There was a distinct lack of strong women (TV & movie) characters when I was growing up. There was She-Ra but she was kind of a sissy. If I ever found myself in a dark alley with The Evil Horde, she would NOT be the first person I’d call. I preferred He-Man, but I always wished someone could have gotten him something other than those pelt-Speedos he wore. Don’t even get me started on the boots with the fur. (Go ahead and sing the song…I know you want to.)
There was Wonder Woman. I do love her – even to this day – but did she really have to run around in a glorified bathing suit and high-heeled boots? It must have taken super powers to keep “the girls” steady and secure in her strapless…er…um…outfit. I can do some damage in stilettos, but I’d rather have Docs if there’s butt kicking to do.
What’s a girl to do? Who should she look up to? Luckily, I grew up watching the original Star Wars episodes (IV, V, VI). To say I loved them is a gross understatement. I was (and still am) fluent in Yoda-speak, could talk back to a Wookie like a pro, and fake-light-saber-fight with the best of them. Did I prance around sporting a double-bun hairdo? Nope, but I did ask my mom to try it on me once. Man, how can you expect someone to do that to her head on purpose? Yoda was always cool. A little person full of enormous power? I totally identified with that. I once spent an entire day trying to move my bed with the Force. The results were less than satisfactory.
When it came down to it, I desperately wanted to be Han Solo; however, I kept that part to myself. I already was the weird girl (again…still am) and didn’t feel comfortable enough letting that bomb drop. Still, Han was the man. I mean, come on! He had Chewy and let’s not forget the Millennium Falcon.
Fast-forward quite a few years (no exact number needed, thank you) to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I about wet myself when this movie was announced (sadly, that is not an exaggeration…) I do admit to being a bit skeptical after having been subjected to and tortured by Jar Jar Binks [shudders].
I really, REALLY, wanted this one to be great. When I saw promotional material of a young girl, my fingers crossed for the hero I’d wished for so many years ago. I could not wait to see the movie.
Last Tuesday, I was finally able to see the movie. I was most definitely NOT disappointed. ATTENTION: The rest of this will include potential movie spoilers. Read on at your own risk.
Rey, I love you. You are amazing. You are everything I want my girls to be. When you were flying the Falcon and did that maneuver where you flipped and pulled up to vertical so Finn could shoot? I. Was. Hooked. You exuded strength through your insecurity. You did not NEED anyone (though I think this is something you need to work on). Your feelings of loneliness and loss struck a chord, as did the resilience you drew from that. My girls need someone like you around. (Do I realize I’m speaking to a fictional character? Yes, I am aware. Don’t kill my vibe.)
We have forgotten it is okay to be a girl AND be strong. We have somehow been left as beggars on the outskirts waiting for the scraps. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be a man. Let’s face it; they can be kind of smelly and gross (Apologies to my husband – love you Babe!). I like being a girl but “girl” should not be equated with second-class status. Nor should “girl” be associated with weakness. When was it decided that if you are a girl, you must be fragile, submissive, and agreeable? I feel like hope has been kindled. I pray Hollywood realizes we want to see more of girls like Rey. We want to be Rey. She’s a fighter. She doesn’t give up. When life knocks her down, she scavenges to survive and makes her way home on a car hood sliding down a sand hill (a FREAKING huge sand hill). She is loyal even at the expense of her own starvation/salvation. She has an innate sense of right and wrong. She stands up when needed and protects those who can’t do so themselves. She instinctively knows how to roll with the punches – literally and figuratively. Is she perfect? Nope and that’s why she has so much appeal.
I’m starting to wonder if the powers-that-be (I have no idea who they are but they are VERY misguided) feel threatened by her. Did they anticipate her influence? How could they not? They had to know we would attach ourselves to her like a gold-bikini-cladded-Princess Leia chained to Jabba the Hut. (Perhaps not the best analogy considering the subject, but you get the idea.) Why then is she missing from so much of Star Wars’ merchandise? One excuse I read is that companies didn’t want to include her at the time of release for fear they would spoil major plot lines. Pfft! Someone made an error in judgment. Someone thought she wouldn’t draw enough of an audience. Girls aren’t into Star Wars, right? (Enter forehead smack here).
Star Wars is for boys AND girls. It is a universal story.
Now, I know some will read this post and consider sending me advice or directions to the nearest mental health counselor. It’s all just a movie, right? I see it as more. Our girls need some amazing characters to look up to. I’m not saying Finn, Han, Poe, even Iron Man, Thor, Captain American (I could keep going but will reel in my Geek Flag a bit) aren’t great characters, but it’s nice to have a girl in the mix.
Rey has a quiet strength I so desperately want my girls to have. She fought off Kylo Ren more than once. In the end, his assertion of the fullness of his powers was loud, brutal, and forceful (no pun intended). How did Rey conquer? By not fighting his brutality with equal force but with THE Force. Yep. There’s a difference. She did not thrash in an attempt to mutilate or brutalize. She paused, centered, and drew on her strength – a small package with an unexpected powerful punch. Perfection.
Interestingly enough, the dictionary defines a “ray” as “an initial or slight indication of a positive or welcome quality in a time of difficulty or trouble.” Ray and Rey…coincidence? I think not.