I know that this site is usually about my interpersonal adventures. However, my relationship with science fiction goes all the way back to June of 1980, when my dad took me to see The Empire Strikes Back in the theater. I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet, but that didn’t matter; my dad knew that this was something I had to see.
And he was right.
I didn’t think I could fall in love even once more in my lifetime, and now it has happened twice in the year 2016.
Oh, Rogue One, how I am in love with this story. It is as if a thousand voices cried out, and instead of being suddenly silenced by the usual Hollywood hack-job, instead we were rewarded with a whole new galaxy of possibility.
It begins with a subtle tribute to Tattooine, to Aunt Beru and the blue milk. Even the design of the Erso’s settlement is similar to that of Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle, despite the extreme differences in climate between the two planets.
And the Easter eggs keep on rolling, although I am not going to list them all here. There are plenty of other posts out there for that.
Instead, I want to focus on the story. Finally, at last, we have a story that is it’s own thing while still fitting beautifully into the universe we have come to know so well. It’s a story about a family, and then a girl who loses her father inside the larger political landscape of the galaxy being overtaken by ultimate evil.
Finally, someone got it right.
The heroines of my childhood were Princess Leia; Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman; Ellen Ripley of Alien; Sarah Connor of Terminator 2; and Xena, Warrior Princess. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (of the television series) came along a bit later, but she was welcomed with open arms to this tiny pantheon of bad-asses.
Then, a terrible drought of nothingness. It was as if women did not matter. It was as if women were simply Bond girls or hostages or girlfriends.
Where were our heroes, our daughters, our mothers and best friends?
These were very dark times, especially to be raising little women and trying to reassure them that they were people, real people, not destined to simply act as accessories to men.
It is one of the great complaints I have about Hollywood. Why is it that when we have a strong female character, she is paired up with some wimpy pretty-boy? I am thinking specifically of Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Do movie makers really think that this is how we build a strong female character, by posing her next to a weak male one? Can you imagine if Gal Gadot were paired up with Tom Hardy?
Ohhh, that gives me shivers in all the right places.
Back to Rogue One.
There are complaints that there are too many men and not enough women. Me, I nearly screamed out loud in the theater when I saw, and heard, women pilots. (There were more than two, go see it again!) The fact of the matter is, when there is a cattle-call to war, you will get more men than women. As Cassian said of those who followed Jyn to the final show-down on Scarif, all of them had done terrible things at some point in their lives, in the name of the Rebellion. That is because rebellions in general attract not just the pure of thought and deed but also a lot of mercenaries who want a good excuse to do bad things.
Women are generally not mercenaries. Not that they can’t be, not that they’re physically incapable (see Katee Sackhoff in Riddick), but that it just isn’t a common pursuit.
Hey, you know what? More women are teachers than men. (https://goo.gl/NZuH86) Why? Because men can’t be teachers? Because men are physically incapable of being teachers? No. And I’m not even going to get into it; this statistic is here for you to think about it and figure it out on your own.
I loved Rogue One because it made Star Wars real again. Everyone in the theater was quiet, breathlessly invested in every frame, every turn of events. That is the magic of solid storytelling.
I, for one, cannot wait to go see it again.
You can thank Anthropologist for this post, because without our conversation, I would have never written a word of this. Find her here.