The Terrible Unspoken Implications Of Star Wars' Slave Leia
This week Disney announced they currently have no plans for Princess Leia products in their Disney Stores as they roll out the new Star Wars toy line. You know, except for the Slave Leia currently on shelves, as documented by Brett White. Because when you think 'family friendly' role model for kids, you think ambiguous sex slave stripped of all autonomy.
From the beginning, Slave Leia has always been a steaming pile of Bantha fodder. Whatever Hollywood executive pulled the blaster trigger on taking a feminist icon and stripping her to her skivvies for the titillation of dudes should be thrown into a Sarlaac Pit.
It's time to pull the curtain back on this crime against Star Wars leading lady.
Movies do not exist in a vacuum. Especially something as transcendent to cultural identity as Star Wars. Taking the non-sexualized take-no-shit-from-no-man princess and shoving her into a metal bikini is a powerful message to boys and girls the world over. Spoiler: Not a good one. Putting the only female of agency in the known universe — minus a smattering of side characters — on a leash tied to a mafia slug who is so rich and powerful everyone has to pretend he isn't a vile piece of actual shit and acquiesce to his every demand? The accidental symbolism on gender politics is practically Force punching you in the face.
Source: Smash Survey
Over the years Fisher has voiced her hatred of everything about the Slave Leia persona, from the bikini that didn't fit right to being forced to lose weight for the scene to having her character literally voiceless from the moment the metal monstrosity goes on her body until the moment she kills her captor in a glorious display hate-fueled rage. And with good reason.
The implications of Leia's predicament are glossed over but wait a damn minute. Jabba slobbers and gropes and treats Leia and the Twi'lek dancer Oola with all the hallmarks of a sexual predator. There's a lot of subtext going on here and all of it horrifying. Exactly what kind of trauma would cow Princess Leia into perpetual silence in the face of humiliating degradation? This is a woman who was able to withstand to the torture droids of the Imperials AND Darth Vader without flinching.
So how did Jabba break her spirit off-camera between her capture and Luke Skywalker's arrival? Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. And to top it off, Leia never mentions it again. There's no lingering trauma, no night terrors, not even a snide remark to Han Solo about how she's never rescuing him again because the risk/reward ratio is stacked against her. No one even asks her if she's okay.
Of course, this is the same universe that forced Leia to comfort a grieving Luke Skywalker over the death of an old man he'd known for two days while her entire planet and everyone she'd ever loved was vaporized. So really Slave Leia is just par for the course for writers trying to wrestle a princess who refuses to be put in the damsel in distress box.
Let's hope between Fisher's willingness to return to Episode VII and the casting of Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie it is at least a sign Abrams has no intention of repeating history.