The Smurfette of Star Wars

“I’m bored,” Penny complained. She’d been reading The Bell Jarafter admitting the other night during our monthly back-to-back screening of Fight Club and American Beauty that while she understood the reference Edward Norton’s character makes (“In the Tibetan philosophy, Sylvia Plath sense of the word, we’re all dying.”), she had never actually read her work.

I suggested that that might just be the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard. More horrible than hearing that LCD Soundsystem broke up, more horrible than hearing that someone green-lighted a second Fantastic Four movie, even more horrible than when I heard that Akiva Goldsman might be writing the adaption of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower for the screen.

“Oh no!” Penny exclaimed in an exaggerated deadpan. “Surely not that horrible, Helena! And could you be any more esoteric?”

“I mean, sure,” I replied, ignoring her, “he wrote A Beautiful Mind, but he also wrote The DaVinci Code, Lost in Space, and both Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, which is arguably the worst movie ever made, never mind the worst Batman movie ever made. So, yeah, that was some pretty horrible news — but this — (and yes, I know I’m taking a long time to come back to it) this is more horrible yet!”

And so Penny is reading The Bell Jar, and while she may be bored, I am just glad that she is not clinically depressed. Now next month when we have our screening of American Beauty and Fight Club, she will have a richer understanding. (What can I say? Some people go to church. Penny and I have our own rituals, and this is one of them. There is so much to glean from those movies, both separately and together, but back to back, you can really see how they complement each other perfectly, Fight Club the dark Yin to American Beauty‘s Yang.)

“Speaking of Batman,” Penny said, reeling the conversation in to a manageable size, “Doesn’t that whole Batman Year Zero thing start this week?”

“Only one way to find out,” I said.

“Well, no, actually,” Penny said, spoiling my cliché. “We could just go on the Internet, and…”

Only. One. Way. To. Find. Out.” I reiterated in all italics, punctuated by grammatically incorrect periods between each word. Grammatically incorrect or not, Penny managed to take my meaning, and we were off to the comic book store.

As always, we were greeted by the disembodied voice of Dave as we walked in the door, but we had also walked in on a discussion — an actual heated discussion on whether Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy was actually Star Wars canon or not — something to do with the clone processing planet from Episode II throwing a big monkey wrench in the cloning technology suggested by Zahn’s books. Suddenly and ill-advisedly, my favourite clerk James, well meaning but clearly clueless when it came to the etiquette of never bringing a woman into an argument between two geeks about Star Wars, turned to me and said “Helena, back me up — tell this guy that none of the books are canon — Lucas said so, right?”

“Lucas can’t even keep his own continuity straight,” I remarked, off-handledly, “But leave me out of this — I don’t even like those movies.”

“What do you mean you don’t like Star Wars?” The bespectacled Star Wars geek asked — the one who had been insisting that the Zahn trilogy was canon.

“Did I stutter?” I asked, channelling my inner Emilio Estevez.

Flustered, Star Wars Geek (or SWG for short — Star Wars geeks love their short forms — ie. SW ANH, or SW ESB or SW ROTJ) laughed, and said, “Oh, you don’t like the prequels. I get it — Jar Jar Binks, Trade Federation — yeah, kinda hokey — but Revenge of the Sith kind of rocked, no?”

“Nope,” I said plainly. “I can’t stand the whole franchise. It’s the most sexist universe in the history of cinema. Frankly, I don’t even know how the galaxy is populated, with only one woman under the age of sixty, and hundreds of planets populated seemingly only by men.


Smurfette (Photo credit: duncan)

Face it — Princess Leia is pretty much the Smurfette of Star Wars — just one of the boys, only with tits.”

SWG snickered at my use of the word ‘tits’, and I could tell he wasn’t taking me seriously.

“Laugh it up, fuzzball,” I said, hoping to get his attention by quoting the one movie in the trilogy that had actual redemptive qualities, except… “Except that even in Empire, Leia’s not much more than a foil for Han Solo — and her entire character is just there to be alternately abused or ignored by a loveable scoundrel (oh, that’s original), and yet — and yet, when he’s being lowered into the Carbonite, she declares her love for him, to which he replies?”

