The Parity Problem, or Why Padmé is the Best Character in the Prequels


With the dawn of the sequel trilogy less than a year away, 2015 has been a year of relitigation: new and old segments of Star Wars fandom, maybe even subconsciously, attempting to settle old scores and nail down our history one way or another so what we might all move forward together into whatever the hell The Force Awakens ends up being.

Most recently, this could be seen in last month’s brouhaha over two “Slave Leia” stories: first, a parent taking issue with the character’s presence in the toy aisle, where she was discovered by his young daughter. Then, just a couple days later, the new issue of GQ magazine featured a cover and photo spread with Amy Schumer involving the slave bikini, the droids, and pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Some people loved it, some were offended, and some (hi) just found it boring.

That was a couple weeks ago and people are still talking about Slave—excuse me, Huttslayer Leia and whether that scene was good, bad, or just plain unnecessary. For my money, Tricia Barr covered all the right bases and then some. But way before Leia ended up in the news again, 2015 began with the relitigation of, perhaps, an even more controversial element of Star Wars: the death of Padmé in Revenge of the Sith. Read More

The New Face(s) of Star Wars: Celebration Anaheim and Diversity


Star Wars Celebration Anaheim was a rousing success by most metrics: it set attendance records, the media coverage was 24/7, it had an unprecedented livestream, and fans emerged energized and excited for the new Star Wars films. We had a great time at Celebration, and we propose another metric for the great success of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim: the growth of Star Wars by leaps and bounds into a truly universal community.

To be sure, Star Wars always had near universal appeal (that’s how we all became fans, after all). But Tricia Barr – who hosted the “From a Certain Point of View” panel that we were honored to be part of – said it best: this Celebration was perhaps the most diverse yet, even considered in terms of the people who were on that very panel. Kathleen Kennedy made a great and very well-received statement about Star Wars finally recognizing its female fan base and striving hard to have that recognized on-screen (as it’s starting to be recognized on the page). Many attendees expressed surprise at how well-attended the convention was, both in absolute numbers (something like 60,000 people) and in the geographic representation of the audience. We saw many people who had flown in from Europe, Latin America, and Asia. We saw small children, teenagers, adults, and older folks.

Anyone who thinks that Star Wars is just for a certain demographic, whether a younger-skewed age group or exclusively males, should come to a Star Wars Celebration and realize that Star Wars is for everyone. It always has been, but Celebration Anaheim really drove the point home (and here we hear echoes of “Chewie, we’re home,” the Celebration mantra in more than one way). With the welcome diversity in the novels/comics, Rebels, and now the films it’s become absolutely clear that Star Wars has finally recognized that it is for everyone. Some might ask why this kind of representation matters, if Star Wars already had that universal appeal – well, read on and we’ll tell you why it’s so important.

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So Let’s Talk About Zare Leonis Being Black

While I read Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy in preparation for my latest interview with author Jason Fry (not that I wouldn’t have read it anyway), it so happens that I didn’t write an official review of my own, nor will I now. Jay’s piece from last week more or less speaks for me, but I will quickly say this myself for the record: it’s great. I’m the textbook example of a Star Wars fan who turns up his nose at the notion of a sports story, but EotG excels at making its extensive sports content easy to follow, compelling, and most importantly, in service of the larger themes of the book. I can’t wait to read Rebel in the Ranks and see Zare’s appearance in Rebels from his point of view, and to see where his story goes from there. It’s not a good Young Adult story, it’s a good story, period.

One of those themes, crucially, is prejudice. The Empire of the new canon is still xenophobic, but not in an over-the-top, moustache-twirling way; aliens can exist in this system, even prosper, but it’s not enough to just do well—you have to be excellent. Athletic Director Fhurek claims not to be prejudiced himself—heavens, no—he’s just concerned about how other people might see those two aliens on Zare’s team, so better to get them out of the way, y’know, to placate those other people.

It’s a pitch-perfect subplot, and sets just the right tone for how I hope this sort of element is handled in future stories. It’s also a decisive part of Zare’s burgeoning anti-Imperial sentiment, without being preachy or oversimplified. He wants to stand up for Frid and Hench because they’re his friends, but doing so could sabotage the lives of his several human teammates, and they’re his friends, too. Fighting a prejudiced individual is easy; fighting a bad system is infinitely more complicated. Read More

The Minority Report: A New Dawn


As you may well know, dear readers, I have always taken a special interest in the state of diversity in the Star Wars franchise, and Expanded Universe in particular. One of the first recurring series I commissioned for Eleven-ThirtyEight was Michael Lind’s Go Figure, in which he broke down and analyzed a wide range of demographic data from the Galaxy Far, Far Away, with a special focus on race and species prevalence.

After the reboot was announced, of course, Michael’s impressive pool of data was effectively useless—and so Go Figure came to an end, and I picked up the baton. Beginning with my article No Gays in Space last May, I’ve seized upon the reboot (much like the Story Group) as an opportunity to start afresh, and build a new database from the ground up. My own methodology differs quite a bit from Michael’s, though; while interesting, the exact number of Twi’leks is of less concern to me than one basic fact: how many straight white guys there are.

More thorough explanations of my personal Diversity Scoring system can be found at the above links, but as this constitutes the beginning of a new series, I’ll reiterate very briefly—a Diversity Score is the percentage of characters in a story who are anything other than straight, white, human men. Historically I’ve gone off a given story’s Dramatis Personae (the cast of characters often presented at the beginning of a SW novel), but as I’m attempting to be as thorough as possible, my new policy is to count, as best I can, all named characters. In the case of the six films, given their status as the most visible and inviolate elements of the canon, I have gone by the full casts as listed in their end credits. While I presented rough scores for the saga (as well as The Clone Wars) back in May, I’ve since had the opportunity to work straight from the films (as opposed to Wookieepedia) and I present the following as my final scores for the Star Wars Canon. Read More

No Gays in Space: Diversity and the Changing Faces of Star Wars Canon


If you’re an eagle-eyed follower of this site, you may have noticed that Michael Lind, author of our Go Figure series, explained in a comment in the wake of the reboot announcement that since so much of what we previously understood to be “real” in the Star Wars galaxy can no longer be considered canon, doing any kind of authoritative statistical analysis of the Galaxy Far, Far Away and its population is no longer possible—and thus, the Go Figure series has come to its end.

And, well, he’s mostly right, but not completely. Out of respect for Michael’s phenomenal work thus far, I will indeed be discontinuing Go Figure as a discrete series of pieces. Likewise, the sample size of what can be definitively regarded as canon SW characters is now a fraction of what it was a month ago, and thus, there’s no way now to talk about the GFFA at large without resorting to a bunch of guesses and assumptions.

What we can talk about, however, is the franchise. Read More