movie. He’s an ass.
Yeah, it was pretty bad. Roddenberry was hardly perfect, but his original vision (which the franchise managed to continue, at least until Enterprise) involved as much gender equality as he could foist on the network execs, a multinational and multiethnic crew, and a more evolved way of dealing with conflict and exploration.
Abrams gave us…matching lingerie sets, big explosions, and lens flares. Apparently, that “new audience” the studio said it wanted was all under the age of 18.
And don’t get me started on the mommies in the first film, ’cause then we get into the whole retconning of Kirk into a big entitled baby and the death of Vulcan, and then I get annoyed all over again.
You assume he means they weren’t that type of movies in a negative way, I don’t think he mean it the way it might sound. I think he simply meant there are more female characters in the new ones making them more relatable to girls who might not be able to take Leia as a role model, no matter how awesome she is.
Thanks for your comment. To your point, as I said in my blog post, I do think he was trying to say that there are more female characters in the new movie. However — and here’s the kicker — he framed that comment by saying Star Wars was a “boys thing,” which it never, ever was. Putting aside my personal experiences and the actual financial results of the film, I know Craig Miller, who was on the original Star Wars marketing team at FOX. He confirms that the film was never marketed to boys, but rather to a broad spectrum of viewers. This is important, and the whole reason that Abrams’ “more female characters” comment falls flat. You can interpret that part however you would like, of course, but if you pull back and look at the context, it doesn’t lend to a favorable interpretation. And honestly, compared to JJ Abrams Star Trek films, the original Star Wars was absolutely stellar in its treatment of female characters. Abrams’ track record has been abysmal, which really puts a more negative context of his words.
Again, thanks for stopping by!
All the best,
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