I can’t think of a girl I know who doesn’t like Star Wars, but somehow that old idea that the franchise is for boys carries on. Whatever the guys might have been thinking about Princess Leia in her golden bikini, we girls were looking up to her from the very first film. I’ve watched my daughters grow up with a natural affinity for — and a healthy obsession with — the films, books and characters and in our family fandom, there’s certainly never been a gender line drawn. So, it’s a little tough to swallow when people call Star Wars “a boys’ movie,” and especially difficult hearing The Force Awakens director refer to it that way. On the other hand, with this new installment J.J. Abrams has clearly aimed for inclusivity, with characters like Rey, Finn, Captain Phasma and the mysterious Maz Kanata; I can almost forgive him for perpetuating the myth.
“Star Wars was always a boys thing and a movie that dads could take their sons to, and though that’s still very much the case, I was really hoping that this would be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well. I’m looking forward to kids seeing this movie and seeing themselves in it and seeing that they’re capable of doing things that they could never imagine possible.”
You can be certain there’ll be families of all kinds jamming up the theaters, and if Abrams or anyone else was uncertain about Star Wars’ appeal to girls, women and everyone in between, the stores reporting shortages of Rey merchandise and the complaints about the lack or exclusion of female action figures should provide a clue. Happily, there will be more Maz, Rey and Phasma toys coming our way after The Force Awakens opens; Disney and Abrams are holding back certain items considered too spoilery for early release. At least this is a forward move for Disney, which in the past believed their princess stuff sold well enough they didn’t need to sell female Marvel-related toys. Money is obviously a huge motivational tool, and even if we have to drag the corporate giant into the genderless toy aisle, eventually the message will be clear. Star Wars is for everyone.
“What I hope is that they see a movie that tells them that life is full of unlimited possibility. That there’s an incredible sense of, to use a George Lucas term, hope in the world. And that they feel better when they leave than when they got in there.” (Abrams)