I’ll start this with a caveat. I’m not the worlds biggest Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all the movies, read a couple books, but I’ve never really got into the Expanded Universe, played the games, or watched the spinoffs. However, I am a lifelong science fiction fan, and this new Star Wars trailer was amazing.
There have been complaints from some corners about Rey in The Force Awakens, and then Jyn Erso in Rogue One. But as a female fan I must say it means the world to me. As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, female science fiction heroes were few and far between. Okay, Ripley, but I never actually saw Aliens because I was a kid when it came out.
So, to see a female character, with a lightsaber, training, in a movie that any young girl could see, is amazing. I felt similarly with last years Ghostbusters, another movie that drew complaints. It is important to see yourself on the big screen, and as the main hero every now and again. Rogue One was fantastic, but Jyn was one woman among a sea of men. Rey will probably be the same, but, again, she’s a hero.
There have been a growing number of female characters in the past years. But often they’re still secondary, in the background kicking ass and being pretty. Black Widow comes to mind. Mystique is another.
For young girls, almost every movie they see, every book they read, every television show they watch, the hero is almost invariably a (white) male. There’s Disney, sure, but even with those the female hero is usually some kind of Princess. Rey is just a kid from a garbage heap of a planet. Yeah she has a mysterious background, but she gets to rise up from her background just like male characters do.
And the poster. Rey front and center. Okay, smaller than the men, but still, standing tall and strong and not turned into a pinup.
This is so important for girls to see. And men too, really. Girls should know that they can be heroes too, and that it’s not only boys that get to hold the lightsaber.