Princess Leia is Still the Galaxy’s Most Fabulous Feminist

My apologies to Natalie Portman, but Carrie Fisher could kick her galactic butt.

It has never been more apparent now that all past, present and future Star Wars episodes are complete. Padme, as played by the waifish Portman is no match for herdaughter Princess Leia. Not only can Carrie Fisher act circles around Portman, she could probably outsmart, out light saber and out charm her too.

It became very clear to me that Padme was no match for Leia after sitting through the latest Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith. Like all the other lemmings, I just had to see it the first weekend it was released.

While I loved the movie because I’m finally clear on the how and why of Anakins’ turn to the dark side, I couldn’t help notice the huge differences in Senator Padme and her offspring Princess Leia.

I went home and viewed the very first Star Wars movie. A New Hope was released in 1977. The original Star Wars is legendary in many ways.

First it cost nothing to make. Even though the high tech quality is missing, the story and the people are unforgettable. The archetype characters have seeped into our collective cultural conscience.

There’s the ultimate bad boy, Han Solo played by Harrison Ford, before he became an old man with an earring trying to look young. An adorable Mark Hamill before he disappeared off the Hollywood radar screen and most importantly a defiant, brilliant and spirited Carrie Fisher, who epitomizes the word broad.

A New Hope dazzled its audience without the use of a CG Yoda and oodles of violence. I realize audiences are much more sophisticated today, but the wholesome innocence and “gee whiz” optimism of A New Hope captured the moment well, just as Revenge of the Sith epitomizes it’s day. Dark, crass, violent, overtly political and cynical.

But the female characters are regressive. Padma’ has a little girl voice, she’s helpless to stop the spiral to the dark side Anakin chooses. She blindly believes Anakin, even though it’s apparent he is morphing into Darth Vader.

In comparison, Leia shows her disgust and disappointment in Han when he decides to cash in his reward money and desert the cause of the rebellion. Because of Leia’s diasapproval Han feels the need to redeem himself which he does at the last minute paving the way for Luke to blow up the evil Death Star.

Leia doesn’t let Han get away with anything, where as Padma’ is in complete denial. She is basically barefoot and pregnant the whole movie. She doesn’t knock sense into Anakin/Vader, but shivers before him.

I cannot imagine Leia letting Han or Luke get away with any of this bad behavior. The brooding, the arrogance, the insolence! Not that Han didn’t try, but alas a good woman kept him in line!

Maybe it was the era in which A New Hope was made. Nineteen seventy seven was the height of the feminist movement.

Women were told they could do anything and Princess Leia was out there battling Imperial Storm Troopers, repairing space ships,
commanding troops and looking gorgeous even with cinnamon buns on her head. As a teenager at the time, I loved her.

She didn’t take guff from anyone. She had no qualms about taking charge and expected others to follow. Yes, she didn’t have the porcelain skin and finely sculpted nose of Natalie Portman, but she barked orders and hurled insults with the best of them.

Today, woman are supposedly more empowered. Maybe, but George Lucas seems to have forgotten. True Leia is temporarily humbled in Return of the Jedi when she becomes a bikini clad slave to the horrendous Jabba the Hut, but she liberates herself by using the very chains that bind her to choke the life out of her capture.

It’s also true the force is strong in Leia, after all her dad and brother were incredible Jedi. It seems to me Leiagot her grit and determination from her fathers side.

As far as I can tell the only thing she got from her mother was her love of elaborate hairstyles. Far be it from me to question the brilliance of George Lucas, but I would have preferred a tough chick to a willowy girl in my galaxy any day.

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