The Force Awakens has been out for about two weeks now, and since then, there have been a myriad of reactions to the film. It has largely met with universal praise and record setting box office numbers, but it seems to be starting another conversation. A conversation about how the movie sausage gets made. Carrie Fisher and George Lucas have, in their own way, kickstarted this conversation.
Recently Carrie Fisher did an interview with Good Housekeeping U.K. in which she revealed that she was asked to lose 35 pounds for her role reprising
Princess General Leia in The Force Awakens. Fisher has always been candid and didn’t mince words about how Hollywood judges female performers on appearance and little else, and how that seems to have not changed much in 36 years since the release of the original Star Wars. This bought about what has grown to be the usual reaction throughout social media when a woman in any field dares speak against established norms. A New York Post Op Ed columnist even sought to take her to task, stating that if she didn’t want to be judged on her looks, she should quit acting, and taking the ludicrous point further that she only had success later on in her career, as a writer, because of her looks. Mrs. Fisher has handled all of this as smartly as one can, and who are we, as fans, to say she hasn’t aged well, or should have looked better for her role in The Force Awakens?
Earlier this week, George Lucas sat down with Charlie Rose to talk about the Star Wars franchise, his ideas for a new trilogy, and his decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney. Lucas called the films ‘his kids’ and stated he sold them to ‘white slavers’. A bit of hyperbole on George’s part, but it cast a bit of a shadow in which detractors of the new film carried that banner and those who favored the film lambasted Lucas for his choice of words. Now, this was Lucas’ life for 35+ years, but he did walk away, and while he could have just stated he didn’t like the direction of the new films, he chose to invoke some pretty specific imagery to do so.
Lucas would retract those comments a day later and congratulate director J.J. Abrams and his longtime producing partner and current head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy on the success of the newest entry in the franchise.
Two longtime celebrities and two vastly different reactions to views they expressed. A cursory look at social media when Carrie Fisher’s interview made the rounds show that we have a long way to go when it comes to how we view women in Hollywood and entertainment in general. George Lucas had a myriad of defenders when his opinions were made public, but he also faced a significant amount of blowback because of the way he worded his feelings.
We, as fans, have a responsibility to raise the level of discourse when things like this happen. Carrie Fisher’s appearance in The Force Awakens should be at the bottom of the list of priorities, especially considering that anyone over 50 would be hard pressed to get into what Hollywood considers ‘in shape’. Does George Lucas have a right to dislike the new films, he most certainly does, but it is problematic when he decides to invoke ‘white slavery’ when talking about films he made. If we demand excellence in these films, we should be deserving of them and have the courage to call out a friend or a fellow fan when something they have to say just isn’t right.
Agree? Disagree? Think I’m fat? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MatPDouglas