I have a bad feeling about this…
The last Tuesday of October was not a good day in America. It was a day filled with news reports detailing the horror and devastation of Superstorm Sandy interspersed with doomsday financial predictions and a few stray bits of pre-election rhetoric (three topics filled with such anger, fear & aggression as to make me avoid my television entirely), but there was one piece of entertainment news significant enough to break through the terrible melee.
Tuesday October 30, 2012 will be a day long remembered by Star Wars fans. It saw the announcement of Disney’s agreement to purchase Lucasfilms and the promise of more Star Wars films to come.
This affects my life in two very important ways:
- I have a novel coming out in 2013. My novel’s target audience is Star Wars fans. 95% of my marketing plan for this book (and the two books to follow) revolves around connecting with Star Wars fans. The fact that Disney will be whipping up the Star Wars marketing as only Disney can is GOOD NEWS. Hello, Platform! Woo hoo! Hallelujah! The FORCE will be with me!
- But I am AFRAID. I am deeply and desperately afraid that my beloved galaxy far, far away will be transformed in ways that will tear everything apart.
I don’t want the franchise to become a caricature of its former self (though some would argue this has already happened with new trilogy characters such as Jar Jar Binks). I don’t want the Star Wars galaxy to reach a critical mass and crumble in on itself. While I do want to see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher &/or Harrison Ford reprise their roles in new films (and recent internet buzz says Carrie will definitely appear in Episode VII), I don’t want those films to suck.
Most of all, I don’t want Leia to be a Disney princess.
The Importance of Leia (with apologies to Honey Badger)
Deadly laser blasts exploding in all directions? Big, nasty, Sith bastard hunting her down? Leia don’t care! Leia never gives up. She hides the secret plans in her trusty astromech droid and gets in a few shots before the Stormtroopers capture her.
Paraded around in handcuffs after withstanding hours of interrogation? Home planet threatened with imminent annihilation? Okay, Leia cares. But she still doesn’t give up! Leia never willingly discloses the location of the hidden rebel base. She gives those Imperial goons a false address and still manages to let them know they have a “foul stench.”
Imprisoned on Imperial death row? Scheduled for termination? Forced to deal with inept rescuers who blasted their way in there with no plan for escape? Leia don’t care! She blasts a hole in the wall and jumps right into a rancid garbage shoot…without any underwear!
Why? Because Leia is BADASS.
Leia don’t chirp out songs to the birdies about her hopes and wishes for a better life. Leia don’t bow and acquiesce to some greedy old stepmother and her two ugly daughters. Leia certainly don’t lay around waiting for some prince to awaken her. And Leia don’t never, EVER willingly sacrifice her voice in order to catch a man.
Oh no! Leia leads a successful rebellion to restore democracy to the galaxy AND still finds time to strap on a thermal detonator to rescue her not-so-princely lover…right before she strangles his enemy with the slave chain attached to her own throat.
Leia is BADASS and it matters deeply to me that she always and forever remain BADASS. It just does. Any change to Leia’s character would be…hmmmmm, well, it would be much like creating a new and improved secret formula for Coca-Cola — in other words, a HORRIBLE idea.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not a hater. I don’t actually hate the Disney princesses the way some modern women are prone to do. The Disney princess have their place in the world of fantasy and entertainment. Many of them are quite clever and…you might even call them plucky. Although my favorite Disney films tend to feature animals (Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, The Aristocats and The Rescuers to name a few), I have greatly enjoyed some of the princess films (Beauty and the Beast comes to mind).
I love you. I do. I love your magical worlds and your Star Wars weekends and your mighty marketing machine. Yes, I even think it’s cute and funny when you dress up Minnie to look like Leia.
I know that we Star Wars fans seem like a strange, obsessive, fierce and mentally-unstable lot. Perhaps, my own personal little fairy tale will shed some light on the situation.
Once upon a time — not so very long ago, not so very far away — there lived a young girl who was brown and round and loud and awkward and not at all the sort of girl anyone would ever think was particularly special on her own planet. She looked very much like thousands, maybe even millions, of other little girls of her species, but she was hiding a terrible secret. This girl was an alien in her own skin and she was suffering from a big, empty, gaping hole in her soul that made it difficult just to breathe.
Then, on a day when she least expected it, this little girl walked into a movie theater and everything changed. EVERYTHING. Among many strange and wonderful possibilities, the little girl discovered a princess unlike any other — a princess who helped her understand that there was more to real, true, lasting beauty than perfectly flipped hair or the whitest teeth or a sweet, kittenish voice. As crazy as it sounds, this rebel princess might have saved that little girl’s life.
Please, please, PLEASE don’t mess up my princess!