Ethical Criticism | A Letter to George Lucas

Dear Mr. Lucas,

My name is Jackie and I am 11 years old. I am writing you because I saw your movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time ever the other day and I loved it. I didn’t think movies made that long ago could be so good. It is filled with fantastic characters and the flying spaceships shooting at each other are super cool. The idea that worlds exist where there are cute and friendly robots (R2-D2 is my favorite) and people can fly faster than light makes me excited about the future. I really want one of those land ships that Luke has, the one that looks like it floats while going really fast.

My favorite character is Princess Leia. She is so pretty and tough. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a spy for the rebel alliance? She never cracks under pressure, even when General Tarkin tortures her and then threatens her home planet. Even then she doesn’t give away the location to the rebel base. It’s cool to see a princess that isn’t scared to join the fight and give orders to the soldiers.1 I might go as her for Halloween this year. I tried to do my hair like hers but couldn’t get the buns to stick and they just ended up looking like sad biscuits. My mom is going to help with the costume. I really want to include a light saber in it but she doesn’t have one in the movie. I might anyway. I talked to my friends at school and they all have seen the movie too, although, the boys don’t like Princess Leia. They say she’s just bossy and mean. In fact, some of them called her a name I am not allowed to repeat. I think they are just jealous because she isn’t scared of Darth Vader. He is such a bully; his mom must have forgotten to teach him manners. Anyway, she doesn’t seem mean to me, she’s just serious and needs to get things done, its not like she can wait around for Luke or Han to do anything. Half the time they are just scrambling around without a plan like when they first rescued her and were being fired at, she was the one that shot a way through the garbage chute while saying, “Well somebody has to save our skins.”

While watching it the other day for the gazillionth time, I asked my mom where all Princess Leia’s friends were. I noticed she didn’t have any other girls to talk to. Did they have other plans the day of the rebel attack? Are there more boys than girls in the future? If that is the case, I am no longer excited! I realize there is Luke’s Aunt Berma but that is it and she never gets a chance to talk to Princess Leia. My mom told me that when the movie was made girls aren’t in a lot of science fiction, that it was a “boy-thing” and when they are they usually “support the main male character.” This makes me sad because when I imagine something as fantastic as space and the future I imagine lots of girls like me in it and doing really great things like building cities in the sky or inventing something that saves a whole species from extinction, maybe even our own. That is what makes science fiction so cool; it lets you imagine a time when girls and boys can like and do the same things without being made fun of or told we can’t.2

I understand that most people that write these stories look and might even think like you but when you have the ability to imagine new alien creatures and cultures why do girls still get left out?3 My mom said one of the reasons there might not be any girls helping Princess Leia is because when your movie came out in 1977 girls still weren’t easily accepted into combat situations for our country.4 I can see that as an excuse for the Imperial Forces because they are the bad guys and probably aren’t smart enough to put girls on their team anyway but for there not to be more girls on the Rebel Alliance doesn’t make sense; its the future. I know I can do anything just as well as any snotty-nose boy at school can. The alliance would have been better off with more girls like Princess Leia. Girls can multitask better and have even been singled out as great “field agents” because they can “suppress their ego to attain a goal,”5 as opposed to boys like Hans.

Hans is a perfect example of why there should be more girls. He is unorganized and full of himself. He starts out only thinking about himself and how he will pay back Jabba, unlike Princess Leia who is fighting to help people. They are two very different characters. She is compassionate and thoughtful; like in the part where she takes time to make Luke feel better after Obi-Wan dies even though she just saw her entire planet explode.6 That shows how strong of a person she is. It would be nice to see more girls like that and I am surprised you didn’t think to include them. Especially, because when your movie came out girls were already fighting to be taken as seriously as boys. I know from history class that in the 1960’s there was a thing called the Women’s Liberation Movement. Apparently, girls weren’t’ being treated fairly and didn’t get as many jobs as boys, so you should have known that girls wanted to do more.7 I would hate to think that the person who created one of my favorite movies thinks that a girl like me couldn’t do something as good as a boy.

After I talked to my mom about this I started to notice other things about Princess Leia and how there aren’t more girls in the movie. At the beginning of the movie she is just waiting in her cell, not actively searching for a way out and then Hans and Luke bust in. Why does she even have to be rescued by Hans and Luke? If you take away the laser gun is she just a “damsel in distress?” I recently did a book report at school over King Arthur and this made me wonder if you were just retelling an old story in a new way. It makes sense that Luke would be Author, Hans is the best friend, Sir Lancelot, and Obi-Wan as Merlin but that would make Princess Leia Guinevere, the ultimate damsel in distress.8 If that was your plan I would hope for more imagination. That story has already been told. Anyway, Princess Leia doesn’t come off as a damsel in distress to me. She is intelligent and her own hero. She isn’t just a princess, she doesn’t wear a sparkly tiara; she is a diplomat and that is how she introduces herself to Darth Vader.

