The first Rogue One trailer premiered on Good Morning America today. I don’t have to go into how excited I am for the purpose of this article (straight er mer gerd face for like an hour after I watched it).
I’m the first girl to get riled up and straight angry feminist when I see really sexist bullshit posted online. When dude bro guys shit all over The Force Awakens this past December, I gave no fucks. I enjoyed bringing them down a notch and calling them out on their discrimination.
This time, though, I’m just sad.
Maybe it’s just me and my Friday brain, but I feel a lot less anger and irritation about all the sexist shit (and it’s way worse this time then when Star Wars Episode VII premiered) that’s circulating on the twitterverse already regarding the reveal that the protagonist of Rogue One is, like The Force Awakens, a female.
“I want to be excited by #RogueOne. But first impressions
are of a beta fagg*t #SJW’s wet dream…” – @LondonWasp
I’m sad because this shit matters to girls across the world, who absolutely deserve to be represented by the fandoms that they are entitled to love and appreciate as much as their male counterparts. I know the word “exclusive” gets thrown around a lot in the feminist community, and it’s almost always rightfully so. When it comes to nerd culture though, the exclusion genuinely makes me sad and a bit anxious.
When women feel pressured to stay silent about the things that they cherish most, it is because they’re afraid they will be challenged, ridiculed, or undermined by their male counterparts. That’s fucked up. That’s the very definition of exclusion. I can’t talk about Star Wars with anyone without being accused of following in my father’s/brother’s/husband’s footsteps. These interests are always picked up socially. Why is it instantly a negative thing when it happens to be a female that expresses fond memories of snuggling up with her dad on the couch and watching Star Wars for the first time?
There are always going to be people that are 100% in favor of instilling gender roles on women and insisting that they stay in their “lane.” I’m willing to fight that battle. However, when it comes to nerd culture, I have an extensive history of being apprehensive before expressing my enjoyment around men I’m not familiar with. I have an absolute sense of sadness because I don’t get to feel a kinship with people who share my interests. The responses from some men in the fandom about Rogue One have brought that sadness out again.
Are all those Twitter critics saying that by watching a 2 minute trailer of Rogue One they’re able to determine the female lead is a Mary Sue? I’ve had a lot of people try to excuse their blatantly sexist views on The Force Awakens by saying “It’s not that Rey is a girl, it’s that she’s a Mary Sue.” This subjective term is used by fandom critics who “deem a female character undesirable.” Calling female characters in any franchise a Mary Sue is sexist in its own way. While there’s a counterpart to a male Mary Sue, no one questions the lack of personality in male characters. Prime example: there’s no hyperlink to a Wiki entry that provides examples of this reported male version of a Mary Sue (a Gary Stu or a Marty Stu).
Any given movie with John Statham, for example, in the starring role is going lack so much personality. That is never questioned because “WOW! EXPLOSIONS, GUNS, BOOBS!” All of that was included in The Force Awakens (well, minus the boobs), yet people still belly ached about the “lack of personality” in Rey. Can we talk about the fact that in the original trilogy EVERYONE lacked personality? Isn’t this kind of the point of Star Wars? It was a brand new universe that had so much to expose and explain that there was never really a chance to elaborate on anyone’s personality, including Luke’s.
This trend of undermining female nerds is really just a more recent problem. Any fan of the original Star Wars run that I’ve spoken to revels in fond memories of badass nerd babes in the late 1970s, challenging the gender stereotype and typically being accepted at early fandom conventions. My own father (who, by the way, could blow away every faux-nerd — yup, I went there — 20-something year old fuck nose with knowledge on nerd culture) instilled this stuff in my sisters and me at a very young age. I was always his Supergirl; he encouraged my older sister to seek out everything and anything that had to do with Elf Quest, and he recently won a dance contest dressed as a very convincing Joker with my younger sister at his side (as a spot on Harley Quinn).
When the guys I’ve dated have met my dad they have practically drooled over his immense knowledge on pretty much everything, and his impressive 30-decade comic book collection. Ultimately, it always frustrated me. Was all the nerd talk I engaged in with guys in my life only validated by my dad? Why weren’t they that impressed with my knowledge (which typically trumped theirs)? If I (politely) corrected them on a piece of trivia, why did they get so angry? Yet when my dad called them out (less politely) on misinformation regarding which issue of what series, they bowed down at his feet as if he had just spared their life for their mistake.
When my father dies (which will never happen because he’s immortal), I inherit his collection. Every dude I have ever dated has joked about staying with me just to get his hands on his comics. Um, fuck you. They belong to me. Was that ever even up for discussion? Did you really think it was a endowment?
Well, damn. I guess I did get angry in addition to my initial feeling of sadness.
A co-worker and I had a long conversation this morning regarding this topic and Rogue One specifically. The presence of a female character shouldn’t trump the bad ass special effects, new storm trooper characters, and the hinted story line. Who doesn’t want to see an undercover Rebellion spy movie?
For a closing thought, consider this: watching the 2 minute trailer of Rogue One doesn’t give you the entitlements to shit talk the protagonist. If you’re going to start being a bully within a community that has been bullied before, consider yourself uninvited. The most joyous feeling for any fan is being able to sit outside the theater after having seen a premiere and speculating with your friends what happened, what is to come, what you’d like to see come. This is the sense of kinship that makes fandom so special. Can we go back to collectively talking shit about Episodes I, II, and III? Let’s leave the unnecessary, sexist bullshit at the theater door.