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NeoNote — Princess Leia was a badass

Just going to point this out. Princess Leia was a badass.

When we first see her, her ship has been captured by the much larger star destroyer. What does she do? She hides the secret plans where nobody will find them and records a message. After that she grabs a blaster and holds off stormtroopers. When she's finally captured, she faces down Tarkin and Vader telling them both off and giving a "the reason you suck" speech. When Luke and Han break her out of her cell, she grabs a gun and breaks all of them out of the detention level.

All while never using her sexuality to get what she wants or letting anyone forget she is a woman.

Leia turned the whole damsel in distress thing on it's head. And arguably has the least character development of any of the "face" characters in the first trilogy.

But she's the one who impacts the heroes. The formula isn't damsel in distress. It's catalyst for change.

Going back to Casablanca, Ilsa wouldn't be Ilsa if she didn't have to choose between two men she loved. Yes, part of it was the cause and the circumstances, but it is Ilsa's struggle that defines the film, even as it changes Rick because he can't have her.

Back to the original Terminator, Sarah Connor started as a wimp defined by her victimhood. By the end of the film, she's gone beyond mere survival to drawing a line in the sand and dedicating herself to a higher cause.

Scarlett O'Hara is perpetual victim who ends the story hoping that another man will come along and rescue her.

There's a way to do a strong woman character, and they don't have to be over sexualized or a kick-ass commando. If they start as a victim, they don't end up as a victim. And their impact on the people around them is all out of proportion to their ability.


The problem with Rey isn't that she is a strong character. The problem is that she is not a hero because she doesn't change. Other than having magic force powers literally given to her, how is she different in at the end of her second movie than she was in the beginning of the first? We don't know anything about her other than she breaks all the rules for force manipulation and Jedi training.

Why the blazes are we supposed to care about her?

The story is not about Rey's journey to be a hero, it's about establishing that women as a class can be heroes too. It's a collective benchmark instead of an individual achievement. It's not Rey that is successful, it's about all women through Rey.

And it's as boring as stale nachos and flat beer.

The thing is, we saw the roots of change in Luke. We saw him "trust his feelings" to blow up the Death Star. The scenes where he met Yoda, he and the audience learned not to take things at face value. The bit where he saw under Vader's mask in the tree. And the climax of the second film when he discovered just how outclassed he was.

When have we seen Rey struggle?

I agree that Finn and Poe have changed. But they aren't the viewpoint characters. Part of me can't help but wonder if the films would be better if Finn was the viewpoint and Rey was just the catalyst like Leia was.
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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