I posted this to my Tumblr, but didn’t have the heart to post it here so soon after Carrie Fisher’s death. The shock of her sudden passing still hurts, but I’m coping by watching a lot of her interviews with her over the years and reading her books. Here’s what I posted:
(I’m issuing a SPOILER warning because the Captain said I had to)
I’ve been reading a lot of criticism of the new Star Wars movies, especially criticism directed against Rey and Jyn. Frankly, it’s pissing me off because it’s hypocritical in the worst misogynistic way.
(And before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not dissing the OT. Luke, Leia, and Han ARE my Star Wars. They always will be. It’s the hypocritical nature of some of the criticisms against the female characters of the new SW films that’s upsetting me).
1. The whole Rey is just a mary sue because she knows how to fly anything, so why didn’t she just leave Jakku?
Where would she go? What would she do when she got there? Luke stayed on Tatooine for no other reason than loyalty to the Lars family who raised him. He would only leave if he had their permission. Once he got their permission he would go to the Academy. Think about it: Luke Skywalker, soon to become savior of the rebellion against the Empire was willing to apply to an Imperial Academy just to get off of Tatooine because he was bored with farming. If the droids hadn’t dropped into his life, would Ben Kenobi have let Luke join the Imperials? What would be the repercussions of letting Darth Vader’s Force sensitive son join the Imperial Fleet without at least warning him of who his father really is?
Luke had a plan. He had support, (though it was not completely unconditional from Owen, I suspect Beru would have been sending him care packages and asking him to come home for a holiday or two).
Rey chose to stay on Jakku because she had NO support system in place. No one would help her get into an Academy off-world even if they still existed under the First Order. She gained useful skills to stay alive, surviving on nothing but the hope that some day her family would return. Learning to fly spacecraft does her no good if she has nowhere to go and no idea where to begin looking for a support system. Leaving Jakku only wind up in an Imperial prison (or worse) and no hope of finding her family defeats the purpose of leaving in the first place. She learned a skill in hopes she could put it to good use later, but she was smart enough not to squander that skill on a reckless and ill-thought out mission.
2. Where does Jyn get off leading seasoned rebels into battle? They don’t know her. The rebels might need her to lead them to Saw and eventually to Galen, but why would Cassian, his men, Baze, and all the others suddenly break with the rebellion and follow her?
This is so typical of Star Wars and I love it. It’s no different than Luke suddenly flying with Red Squadron in ANH even though he was just a farm boy who dropped onto Yavin from nowhere. I mean, I’m sure Leia and Biggs vouched for him, but what squadron commander would let a newbie from the wrong side of galaxy fly with his crack team of pilots before he could even so much as fly with them in a simulator? (And spare me the T-16 Skyhopper argument. You can put guns on a Cessna, that doesn’t mean you can pilot an F-35). Even if they are flying against the Death Star, Luke could have caused just as much damage to the rebel fleet as he did to the Imperials from Red Squadron’s point of view (we, as viewers, of course know better – Luke can fly anything better than seasoned pilots).
The same thing with Han suddenly becoming a General. Think of it this way: how long did Princess Leia Organa have to work for the rebels before she earned the title of General? Why wasn’t she made General in ROTJ instead of her boyfriend? Wasn’t it Leia who gave Rogue Squadron their evac orders on Hoth? Yes, we as viewers we know that if anyone could deactivate the shield on Endor, it would be Han Solo, but did Leia really not feel the sting of the rebels not trusting her to lead the mission as a General after all of her loyalty and hard work and escapades that may or may not have involved Han? Did they even ask her?
So, don’t hand me this bullshit about Jyn not having the experience to lead men into battle. She was trained to be a child soldier by a man who just as crazy as Han Solo when it came to battle tactics. She knew what she’s doing and she had the charisma to get Cassian and his men to follow her. She’s no different than Han or Luke: When desperate times call for desperate actions, you work with what you have, not matter how rediculous or impossible it may seem.
3. The reshoots cut out a lot of Jyn’s dialog. She was supposed to be angrier, snarkier. She would have been more interesting if Hollywood allowed her to be angry and snarky.
I don’t know what did or did not end up on the cutting room floor. If Jyn really was supposed to be an angry, snarky young woman then I’m glad it all got cut. I’m tired of Hollywood mistaking “angry, snarky” for “strong”. There are plenty of angry, snarky heroines out there. Snark doesn’t make you a leader. Anger doesn’t make you strong. Luke proved that in his final battle with Vader.
Jyn never was a young woman. She went from witnessing her mother’s assassination to a child soldier to an imperial prison. She gets rescued by the rebels, but her life still isn’t her own because they want to use her to get to her father. She would have every right to be angry and snarky, but I’m glad she had the maturity to see beyond that, to act on her own motivation. To look at the people around her, and take advantage of what they offered to craft her own goals.
And, yeah, I’m shipping Jyn with Cassian because he disobeyed orders from the organization that raised him to be a spy and an assassin, for no other reason than what Jyn says to him makes sense. She got to him and he finally realizes what type of man the rebels made him and he wants to change too, even if that change is only following a woman into battle instead of hiding in the shadows.
Besides which, we already have the Queen of snark: General/Princess Leia Organa. You don’t do snark better than her, but the difference between Leia and many other angry/snarky Hollywood heroines is that Leia knew when to dial it back. She knew Luke was hurting after Obi-Wan’s death, but instead of snarking at him about how she didn’t have time for his moping, she put a hand on his shoulder and offered words of comfort even as she mourned her own losses.
Jyn and Rey are following in Leia’s footsteps, but that doesn’t mean they have to be identical to her. Jyn followed her own path right to the end. I’m confident Rey will do the same.
And, that is the end of my rant (for now).