I also think she should get a lightsaber at some point in the movie. She is very smart and has obviously been trained to fight. She has really great aim with the blaster so why not? I know that it is a special weapon and is meant for the Jedi because it is “civilized” but, come on; she is leading a galactic civil war and Luke has had less training then she probably did. It could have been written into the story at some point. The fact that she would be given the same weapon, as Luke, would have shown other boys that she was just as important to the story, and she could fight equally as well as him. The blaster is cool-in-all but you can be far away from the bad guy to use it. If people could see her fight up close it would have really shown her abilities and that she is just as good as Luke or Obi-Wan. Plus, it would really make my Halloween costume look legit.

You are only hurting yourself by excluding girls from the story. If I like it, I am sure other girls would too. Just think if you had more strong girls in it maybe more girls would be watching it trying to figure out their next Halloween costume. My mom said a lot of times “plot decisions are made because of money.” This makes me wonder why you didn’t include us. We are half of the population and spend money just as good as boys if not better. Look at how much Disney is making from all the princesses they put in movies, 2.6 billion to be exact. 9 Right now almost all the girls at my school have backpacks from that new Disney movie, ‘Frozen.’ I think they would look better in Star Wars backpacks featuring Princess Leia along side another girl, oh and with lightsabers.

You can’t argue that this is a boy’s movie if girls like me love it too. It isn’t a typical run-of-the-mill sci-fi flick. It impacted a whole generation as well as future ones like me. It shapes how we see ourselves and shows us the capabilities of the imagination. We look to it for inspiration and heroes to idolize. The fact that there is only one girl doesn’t leave me many options. Without the proper role models girls, like myself, are “25 percent less likely than boys to say they like taking the lead.”10 I love Princess Leia. She is bold, brave and doesn’t let any of the other boys push her around, especially Darth Vader. Why does she have to do it all on her own and why does she have to be rescued? Regardless of the reason, a movie like star wars should be setting an example by imagining stories where girls and boys share accomplishments and are equally represented. There doesn’t always need to be a boy saving a girl or better yet, there could be a girl saving a boy. I may still want to be a princess but I won’t be waiting for Hans to rescue me.

Notes:
1) AmandaLovesMovies. http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/06/29/princess-leia-my-sci-fi-feminist-icon/
2) Charlotte Nash: Australian fiction writer, http://charlottenash.net/2013/09/15/poor-representations-of-women-in-sci-fi-films-riddick-vs-pitch-black/
3) The Guardian Blog, http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/sep/06/science-fiction-racism-sexism-discrimination
4) Belladonna.org, http://belladonna.org/Karen/politicsofstarwars.html
5) Meseena Ziegler, “Why The Best Spies,”
6) StarWarsBlog, http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/2013/06/28/why-leia-is-awesome/
7) Nancy Sink, http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/events/womenslliberation/womensliberation.htm
8) Arthurian Legend, http://www.arthurian-legend.com/more-about/more-about-arthur-9.php
9) How Stuff Works, http://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/family/activities/movie-fun-night/how-disney-princess-works1.htm
10) News-press.com, http://www.news-press.com/story/life/moms/pamela-hayford/2014/04/14/parenting-sw-florida-daughters-bossy/7681131/

Bibliography:

1) Amanda, June 29, 2012, “Princess Leia, My Feminist Icon.,” AmandaLovesMovies, April 20, 2014, http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/06/29/princess-leia-my-sci-fi-feminist-icon/

2) Charlotte Nash, September 15, 2013, “Poor representations of women in sci-fi films: Riddick vs. Pitch Black,” Charlotte Nash: Australian fiction writer, April 21,2014 http://charlottenash.net/2013/09/15/poor-representations-of-women-in-sci-fi-films-riddick-vs-pitch-black/

3) David Barnett, September 6, 2013, “It’s time for science fiction to face up to discrimination,” The Guardian Blog, April 24, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/sep/06/science-fiction-racism-sexism-discrimination

4) Karen Winter, “Politics of Star Wars,” Belladonna.org, April 27, 2014, http://belladonna.org/Karen/politicsofstarwars.html

5) Meseena Ziegler, “Why The Best Spies in Mossad and The CIA are Women,” Forbs, September 30, 2012, accessed April 28, 2014 http://www.forbes.com/sites/crossingborders/2012/09/30/why-the-best-spies-in-mossad-and-the-cia-are-women/

6) Jennifer Heddle, June 28, 2013, “Why Leia Is Awesome,” April28, 2014, StarWarsBlog, http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/2013/06/28/why-leia-is-awesome/

7) Nancy Sink, December, 2008, “Women’s Liberation Movement,” April 28, 2014, http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/events/womenslliberation/womensliberation.htm

8) Patrick Taylor, 2014, “Queen Guinevere,” Arthurian Legend, April 29, 2014, http://www.arthurian-legend.com/more-about/more-about-arthur-9.php

9) Vicki Arkoff, “Ultimate Guide to Disney Princess,” How Stuff Works, April 30, 2014, http://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/family/activities/movie-fun-night/how-disney-princess-works1.htm

10) Pamela Hayford, April 14, 2014, “Parenting in SW Florida: My daughter’s not bossy!,” News-press.com, April 20, 2014, http://www.news-press.com/story/life/moms/pamela-hayford/2014/04/14/parenting-sw-florida-daughters-bossy/7681131/

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