May the 4th Be With You! Celebrating Star Wars Day as a Geek Girl
May the 4th Be With You! I think it might have been my Grade 3 teacher who first spoke those words to me. Mrs. Dinsmore had that kind of humour, and she was a Star Wars fan. I do remember thinking it was hilarious, and repeating it to everyone. I was a geek girl from the start.
At Toronto ComiCon this past March, I decided to focus on getting pictures with all the Rey cosplayers. And oh. wow. They were spectacular.
I was SO EXCITED for The Force Awakens, and it did not disappoint. I was afraid to hope after the initial announcement that there was only one new female character. In interviews, I set my hopes on secondary characters shining through (#CaptainPhasmaLives). And in the theater, when the orchestral score started, I lost my mind (S/O to Antonio for properly nerding out with me there). And it was better than I could have ever dreamed. Rey was better than I could have ever dreamed.
Rey was me, growing up on stories, surviving, thriving, and ready for her own adventure. The moment when she fixes the Millennium Falcon, and she’s so excited/impressed/surprised at her accomplishment, and meanwhile Han Solo is experiencing some major deja vu? Her smile was echoed by fangirls and fanboys everywhere.
It’s important, that Rey is who she is. The argument that she’s a Mary Sue? Well, she grew up scavenging ships and fighting for her own survival on a hostile planet. Girl’s got skills. And even if she was a Mary Sue, why shouldn’t we have our fangirl wish-fulfillment as canon? There is so little media out there that lets geek girls see themselves without being reflected through the prism of the male gaze. Why not have one of us fly off in the most iconic starship of all time (sorry, Trekkies), with Chewie at her side, ready to take on the galaxy?
Star Wars was a piece of geek culture that reached into small towns like mine and showed me that my people were out there. I watched VHS tapes of the originals recorded from TV at my cousin’s house. When the prequel trilogy was announced, I was so down. I collected the pop cans for every character, I counted down the days, I memorized the parody songs and idolized Padme Amidala’s outfits.
I let my geek flag fly and initiated myself into a culture that would not always love me back.
But with Star Wars, I always felt like it was made for girls like me. We had Leia. And Mon Mothma. And Padme kicked some serious butt (until she started dating that whiny kid she saved. Seriously, girl needs better friends). And now, we have Rey. We have Ahsoka. We have Mara Jade. We have Maz Kanata.
After watching The Force Awakens (a few times), I was having drinks with a friend who told me of a long talk he’d had about the impact Leia had had on him and other men his age who watched the originals in the theater. Leia is the only one to stand up to Darth Vader after all. And in The Force Awakens she’s still holding everything together while Han and Luke go through mid-life crises. Leia isn’t a strong female character, Leia is strong, period. And stories that show that can have just as much of an impact on boys as it does for girls.
I think it’s great that the Star Wars universe is embracing diversity in its cast and making space for all fans to see themselves in the characters. And I’m definitely counting down the days until the next installment of the series.
Happy Star Wars Day & May the 4th Be With You!
A ridiculous amount of coffee is consumed as part of the creation of these books. A little coffee goes a long way towards getting the next book faster, and is greatly appreciated!