Star Wars Life Lessons Part 2: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

by Mike Monroe on July 6, 2017

in FILM

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This is the second in a series of articles in which I’m going to be discussing some of my favorite scenes from a series of films that has had a major influence on my life: The Original Star Wars Trilogy.

Star Wars Life Lessons Part 2: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

I was a kid in the late seventies and early to mid-eighties, long after the Nineteenth Amendment had passed in 1920 granting women the right to vote.  As far as strong female character portrayals in the mainstream go, Wonder Woman had been around for 35 years already when I was born.  Mary Tyler Moore was towards the end of her groundbreaking show for promoting women’s rights by showing a strong woman navigating the workplace.  The feminist movement had been going strong for a very long time, but in my opinion, it’s hard to say anyone had as big an impact on mainstream views of strong women as the character of Princess Leia played by the late, great Carrie Fisher.  Over the years, hundreds of millions of people around the world have seen Star Wars, and that may be a low estimate.  Princess Leia is one of the strongest heroes of the movie and the series.

leia

She’s possibly the first mainstream example of a strong female character in scifi movies.  As my good friend Tom Swiss put it “bad-ass women have been a screen scifi staple since Princess Leia rescued her rescuers on the Death Star.”  Though she could hold her own with a blaster, she wasn’t a warrior.  When we first meet Princess Leia, she’s (hold your nose) a politician.  A senator, to be exact.  She seems to be the one calling the shots for the rebels, at least in the first movie.  So her strength goes far beyond being sassy and blasting away incompetent clones wearing white plastic armor (It’s Star Wars.  Don’t ask too many questions.)  So when we’re first introduced to Princess Leia in Star Wars (the first movie retconned to A New Hope), she’s a leader, a warrior, and a sassy lady who won’t take any crap from anyone, especially some unknown morally questionable smuggler who runs around shooting at stuff willy-nilly with the assistance of an eight foot tall hairy monster with a laser crossbow (Again, don’t ask questions.)  She even talks trash to Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader himself.  Would you have the guts to talk trash to frickin’ Darth Vader?  I think not!

Princess Leia was a role model for young women just like Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo were for young men.  Only, women tend to have fewer examples of strong characters they can look up to.  At least they did before the much-welcomed boom in the past few years, with the likes of a revisited Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen, Rey, Moana, and so on and so on.  I imagine many of my female contemporaries wanted to grow up to be Princess Leia just like I wanted to grow up to be Han Solo and my brother wanted to grow up to be Darth Vader.  Erm, yeah.  He always liked the bad guys.  Probably why he roots for the Cowboys and the Yankees now.  So anyway, in Princess Leia, women had a role model with both brains and brawn, who was so much more than a damsel in distress.  She just needed someone to let her out of the prison cell her patriarchal captors locked her in so she could come out, take control, and continue leading a ragtag rebellion against the most powerful evil Empire in the history of movies.

leiachute

For me personally, Princess Leia was probably the first strong female character I was introduced to.  Before her, my main image of a woman was my wonderful mother, who’s also a strong woman in her own way.  Being a role model for me at such an early age, Princess Leia has shaped the view of women I’ve had ever since I first saw her.  Every woman I’ve dated has been a strong woman, a feminist in words and/or actions.  My wife is the strongest of them all, running a business from home while raising three young children.  Folks, that’s about as strong as it gets if you ask me.  It definitely fits the Princess Leia mold in my book.  Now that I have a daughter, I’ve been proud to introduce her to the character of Princess Leia (and Rey in the new movie).  I can’t tell you how happy I am that my kids love Star Wars, but I’m even happier to see my daughter, even at the young age of three soon-to-be four, showing a strength and a sassiness (Though I’d rather that sassiness not be aimed at her father.  I’m no Darth Vader.) that reminds me of my all-time favorite heroine.  I can only hope that my daughter continues to exhibit these strong traits as she grows up in an often hostile world.

So to illustrate what I’ve talked about here, here’s what I think is the finest example of badassness displayed by Princess Leia in the first movie, where she, as Tom put it “rescued her rescuers on the Death Star”:

 

And for the cherry on top of the sunday, here’s Nancy Sinatra:

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Star Wars Life Lessons Part 1: Anyone Can be a Hero

Mike Monroe

Michael Monroe was born in Baltimore, MD and has lived there most of his life. He’s a poet and fiction writer whose preferred genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, and he’s always had a thing for Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. His poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, nthposition, the Lyric, Scribble, the Loch Raven Review, Foliate Oak, Primalzine, and various other publications.

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