“I know,” both SWG and James quoted in unison. I knew I could count on them.

“Right,” I said. “Leia the doormat, Leia the sexist plaything — and I’m not even going to get into the gold lame bikini Leia of Return of the Jedi. I mean, all three movies, she’s scowling the whole time, and yet she’s got both the charming, loveable rogue and her annoying, whiney brother sniffing around her like a couple of dogs after a good bone. Yeah, that sounds about right. What do you think, Penny?”

The Countess Penelope of Arcadia took my inclusion of her as an invitation to bring out the Dickensian street urchin.

“Thass right, milords ‘n ladyship. Iss loik, she don’t really ‘ave any real personality of ‘er own, loik. Well, iss loik she’s just one’a those, whatchecallits, archy-types, ennit? Just loik in that there Twi-loit book. Why, she’s no different than that Bella Swan bird!”

The SWG actually recoiled — physically recoiled in horror at that statement.

The three lead protagonists of Star Wars, from...

The three lead protagonists of Star Wars, from left to right: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You know, Countess, I think you may be on to something there,” I said, goading her on. “Please, do continue. If Leia is Bella, then, pray tell — which one is Edward and which is Jacob?”

“Out!” James said firmly. “Both of you, get out of the store right now! For your own good! Run! Run while you can!”

And run we did, darlings, as a crowd of grown men in T-shirts chased us out of the store with lightsabers raised (the Jedi version of torches and pitchforks) in righteous (I was going to say anger, but isn’t anger the path to the Dark Side?) irritation.

I was going to buy the last couple of issues I’d missed of The Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross  (another great read, darlings, and I highly recommend it) but I guess I’ll wait for the trade — I’m still welcome on Amazon.


NEXT, PLEASE!!!!!>>>>>>


8 responses to “The Smurfette of Star Wars

  1. Yes!! Even though I love Star Wars, that is a really good point. My son and I often discuss the political and historical comparisons of Star Wars and one of his games when we walk in the evenings. I’ll have to point this out to him!

    • Oh, I was just winding up the SWG — I actually love Star Wars, darling (or I did, before GL started messing about with them — I’ve grown very tired of his meddling) but yes, it always bothered me that Princess Leia seemed to be the only girl in that entire trilogy. Any other women are either sexy playthings in Jabba’s palace or else old women figureheads (the Rebel leader in Jedi). I think one could write an entire thesis on The Role of Women in the Star Wars Universe. But I’ll leave that to a better writer than I — well, (to paraphrase Thomas Wayne from Batman Begins) a more interested writer.

  2. Tell Penny she is not alone, I have never read the Bell Jar, though I have read some of Plath’s poetry and I don’t remember loathing it…which probably means I enjoyed it. I also (don’t throw things at me) have never seen American Beauty. I feel like I need to go re-watch Star Wars + a zillion other movies and actually LOOK at them.
    The comparison between Leia and Bella was intriguing actually…I could see where Penny was going. I’ve been in one comic book store and felt so out of place but very badly wanted to go back!

    • It’s so rare to find a true heroine in adventure fiction, and when one does come along, they are generally picked apart by small-minded men with dirty minds. (see Disney’s recent Brave debacle)

      • I didn’t like Brave as much as I’d hoped—though I did like Merida. I read several posts about the debacle. Small-minded men, thinking with another part of their anatomy.

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  5. You’re not wrong: Leia is pants and there is very little in those movies as far as interesting (read: actually have character) female characters. But I do love those movies. The original three, anyway, and the books. I’m at a stage now where I can see their failings (which are quadruple-fold since those ghastly prequels came out) but I they will always have special resonance for me as they, along with Anne Rice (weird combo? Perhaps, but it’s true) are what got me reading and, ultimately, writing as a young teenager.

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