by Madeline Iva
There’s nothing like Carrie Fisher’s death to make one ponder Princess Leia afresh. Carrie Fisher was many things–and I especially appreciate how she single-handedly brought bi-polar disorder out of the shadows and broke that taboo. I also appreciated her book POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE because she had a wonderful sense of humor. But her death causes me to ponder her alter-ego icon Princess Leia in a way I never have before.
Princess Leia was a tough talking princess in a tiny package. She had a gun in her hand – but she was one of the good guys.
This was so massive at the time. There’s so much she wasn’t in terms of negative female stereotypes. She wasn’t the manic pixie girl (a type I love btw). She wasn’t the transgressive bad girl (I love this type too) or a femme fatale (ditto). I mean, as a little girl, you want options, right? Princess Leia provided another pathway for how to be strong, active, and yet…not an outsider.
She’s wasn’t afraid, or weak, she wasn’t a scream-y victim, a bimbo, or a slutty-McSlutty (by which I mean: those roles in which the character wants to be sexually objectified by others and is possitively insulted if she’s not seen as an object of sexual consumption). She’s definitely not the reverse stereotype of the time: the amazon-wanna-be-a-man freak. Not that there’s anything wrong with Amazons–(I’m looking at you Zena) but this was yet another old blicky stereotype where a woman of action is presented as ‘the other’.
I used to ponder Princess Leia’s particular brand of femininity whenever I happened to encounter her image – Ultimately, I’d say she had a 1930’s kind of femininity, comprised of half wise-cracking dame talk and half small, delicate features.
I very much appreciated that she was not overtly sexualized…well, not in the first Star Wars movie. Or even the second, though the whole love interest thing ramped up with Han Solo and they suddenly got all kissy face.
(But remember the kiss with Luke before that happens? Ugh! Did Lucas *know* then that Leia and Luke were twins? What was he thinking?)
In movie number 3 they went there. Sigh. Yet note that it seemed to have this *profound* effect on the sexual awakening of an entire generation of pubescent boys…Her princess-slave costume seemed to send out shock-waves of yearning in the hearts of aching teenagers in a way that other bikini fodder babes at the time didn’t. Why? Was it because they saw Princess Leia as a person first, instead of as a sex object? (I hope so.)
I included a You Tube link to my favorite part of the movie below. These days my niece and her friends fight over who gets to be Princess Leia. I never wanted to pretend I was princess Leia. I think I was a little too old by the time I saw the first movie to play pretend anymore. However, I wished like mad that I could get away with wearing the cinnamon buns on my head at school.
I think the reason behind why the girls fight is because real problem is that there is only one Princess Leia, but many male roles.
Hopefully in this galaxy right here and not too long from now, we’ll have a massively important and successful sff film in which the next most awesome Princess Leia will come with a host of fellow kick-ass female buddies. She won’t be the token girl in the boy gang. I very much appreciated that she was not just the princess but also big honcho in power and was the one handing out medals at the end, instead of sitting on the side lines. But I hope in the next Big Movie (any screenwriters out there listening?) the Princess Leia 2.0 is handing out the medals for intrepid daring-do, to some women and not just the guys.
May the force be with you all–and follow us at Lady Smut!
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes. Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.